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March 15, 2011

School Chancellor Selection Advisory Panel Releases Summary Report of their Findings and Deliberations 

School Chancellor Selection Advisory Panel Releases Summary Report of their Findings and Deliberations

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WASHINGTON -- Today Mayor Vincent C. Gray released the report summarizing the deliberations of the panel of educators, students and other community members who advised him in his appointment of a new Chancellor for the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS).

“The Advisory Panel’s advice confirmed what I believed all along -- Kaya Henderson is the right person to lead D.C. Public Schools,” said Mayor Gray. “As the authorizing legislation requires, I have given careful consideration to the panel’s feedback and I am extremely thankful for the hard work of the dedicated students, parents, educators and other community members who served on this panel.”

The report, prepared on the panel’s behalf by co-chair Katherine Bradley and reviewed by the majority of panel members, notes a broad consensus from the panel that Henderson was well qualified to forge ahead with DCPS reform efforts in a collaborative fashion -- while maximizing stability for the school district.

The panelists agreed that Henderson was an appropriate choice, and the vast majority expressed strong confidence in her track record as Interim Chancellor.

“I would recommend Kaya Henderson for the position. She is strong, committed to the position, and growing herself,” one panelist said.

Another noted of Henderson, “I can’t leave this room without giving her an endorsement.”

Panel members generally cited Henderson’s humility, skill at making difficult decisions with a minimum of acrimony resulting from them, and her intimate knowledge and extensive experience with education in the District of Columbia.

A few panelists expressed discomfort with the pro forma appearance of the process, since Henderson’s was the only name that Mayor Gray submitted to the panelists for consideration. But, other panel members said they would have been equally uncomfortable with the alternative – putting other finalists through the rigorous interview and vetting process only to be told that Henderson was the choice all along.

Bradley, founder and president of the CityBridge Foundation, served as a co-chair alongside United Negro College Fund President and CEO Michael Lomax. Both also served as the co-chairs of the Education Committee of Mayor Gray’s transition team.

The panel also included representatives of the Washington Teachers’ Union, teachers, principals, parents, students and community representatives. A full list of members is included in the attached report.

“While some panel members – most notably Washington Teachers’ Union President Nathan Saunders – expressed reservations about the process, they were almost unanimous in their view that Kaya Henderson possessed professional and personal qualifications that made her an excellent choice for the job,” Bradley said.

The District’s 2007 school-reform law vests in the Mayor the ultimate authority to select the Chancellor, but requires him to “establish a review panel of teachers, including representatives of the Washington Teachers Union, parents, and students … to aid the Mayor in his or her selection” of a new Chancellor. The law also requires the mayor to provide “resumes and other pertinent information pertaining to the individuals under consideration” to the panel; to convene a meeting to hear the panel’s opinions and recommendations; and to take those opinions and recommendations into account -- and “give great weight to any recommendation” of the Teachers’ Union -- when making his selection.

Henderson’s appointment must be confirmed by the D.C. Council.

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