- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2003

Two appointed members of the D.C. Board of Education yesterday said they would not seek reappointment because Mayor Anthony A. Williams failed to renominate them in the month since their two-year terms expired.
The departures of Roger Wilkins and Charles R. Lawrence III, both college professors whose terms expired Dec. 31, leave one original appointed member on the board, which was restructured by a referendum Mr. Williams backed in 2000.
"During the month of January, I repeatedly and unsuccessfully sought to meet with the mayor to discuss my possible reappointment, and it became apparent that, for whatever reason, the decision to forgo discussions with me was deliberate," Mr. Lawrence said.
"I respect Mayor Williams and his prerogative to select the board members of his choice. Career and family commitments do not allow me to stand by for whatever the next act in the appointment drama might be, thus I have removed my name from consideration."
Mr. Wilkins, who was unavailable for comment, sent a letter to Mr. Williams on Feb. 5 withdrawing his name and calling his tenure on the board, "one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."
"In the month of silence since I sent word to you about concerns I had about reappointment issues, I have taken the opportunity to reflect on where I am in my life; my most pressing concerns and my deepest interests," he wrote. "As a result, I have concluded that it is time to return to my basics teaching, civil rights work and writing."
Mr. Lawrence, a law professor at Georgetown University, and Mr. Wilkins, a professor at George Mason University and an internationally known scholar and civil rights leader, were two of four board members Mr. Williams appointed to the nine-member hybrid board. Another appointee, Robert Peck, resigned in October 2001, soon after the board was sworn in, to become the head of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. The terms of the two remaining appointed board members one original and one who was named to replace Mr. Peck expire Dec. 31, 2004.
"With the resignations of Charles Lawrence and Roger Wilkins, I hope that Mayor Williams will act speedily to appoint new Board of Education members," said board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz.
"Intellectual mettle, clarity of thinking and passion for educational equity as demonstrated by both Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Wilkins are characteristics needed in their replacements."
In recent months, the mayor had signaled that he would not reappoint Mr. Lawrence because of his frequent and vocal disagreements about the schools' budget, school and city sources said. After learning of the mayor's plans, Mr. Wilkins told city and school officials that if Mr. Lawrence was not reappointed, he would withdraw his name. Both are expected to leave the board this spring.
"It's such a shame," said D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat. "The mayor does not like the fact that the board disagrees on budget issues. But I don't see the point of appointing someone who is always going to agree."
Mr. Fenty said the mayor's posture will make it more difficult to find qualified candidates willing to accept the job.
D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, said the departures are "a big loss."
She said: "This should remind people that it was this mayor that wanted to appoint the entire school board, but the council wouldn't let him. Now it seems he doesn't even have an interest in reappointing two that have served well."
Mr. Williams said through a spokesman that he "valued [the board members] commitment and service" and would expedite the search for replacements.
"The mayor was surprised by their decision," said Tony Bullock, spokesman for Mr. Williams. "The mayor was beginning to make that decision [to reappoint] and planned to meet with them both. But it is an extremely busy time for this government, and he hadn't gotten around to it yet."

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