DCPS Chancellor: Rhee Seeks Authority to Layoff Central Office Staff

According to the Washington Post, DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Michelle Rhee is drafting legislation to restructure the DCPS central office for the DC Council.

Specifically, Rhee would like to have the authority to fire central office staff without having to reassign them to other jobs.

As the initial piece of her strategy, Rhee has begun drafting legislation that would ask the D.C. Council to suspend personnel laws so that the chancellor would have the authority to terminate employees without having to reassign them to other jobs. Rhee also has been meeting with council members to lay the groundwork for their political support, members said.

This is a risky area, hopefully Rhee will succeed. In another Washington Post article, “Worn Down by Waves of Change,” Arlene Ackerman, first Chief Academic Officer under then-Superintendent Julius Becton, who later became DCPS Superintendent was warned about false support.

Shortly after Arlene Ackerman arrived in the District as Becton’s chief academic officer, a stranger — a man standing in the receiving line at a reception in her honor — squeezed her hand so hard she thought he would break her fingers.

“They say they want you to fix it, but they really don’t,” she recalled the man telling her. “When you get to the point where you are really fixing things, you will know. You will know because you will get all kinds of unbelievable push back.

Rhee’s predecessors also faced the problem of controlling the central office of DCPS, according to the Post.

Even Washington Post columnist Colbert King wrote about the difficulty of controlling the central office of DCPS.

But the central office’s chief enemy, for whom its most hostile behavior is reserved, is the reform-minded superintendent. In the battle against change, the central office, which consists of an unknowable number of human parts, remains undefeated.

Mr. King offers caution, sounding similar to the warning Ackerman received.

But a warning, chancellor: Gird yourself for unbelievable blowback. The central office fancies itself not to be messed with.

I hope Rhee is successful in creating a functioning DCPS system which serves the students effectively. Given DCPS’s large student population, it is in interest of everyone that lives in the DC metropolitan area that DCPS has a properly functioning school system.

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