- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Some D.C. education officials are calling for new hiring practices after the school system’s chief accountability officer accepted a job Tuesday as superintendent in St. Paul, Minn., after less than 18 months working for the District.

The departure of Chief Accountability Officer Meria J. Carstarphen to St. Paul was met with dismay among D.C. school officials.

“If we’re making a commitment to paying a salary of $170,000, we’re doing that to keep you here,” school board member William Lockridge said yesterday. He said Miss Carstarphen “was doing a fairly decent job” in the District.

Mr. Lockridge said he just learned last week that Miss Carstarphen had plans to leave.

“She came to my office and said, ‘I want to discuss with you the possibility that I might leave and take a job somewhere else,’” Mr. Lockridge said. “I was kind of shocked. I said, ‘I really wish you would evaluate things and at least stay to the end of the year.’”

“She said if she were offered the position, then she would probably have to take it immediately.”

A spokesman for the St. Paul school system yesterday said officials haven’t decided when Miss Carstarphen will start her new job, which is pending contract negotiations.

D.C. schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey yesterday called Miss Carstarphen “very effective during her brief tenure.”

Darlene Allen, president of the D.C. PTA, said the school system should have contracts with key employees to keep them for at least three years.

“We wouldn’t want to have to keep people who aren’t working out, but at the same time, we would like to have something in the contract that says you have to be here three years so that we can see some progress on what you’ve been working on. If we’re investing that kind of money, I think a three-year commitment is reasonable,” she said yesterday.

D.C. school board member Robin Martin called Miss Carstarphen’s departure “disappointing but not fatal.”

Miss Carstarphen was hired for the newly created chief accountability officer’s job in October 2004. She interviewed for the D.C. superintendent’s job, but ultimately lost out to Mr. Janey because she didn’t have enough experience.

The school board has a contract with Mr. Janey, who earns $250,000 per year, until 2008.

As chief accountability officer, Miss Carstarphen, 36, oversaw the hiring of school principals, the development of new academic standards and compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

It was unclear yesterday who might replace her.

Mr. Janey said he had the “utmost confidence” that his senior management team and the Office of Accountability will “continue to operate at the highest level.”

Calling Miss Carstarphen “a rising star,” school board member Carolyn Graham yesterday said Miss Carstarphen’s hiring by St. Paul wasn’t a surprise.

Before coming to the District in 2004, Miss Carstarphen worked in Kingsport, Tenn., a small Appalachian school district with one high school.

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