5 DC Councilmembers call for resignation of Schools Chancellor following school lottery scandal

Five D.C. Councilmembers have called for the resignation of D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson following a school lottery placement scandal.

D.C. Councilmembers Elissa Silverman and Charles Allen now join Mary Cheh, Robert White and Councilman and former Mayor Vincent Gray, who have all called for Wilson's resignation.

On Monday, Councilmember Allen released a statement saying: "After speaking with Ward 6 parents & neighbors throughout the weekend, & talking with the Chancellor last evening, I've come to the decision he should step aside. A Chancellor needs both vision & public trust to effectively lead. I believe he's lost the faith & trust he needs."

Allen said in his statement that he spoke with Chancellor Wilson directly. "We spoke for nearly an hour early Sunday evening, and while I appreciate his candor, I have come to an opinion that I don't take lightly... While I believe that 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 DC Public Schools."

Councilmember At-Large Elissa Silverman said in a Tweet: "I did not take this decision lightly. It is not where any of us want to be, but we need to be united behind a schools chancellor who can lead us to take on our big challenges and successfully solve them."

In a statement, Councilmember Silverman said "I have lost trust and confidence in the chancellor's leadership, and the last several days show that parents, fellow elected officials and the public share those feelings. By losing that support, it will be difficult, if not impossible for the chancellor to lead the school system and make the critical decisions to address our most daunting challenges..."

Councilmember Mary Cheh said to FOX 5, "I've been disappointed earlier to compare it to a journey sometimes you go to a place you think you're on the wrong road and then you go we have to change direction."

She released the following statement:

"There are increasing calls for DCPS Chancellor Wilson to resign following news that he violated his own policy and sought a preferential placement for his daughter. Residents are angry and that's understandable. But I think the Chancellor should be replaced for reasons that go well beyond the placement issue. 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, a continued and even widening achievement gap, demoralized teachers and one of the highest teacher turnover rates in the nation, social promotions, a loss of confidence in honest and truthful reporting, top-down administration with little room for creativity and flexibility, and a fixation on numbers rather than real educational achievement.

At the same time, replacing the Chancellor and top DCPS staff must be done in an orderly fashion and we should not introduce immediate instability into the system. We need to take time to clarify what we need to do and then look for the leadership team that will move us forward. It won't do to just find another person, interim or permanent, who will carry on the same failed and flawed policies.

On a journey it is not always clear when or where you've made a wrong turn. But then the evidence piles up that you are going in the wrong direction. That's the case with our school system now. We need a new direction and a new set of leaders to move us in that direction."

Councilmember Gray said on Twitter with his official statement: "The @DCPSChancellor violated our trust in pursuit of a self-serving objective. His actions leave me no option but to demand his immediate resignation."

"It's grossly unfair and you've got to be able to be a role model for those people you're leading because if you don't do it yourself you can't expect other people to do it, so this is a situation where he had to lead by example and unfortunately the example he set was not leadership in my opinion," said Councilman Gray, who represents Ward 7.

Councilman At-Large Robert White also released a statement online and referenced the investigation of D.C. students graduating without meeting requirements.

"With a persistent achievement gap, high teacher turnover, and mounting education scandals, the cornerstones for rebuilding our schools must be public trust and accountability."

On Friday, D.C.'s Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles resigned over questions about school placement of one of Chancellor Wilson's children.

In a statement Friday, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Jennifer Niles and Wilson did not comply with mayoral orders in transferring one of Wilson's children from one school several weeks after the school year started. Mayor's Orders 2017-125 and 2017-158 prohibit public officials from obtaining discretionary transfers.

The mayor's statement said she accepted Niles' resignation on Friday morning. Councilman Gray said he was puzzled by that decision.

"That decision didn't make any sense to me. It wasn't Deputy Mayor Niles that committed this act. It was a policy that was developed by Chancellor Wilson and then he violated his own policy. As best I understand if he took that to Deputy Mayor Niles and she apparently agreed with him being able to do this so no it seems to me that if one was gonna go they both should have gone."

Councilman At-Large David Grosso said he "welcomed" Niles' resignation.

"I am extremely disappointed in the actions of the @DMEforDC and @DCPSChancellor regarding the discretionary placement process. I appreciate that the catalyst for this transfer was what the Chancellor believed was in the best interest of his child. Still, this was a huge mistake."

Mayor Bowser said she has set out a series of corrective actions for Wilson, including that he issue a public apology and that he remove his child from the out-of-boundary school.

Bowser's statement also said she was referring the matter to the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability and to the Inspector General to examine whether the code of conduct was violated.