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Posted at 7:48 AM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Evans considers bill to return Pope to Hardy MS

By Bill Turque

D.C Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who has largely stayed out of the mess at Hardy Middle School, says he may introduce legislation to mandate the return of former principal Patrick Pope. According to a report in the Georgetown Patch, Evans told an ANC 2E meeting Monday night: "It is now, I think, firmly in my court...and it is an issue that continues to overshadow everything."

Should Evans sponsor such a measure, it would add another bizarre twist to the continuing debate over leadership at the Georgetown middle school. Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson earlier this month removed principal Dana Nerenberg--who former chancellor Michelle Rhee had tapped as a replacement for Pope--and replaced her with central office administrator Daniel Shea.

Evans said he met with Henderson on Friday to discuss the situation. He described Henderson as "not inclined" to bring Pope back. On Monday, Henderson assigned Pope, who had been working in the central office, to fill in as principal at Savoy Elementary School.

A bill to appoint Pope could be on shaky legal ground, Evans said, given District prohibitions against council interference in government or school personnel decisions.

By Bill Turque  | March 1, 2011; 7:48 AM ET
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This suggestion by Councilman Evans is absolutely absurd! This is yet another example of how DC politicians have ruined the schools and the lives of students.

For a politician or anyone not specifically connected the internal workings of the district to suggest personnel changes in the school system is like Kaya Henderson suggesting changes to the administrative assistant for Councilman Evans. How can he possible know what or why Pope was removed? And why is that an issue for him. His job as a councilman is to support the schools not run them!

This is nothing more than political posturing for the sake of points with the community- SAD!

Posted by: teacher6402 | March 1, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Again, here we go with the considerations.

Posted by: PowerandPride | March 1, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree with teacher6402--neither Evans nor any Councilmember should dictate school personnel decisions. The day-to-day operations of the schools should be left to Ms. Henderson as the Interim Chancellor. These Pope groupies should start their own military school with Mr. Pope as principal elsewhere and let Hardy Middle School move on. These parents do not represent the majority of Hardy parents and they, too, should not dictate school personnel decisions.

Posted by: rjc2 | March 1, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

It seems that Interim Henderson is saving face for Rhee by standing firm on keeping Pope from returning to Hardy no matter what. Its obvious that she only sent Pope to Savoy so she can say he's been assigned therefore she had to send an administrator to Hardy. Come on Ms. Henderson, Ms. Rhee is gone - its obvious that Ms. Rhee can make mistakes and she was wrong for pulling Pope. Two wrongs don't make it right. Put Mr. Pope where he belongs, at Hardy.

Posted by: Love4DC | March 1, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Hardy was one of the best middle schools in the distric and removing Pope for no reason was political. The parents of that neiborhood made unfare request. Pope had that school doing very well for 10 years and the parents living there never saw fit to send their children there until the school received national attention. Then Rhee removes an excellent principal for no reason. Mr. Pope should get his job back.

Posted by: bobby31 | March 1, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

rjc2 and teacher6401 (aka Rhee and Henderson)will never support any decision that has not been does not come from Rhee/Henderson.


Posted by: dccounselor72 | March 1, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

@dcounselor72: You obviously have a lot of time on your hands since the RIF...LOL!

Posted by: teacher6402 | March 1, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Love4DC, bobby31, and dccounselor32 are missing the point of the article - it is that you have a councilmember suggesting that the city council make nitty-gritty personnel decisions (micro-manage) for DCPS instead of the person who is in charge of DCPS. This is not a question of whether Mr. Pope or someone else is best for the position. It is a question of over-reaching by the city council. For now on, all personnel disputes for DC government agencies will be brought before and decided by the city council. That is not a good use of time or resources.

Posted by: thetruth32 | March 1, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Also, if you actually read the article Turque links to, you will see that most of the people at Evans' meeting thought it was a bad idea, too.

Posted by: horacemann | March 1, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Yea, most did but Evans listened to the folks with children at Hardy and at least introduced the bill.

To fake teach6402--I know that you would like to think that I was among the riffed teachers but once again--you are WRONG.

@THETRUTH32 If Evans' bill was supportive of the stupidity played out at Hardy by Rhee and now Henderson, most folks would not be screaming about council interference. This argument is as fake as the sudden placing of Pope at Savoy in SE by Rheenderson.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | March 1, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I would say a more fair characterization of Evans' action is that he listened to a small, loud group of Hardy parents and sought a way to appease them while actually doing nothing to change the status quo.

