- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2004

D.C. public schools’ new superintendent and principals asked parents and others yesterday to give them time to improve one the country’s most underachieving and violent school districts.

“The details have not yet been worked out in moving the District ahead academically,” said Clifford B. Janey, whom the D.C. school board chose last week to be its new superintendent.

“It will be a done deal soon,” said Mr. Janey, who is negotiating for his salary.

Mr. Janey, 58, said he will focus on reforming high schools, improving pre-kindergarten programs and helping children who fall behind two or more grades.

During the annual superintendent’s summer conference, 24 new principals were introduced, including one for the troubled Ballou High School in Southeast.

The new principal, Daniel J. Hudson, said he arrived just eight days ago, but was aware of the challenges. He said police will play a major role in stopping the mischief and violence that marred the 2003-04 school year at Ballou.

Among the problems were two gang fights, six female students in a fistfight, another gang fight in the school cafeteria and mercury stolen from a laboratory that spread and closed school for four weeks.

The worst incident occurred Feb. 2 when James Richardson, 17, was fatally shot inside the school. Police arrested classmate Thomas J. Boykin, 18, and charged him with murder. Other students and parents said the students had been quarreling and fighting for several months.

“I need to put responsibility back on the parents,” said Mr. Hudson, 57, who has worked for 28 years as a principal in Colorado, Missouri, Pennsylvania and in Richmond and Culpeper, Va. “We need to make it a safe environment for all kids, teachers and the community.”

Mr. Hudson said that during his job in Bradford, Pa., learning improved after police began providing daily security. He has a bachelor of science degree from Colorado State University, a master’s degree in education from Brigham Young University and a doctorate in education from the University of Sarasota.

“The main thing [with Mr. Hudson] is that learning is going to happen in that school 51/2 to six hours a day,” said Assistant Superintendent Juan Baughn.

Interim Superintendent Robert C. Rice said the new principals were selected from 167 candidates and that about half are from other school districts.

“I have high expectations of them,” said Mr. Rice, 65. “I look at them as futurists. I don’t look at them as keepers of the status quo. Their success has to be defined by the success of their students.”

In 2003, 11 percent of D.C. fourth-graders and 10 percent of eighth-graders were proficient in reading, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress. The report states that 30 percent of the nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders performed “at or above the proficient level.”

The report defined proficient as students being literate enough to learn from their studies and deal with challenging schoolwork in future grades.

Mr. Rice also said the principal and teachers teaching the District’s roughly 65,000 students will focus on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, and that educators who do not meet new standards will be replaced.

Mr. Janey was the superintendent in Rochester, N.Y., for seven years. Though it is one of the poorest school districts in the country, achievement scores for its 35,000 students improved during Mr. Janey’s tenure. Rochester’s board of education also reported that he helped close the achievement gaps among black, white and Hispanic students.

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