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What did Kaya Henderson say and when didn't she say it?

One of the reasons Hardy Middle School parents and staff were so angered by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's Dec. 4 announcement that she was replacing respected principal Patrick Pope was that it seemed to contradict prior assurances that Pope would remain in place.

At the raucous Dec. 4 meeting in the school cafeteria, Hardy LSRT member Keenan Keller confronted Rhee with news that deputy chancellor Kaya Henderson was on record ruling out any leadership change. Keller said she was asked about it at a meeting of the NAACP's Washington D.C. branch.

"There was a direct question put to your deputy chancellor," Keller said.

Henderson, who read Keller's assertion in The Post, said she made no such statement. "I don't mind being in the newspaper, but I like it to be for something that I said," Henderson said.

Keller said this week his information came from two people who heard Henderson: NAACP branch president Lorraine Miller and D.C. Vote public affairs director Eugene Kinlow. Miller did not return a phone message. Kinlow was less definitive when contacted Thursday.

"I can't really recall if it was a specific Hardy question or a generic question about moving principals around, so I really can't speak to it."

It turns out that your D.C. Wire correspondent was also at the NAACP meeting, although it took a few days for him to figure that out. It was held Nov. 12 at Israel Baptist Church, but when Keller described the event to the Hardy audience on Dec. 4, he said it was "last week," leaving your correspondent--who is easily confused--with the idea that he was talking about a different event.

He doesn't remember Henderson saying word one about Hardy.

Rhee wants to attract more neighborhood families to the Georgetown school, which currently draws much of its 70 percent minority enrollment from across the city. She has said that Pope, who pioneered Hardy's arts and music program, was not as effective as he might have been in marketing Hardy as a neighborhood school.

Still, the Hardy community did have reason to believe that Pope would stay.

Charlotte Brookins-Hudson, former Hardy parent and PTA president, received a Nov. 3 e-mail from William Yukstas, a member of Rhee's staff, who said the school would remain open to out of boundary students and that Pope would stay as principal.

"This is not set to change in any way nor will school leadership," Yukstas wrote.

Rhee, asked by Keller about the e-mail at the Hardy meeting, said: "We wanted to make sure we were able to communicate to the Hardy community at one time, with me being able to explain exactly what was happening. So we were waiting for this time in order to do that, so people could ask questions and I could answer them."

"So let me be clear," said Keller, whose day job is majority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. "You actually had your staff misrepresent the position rather than saying we can't make an announcement now?"

"That's absolutely our fault for not being clear about the fact that there was an announcement to be made," said Rhee.


--Bill Turque


For more on Education, please see http://washingtonpost.com/education

By Washington Post editors  |  December 10, 2009; 5:32 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque,Education  
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Comments

The email sent by someone from Chancellor Rhee's staff stating that the Hardy school's leadership would not change puts DCPS in a bad light given the announcement Chancellor Rhee made just one month later to do just that. This reminds me of Noah Wepman's certification of the DCPS budget and knowing failure to inform Dr. Gandhi about DCPS budget pressures.

What gives here?

Posted by: DCResident22 | December 11, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight--Henderson did not lie but William Yukstas, a member of Rhee's staff, who said the school would remain open to out of boundary students and that Pope would stay as principal did lie. Could it be that Yukstas is out of the loop? Or is

Goes to show that they all are a bunch of liars.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | December 11, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight--Henderson did not lie but William Yukstas, a member of Rhee's staff, who said the school would remain open to out of boundary students and that Pope would stay as principal did lie. Could it be that Yukstas is out of the loop? Or is Rhee BBF Henderson out of the loop? Perhaps Rhee shared her plans with the "Good Man" Kevin.

Goes to show that they all are a bunch of liars and when lying it is hard to keep the facts straight and the public fooled.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | December 11, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Okay...where's the email? When will the Tiger-style of tabloid rhetoric stop within DCPS news worthiness?

Let's dissect that email...okay it says Pope will remain as Principal. Now, we all know that principals are on one-year appointments, so for him remaining as principal for this school year is factual...and for him to remain as principal for next school term is hopeful...but not guaranteed. So in essence to have an email that states that Pope will remain as principal is 100% accurate but it all pertains to how the question was asked....therefore where is that entire email????

Oh! Again, is Pope out of a job...or being reassigned to another position which again is in the DCPS leadership right to do so?

Posted by: PowerandPride | December 11, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is posturing -- as usual. People at the NAACP meeting HEARD Henderson say there would be no change. However, this situation is not new. How many more times will Rhee have to lie before people see her lies for what they are?

She changed her position midstream on this just as she did at the Council hearing into the manufactured RIF. Rhee's staff passed out hard copies of her presentation to the council. After hearing Noah Wepman's testimony one of her many staffers took the papers back, removed part and passed them out again during the five minute break. She is very skilled at changing things, being a fixer and modifying plans.

