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Posted at 6:38 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Gray nixes Evans's bid to return principal to Hardy

By Bill Turque

Perhaps council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), after hearing more than a year's worth of protests about Patrick Pope's reassignment from Hardy Middle School, just wanted to be able to tell folks he tried. Or maybe he actually does believe, as he said at Monday night's ANC 2E meeting, that this is "an issue that continues to overshadow everything."

Whatever Evans is thinking, don't look for the "Continued Success of Rose L. Hardy Middle School Resolution of 2011" to become District law anytime soon. After dropping broad hints Monday, Evans introduced a resolution Tuesday morning directing Mayor Vincent C. Gray to restore the popular Pope to leadership of the Georgetown middle school he ran before his removal by then-chancellor Michelle A. Rhee. Council members Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) have signed on as co-sponsors.

But even in the unlikely event that it passed legal muster and was approved by the council, Gray essentially said Tuesday that he would never sign it.

"I think we have a chancellor who appoints principals," he said at his weekly news conference. As council chairman and a mayoral candidate, Gray was himself deeply critical of Pope's removal in favor of Hyde-Addison Principal Dana Nerenberg, who Rhee hoped would draw more Georgetown and Palisades neighborhood families to the majority-black school. But after a marginal increase in neighborhood enrollment and persistent complaints that the school environment had deteriorated, Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson relieved Nerenberg and named central office administrator Daniel Shea on an interim basis. On Monday, she dispatched Pope to fill in as principal at Savoy Elementary in Anacostia.

Gray, with Henderson sitting in the audience, said such decisions would remain her call.

"I think we've got to respect the people who make these decisions," he said.

The measure goes to the Committee of the Whole for hearings and discussion.

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By Bill Turque  | March 1, 2011; 6:38 PM ET
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Gray's stance is no surprise to anyone watching him push his head further up Kaya's butt over the past few weeks.

He needs to remember that the folks in Ward 3 did not vote for him and will never support him.

Too Bad.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | March 1, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

The Mayor has been almost completely predictable in everything said/done/neither said nor done since taking office. He's got the right idea about not intervening in DCPS admin appointments.

Posted by: axolotl | March 1, 2011 8:44 PM | Report abuse

dccounselor72: were you speaking for all of Ward 3, or just for yourself?

Posted by: axolotl | March 1, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

It is too sad to see the mayor, who used the Hardy community to campaign for him against Mr. Fenty, so completely waffle on this issue. Then Council Chair wrote to the then Mayor Fenty just one year ago, asking him to keep Pope at Hardy and leave the school and program intact. Now it is a desire to not "micromanage."

This too will come home to haunt the one-and-done Mayor Gray.

And the end game? A school program in shambles, families bailing by the dozens, kids bullying and fighting each other often based in racial context.

Wonder how many of the "neighborhood" will be breaking down the doors to get "their" school back next year?

Wonder how many of the "out of boundary" kids will need to be admitted by the lottery to keep the enrollment up?

Thanks, Mayor Gray, for ensuring that one of the city flagship middle schools, serving kids from all over the city is completely bankrupted because of the concern over "micromanaging." Arnie Duncan will be proud.

Posted by: 4thekidsorforthe | March 1, 2011 8:53 PM | Report abuse

I had a Key Elementary School parent come up to me today to ask how my son was doing at the Catholic school we transferred him to at the beginning of the year. He was a 6th grader at Hardy last year.

Of the approximately 46 children in 5th grade at Key ES this year, he knew of only one that was seriously considering Hardy, the in-boundary middle school for many Ward 2 and 3 elementary schools.

Well ... "there goes the neighborhood school"; thanks to all those courageous educators like Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson who with the passive assistance of the City Council have destroyed a school in just one year.

This gang that couldn't shoot straight also includes Bill Turque, whose reporting was remarkable for its acceptance and propagation of Rhee's flawed rhetoric concerning Hardy.

Posted by: AGAAIA | March 1, 2011 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Gray would get lots of support in Ward 3 (and from across the city) by appointing Kaya Henderson chancellor. I hope he does it soon.

Below is a video link of Kaya Henderson proudly representing the very best of DCPS and giving a great (inspiring) talk to young teachers from across the country.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 10:11 PM | Report abuse

There are not enough neighborhood children to make the neighborhood school viable. The article said it best that Hardy was a black school and the neighborhood wanted a change. This is the same thing happening at Eastern where it is a black school and the white neighborhood wants a change. Be mindful the whites in the neighborhood of Ellington wanted the same thing and it was immediately thwarted. Don't worry the same underground organization is being done for Wilson. Although the irony is Woodson is the next 100 million dollar building to open within months and for some odd reason the neighborhood is relatively quiet. Is it because its a black school in a black neighborhood?
How did that happen or even better how did they luck out with not having any neighborhood uproar. It can't be because there are no whites in Ward 7 who aren't concern, that wouldn't be prudent.

Posted by: mlr1960 | March 2, 2011 7:33 AM | Report abuse

It is inappropriate and an overstep for Jack Evans or any councilmember (Catania in Health Care Finance, Wells in DOT and Evans in DCPS) to make personnel decisions as a council member. This is an executive functions and they should stay in their collective places.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | March 2, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

My daughter went to Hardy for one year while it was at it's temporary location in NE. Pope was the principal at that time. We had been at a private school the year before. Even though there were no fights and all children seemed to get along, the academics were sub par.

Lets face it, Hardy will not be the choice for local parents. DCPS needs to look at Deal and duplicate their program across the city. Deal has one principal and three assistant principals, one for each grade.

