DCPS Chancellor: Acting Chancellor Michelle Rhee Forms Transition Team; Selects DCPS Chancellor-Level Staff

[7/11/07 Update: The DC Council has unanimously confirmed Michelle Rhee as Chancellor of DC Public Schools and Allen Lew as Executive Director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization. For more information, click here.]

[7/1/07 Note: For background information on Michelle Rhee, click here to see the Washington Post article, “Fenty’s Agent of Change.”]

According to The Washington Post, Acting DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has selected a transition team to provide strategies associated with the DC Public Schools opening in August 2007. Principally, according to the Post, the focus will be on hiring principals and solving other pressing issues (financial audit of DCPS by consulting firms Alvarez & Marsal and McKinsey & Company).

Rhee, so far, has hired the following people:

According to the Post, Rhee is said to be recruiting Billy Kearney, Memphis [Tennessee] executive director of the New Leaders for New Schools, a principal training organization, to work on principal hiring.

However, I am concerned about one detail discussed in the Post’s article (emphasis (in bold) below, mine):

[Eric] Lerum [Chief of Staff for Acting Deputy Mayor for Education, Victor Reinoso] said Rhee’s transition team will function separately from the school system’s senior staff members, who worked for former superintendent Clifford B. Janey. He said the transition team will focus on problem-solving, while the senior staff will be dealing with day-to-day operations.

I believe that DCPS senior staff should be involved in the transition team. Ultimately, the DCPS senior staff (and the rest of DCPS’s 11,500 employees) must carry out the policy and strategy issues discussed among the members of the transition team. Thus, at a minimum, the DCPS senior staff should have a liaison on the transition team to allow the DCPS senior staff to comment whether a policy or strategy developed by the transition team can be done in an effective and timely fashion, within the resources of DCPS. The DCPS senior staff would also have advance time to begin implementation of the transition team’s ideas. This is especially true for items that must be completed by the start of the school year in August.

Moreover, participation of the DCPS senior staff on the transition team would also allow the DCPS senior staff to suggest potential alternatives and other suggestions to the transition team, given the DCPS senior staff’s institutional knowledge of DCPS’s administrative organization.