DC council member backs down from call for Bowser to testify on resignation of schools chancellor

A D.C. council member who pledged to get to the bottom of the school lottery scandal and resignation of the former chancellor of D.C. Public Schools is now backing off after he called for an emergency hearing and investigation into the matter earlier this week.

Councilmember David Grosso, the chair of the Education Committee, said he will not force Mayor Muriel Bowser, former chancellor Antwan Wilson and former deputy mayor for education Jennifer Niles to testify under oath.

This all comes after Bowser and Wilson gave different accounts of who knew what and when regarding the transfer of Wilson's daughter to another high school. Wilson claims he told the mayor about it back in September.

"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 on Monday. "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.'"

Wilson resigned last month after it was found he violated policy by bypassing the District's school lottery system to secure a transfer for his daughter to another highly sought-after school.

However, Bowser said she was only aware of the transfer 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 told FOX 5 on Monday.

On Thursday, Grosso said his reversal would take the focus off the real concern right now, which is helping the students of D.C. Public Schools. But did the mayor influence his decision?

"I don't think so," Grosso said. "My track record is that I am very deliberate about the decisions that I make. It was important I think for me to get right out and say that this should be a public hearing and I think there still should be. I don't think that I am saying it should go away."

Grosso added, "I took some time to really think about it, talked to all interested parties and get as much details as I can on what I could do here, and realizing that the inspector general is working on this. [The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability] assured me that they are going to get something out quickly. I thought maybe our resources would be spent in a different area and we could have more impact on education reform in D.C."

Grosso said he called Bowser about this matter, and that she did not ask him to not move forward with the emergency hearing. He also pointed out that it is a very long process to subpoena people, especially when they do not want to testify. Grosso believes he would not have gotten the mayor to testify before the election.