Embattled Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee should send lawmakers a report on her reform efforts, D.C. Council member Marion Barry said Thursday.
Mr. Barry's comments were made during an afternoon hearing on Mayor Adrian Fenty's proposal to spend $758 million in local funds on schools.
Mr. Barry said that as a four-time mayor and a former school board president he has seen a lot of school budgets and lots of school reform plans. But he said he never has witnessed the kind of confusion that surfaced last week, when the chancellor said on April 13 that the school system had a $34 million surplus, only for the city's chief financial officer, Natwar Gandhi, to proclaim on April 15 that the surplus "does not exist."
Miss Rhee should deliver her report card to the council before she "utters" another word on the budget, Mr. Barry said.
Title II of the D.C. Public Education Reform Amendment Act of the 2007 mandates evaluations of all academic plans implemented by the chancellor as well as "detailed description(s) of student achievements."
"The legislation requires an evaluation of what has been done and what needs to be done," Mr. Barry said. "We should require the chancellor to explain what's been done with the $2.5 billion that taxpayers have paid for" since her arrival in June 2007, Mr. Barry said. "We need a report card from her and we should give her a report that might be widely different."
Some parents agreed with Mr. Barry.
"I think it's an excellent idea," said Cherita Whiting of the Ward 4 Education Council. "I think you should demand it."
Miss Rhee had planned to attend the hearing, but bowed out to attend the funeral of D.C. Public Schools teacher Brian Betts, who was found murdered last week and buried Thursday.
Council Chairman Vincent Gray said he would reconvene the hearing at a date that both Mr. Gandhi and Miss Rhee could attend.