City officials and residents on a search committee began interviewing seven candidates for District school superintendent last night, reviving an effort that stalled last month when the front-runner for the job withdrew from consideration.

Clifford B. Janey, who was superintendent in Rochester, N.Y., from 1995 to 2002, and Candy Lee, a former executive with United Airlines, were interviewed last night, according to people close to the search process who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Lee, of New Jersey, was one of four finalists in a previous round of the search process.

Eugene T.W. Sanders, superintendent in Toledo, said yesterday that he was among "a handful" of candidates who would be interviewed. "I'm just going down to have a little conversation and see what takes place there," he said in an interview with Toledo television station WTVG. "I'm honored to have been recommended. I think it says a lot about what we've done academically with the Toledo public schools."

Janey and Sanders did not return phone messages yesterday, and Lee could not be located.

The process is being kept under tight secrecy. Even as they assembled yesterday evening at the Washington hotel where the interviews are being held, many of the search committee's more than a dozen members had not received any formal notice of whom they would be interviewing. Sanders and four other candidates are scheduled to be interviewed today. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), who is on the selection panel, is expected to take part in today's interviews.

The search panel also includes members of the D.C. Council and Board of Education. Several committee members who were interviewed said they were concerned that publicity might harm candidates who have not told their current employers about their interest in the superintendent's job.

School board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz and council member Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7), chairman of the education committee, would not comment on the search.

Two interim leaders have run the 64,000-student school system since Paul L. Vance resigned in November. The school board voted last month to begin contract negotiations with former Long Beach, Calif., superintendent Carl A. Cohn, but Cohn later pulled out, citing personal reasons and other professional obligations. In May, District leaders wooed former New York City schools chancellor Rudolph F. Crew, who instead took the job of schools chief in Miami-Dade County, Fla.

District officials, who initially said they wanted a permanent superintendent in place by this month, have not set a new target deadline since Crew and Cohn decided not to accept the job.

Sanders, a native of Sandusky, Ohio, was an assistant principal at two high schools, received a doctorate in education from Bowling Green State University and wrote a textbook on urban school leadership. He worked for the Toledo school district as a consultant before becoming superintendent in September 2000. A biography on the school district's Web site says Sanders provided "the pivotal leadership" for a major bond issue to pay for school renovations and "moved the district to its highest academic achievement ranking to date."

Janey was named a vice president last year at Scholastic Inc., the New York-based education and publishing firm. A graduate of Northeastern University, he holds a doctorate from Boston University and spent 22 years working in Boston's public schools, rising to chief academic officer before taking the Rochester job in July 1995. By the time he left the Rochester post in August 2002, he had feuded with school board members over a large budget deficit.

Lee, a 1972 Harvard University graduate who worked at United until last year, headed the airline's Loyalty Services, which includes the frequent flier program. She previously was president and chief executive of Troll Communications, a provider of educational materials. She recently studied at the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, based in Los Angeles, which helps train school leaders.

The D.C. search committee named Lee as one of four finalists in May, but she did not attract as much support as Crew or Cohn.

Eugene T.W. Sanders, left, and Clifford

B. Janey are two of the candidates. Janey and Candy Lee were interviewed last night.