Sunday, March 26, 2006

The D.C. public school system’s $170,000 per-year chief accountability officer is scheduled to interview for a job with another school district today, less than 18 months after filling the newly created D.C. position.

Meria J. Carstarphen, 36, tied as the second highest-paid employee in the D.C. school system, is one of five candidates scheduled to interview for the St. Paul, Minn., school superintendent’s job.

The St. Paul Board of Education last week posted Miss Carstarphen’s biography on its Web site and announced that it had scheduled interviews with her and other finalists for this week. Neither Miss Carstarphen nor D.C. school officials could be reached for comment yesterday.

In October 2004, Miss Carstarphen was one of five key staff appointments made by incoming D.C. schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey. She has been responsible for the schools’ compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act and for implementing new academic standards. The job did not exist before her appointment.

Miss Carstarphen was quoted in the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper yesterday as saying she wanted to work in St. Paul because it is “a model school system in a sea of urban districts.”

The prospect of Miss Carstarphen’s departure comes at a time when another high-ranking D.C. public school system administrator has been placed on leave for undisclosed reasons.

Cheryl Hiers-Wilhoyte, one of two assistant superintendents in the Office of the Chief Academic Officer, remains on leave for what school system officials are calling a personnel matter.

Mrs. Hiers-Wilhoyte, who earns a base salary of $154,500 per year, is married to William Wilhoyte, a veteran D.C. schools administrator in the Office of the Associate Superintendent. He is paid $124,500 per year.

Mrs. Hiers-Wilhoyte was named to the post this school year. She previously worked as a private education consultant, a schools superintendent in Madison, Wis., and an administrator in Montgomery County Public Schools.

D.C. school system spokeswoman Roxanne Evans said Friday that Mrs. Hiers-Wilhoyte had been placed on paid administrative leave.

“It’s a personnel matter, so we can’t say anything more,” Miss Evans said.

Mrs. Hiers-Wilhoyte’s salary made her the ninth highest-paid administrator and one of 14 D.C. public school system central-office officials making at least $150,000 per year in base salary, compared with one official two years ago, according to salary records.

Miss Carstarphen is one of five D.C. school administrators making $170,000 per year, second in pay only to Mr. Janey, who earns $250,000 in base salary.

The D.C. Board of Education unanimously approved the school system’s 2006 salary schedule at its January meeting with no public discussion.

Some students’ parents are expressing concern about the rising salaries in the schools system with officials weighing school closings and many teachers nervous about their job prospects after years of layoffs.

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