- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006

D.C. Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty yesterday named school board member Victor Reinoso as his deputy mayor of education, a possible first step in an effort to take over the District’s struggling public school system.

“We need to have someone who knows the District of Columbia school system,” said Mr. Fenty, who announced the appointment during a press conference yesterday at the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center in Northwest, where his transition offices are housed. “As we looked around at various potential candidates, the name Victor Reinoso kept coming to the top of the list.”

Mr. Reinoso, 37, who represents Wards 3 and 4 on the D.C. Board of Education, will be Mr. Fenty’s “principal policy adviser on education” and work directly with the board, schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey and other education stakeholders in the District’s current government structure.

But Mr. Fenty, 35, has suggested he will attempt a mayoral takeover of the school system after he takes office Jan. 2.

In that scenario — which largely would be modeled after a New York City structure — Mr. Reinoso would be in charge of a newly created Department of Education.

The schools superintendent would report to Mr. Reinoso, who would then report to Mr. Fenty. The school board also would be relegated to an advisory role.

Mr. Fenty said he plans to make a decision by next month on proposing the schools takeover to the D.C. Council.

“The mayor-elect and I have shared goals on this issue,” said Mr. Reinoso, who also is the chief operating officer of the nonprofit Federal City Council. “We have a strong desire to restore public confidence in the public education system in this city and to have an impact on student achievement throughout our school system.”

Mr. Fenty said that he did not consult with Mr. Janey about Mr. Reinoso’s appointment and that he has not made a decision about retaining the current schools superintendent. Yesterday, Mr. Janey said he views the appointment as an “opportunity, not a challenge.”

“I expect that the new mayor and deputy mayor will hit the ground running,” he said. “I see the roles of the new mayor and deputy mayor supporting and aligning with the plans we currently have in place.”

A schools takeover plan that would place the board in an advisory role has been publicly opposed by Robert C. Bobb, the newly elected board president.

But Mr. Bobb, who likely would have to report to Mr. Reinoso if a takeover occurs, said through a spokeswoman yesterday that Mr. Reinoso’s appointment was “outstanding.”

“Mr. Reinoso understands the issues, and he has been committed to those issues,” Bobb spokeswoman Natalie Williams said. “He has been a reformer of the school board, and we are excited about his appointment.”

Mr. Reinoso’s term as deputy mayor will officially begin Jan. 2, and a special election will be held later to fill his school board seat.

Mr. Fenty said he would work to have the election coincide with elections in Wards 4 and 7 in the spring to fill his seat and the seat of incoming D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray.

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