Misconduct investigation finds former DC schools chancellor gave preferential treatment

- D.C.’s Office of the Inspector General announced Friday that a misconduct investigation of former D.C. Public Schools chancellor Kaya Henderson found that she “gave preferential treatment” to certain D.C. government officials and others for out-of-boundary school transfers.

In a memo sent from Inspector General Daniel Lucas to the D.C. Council, Henderson’s misconduct occurred from April 2015 to August 2015.

“The OIG referred this investigation and corresponding recommendation to the Mayor for action deemed appropriate on February 10, 2017,” Lucas wrote in the memo. “On April 11, 2016, according to the Mayor’s representative, the Deputy Mayor for Education has advised the current Chancellor on the use of his statutory authority, stating it is very limited, and must be used in an impartial manner, taking care not to show favoritism.”

Henderson stepped down as chancellor last September. In response to the findings of the investigation, She said in a statement:

“As the IG report notes, in my capacity as Chancellor, I made a very limited number of discretionary placements for students when extraordinary circumstances applied.  I stand by those actions. The IG does not provide evidence that placements were made improperly, only that they were discretionary.  If leaders in DC do not believe that there are situations when the chancellor should exercise discretion in determining student placements, they should eliminate that provision of the statute.  If leaders believe that, on rare occasions, there are unusual circumstances that require the judgement of the district leader, they should accept that discretionary placements will depend on judgement. I am deeply disappointed by these continual attacks on my integrity in an attempt to besmirch my personal and professional reputation.”

Last November, the former schools chancellor was censured by D.C.’s ethics board for soliciting contributions from companies contracted with D.C. Public Schools.

Henderson told FOX 5 in January, “I resigned way before that happened and that was to be frank a very incidental thing. I was censured, which effectively means they were disappointed. But I was actually following a precedent that had been set. I'll never apologize for raising money for our teachers.”

She added, “Anywhere else, it wouldn't be a big deal. In the charter sector, they ask their vendors to contribute to support schools all the time. In this world of hyper-ethics, I understand how it ran afoul of the ethics rules and I was clear with the ethics council that I didn't intend to do anything wrong.”

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