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Cafritz "stunned" by Ellington scenario

Duke Ellington School of the Arts co-founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz says that if the District is contemplating a move for the Georgetown school, it is doing so without speaking to any of its partners.

"No one has spoken to me or to the chairman of the board," said Cafritz, referring to Michaele Christian, president of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project (DESAP) board, one of two that helps govern and finance the institution along with the District.

The Post reported Sunday that District officials have estimated the cost of moving Ellington into the former Logan Elementary School near Union Station, with an eye toward turning its current home into a traditional neighborhood high school for Ward 2. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) backs the idea.

District officials have so far said only that there are a number of different scenarios they are looking at for Logan. But Cafritz, a former D.C. school board president, said she was reliably informed over the weekend -- she declined to say by who -- that school construction czar Allen Y. Lew had also commissioned drawings that show what Logan would look like as a new home for Ellington, but without the input of anyone connected with the school or familiar with its needs. (I have a request in to speak with Lew)

Cafritz said she was "stunned" by the Sunday article, and the idea that the much smaller Logan could ever be a suitable location for Ellington.

"I've had tons of meetings in Logan," she said. "It's absurd. It's beyond the pale." Cafritz said that while she supports Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, she added: "This administration has a tendency to decide it is going to do something and then to just do it."

The issue will almost certainly come up at tonight's meeting of the DESAP board, she said.

By Bill Turque  |  January 19, 2010; 8:17 AM ET
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Why would Ms. Cafritz be stunned. This is pretty much standard operating procedure for Ms. Rhee. She herself has said that consultation is overrated, so why bother.

It's sad, because I think Ms. Rhee has done some very positive things, and then makes enemies doing something like this without consulting any of the stakeholders (except possibly the parents of elementary students in Ward 2).

Posted by: Wyrm1 | January 19, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

How much money and time has been spent developing plans and architectural drawings on moving Ellington? These back room meetings are diverting a lot of mental energy and funds away from many serious problems that continue to plague the system.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | January 19, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Awww...did the city not run it's plans past the self obsessed trust fund child of DC who thinks she has to be consulted for everything? This womans epic failure during her tenure as school board president is more than enough reason to exclude her from such things, on top of the fact that she isn't a DC government, or School employee. If she doesn't want to be involved when the school moves to a more central city location, easier to reach by all, then fine.

Posted by: Nosh1 | January 19, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Ah, this could be very exciting - I suspect Rhee is salivating at the thought of doing "what's best for children" and taking on Cafritz at the same time, not to mention the whole Ellington community and of course planning her September wedding.

Posted by: efavorite | January 19, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Is someone making money off of this? Is that why Ellington is to be moved?

Posted by: jlp19 | January 19, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Um, efavorite. This may just be my favorite comments post ever. Shades of Princess Pride, no?

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | January 19, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Nosh1 your post is unwarranted. Let's stick to the issues. How can Rhee make such a drastic decision without even consulting the principal and vice principal of a school, let alone its stakeholders. Who knows what "a new Ellington" would need more than them?! This is definitely a class issue. Rhee wants wealthy Ward 2 parents to put their children in DCPS. Sadly, this will fail. What parent of sound mind would put their child in this broken school system if they had resources to send them elsewhere! Furthermore, where is all the money coming from? There was no money to keep teachers but magically there are thousands of dollars lying around to relocate recording studios, radio stations, lighting and sound systems...Maybe Rhee is donating some of her bonus money...

Posted by: DCNative18 | January 19, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

It appears that in the end, the only ones who will continue to support Michelle Rhee's supposed reforms with be the Washington Post Editorial Board and Kevin Johnson. Kevn has to, but we don't know why Editorial Board has to.

Posted by: jlp19 | January 19, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

"If its your claim it and fight for it, if its not let the thieves have it!" Meaning that if the Residents of DC see Ellington as theirs then they better FIGHT Fenty and Rhee tooth & Nail on it. If not that Thief Fenty is going to have one of his so many Buddies getting money to convert the school when it is not even needed! Then again, Jack WHO? The most useless of Councilmembers and also the one who gets the most kickbacks! Sad our DC Government today has about the same as many CRIMINALS as they have walking around the Streets of DC! Reminder the ones Policing the City have more criminal acts they wish to hide, just ask the Chief that one!

Posted by: ifordc | January 20, 2010 3:48 AM | Report abuse

Nosh1, your post is so factually inaccurate that I have to comment on it- wrong wrong wrong.

Posted by: bbcrock | January 20, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I hope that not only the city comes out against this, but the arts community as well. The numerous partnerships and the alumni who are now famous and obtained their foundations at Ellington as well as the famous celebrities who have supported the school for years should be screaming and hollering. Rhee's job is to dismantle and she is very successful at that. This is an outrage!

Posted by: candycane1 | January 20, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

This is APPALLING...If they think they are going to take Duke Ellington without a fight they are sadly mistaken!!!

Signed, c/o 88 Duke Ellington Alumni!!!!!!

Posted by: syjone | January 20, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Syjone - I'm with you, but keep in mind - Rhee LOVES a fight. Please confer with other groups who have fought with Rhee for pointers- e.g., McKinley and Hardy parents.

Soccermom- Thanks! Another interpretation is that Rhee is screaming for help: "Please stop me before I kill again! I got away with the RIF. I got away with Hardy. I had no choice but to go for Ellington. Please help me!"

Posted by: efavorite | January 20, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

If the school is to relocate, it must be to its own brand new state of the art facility that will serve the needs for the next generation of young artists from Washington, DC. If the Union Station site is the most desirable choice, the current school there (Logan Elem.) must be demolished for the new Duke Ellington School to rise in it's place, as there is absolutely no way the Ellington community will support moving from the it's current home. Oh, and by the way, Rhee et. al., call the key stakeholders next time. It's a shame to find this out in the press. Let's get rid of all these back room deals and decisions.

Posted by: troydonte | January 20, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

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