DC’s state superintendent for education leaving post; nationwide search for replacement begins

One of D.C.’s top education officials is leaving her post.

State Superintendent for Education Hanseul Kang, who’s tasked with improving the quality of education in the D.C. school system, will step down next month after five and a half years on the job.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the move Tuesday afternoon and said the District is launching a nationwide search for Kang’s replacement.

“For the past five and a half years, Superintendent Kang has been focused on ensuring D.C.’s students, teachers, families and schools have what they need — from high-quality programming to clear and reliable information — to succeed,” Bowser said. “Because of the strong foundation she has built at OSSE, our city is better prepared to support and advance excellence and equity in our education system, even during these challenging times.”

Hanseul Kang has led the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education since 2015. (Courtesy OSSE)

During Kang’s tenure, D.C. Public Schools was named the fastest improving urban school system in the nation in the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Kang also oversaw the development of a star-rating system and report card for D.C. schools that grades schools on student performance.

In a statement, Kang called the D.C. school system a “proof point for the nation of what is possible.”

She went on, “I am so proud of everything we have achieved together, and I know that it would not have been possible without the partnership, ongoing feedback and engagement of our stakeholders — from students and families, to educators, school and local education agency leaders, and the community — and the dedication of our entire OSSE team.”

Kang’s tenure was also marked by controversies, involving widespread attendance and grading violations at nearly every D.C. high school and enrollment fraud at the prestigious Duke Ellington Schools of the Arts, both issues which her office investigated.

A 2018 report from Kang’s office into grading and attendance issues at Ballou High School concluded that teachers were pressured by principals and administrators to pass students.

Kang’s exit comes amid deep uncertainty in the District’s public school system, which began entirely virtual classes last week and will continue with distance learning through the beginning of November amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kang’s official last day is Oct. 16. She is leaving for a position at the Broad Center at the Yale School of Management, which is focused on improving K-12 education.

Before coming to D.C., Kang served as the chief of staff for the Tennessee commissioner of education and as a managing director for the Teach for America office in the group’s D.C. office.

A native of Albany, New York, Kang has a law degree from Harvard Law School and taught public school in New Mexico.

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