Posted by: lois3 | March 2, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

mlr1960: When was Hardy designated a black school? You certainly live in a very black & white world.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 2, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I really don't understand the thinking of Jack Evans at all! The way that Pope was removed was just wrong. Rhee made that decision and nothing moved her including the children or their parents. It was just pure Rhee drama. Be that as it may, Pope didn't lose his job. He may not have been using his talents to the fullest, but he gets a check every two weeks and now is the principal of an elementary school. How do propose to re-instate someone who has not lost a job?

Where was Jack's input or emergency legislation when many principals were informed that they were not going to be re-appointed or they were fired, weren't evaluated and denied due process? Where was he then? Where was Jack when hundreds of teachers testified that they were wrongfully terminated? As a matter of fact when did we ever see Jack other than when the chancellor was testifying and there to lend support? Really?

I'm the first to say that you can't micromanage what has never been managed in the first place, but wth is this? I don't agree that the Hardy situation was handled well at all. It was just dumb to think that one person could run two schools. I do think Gray should have stepped in quickly to resolve the problem, but emergency legislation to re-instate a person who was never terminated? This is as dumb as when Jack-O wanted the tax payers to put a shower in his bathroom.

Posted by: candycane1 | March 2, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Gray is absolutely right.

Change 'Gray' to Obama and these comments could come right from tiring.

Posted by: LeastOfThese | March 2, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Let's face it: we've all been duped by people on a quest for power over other people. Look at all the key players in this Hardy mess and you'll see a trail behind them as they drive for either a power position or more money. I bet Evans is thinking of running for Mayor in 2014 against Gray who has revealed a spinelessness by failing to live up to his own words on the Hardy matter. Gray probably needed to get into the Mayor's office before he retired from "public service" so he'll be one-and-done by age 71.

Name almost any councilperson and they lined up in 2010 to support the Hardy community, got reelected, and then disowned ever knowing them. Rhee stomped all over DC resident stakeholders on her way to catapulting to national prominence where the fine details of how she does things locally would not receive attention. Henderson, a Rhee clone, uses her Rhee/Fenty connection over Gray to remain Chancellor because she knows that Gray lacks the original thinking about education reform necessary to challenge the status quo. Nerenberg and Shea are simply pawns in the political game, probably willing to put more income over any other consideration, to carry out their role.

The exception to this is Pope. Why wasn't he fired? Either he has something on Rhee and Henderson or there was nothing he ever did that warranted his firing. I believe the latter. I think that over the previous 10 years, Pope had always put the interests of students ahead of his own in an effort to stretch whatever meager DCPS resources he was afforded to benefit the school. Evans probably recognized this, came to his senses because of the righteous indignation he tired of hearing from the Hardy community, and demanded what somebody with power should have demanded a long time ago.

This entire episode points to three fundamental failures of self-governance in the District: 1. too few people (Mayor/Chancellor) have too much power and authority in our DCPS educational structure and policies; 2. dissatisfied or alienated stakeholders (parents) have no forum to voice concerns about illogical policies or educational practices -- a place that can be held accountable; and 3. a generation of students, having now witnessed a poor example of democracy at work on an issue vitally important to them, may be too disillusioned to vote or otherwise participate in future political matters or elections.

It is ashamed that the students, who should have been at the top of the pile for reasons to make the right decision in the Hardy matter, have become the most victimized.

Posted by: bdoc1 | March 2, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Here's some irony:

Last May 4, this blog posted an item on the DC Council's passage of a toothless measure asking Chancellor Rhee to reinstate the RIFd teachers:

"The [reinstatement] measure passed Tuesday with only Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) dissenting, he said, because he didn't want to leave the impression that he council was 'creeping' toward interference in personnel matters."

Posted by: gardyloo | March 2, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse


Are you serious? the word "neighborhood" is so coded an quite obvious for those who are black. It was mighty white of you to be insulted and sarcastic. The question is not when was Hardy deemed such a school, it should ask the question what is wrong with such a designation.

Food for thought; HBCU's are not a fad and that fact is as plain as black and white. How is it that when designations are of the majority in support of blacks, it becomes a platform for change....hmmmmm

Lastly, it is not black and white that I see, it is black and red. When it comes to educating the black children in this city, we are always given the excuse of being financially fiscal in the red.

Posted by: mlr1960 | March 2, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Okay, everyone complete this sentence; our city council is.........

The words of we must respect those who make decisions, almost have a humorous tone doesn't it? Just take a glance at the past decisions of our leaders for the past 60-days. Stop, laughing you know it is true. C'mon now stop laughing, it ain't that funny.

What is more important? Do we respect the people or the position.

Posted by: PowerandPride | March 3, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"Of the approximately 46 children in 5th grade at Key ES this year, he knew of only one that was seriously considering Hardy, the in-boundary middle school for many Ward 2 and 3 elementary schools.

"Well ... 'there goes the neighborhood school'; thanks to all those courageous educators like Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson who with the passive assistance of the City Council have destroyed a school in just one year."
Posted by: AGAAIA

As a Key parent, I'll say what has really scared people off is a group of Hardy parents who appear that they'd rather destroy their own school than accept a change they disagree with.

Posted by: washpost4 | March 3, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Rhee created so many messes that Henderson now has to find a way to clean up.

Posted by: jlp19 | March 3, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Assarson has been having a hissy fit for over a year over the removal of Patrick Pope. Even the assignment of a full-time, experienced high school and middle school principal doesn't stop his running down the school his son previously attended. Does Mr. Assarson also post notices at his former elementary school detailing muggings inside and outside of Hardy? It seems he's done most everything else he could to run the school down.

Posted by: incredulous | March 6, 2011 1:50 AM | Report abuse

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