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Driving the Chancellor

The human resources section of the DCPS website is filled with job openings, not unusual for a school system with an overwhelming level of need. Postings include a psychologist for the Head Start program, project coordinator for the Special Education "critical response team," and a "mentor teacher" to help novice instructors.

One opening, announced in July and yet-to-be-filled, is for a driver to move Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee around the District. The schools chief logs a lot of time in her government SUV, feverishly answering e-mails and returning calls as she bounces from meeting to meeting.

Spokeswoman Dena Iverson said the chancellor is neither unhappy with her current driver nor picky about finding a new one.

"The chancellor's current driver is looking to enter into a faster-paced field position," Iverson said in an e-mail. "Honestly, though, we haven't focused on filling the position given the incredibly pressing priorities pertaining to schools."

For those interested, the position pays between $29,800 and $38,400 a year. And it involves more than knowing the quickest way from Tenleytown to Anacostia. The driver must be familiar with "rules and regulations concerning safeguarding of highly confidential documents, as well as conversations."

He or she must also be able to "coordinate and/or provide physical safety in a hostile or confrontational situation."

By Bill Turque  |  February 26, 2009; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Comments

Why does the Chancellor need a driver? Do members of the Council have drivers? Do Deputy Mayors have Drivers? WTF are we doing in this city.

Posted by: AJordanMBA | February 26, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

AJordanMBA, you are on the right track. Why does Magic Michelle need a driver? What's wrong with her fingers and toes to drive? Doesn't she make enough money without this benefit?

Firing people randomly would make a person worry about needing protection, especially in this recession. If she stops firing people all willy nilly, she won't have to be afraid to go places alone. WTH for real? I'm not saying people should hit her but wow, I would understand ...

Posted by: southyrndiva | February 26, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Really? That is so ridiculous....I can think of hundreds of other useful things that $29,000-$38,000 could provide to children ...

Posted by: Educator1 | February 27, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

SouthynDiva - I assumed Chancellor Rhee was seeking protection from students, not irate former employees, who after all, aren’t at the schools any more. It’s doubtful that she is fearful of attack from ordinary citizens, because just last week in a local TV interview, she mentioned that that people routinely tell her what a great job she’s doing. Regarding school violence, we already know from reading the Post that there's plenty of that. Presumably Rhee knows more about it than the average citizen does, so that might explain why she feels the need for protection.

I’d like to know how common it is 1) for superintendents to have drivers and 2) for them to have protection when traveling to schools. If it’s common, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. I’d also like to know if she’s had such protection from the beginning and if not, what precipitated the need and when did the protection begin.

Posted by: efavorite | February 27, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Let's see she had a driver, scheduler and others accompanying her in the early part of her Chancellor career. She would pull up in front of the destination and the driver would jump out and open the door, she would exit and people would greet her and escort her into the school. So, my question is...when she got the job she had a driver; she did not ask for a driver it was given to her as like the superintendents who were previously in the job. In her defense I have seen her drive her own economy personal van to meetings, I guess one would argue if the Mayor can toot around in a mini-cooper, why can't she? Yet, if her former driver is able to move-up the career-ladder as well as other former DCPS superintendent drivers' have done successfully...the consider-it upward mobility. No pun intended!!

Efavorite; to enlightened you all of our former big-strapping african-american male superintendents had driver's. I would even say that our tough-as-nails african-american female superintendents had drivers too.

It's either a driver or expect a slower response time from her emails...because its dangerous trying to "text" and drive.

I would suggest a Chancellor Center on wheels...convert a school bus and there you have it...one-stop-shop education mobile.

Posted by: PowerandPride | February 27, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

PowerandPride, thanks for the first-hand information. Before seeing your post, I did a little checking on my own and found that a school superintendent having a car and driver is not unprecedented. As you point out, former DC superintendent Janey had the same arrangement. As reported in the Post, 7/4/07 shortly after Fenty named Rhee, “Like Janey, Rhee will receive a driver and a vehicle as part of her compensation.” Also, while Janey’s new job in NJ gave him a car but no driver, apparently his predecessor there had both: “True, Janey will get a district car for work-related travel, but he will not get a driver, unlike the superintendent he is replacing, Marion Bolden.” (reported 9/3/08 by northjersey.com).

An open question is about the requirement for the driver to “provide safety in a hostile environment.” I didn’t see anything in the Occupational Outlook handbook, (put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) indicating that this is a requirement for limo drivers. Did Janey have this same requirement? Is this typical for superintendents? Why would superintendents, who have limited contact with students, require more protection than teachers? Maybe this was what Chancellor Rhee was referring to in her recent Post editorial when she said, “…we have thousands of teachers everyday who are going into classrooms and doing absolutely heroic things with kids.”

Posted by: efavorite | February 27, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I am confused, are we equating that the limo-driver also serves as security? I would like to see the position description not the vacancy announcement. If it has a portion referencing a body-guard type mandate...then I would like to know what would justify the means with the cause. Now mind you all it takes is one looney-toon sending her one e-mail of craziness and the justification is warranted. In actuality this is a perfect job for a retired police officer; who else knows the inner-city and the locations of the schools. Again, this is all after the fact as the job was classified and placed into the budget; so hence if the job is still unfilled after 8-months in such a lucrative job market...maybe the position that they need to fill first and foremost within DCPS is a "recruiter."

Posted by: PowerandPride | February 27, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

PowerandPride - I tried briefly and didn’t find a position description. Maybe you can. However, the vacancy announcement can be found in this pdf file: http://www.k12.dc.us/offices/ohr/positiondescriptions/2008/08-COS-053%20Chancellor's%20driver%20072208.pdf
The requirement to provide physical safety is last in a long list of “Required Skills.”

In the html version, it cuts off before listing the required skills. I’ve downloaded both the pdf and html versions. If you don’t see the physical safety requirement when you check, please advise and I’ll post it here.

Regarding Chancellor Rhee's protection being warranted on the basis of one email threat, would that also go for a teacher or other DCPS employee who received a threat?

Posted by: efavorite | February 27, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

oops! just noticed the word "positiondescription" in the pdf file link. I see it in the html link I downloaded too - so I guess "vacancy announcement" and "position description" are one and the same.

Posted by: efavorite | February 27, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

efavorite;

Exacto mundo...the position states that a person should possess the requirement in providing physical security to be the driver for the chancellor. If the teacher's position is of such that requires a person to provide him/her a person in addition to self for physical security; then it shall be given. Again, the job is classified and budgeted and if it was not deemed necessary at one point then I know that someone would have made a ballyhoo about this much earlier in the DCPS saga of Who's Driving Miss Michelle. Where's Morgan Freeman when you need him, gosh darn-it!?!

Posted by: PowerandPride | February 27, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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