- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006

The D.C. public school system’s chief accountability officer, who earns $170,000 a year, has a track record of not staying in one place very long.

Since 1999, Meria J. Carstar-phen, 36, has had five education jobs in various school districts and in private consulting, including her current appointment less than 18 months ago in the District.

And she may be changing jobs yet again. This week, Miss Carstarphen, the D.C. school system’s first chief accountability officer, is interviewing for the superintendent’s job in St. Paul, Minn.

D.C. schools officials declined to comment on her candidacy and her work for city schools.

“The school district’s policy is not to comment on the performance of employees,” schools spokeswoman Roxanne Evans said.

Miss Carstarphen was scheduled to be in St. Paul yesterday and was not available for comment.

The St. Paul school board is expected to announce its pick for the job this week.

Miss Carstarphen’s departure would mean the loss of a key appointee for schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey, who hired her about a month after he took over the school system in 2004.

Miss Carstarphen is responsible for testing, staff development and compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Iris Toyer, co-chairwoman of the advocacy group D.C. Parents United, said yesterday that it would be difficult to give Miss Carstarphen a grade because she hasn’t been in her post that long.

“She’s helping to build what I think is a new structure,” Miss Toyer said. “She’s extremely energetic and wants things to move a little faster than they tend to in most bureaucracies.”

Miss Toyer said she has mixed feelings about Miss Car-starphen’s possible departure.

“It’s a good thing that you have someone that other people want because it indicates you made a good decision,” she said. “On the other hand, I would be sorry to see her go.”

Officials with whom Miss Carstarphen last worked before coming to the District had similar feelings about her relatively short tenures.

Before filling the new position of chief accountability officer in the District, Miss Carstarphen worked in Kingsport, Tenn., a small school district in the Appalachians.

In Kingsport, she worked for about one year as the district’s first “executive director for Comprehensive School Improvement and Accountability.” The school district has about 7,000 students and one high school.

“People were disappointed she didn’t stay longer,” Susan Lodal, vice president of the school district, said yesterday. “But she helped set a direction for us.”

Just as in the District, Miss Carstarphen’s job didn’t exist before she signed on with the Kingsport district in 2003.

Miss Carstarphen had applied to be the high school’s principal, but the job wasn’t suited for her, Miss Lodal said.

“They made a new position, which we needed,” she said.

Before Kingsport, Miss Carstarphen worked as an educational consultant. From 1999 to 2001, she was a special assistant to the superintendent in Columbus, Ohio.

Miss Carstarphen was a principal intern at a middle school in Boston in 1999 and worked as a freelance photographer for the National Geographic Society from 1997 to 1999.

She earned a doctorate in education administration from Harvard University in 2002.

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