WASHINGTON - The former head of D.C. Public Schools who resigned last month following a school lottery scandal claims Mayor Muriel Bowser knew several months ago that he had planned to transfer his daughter to a new school.
Speaking out for the first time since stepping down, former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson said he personally told the mayor back in September that his daughter would bypass the District's school lottery system to secure a transfer to a sought-after high school.
Wilson alleges that there were only three people at that meeting back on Sept. 20 – himself, Mayor Bowser and former deputy mayor for education Jennifer Niles. In light of this scandal, Niles also resigned last month.
“I explained the challenges that were taking place at Duke Ellington [School of the Arts] and committed to working on those issues, but shared that it had come to a head in our household and we needed to make a change,” Wilson told FOX 5 describing what was discussed with the mayor. “I had come to Deputy Mayor Niles, it was just a prior meeting earlier in the day, and Deputy Mayor Niles was working with my wife on transferring my daughter and telling me how to do that. The mayor thanked me for sharing that information, asked me to keep her informed and I said, “Okay.”
FOX 5 attempted to reach Niles, but were unable to obtain a comment from her as of Monday night.
Mayor Bowser has repeatedly denied that she was aware of the transfer of Wilson’s daughter and only learned about it last month from the District's inspector general.
“At no time was I told that there was a discretionary transfer and I am pretty disappointed that we are kind of talking about one child instead of all the children in DCPS,” she said.
“I’m not here to comment on whether Mayor Bowser should be trusted or not. I will say that the idea that I kept a secret from her is inaccurate,” Wilson said. “It is inaccurate that I kept anything from her. We spoke about it more than once.”
D.C. Councilmember David Grosso, who heads the Education Committee, has called for an emergency hearing and investigation into Wilson's allegations. Grosso is also asking Bowser to testify under oath.
“The public deserves to know the truth about the chronology of these events and how it was handled,” Grosso said in part in a statement. “Therefore, as the Chairperson of the Committee on Education, I will hold an emergency roundtable and call for the Mayor and all involved parties to testify before the Council.
“We lost two of our top education leaders in the District of Columbia to a scandal and due to its persistent nature we need to fully understand who knew what, when they knew it, and if those who were held accountable we done so appropriately.”
FOX 5 asked Bowser if she will testify in front of the council.
“We will make sure that the inspector general has the opportunity to look into the matter,” Bowser said. “I am going to talk to the council member.”
We asked Wilson why there appeared to be no paper trail of the September meeting and the outcome of it. He said that it was Mayor Bowser's directive to others that they "not use government email" in their communication with her. However, Bowser denied that as well.