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“Decisions about education options in the District of Columbia ought to be made at the local level, just as those choice are made across this nation,” Mr. Gray’s spokesman, Pedro Ribeiro, said Monday. “This is, and has always been, an issue of self-determination.”

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, has backed the mayor’s views on the program. Yet his predecessor as the head of the council, Kwame R. Brown, supported the program and positioned himself as an education reformer before resigning in June and pleading guilty to bank fraud and a campaign-finance violation that stemmed from his 2008 re-election as an at-large member of the council.