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New firings in central office

DCPS confirmed Candi Peterson's weekend reports in The Washington Teacher that 18 Office of Special Education (OSE) staffers were let go on Friday. No details yet on what jobs they held or what exactly drove the dismissals, although spending pressures seem to be in the mix. Spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said Sunday evening that "in an effort to control costs and improve operations OSE made personnel decisions based on each of their department's overarching goals and initiatives."

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By Bill Turque  |  March 8, 2010; 6:48 AM ET
 
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Comments

Way to go Candi.

Posted by: edlharris | March 8, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: morse99 | March 8, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: morse99

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Posted by: checkered1 | March 8, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: checkered1 | March 8, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Rhee has full legal authority to fire anyone--given to her by the city council and supported by the mayor. Some organizations run better with fewer people; others need staff replaced by those who are more productive, effective, and better communicators. The blog scoop on this layoff immediately drew some comments suggesting a racist plot, which is ridiculous, no matter how you look at it, because of the make up of the Central Office. Then, the complaints go, Rhee was just firing people who disagreed with her reform program. You betcha. Why would she retain the band of sniveling, screaming obstructionists who are actively undermining and blocking school reform that the people of the District want? Or, perhaps, they are just wasting money by not producing. There are too many CO staffers, still, plus a phalanx of teachers, who think they can stave off reform and defend their "entitlement" to jobs by shouting the loudest and obstructing things like IMPACT. The teachers who fit this description are little different from the kids they complain about/have written off/or who, understandably, do not engage in mutual respect. If we never change the teachers and staff who are cemented in the old ways, and who believe they have lifetime jobs, we will never improve DCPS. And they will drive out the good teachers and CO staff whom we should be working hard to keep for the sake of the children. Make sense?

Posted by: axolotl | March 8, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Ditto, axolotl.

Posted by: cbr1 | March 8, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Would somebody please call for an audit of DCPS? There continues to be mass firings but hiring has never stopped. Explain where the savings are.

Posted by: candycane1 | March 8, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

candycane1,

An audit is a legitimate suggestion, but would take months. It's possible that some HR and payroll data can show the adds and subtracts using headcount and salary expenditure data. And if the new hires are more junior, salaries and benefits would be less expensive. Also keep in mind that the Central Office, almost everyone would agree at about the time MR came in--except perhaps the CO employees--was swollen with excess, not highly productive staff as a group. That was certainly the perception in many, if not all, schools. The CO area where the March 5 firings took place is a money magnet but not terribly productive, by reputation--CO managers would have the details. Rhee may be making some replacements, not looking for cost-savings, in the name of more productivity and effectiveness. The CO layoffs could be one or both of these causes.

Posted by: axolotl | March 8, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, 2:31 PM. Who should be the party to call for one? In any other State, the Chief State School Officer, who in DC holds the title of Superintendent. But, she, too, like the head of the Local Education Authority (LEA) reports to the Mayor.

But, good to read someone else asking for an audit which would provide basic information on the structure and operation of DCPS as an essential service provider. Budgeting documents have required a secret codebook to decipher; and then they were still incomprehensible.

In the instance of these layoffs , is Special Education now getting a major overhaul? If so, from and to what?

Posted by: incredulous | March 8, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

All these firings, hirings RIF's what is the head count down at CO? Rhee and how many bobbleheads?

Posted by: 2belinda | March 8, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

More Rhee discord, disruption and disappointment. I'm disgusted!

Posted by: ColoredSpirit | March 8, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Hiring folks with special education experience is hard to find.

Posted by: eabgarnet | March 8, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Are any of these firings about laziness,daziness or craziness in DCPS by Master M. Rhee? And is she kin to Joon Rhee the famous martial arts instructors of the 70 and 80's in DC?

Posted by: foxxmacpryor | March 8, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Can DCPS account for all it's employees now? when i was there DCPS had phantom employees and Special ED had more people and more out of control costs than any other group. I know it was performance based budgeting on paper, but it was far from it in reality.

with all the problems with DCPS you'll never get the audit you seek. Given the negative results, Rhee has been there too long to point blame. All the results point directly to her! In the area of Special ED DCPS is failing miserably.

The city auditor could be sent in, but with mayoral control of the whole City government Enterprise no one is seeking these informational requests.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 8, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

thank u Mr.Turque!

Posted by: mademoiselle_shy_strawberries10 | March 8, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Oknow1 you're right no one is asking but the council does have oversight(as they keep saying) and by now and after the October 29th discovery of the "knowingly" false numbers sent to Ghandi by Wepman and Rhee it "should" have been at the top of the to do list.

