WASHINGTON - Dr. Amanda Alexander has taken over as interim chancellor of D.C. Public Schools following the resignation of Antwan Wilson. Her appointment to the position comes at a time when many issues are plaguing the school system from graduation issues to a residency fraud investigation that recently came to light.
Alexander said she is ready for the task ahead and is already hard at work. She said she was just finishing up a morning workout last Tuesday and was on the way to work when her phone rang. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser wanted to see her at the Wilson Building and Alexander had a feeling that the meeting would be about Wilson resigning and her being chosen to take over the job as the interim chancellor.
FOX 5 spoke with Alexander at Ross Elementary School in Northwest D.C. where she served as the principal here for several years. It is a school with about 1,000 students on its waiting list. We asked Alexander what formula for success she could take from this school and make it work at other schools in the District.
"I think the formula is really rooted in one key thing and that is collaboration," Alexander said. "It is collaboration among teachers. It is collaboration among teachers and parents and external stakeholders. Ross is great because everyone is all hands on deck."
On Thursday, Alexander will face questions from D.C. council members on a number of issues at an Education Committee oversight hearing.
"I will let them know that we have established some policies and procedures to ensure that each child that who earns a diploma this year has rightfully done so," she said. "Right now, we are engaging with parents and the families in a process of individual transcript review to help kids assess where they are, where there are gaps and what they need to do to get back on track."
Dr. Alexander said she has been working long days since she has assumed the role as the head of D.C. Public Schools. She discussed Wilson's departure in which he violated policy by bypassing the District's school lottery system to secure a transfer for his child to another high school.
"I definitely understand why parents are upset about former Chancellor Wilson's actions," she said. "But I have forgiven him. He is a human being and human beings make mistakes. I have asked my senior staff to do the same. While he was here prior to this issue, he did tremendous things for our school system. Many of which we all believe and ascribe to. So I am really just looking forward to moving past that and I ask the community to do the same."
We also asked Alexander about the recent investigation at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. The District's Office of the State Superintendent of Education is currently investigating claims of residency fraud. Some students who live outside of D.C. are allegedly attending the school without paying tuition.
"I am not aware of widespread issues or that this is a systemic issue as far as residency fraud," she told FOX 5. "But I think what people need to do in our buildings when they suspect that someone is enrolled in our schools from out of state, is to simply report it. That is the only way we will be able to address it."