NYC Leadership Academy Responds to Audit Report from NYC Office of the Comptroller

August 1, 2017

We take great pride from working in New York City to increase student achievement through high-quality school leadership. We always have worked with the NYC Department of Education to meet the mandates under our contract and will continue to do so to make sure the work of our coaches and other staff are accurately and appropriately supported, as the DOE confirmed was the case in its response to the Comptroller.

For more than 14 years, the NYC Leadership Academy, a nationally recognized organization, has trained more than 550 aspiring school leaders and coached nearly 2,000 principals in New York City alone. The principals we trained have gone on to lead struggling schools to improve and sustain improvement in student achievement at higher rates than principals who did not go through our program, according to independent research by the Institute for Education and Social Policy at NYU.

Each of our coaches sets targeted goals with principals based on our research-based leadership behavior standards and the needs of the school and regularly supports principals in reaching those goals. We are incredibly proud of the achievements of our graduates and clients in 32 states across the country who work hard in their schools and school systems every day to confront inequities and create the conditions necessary to thrive. We are strongly committed to the success of the principals we coach and to the students they serve.

It is regrettable the NYC Office of the Comptroller did not contact us to further validate the Leadership Academy’s detailed documentation in support to its invoices and in accordance with NYC Department of Education requirements.  We would have shared the documentation.

-- Irma Zardoya, President and CEO, NYC Leadership Academy

About NYC Leadership Academy

NYC Leadership Academy is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that builds the capacity of educational leaders, at every level of the system, to confront inequities and create the conditions necessary for all students to thrive. Since 2003, the Leadership Academy has worked with educators in over 150 districts, schools and state departments of education in 32 states and internationally. Visit for more information. 

Key Facts on NYC Leadership Academy

*The Leadership Academy was founded in 2003 to meet an urgent need for school leadership in New York City.  At the time there were 1,257 schools in the NYC Department of Education, and it was predicted that 600 of them would need new principals in the coming years.  In a short amount of time, we created a pipeline of new principals, changed the way New York City selects, prepares and supports its school principals, and helped to narrow the achievement gap in challenged schools.

*In New York City alone, we trained 549 aspiring principals, and 466 (85%) became principals, primarily in schools facing significant challenges. 91% of our graduates served as leaders in the Department of Education for 5 or more years after completing the Leadership Academy’s flagship Aspiring Principals Program. A 2012 study conducted by the Institute for Education and Social Policy at NYU found that schools led by our graduates improved at a faster pace than otherwise similar schools.

*At the Leadership Academy’s celebration in June to honor 14 years of supporting educational leaders, Mayor Bill DeBlasio proclaimed June 14, 2017 ‘NYC Leadership Academy Day,’ stating, “NYCLA is an important partner in our efforts to run our schools on the twin engines of equity and excellence.”

*NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said, “As a former principal, I know just how rewarding, challenging, and important the work of leading a school is. I congratulate the Leadership Academy graduates and the Leadership Academy itself for its tremendous work to prepare and support great school leaders.”

*Former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein stated that being a great educational leader goes beyond leading instruction, and noted: “It’s about how to deal with human beings, understand budget, deal with parents, set high expectations. The Leadership Academy is about all of that.”

*The Leadership Academy continues to provide tailored coaching for experienced principals.  We are proud of our 14-year partnership with the NYC Department of Education to develop and sustain strong leadership, and help narrow achievement gaps in challenged schools.

*We have consistently worked with the NYC Department of Education to meet contract obligations. As Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg confirmed in his June 14, 2017 response to the NYC Office of the Comptroller, “detailed time records…sign-in sheets and agenda” were provided by the Leadership Academy in support to its invoices.

*The Leadership Academy has rigorous systematic controls in place to administer contracted obligations.  Our books and records are audited annually by the internationally renowned auditing firm, BDO USA, LLP. 

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