On Monday morning, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6-D) issued a statement calling for District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Antwan Wilson to step aside. The statement follows one issued Friday by his office in which the Councilmember said that he would ensure an independent review takes place, and that a full accounting be made.
Wilson issued a written apology Friday acknowledging that he had not followed policy in asking Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles to help him transfer his daughter from Duke Ellington School for the Arts to Wilson High School after his family determined that Duke Ellington was not an ideal fit. It is not clear where his daughter will go to school Tuesday.
Niles was also Deputy Mayor for Education last May when it was discovered that several DCPS officials had been allowed to circumvent lottery rules under Chancellor Kaya Henderson. Wilson signed a policy limiting DCPS administration ability to transfer students outside the lottery and prohibiting them for government officials three months before his daughter was transferred.
Niles offered her resignation Friday, and the Mayor accepted. Chancellor Wilson was asked to apologize and his actions will be investigated.
Allen’s Monday statement said that he had spoken to DCPS parents who expressed their anger with the Chancellor’s actions. However, before he made a public decision, he wanted to speak with Wilson.
“We spoke for nearly an hour early Sunday evening, and while I appreciate his candor, I have come to an opinion that I don’t take lightly,” Allen said in the statement.
“While I believe that Chancellor Wilson had demonstrated skill in leading the system, I also believe that he has lost — and will be unable to regain — the trust of so many parents that is vital to the success of DC Public Schools. Without that public trust, any Chancellor will be unable to advance a vision.”
“Therefore, I believe it is in the best interest of the District and DC Public Schools that Chancellor Wilson step aside and that Mayor Bowser outline a transition plan and strategy to rebuild parent and community trust as we continue to work together to improve our public schools.”
Revelations about the Chancellor’s circumvention of the policy come just before the start of the oversight hearings held to assess the performance of District agencies. The hearing of the Committee on Education on the performance of DCPS takes place 10 a.m. Wednesday Feb. 21, and the public can sign up to testify.
Allen is the third District Councilmember to call for Wilson’s resignation. Robert C. White (At Large-I) was the first Councilmember to call for his resignation Friday, saying he had lost confidence in the Chancellor’s leadership. Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3-D) went further, saying she thought “the Chancellor should be replaced for reasons that go well beyond the placement issue. He is committed to following the same flawed system that has led us to graduating students who are not at all ready for college or careers.” Councilmember Vincent Gray (Ward 7-D) called for Wilson’s resignation, saying that “he violated our trust in pursuit of a self-serving objective.” And on Monday afternoon, Councilmember Elissa Silverman (At Large-I) added her name to the call, saying she had lost her trust in the Chancellor but that the weekend had shown that the public, elected officials and parents shared those feelings.
DCPS and Wilson have said that his public apology will be his final statement on the matter.