WASHINGTON — D.C. officials are calling for the public schools chancellor to step aside after the announcement that he violated policy, bypassing the school lottery system to benefit his own child.
Chancellor Antwan Wilson announced and apologized for the move Friday, saying in a statement that “I understand that many of you will be angered and disappointed by my actions,” and adding that “I am committed to regaining your trust and continuing the reforms needed to ensure that our students have the tools they need to succeed in the world.”
He said in the statement that he “sought assistance” on how to transfer his child to another high school “correctly,” but that “the process I followed did not align with DCPS policy.” Jennifer Niles, the deputy mayor for education, resigned as a result of the announcement.
Robert White was the first member of the D.C. Council to call for Wilson to resign, and on Monday he told WTOP “It seems very clear that the chancellor had a major lapse in judgment, and, I think clearly violated a very important and a very new policy that he in fact put into place.”
White cited “the frustration that parents go through when they go through this lottery process — whether they like the end result or not, they do not love this process. And to see … officials to be able to jump them, to jump their kids in line, is something that parents just won’t be OK with.” Outrage from parents “was quick and it was consistent,” he said.
“I don’t see any chance that the chancellor can regain the confidence of public officials and more importantly families and residents, White added. “… [W]ithout their trust, I think we all are reaching the conclusion that the resignation is inevitable.”
Councilmembers Vince Gray, Mary Cheh and Charles Allen also called for Wilson to resign.
Cheh, of Ward 3, said in her statement that Wilson should also be replaced “for reasons that go well beyond the school-placement issue,” citing recent revelations of improper grade-changing at many D.C. high schools.
Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray said in his statement that “Wilson violated our trust in pursuit of a self-serving objective. His actions leave me no option but to demand his immediate resignation.”
Charles Allen, of Ward 6, said that Wilson “had demonstrated skill in leading the system,” but that “he has lost — and will be unable to regain — the trust of so many parents that is vital to the success of D.C. Public Schools.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser, in accepting Niles’ resignation Friday, said that she “set out a series of corrective actions for Chancellor Wilson,” including the apology he issued, removing his child from the school, and “referring the matter to the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability and to the Inspector General to further examine if the code of conduct was violated.”