DC school chancellor broke rules he created so his child could be enrolled in top school

DC school chancellor broke rules he created so his child could be enrolled in top school
City council members are calling for Chancellor Antwan Wilson to resign as D.C. schools chancellor after he used his position to get his daughter enrolled in one of the district's top schools. (Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

City council members are calling for the chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools to resign after he used his position to get his daughter enrolled in one of the district’s top schools, the Washington Post reported.

A citywide lottery system gives families in the District of Columbia a chance to send their child to a school outside their neighborhood district when there’s capacity.

Chancellor Antwan Wilson was given special treatment to allow his daughter to attend a top-performing school, just two months after he created rules that disallowed such behavior.

“I wish I could go back and look up and talk to as many people as I could about the challenge I was facing,” Wilson said,  after spending the weekend apologizing to council members. “I failed miserably. It wasn’t a mistake out of anything other than trying to ensure that my daughter’s well-being was taken care of.”

Wilson has not resigned and insists he’s focused on regaining the trust of the community.

What do the council members say?

One councilman said he spoke with parents over the weekend who told him they would not tolerate Wilson leading the schools.

“While I believe Chancellor Wilson had demonstrated skill in leading the system, I also believe that he has lost — and will be unable to regain — the trust of so many parents that is vital to the success of D.C. Public Schools,” Council member Charles Allen said in a statement. “Without that public trust, any chancellor will be unable to advance a vision.”

Mary M. Cheh also wants the chancellor replaced “in an orderly fashion.”

“He is committed to following the same flawed system that has led us to graduating students who are not at all ready for college or careers and, in some cases, are functionally illiterate,” Cheh said.

Could he be fired?

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, who appointed Wilson in 2017, could terminate Wilson without cause, according to his employment contract.

Wilson’s annual base salary is $280,000 and a possible 10 percent performance bonus. His signing fee was $14,000, according to his contract that expires in January 2019.

The mayor, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and Council member and Education Chair David Grosso met privately on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

Bowser has maintained her confidence in Wilson, but last Friday, she accepted the resignation of the deputy mayor for education who helped the chancellor’s family break the rules.

Bowser also forced Wilson to make a public apology on Friday. She has not answered questions regarding her knowledge of Wilson’s special treatment.

Why did he do it?

The chancellor’s family lives in Langdon, a district where the majority of the children live in poverty and less than 15 percent met math, reading standardized test expectations.

His oldest child, who is a dancer, was enrolled in an art school where she was admitted based on an audition, interview, and exam.

The chancellor said his daughter had a difficult time at the art school.

His family decided the school wasn’t a good fit, so he approached the deputy mayor for education about transfer options.

The Wilson’s neighborhood high school had only 1 percent of students meet math expectations last year and 6 percent met reading expectations.

After meeting with the deputy mayor of education, the Wilsons transferred their daughter to Wilson High School in Northwest. The school has 639 families on its waiting list.

“I sought guidance because the avenues of transfer all came through me,” Wilson said. “I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t putting any pressure on anyone to do something for my daughter. I had tunnel vision. I was focusing on the district and facing a great deal of pressure at home with what was happening with our daughter.”

The chancellor’s daughter left Wilson on Friday. It is unclear where she will attend school.