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On Nov. 22, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced her choice for the new Chancellor of DC Public Schools. As president of the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) and a member of the DCPS Rising Leadership Committee--the panel was required by law to advise the Mayor on the selection of a new chancellor--I am extremely disappointed that the Mayor did not follow the law in making her decision.
This is a real disservice to the community. Given this blatant violation of the lawful process, the chancellor designee will begin his work under a cloud of broken promises instead of in an environment of transparency and trust. This is neither good for the new Chancellor, the people who will report to him, or the students they all serve.
The District of Columbia Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA) specifically states that the selection panel should be provided "the resumes and other pertinent information pertaining to the individuals under consideration" and that the Mayor should "convene a meeting of the panel to hear the opinions and recommendations of the panel."
The PERAA also says that the Mayor "shall consider the opinions and recommendations of the panel in making his or her nomination and shall give great weight to any recommendation of the Washington Teachers' Union." The Mayor clearly did not follow these provisions of the law.
In recent weeks, I have sent three separate e-mails to Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, who convened the panel on behalf of the Mayor, reminding her of these PERAA provisions and asking that they be adhered to.
On Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, I, along with the other members of the DCPS Rising Leadership Committee, received a message from Niles informing us of an "Emergency Committee Meeting" on Nov. 22 at 9 am "to discuss the next steps in the process to select the new DCPS Chancellor." Mayor Bowser used what Niles had claimed was an "emergency" meeting of the panel to announce that she had already chosen the new Chancellor, without the legally required input from the panel.
Although the PERAA wasn't followed in the selection of Chancellors Rhee or Henderson, the WTU, parents and other education stakeholders were hopeful that the rule of law would prevail this time around.
However, what's most important going forward is that we work together in the spirit of collaboration to do what's best for our students and their schools. The WTU and its members fully intend to support the Chancellor approved by the city in the effort to deliver a high quality education to children throughout the District of Columbia.
The D.C. City Council has announced that it plans to hold three hearings on Wilson's nomination--on Nov. 30, Dec. 5 and Dec. 8. The WTU will provide more information as it becomes available.
WTU is committed to representing every educator in the District of Columbia Public Schools