Sep 10, 2008

DC's - Dr. Phyllis Harris Gets The Boot!

Today, sources confirmed that Dr. Phyllis Harris, Deputy Chancellor of Special Education in the District of Columbia public schools got the 'official boot' by Chancellor Rhee's office . Rather than improving special education in DC public schools- Dr. Harris created another catastrophe. Read the web and there you will find numerous complaints by the former Oakland public school district where Harris reigned supreme in special education leaving behind problems which have led to ongoing litigation for their school district. Here's what a teacher from the Oakland unified school district posted on Reporter Katy Murphy's education blog on October 22, 2007 :

"Dr Harris’ departure is welcomed by all in the department. The district spent THOUSANDS for a consultant from Sacramento to teach her the most basic facts relating to Special Education. Dr Harris was abrasive, arrogant, abusive and rude to both staff and parents. For those of us who have been around long enough to have experienced many Directors of Special Ed, we found Dr Harris to be similar, in many ways, to most. That is, she was ignorant and incompetent.... Our gain is Washington D.C.’s loss!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

A parent from Oakland wrote this comment on October 22nd, 2007 : "I won’t be crying any tears over Dr. Harris' departure. She was very proud of reducing the budget by bringing kids out of NPS programs and expanding in-school programs — but I did not see improvements for kids like my child. Perhaps there were improvements in autism programs, I don’t know; my child is not autistic. What I saw is that there weren’t enough speech therapists and the two “floating” Assistive Communications/Technologies specialists both left and the district was without any AAC specialists outside of the TACLE classroom for a very long time — I believe almost a year. The class I’m familiar with is overcrowded. Some of the kids actually learn in a converted supply closet! Also, I found her excruciatingly difficult to work with: Defensive about her own lack of special needs background, bloviating. She suggested that the services I wanted for my daughter would actually impair her learning! When I brought in a developmental pediatrician and a neuro psychologist to support my position, she dismissed their conclusions because they weren’t educators. She later admitted that at the time she made the comment she hadn’t actually read their reports.I’m looking forward to a new regime. I know nothing about the interim director, but am heartened she actually has experience"

While I applaud the decision to let Dr. Harris go-I know what DCPS is up against in the months ahead. Let's only hope that we can undo some of the damage that has already been done to our students who still lack certified special education teachers, educational aides and the much needed textbooks and other critical resources to help them be successful.

Wanted: A Deputy Chancellor for Special Education in DC Public Schools. Must be willing to submit to a reference and background check.


Anonymous said...

A judge and two attorney's are on the Special Education Department. Proceedual violations flying ? Ya think ? No staff to support the demands ! Send in support to field and get the kids taken care of.They can't do it from an ivory central office tower writing educational programs. They're not effective educational strategies when you're under staffed to implement executive directives.What's Dr.Harris saying and she's been in there to know. There is a judge report that mentioned concerns with administrative disorganization.There is an entire section to evaluate and problems all identified.

Anonymous said...

This blog has all those Special Education issues lined up and identified.Every problem is on this blog ! What Dr. Harris say ? They need some help at Hart and Mac Farland.Hang in there Dr. Harris and thanks for all you did that was positive.

Anonymous said...

The administration needs to stop writing all these wonderful programs for education. All these intelligent policies that are for the best interest of a child are failing in the field due to a lack of training and support and the field is under staffed. Get out of the office and identify the problems for support and start training your staff. Hands on administration !

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