The schools superintendent in Pittsburgh, who was one of four finalists to lead the District's schools, has withdrawn from consideration.

John W. Thompson, 59, was interviewed in Washington on July 23 by a search committee that includes Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and members of the D.C. Council and the Board of Education.

In an e-mail this week, Thompson said he was withdrawing because he was publicly identified as a candidate, according to Nancy R. Noeske, president of the Milwaukee search firm hired by the District to recruit and screen candidates for the superintendent's job.

The Washington Post reported July 24 that Thompson was a finalist in the long-running search, along with Clifford B. Janey, the former superintendent in Rochester, N.Y.; Eugene T.W. Sanders, the superintendent in Toledo; and Robert E. Schiller, the state superintendent in Illinois.

Following the interviews, Noeske said she called the four men to tell them that the search committee was advancing their names to the "collaborative," a subcommittee that consists of Williams, City Administrator Robert C. Bobb, two members of the council and three members of the Board of Education.

The collaborative is responsible for making recommendations to the school board, which hires the superintendent.

Noeske said she told Thompson that he was a finalist on the night of July 23. The next day, she said, he complained that the committee had told him his name would not become public unless the collaborative decided to recommend him to the school board.

Before going to Pittsburgh, Thompson was superintendent in Tulsa from 1994 to 2000. Neither he nor his spokeswoman, Pat Crawford, responded to requests for comment yesterday.

Thompson's withdrawal came as a surprise in both cities. Search committee members in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday they had not been told of the withdrawal.

In Pittsburgh, a clause barring Thompson from seeking other employment expired July 1 when his board did not renew his five-year contract, which expires in July 2005.

"I'm surprised, but in a way I'm happy," Alex Matthews, a supporter of Thompson's on that board, said yesterday.

Pittsburgh

Superintendent

John W. Thompson.