Posted by: candycane1 | March 8, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

this piece on KC school was kind of eye opening. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/07/AR2010030701513.html?nav=hcmoduletmv

Posted by: oknow1 | March 8, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Even though Rhee has the authority to hire and fire at will (and simultaneously it seems), the City Council needs to exercise a modicum of oversight. While it's harder to follow the money for some of the larger departments (like Teaching and Learning), a quick audit could be conducted of smaller departments to see if 1) the budget the Council approved for departments is adhered to (or do some departments have budgets that significantly grow); 2) what departments are hiring and what are the expected outcomes; 3) are those who disagree with Rhee or her chiefs fired regardless of their performance. My grandmother used to say, if you lie about small things you will lie about big things.

Posted by: verumputo | March 8, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

It's a coincidence, but the special ed office over in Prince George's County was recently cleaned out.
It's hard to tell if they jumped or were pushed, but Dr. Pamela Dowling-Hosten (brought in by "Dr." Deasy, Jay Mathew's kind of guy) left, taking with her some of her finger-wagging, non-standard English speaking hires.
A couple of years ago, Dr. Hosten bought this FASTT Math computer program for just under $300,000. She let it languish on the shelf.

Back to DCPS, what effect might these firings have on the implementation of services for special ed kids?
Will Miss Rhee see to the closing of Accotink Academy?

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 8, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

DCPS is audited every year under federal law. Besides, I am not really sure what an audit would turn up with respect to staffing in the CO.

Have you all not been reading other sections of the WP? There are major budget issues in the District. She has to cut the budget for 2010 and faces cuts in 2011. Where, exactly, should she find the money? Yes, I know she makes a lot of money-blah blah blah. But really, what are the options?

Posted by: alsoconcerned | March 8, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Audit, audit, audit, audit DCPS books NOW!!! Where did the 90M Federal Stimulus dollars Rhee received SY 09-10 disappeared to?

Our students deserve a qualified, certified, experinced and competent Superientendent who can balance a budget and have all children's best interest.

Top DCPS Staff Salary: Just to name a few!!
M. Rhee $275,000
L. Ruda $200,000
K. Henderson $200,000
J. Aguirre $150,000 (Still on DCPS payroll)
J. Abramson $140,000
R. Nyankori $140,000
J. Davis $125,000
A. de Guzman $125,000
B. Kearney $120,000
X. Harstock $115,000
Retired Five Star General A. Tata's salary (hired June 1, 2009)?
David (Daniel) McCrary's salary (hired September 16, 2009)?

Why didn't Rhee consider firing associates at the top to eliminate spending pressures?

That's an idea....

Posted by: sheilahgill | March 8, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

And let's not forget that all those Master Educators they hired (30+ and still counting) are making 90k a pop. They don't do any teaching--they just go around and observe teachers. The system is way too top heavy. Rhee needs to begin slashing at the top rather than at the bottom.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | March 9, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

UrbanDweller--why on earth would u want to cut the Master Educators? They are the only ones who can be trusted to deliver a highly objective, experienced and expert set of observations on teacher performance. You wouldn't be shying away from performance measurement, now, would you?

Posted by: axolotl | March 9, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

understand the types of audits, the end of the year financial audit is little more than a balancing your books exercise, assuring you have adequate procedure, have teh known dollars in the right pots and the documentation in place. Yes, every DC agenicy has an annual audit, but an annual audit doesn't catch much and really only wants to prove you ran a surplus or a deficit. an accountant can argue differently, but that's the bottom line in DC Government. note how the lady stole millions ($$$) from the Tax office for years. the annual audits did not catch it and NEVER would have.

Targeted audits could get to the core problems and causes in DCPS. The special education program has needed an audit for decades in DCPS. DCPS needs audits that look at specific issues and question management overview and procedures to get to the core problems. there must be a reason why some of these issues go so long without being addresed or they never get resolved.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 9, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

axolotl: Considering I've received a 4.0 and a 3.9 out of a possible 4.0 from the master educator (and a 3.85 and a 4.0 from my principal), I wouldn't say I have a problem with my performance being measured. I'm effective. I know it. I don't need someone else to validate that for me. I actually like the ME who observed me and thought she was very knowledgeable and fair. The money we're paying them would be better spend hiring additional teachers. Five observations a year is overkill and a waste of time and resources.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | March 9, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

UrbanDweller: congrats on your score, and thanks for serving the community as a teacher. It would be great if all the teachers scored as well. They don't, by a country mile, from every report, leak and chit chat one can pick up. They need the feedback, more than you and more frequently. Further, on paper there is no shortage of teachers, but the absenteeism, plus the volume of excessive excused absences--much higher than teacher norms in comparable systems-- is hurting the system. If people did what they need to do to show up/stay healthy/stay focused, your idea of hiring more teachers would be a no-brainer. Again, thanks.

Posted by: axolotl | March 9, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

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