Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

E-mail Bill | RSS Feed | In-depth coverage: Education Page | Follow The Post's education coverage: Twitter | Facebook

Thomas's bid to reinstate teachers fizzles

An attempt by Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) to legislate reinstatement of the 266 D.C. teachers laid off by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee in October lost altitude quickly Tuesday and ultimately was postponed until next month.

The original version of Thomas' bill, filed last week as an emergency measure, would have ordered Rhee to re-hire the teachers she said she pared from the payroll for budgetary reasons, if Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi confirmed that money was now available. The proposal faced huge legal barriers, not least of which was the Home Rule Charter, which expressly reserves hiring and firing for the executive branch.

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles derided the bill as "political year" posturing. "By delegated authority, the Chancellor has the authority to run her ship. This is what the council did when it turned over governance [of the schools] to the mayor," he said.

By Tuesday's council legislative session, the bill had been softened to call for a "reinstatement feasibility plan" from both Gandhi and Rhee if it was determined that money was available to re-hire the teachers. But even that made some council members leery of leaving the impression that they were interfering with executive prerogatives.

Shortly before the session began, Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) sat in the corner of the chambers scribbling amendments to make the proposal more explicit that DCPS has the authority to decide whether to re-hire the teachers.

"There's not a person on this council who is not deeply disturbed about the events that occurred with the teachers," Cheh said of the layoffs, which were called into question by Rhee's disclosure last week of a $34 million budget surplus. Gandhi disputed Rhee's finding, throwing the school system's finances--and approval of the proposed teachers contract--into new uncertainty.

"The problem with the resolution is that it doesn't make sufficiently clear that we have no authority to order reinstatement or direct reinstatement in any way," Cheh said.

Cheh's proposed changes were not well-received by Thomas.

"Why not write your own bill? Thomas asked, adding that his measure was "very clearly and cleverly crafted."

But Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At-Large) stuck the final fork in Tuesday's efforts when he suggested waiting until after sworn testimony on the school budget from Rhee and Gandhi. It was originally scheduled for Thursday but now has been pushed back to April 30 because of the funeral of Shaw Middle School principal Brian Betts.

"We'll have a lot of these answers," Brown said, by holding off.

Council members, reluctant to further complicate an already muddled situation, voted 8-5 to postpone the matter until May 4 -- after Rhee and Gandhi testify. Voting to postpone were Mendelson, Wells, Bowser, Kwame Brown, Catania, Cheh, Evans and Graham. Voting against were Thomas, Barry, Michael Brown, Alexander and Chairman Vincent C. Gray.

"It's a very unfortunate day here at the council," said a clearly irritated Thomas, who contended that election year politics had not nothing to do with the bill. Justice, he said, "was not served today."

Follow D.C. Schools Insider every day at washingtonpost.com/dcschools.
And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers,
please check out our new Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed.
Bookmark it!

By Bill Turque  |  April 20, 2010; 8:14 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Board tentatively approves four new charter schools
Next: Noah Wepman speaks!

Comments

I notice how the WashPost has been virtually silent on this issue since last week. People are talking about this in the streets. Common sense says rehire the teachers if the money is there. But, folks are perplexed how the Chancellor could say one extreme and shortly thereafter the CFO have to come back and clear it up. The poor management/leadership in DCPS needs to be called out too.

Posted by: oknow1 | April 21, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

It seem like common sense to get rid of the worst teachers.

Posted by: kenk3 | April 21, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

It seems like common sense to get rid of the worst Chancellor Administration team.

Who is holding the Chancellor accountable for manufacturing a Reduction in Force?

Justice needs to prevail!!

Posted by: sheilahgill | April 21, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh GodDaddy Pete, but it's not political posturing when the "attorney general (you goddaddy Pete) interceded to keep a friend and fraternity brother(skinner)of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty off a list of those banned"

Please! Councilmember Thomas thanks for trying.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/local-breaking-news/did-dcs-ag-help-fenty-friend.html

Hey Washpo, can the story at least be moved to DC Wire status.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | April 21, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

What a pointless parade of posturing politicians pushing personal priorities by callously creating comical conspiracies cloaked as common cents.

Posted by: horacemann | April 21, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey Sheila...don't quit you day job... Ooops I forgot...go get a job. Girrrrrrrrrrrl, you alright wit me. I like your seasoned attitude in all things that are righteous and wrong with DCPS. We need more peeple like you, harry jr., whiting and brannum to keep the fires burning. I am telling you without ALL of you,what would our morning staff meetings would be without your incessant issues and concerns. I am thinking with the approval of the 4 new charter schools ...maybe you can get an early start and submit your application. Try-it you might like-it!!!

Posted by: PowerandPride | April 21, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

nice alliteration, Horacmann - keep those creative juices flowing

Posted by: efavorite | April 21, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Executive Branch? Apparently, Rhee must take statistics and calculus courses again to refresh her memory how resource management is done nowadays. It is more than evident that "now I have it, now I don't" (+/- $34 Mil) presupposition no longer works for her. Does she really think that we are cognitively deficient not to notice her mismanagement tendencies? What's more, Fenty piggy backs on her fallacies when he states on FOX News that he does not feel that he has to ask her what kind of financial yo-yo-ing she is playing. What arrogance from both of them. What we are showing to our students is that Every Day math we have been teaching them in the classroom is really neither applicable nor useful in the world of politics. Rhee is a bad example of of every aspect of business. She loves to show her middle school education (at least as it relates to her understanding of basic budgetary terms).

Posted by: inickdc | April 22, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Executive Branch? Apparently, Rhee must take statistics and calculus courses again to refresh her memory how resource management is done nowadays. It is more than evident that "now I have it, now I don't" (+/- $34 Mil) presupposition no longer works for her. Does she really think that we are cognitively deficient not to notice her mismanagement tendencies? What's more, Fenty piggy backs on her fallacies when he states on FOX News that he does not feel that he has to ask her what kind of financial yo-yo-ing she is playing. What arrogance from both of them. What we are showing to our students is that Every Day math we have been teaching them in the classroom is really neither applicable nor useful in the world of politics. Rhee is a bad example of of every aspect of business. She loves to show her middle school education (at least as it relates to her understanding of basic budgetary terms).

Posted by: inickdc | April 22, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company