DC mayoral appointees caught up in school placement probe

WASHINGTON — Among seven parents who received preferential treatment from the former chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, two of them were city employees who were appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, according to a D.C. Council member who was briefed on the matter.

The revelation comes after an investigation by D.C. Inspector General Daniel Lucas found that former chancellor Kaya Henderson was not impartial in placing certain children in schools that were outside of their neighborhood boundaries.

“I met with the inspector general on Tuesday and walked through the overall investigation with him,” said D.C. Council member David Grosso, who chairs the council’s education committee. “After reading the report, I do think that the former chancellor did step outside of the bounds that she should have stayed in.”

The report said that Henderson gave preferential treatment to seven parents when she placed their children in out-of-boundary schools. Normally, families can only send their kids outside their neighborhood’s boundary by going through the District’s competitive school lottery system.

“It’s very frustrating,” Grosso said. “There are these waiting lists to get into schools. If you can get in just because you know somebody, that just cuts into all the credibility.”

The seven parents in the report are not identified by name. However, Grosso confirmed that two of them were Bowser appointees.

“It is odd to me that, of the seven, many of them were D.C. government officials,” Grosso said.

According to The Washington Post, one of the mayoral appointees was D.C. Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity Courtney Snowden, whose son was placed in Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, a school with a waiting list of more than 1,000 families.

A Bowser spokesman responded by telling the Post that, even if Henderson’s actions were deemed inappropriate, there is “nothing wrong” with appointees asking the chancellor if their children could be placed in an out-of-boundary school.

Other parents in the report include a former D.C. elected official and a principal in the city’s school system.

Antwan Wilson, the new chancellor, took over after Henderson resigned last
year.

“I have a meeting set up with the new chancellor to make sure that, as we move forward, he uses better discretion,” Grosso said. “I hope he will take a different approach.”


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