Posted by: horacemann | March 1, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

These disgruntled Hardy parents should have just started up a charter school. They had a program they liked, a leader they liked, and a community of other parents they liked.

Too bad it was a middle school, and the parents couldn't have gotten a charter up and running before their own kids had moved on to high school.

P.S.: Jack Evans, please don't actually propose legislation on this. It's a really bad precedent. Unless you plan to introduce it on April 1.

Posted by: gardyloo | March 1, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

This is a quality DCPS middle school, can't function without a particular principal any more than some think DCPS can't function without the indispensable Shelly?
What is Pope, Ronald Reagan?

Bill Turque: Will you get around to reporting on the condition of DCPS schools, DCPS programs, enrollment levels, and the charter school report? And the NAS report on the mayoral takeover. Waiting for a pale white man to be resurrected to Hardy MS doesn't seem a full time reporting assignment.

Posted by: incredulous | March 1, 2011 7:22 PM | Report abuse

That Councilman Evans finds it necessary to use the legislative process to return Patrick Pope to Hardy MS is reflective of how damaging the Rhee/Henderson leadership of DCPS has been and continues to be. Is this the kind of education reform needed in the District of Columbia? The City Council failed miserably to do its duty when it supported the machinations of one of the most absurd characters to come to the office of Mayor of the District of Columbia - Adrien Fenty. Now the citizens of DC are paying the price. Pope was not given a reason for his removal from the principalship because Rhee/Henderson did not feel it necessary to do so. This is in keeping with the principals who were not reappointed (terminated) in the spring of 2008. They, like Pope, were removed without due process. Rhee/Henderson's actions will ultimately cost the city millions of dollars as these principals seek redress of their grievances in the city's courts. Have we not had enough of charlatans running the school system? Do the right thing.

Posted by: rlpat8535gmailcom | March 2, 2011 12:30 AM | Report abuse

To all the parents who continue to fight for the return of Patrick Pope--please, please, please stop trashing the school in the press to prove your point. If Mr. Pope was as competent a leader as you profess him to be, why would the program he built fall apart so quickly and so disastrously without him? Truly effective educators build principles, skills, and programs that can live on without them. If I were Mr. Pope I would be embarrassed that my former teachers, parents, and many of my former students were engaging in such negative tactics and behaviors. You are entitled to your opinion of the current state of the school, but please couch it as that and refrain from broad, sweeping statements. Why would you want such a negative view of your child's school broadcast in such a public way? And why are there so many parents and kids who see it differently? We don't all see what you are reporting--please don't speak for the entire community.

Posted by: teacherparent | March 2, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

horacemann writes:

"I would say a more fair characterization of Evans' action is that he listened to a small, loud group of Hardy parents and sought a way to appease them while actually doing nothing to change the status quo."


Wrong. Evans met with Henderson on Friday. And he related the concerns of many of his constituents, including two Georgetown ANC commissioners. He has done far more than you have to find the actual facts surrounding this sorry saga, including speaking to current and former Hardy parents from Ward 2.

At that meeting, Henderson told Evans that the reason she would not allow Pope back to Hardy was that he prevented Georgetown kids from attending the school. He told her that he was not aware of a single Georgetown constituent that has been denied admission, and asked Henderson to name one. She had no answer, at which time he told her she was not telling the truth, but probably not in those exact words. He is also aware, as is most of the City Council and the mayor, of significant deception on the part of DCPS (including Rhee and Henderson) with regard to Hardy and principal Pope. If Pope was guilty of the same behavior he would have been fired for cause long ago.

The ability of powerful persons to avoid accountability has been the real problem with DCPS for a very long time, and unfortunately the Education Committee has not made much progress towards curing the lack of transparency and demanding accountability from school leadership. The politics are thick, and the truth suffers.

While these politicians assume their roles in a morality play that pretends to be about the good of our children, the fight over who will be the next Chancellor is at the core of their concerns. The welfare of Hardy Middle School and the communities it serves is not.

Posted by: AGAAIA | March 2, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

dccounselor71--were you speaking for all of Ward 3, or just for yourself?

Posted by: axolotl | March 2, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

AGAAIA -- were you at this meeting? How do you know what happened?

Posted by: washpost4 | March 3, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

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