Sep 11, 2008

DC Special Education Department Heads Go On Leave- Before They Officially Leave !

In DC Public Schools, Special Education Department heads go on leave before ... they officially leave. Sound familiar. For those of you who have been around for the last several years- do you remember Dr. Silas Christian? Funny how Dr. Christian exited in much the same way as Dr. Phyllis Harris. Do you recall ? First Dr Christian left the DC central office never to be heard from again. According to the DC Wire, the DC Deputy Chancellor- Dr. Harris is now on leave - effective yesterday. Pullleaze !!!! For all those inquiring minds, here is the full DC Wire story as written by Bill Turque and Marcia Davis in today's Washington Post September 11th blog :

Top Special Ed Official Goes on Leave

"The D.C. school system's deputy chancellor for special education, Dr. Phyllis Harris, is on leave, effective yesterday. Dena Iverson, spokeswoman for Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, said last night that she could not elaborate on the nature of the leave and when--or if--Harris is scheduled to return. The Washington Teacher, a blog written by Washington Teachers Union trustee Candi Peterson, cited unnamed sources in a posting that said Harris got "the official boot."Iverson said Harris has not been fired.

The move comes a week after a federal judge admonished District officials for the lack of progress in meeting the terms of a 2006 court order to eliminate the backlog of cases involving public schoolchildren waiting for special education services. U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman, reacting to a report by court monitors, also said the District's approach to addressing the special education issues seemed fragmented and disorganized.

Rhee named Harris, a special education coordinator for the Oakland school system, to the deputy's post last fall at a reported salary of $200,000. Despite her title, much of the significant work on compliance with the requirements of the Blackman lawsuit was actually led by another top Rhee aide, Richard Nyankori, according to court monitors Amy Totenberg and Clarence J. Sundram. For many months, they said, the staffs worked as separate entities. "My fundamental problem here is the lack of accountability, lack of coordination, lack of oversight, a lack of specific people who are rolling up their sleeves to get the job done," Friedman said.

Harris' at-least temporary departure also comes amid persistent teacher complaints about overcrowded special education classes that lacked sufficient teachers and other providers. Peterson and other union officials have said that some special education classes are being led by teachers uncertified in special ed."- Posted by Candi


Anonymous said...

The dealings I have had with Rhee's close associate, Dr. Nyankori have been first rate. He had been principal of a special ed school in Baltimore. Also, he was head of Rhee's move toward initiating differentiated instruction in DCPS. This is an on-going attempt to better meet the needs of LD children within DCPS instead of sending them to private placements out of state, costing us big bucks. Wonder if he'll take over as acting head of special ed.

Candi said...

Anonymous: It will be interesting to see how this all develops. The problem is that Harris leaves behind a mess for someone to clean up. I hope we can get through this year without any further damage to our students. Thanks for your post.

Anonymous said...

I too agree with Anon, about Dr. Nyankori. I have also heard really great things from people who worked for him in Baltimore. He's another of those TFAers, so I was apprehensive at first, but I so far, I am quite impressed with his work. I hope he will take over as acting head so that there isn't a huge vacancy with no work being done for our students.

Anonymous said...

Nyankori may well have been TFA. But he got his EdD or PhD in an education-related field, so he's one of the TFA types who have stayed in education and actually risen through the ranks. My money is on Rhee naming him being acting head of Special ed.