DC’s Education Committee chair reverses call for mayor to testify on schools chancellor scandal

FILE -- D.C. Council member David Grosso is seen here in 2017. (Courtesy D.C. Council, File)

WASHINGTON — A D.C. council member is changing his mind Thursday after calling for Mayor Muriel Bowser to testify in the city’s latest schools scandal.

Education Committee Chair David Grosso, I-At Large, said he expects the mayor to be transparent about when she learned former schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson broke policy to get his daughter into a prestigious D.C. high school. Bowser told WTOP she can’t recall Wilson telling her about the move, which happened months before she demanded his resignation.

“I spoke to the mayor … She understands the necessity for the public to know the truth on this matter,” Grosso said.

After talking with colleagues and the city’s general counsel, Grosso said he realized investigating how Wilson broke the school’s lottery policy in transferring his daughter, and who knew about it, would not allow the committee to focus on pressing issues weighing on students and teachers.

“Rather than go into a full investigation here where there’s not going to be a voluntary statement by the mayor, maybe even other parties, seemed to me like it would really be a time commitment I’m not prepared to do right now,” Grosso said.

The mayor’s chief of staff John Falcicchio shared Bowser’s statement with WTOP following Grosso’s decision not to move forward with a committee investigation:

“Antwan Wilson never told the mayor that he was going to break the DCPS Discretionary Placement Policy for the benefit of his daughter. Neither does she have any recollection of Antwan saying his daughter was changing schools. Antwan certainly never asked to be exempted from the policy and the mayor would not have approved the transfer. It is disappointing that Antwan doesn’t realize how hurtful his actions were to the entire system.”

There are two investigations into the matter; Grosso said he will be keeping an eye on the audits led by the inspector general’s office and the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability.

Meanwhile, Grosso is setting up public roundtables to address reforming D.C.’s school system facing attendance and fraudulent residency issues, as well as a damning report on the graduation of students who did not meet the necessary requirements. The first public hearing is March 19.

“It’s the first of a series of roundtables looking at what we need to do differently moving forward into the next 10 years of reforms. It’ll include questions around teacher and student evaluations, school-based budgeting; it’ll include questions around engagement.”

Grosso said there could also be some “tough questions” when it comes to the collaboration and the mayor’s role in the city’s education leadership.

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