If she is bold enough to allegedly interfere in a federal investigation for her boyfriend with impunity, what makes you think she'll hesitate to continue lying in DC? She and Fenty are the only two people I have ever heard of who get away with more than Kwame Kilpatrick yet have never been to prison for it. They both act like the Teflon Don John Gotti himself. And no one, not even elected legislators on the City Council, has the nerve to tell them no or to stop them from flouting the law.

This sums it up best and I hope Mr. Keller sees that I support his statements wholeheartedly:

Rhee, asked by Keller about the e-mail at the Hardy meeting, said: "We wanted to make sure we were able to communicate to the Hardy community at one time, with me being able to explain exactly what was happening. So we were waiting for this time in order to do that, so people could ask questions and I could answer them."

"So let me be clear," said Keller, whose day job is majority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. "You actually had your staff misrepresent the position rather than saying we can't make an announcement now?"

Now Magic Michelle, lie your way out of that.

Posted by: southyrndiva | December 11, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Just a reminder, you can heard audio from last Friday's meeting at Hardy at:
http://georgetownmetropolitan.com/2009/12/04/breaking-news-pope-to-leave-hardy-to-form-new-arts-and-music-magnet-school-hyde-principal-to-replace-him/
The specific audio file is:
http://georgetownmetropolitan.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/20091204-182728.mp3
(ALERT: GeorgeTownMetropolitan sees to be put out by people living in Washington, DC. They do not indicate if they have ever been involved with DCPS in anyway.
I, who provided the links, do not live in DCPS, nor have had any interaction with DCPS, except for having worked with a teacher who had been in DCPS.)

Posted by: edlharris | December 11, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh, the Rhee (Fenty) motto has been amended: deflect, delay, deny . . . and detract!

Posted by: schooletal | December 11, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

So Turque doesn’t remember any mention of Pope staying being mentioned at the NAACP meeting, but others do, but only Turque has a WaPo byline so he publishes his belated recollection. But Rhee has already acknowledged that her deputy lied, so fit doesn’t really matter where it came out; it was a deception.

In contrast to most media personalities, who throw Rhee softball questions, Hardy parent Keenan Keller persistently questions Rhee until she admits the deception. I like to think he was influenced by my post in advance of the meeting that exhorted Hardy parents to pin her down until she answered the specific questions they asked. However, considering Keller is a big-shot Hill lawyer, he probably did it on his own. Whatever - that’s what it takes to get a straight answer out of Rhee - an irate parent-lawyer asking hard questions until she’s cornered. Thank you, Mr. Keller and don’t stop now. She’s counting on this all fading away, as most things do. But I think your timing is right. Her deceptions are adding up.

Go after her.

Posted by: efavorite | December 11, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Bill Turque:
1. Patrick Pope did not "pioneer the Hardy MS arts program. It was pioneered by the founding director of the thirty year old "Fillmore Arts Center." Hardy MS was a charter member of the "Six School Complex," whose extracurricular service was always open to students across the city, and which had as one of its missions the survival of public education arts options in the Ward 3 and Ward 2 service areas. www.fillmoreartscenter.org for more.

Over the strenuous objections of feeder school parents, but with the support of a dedicated and Fillmore critic and now Hardy MS LSRT community member, Pope dropped Fillmore. Once a devotee of Kumon Math, a commercial skill and drill franchise he gave public space to at Hardy, Pope enlarged his staff and staked a different marketing claim and cause for selective admission with an application form and procedure charter school opponents would see as the clearest evidence of discrimination in admission and retention. Hard to market drill-to-death, now, isn't it?
No pioneer of arts education here in Pope.
Consider interviewing Fillmore staff.

Posted by: incredulous | December 12, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

One thing more, Bill.

Ask a resident numbers-guy at WaPo to check the demographics of the Hardy MS attendance zone: If every within-boundary feeder-school 5th grader attended Hardy MS, over half the seats would still be available for out-of-boundary students.

With current Hardy MS administration folk no longer holding slots for those they favor and discriminating against selected out-of-boundary students currently attending feeder schools, the out-of-boundary population is bound to be different. That is most of what rubs a number of people raw: The end of privilege they had come to expect. See the decade-old WaPo series on DCPS for more on that.

And, Bill. You might have covered the Hardy MS kurfuffle in the context of the deliberate shrinkage of maximum size and therefore enrollment opportunities (and controversial leadership) at Ward 3 Deal MS, which began before Fenty / Rhee And the failure of Francis Junior High / MS, to attract, retain, and effectively educate most any middle school students, almost all of whom were out-of-boundary.

Posted by: incredulous | December 12, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

The issue that is most concerning for those of us who have kids in DCPS is the increased (or now obvious) paternalism evidenced by the Rhee administration. We may not agree with the decisions being made, but the idea that it's acceptable to deliberately deceive parents speaks volumes.

Posted by: verumputo | December 12, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

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