WASHINGTON - There are now six D.C. Councilmembers who are calling for the resignation of D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson after it was revealed that he bypassed the District's school lottery system to secure a transfer for his own child to a highly sought after educational institution.
"I do not arrive at this decision lightly, McDuffie said in a statement. "In fact, I have spent the time since learning about this on Friday talking with many Ward 5 parents and students. Their emotions ranged from shock and disappointment to anger and frustration. Most residents expressed that they had lost confidence in Chancellor Wilson. I agree."
McDuffie continued to say that he understands Wilson's desire to do what is best for his child but also says he sympathizes with parents whose children remain on school waiting lists or in schools that do not meet their needs.
With the help of deputy mayor for education, Wilson was able to get his daughter moved to Woodrow Wilson High School from Dunbar High School. There are currently 706 students on the wait list to get into Wilson High School.
Wilson issued an apology letter to the D.C. Public Schools on Friday, saying "my decision was wrong and I take full responsibility for my mistake. While I understand that many of you will be angered and disappointed by my actions, I'm here today to apologize and ask for your forgiveness."
"My daughter was struggling socially and emotionally, engaging in behavior we had never seen before, certainly affecting her health," said Wilson in an interview with FOX 5 on Monday.
"Not eating, not coming out of her room and expressing real anxiety around going to school. I want folks to understand that as a parent, I certainly had tunnel vision, and as a chancellor, my focus was really trying to make sure that my wife was able to get the help she needed to transfer our daughter and to do it in a way that we were trying to do it correctly. It's clear we got it wrong."
FOX 5 asked Wilson if he would resign if Mayor Muriel Bowser asked him to step down from the position, but he would not answer the question directly. Instead, Wilson said he is committed to his job.
"My focus is on making sure that the District has the direction that it needs," he said. "My focus is on doing the work to win back trust that I have broken for anyone in the District, the community, in making sure that DCPS is on the right path. And I am committed to doing that."
Councilmember Mary Cheh joined FOX 5 Tuesday and reiterated her call for Wilson to step aside. "I think we should replace the chancellor and not just get another body in there. we need a new chancellor, a new team, somebody who will change the way we conduct business for D.C.P.S.," Cheh said. "We should never ever be graduating somebody who's functionally illiterate. We should never ever accept social promotion. We should never ever allow children to be pushed forward from early grades where they can't read or they're struggling without paying attention to t them. We need a new approach and I don't think the team that's in place, including the chancellor because he's committed to the policies of the past, I don't think they're the people to do it."
Wilson, who served as superintendent for the Oakland Unified School District in California before coming to D.C. spoke to FOX 5 in 2017 on how he would work to make sure the D.C. school lottery system was fair for all parents.He also spoke about his personal experience in the D.C. school lottery system.
FOX 5: The D.C. inspector general has said that former schools chancellor Kaya Henderson may have given preferential treatment to some school officials regarding school placement. Tell us about the plan to be more transparent and fair moving forward.
Antwan Wilson: "We want to make sure that everyone is aware of how these requests can be asked for - first and foremost. And then we want to make sure that people understand that we're rarely going to give them. And they'll be extreme circumstances that may require me to step in, and we want to just make sure there are rules set how I will do that. I do think it's important for me to say that I have the utmost respect for Chancellor Henderson. She did a tremendous job here in the District, and at the same time, recognize that parents just want to make sure that the process is fair. I have confidence in the D.C. lottery. I am going through the lottery myself with my three children."
FOX 5: You are?
AW: "I absolutely am."
FOX 5: If the Chancellor has to go through it, shouldn't everybody have to go through it?
AW: "What I would say is that sometimes there are circumstances that may require us to, require me to involve myself at some level. I think those are rare circumstances. But I would say that if the Chancellor is going through the lottery, that should give people confidence that if I believe that it's going to be successful for my children, there's no reason to believe that it won't be for everyone else."