- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced Wednesday she will step down this fall, leaving behind what some say is a legacy of steady progress following the tumultuous tenure of former chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Ms. Henderson, 45, joined DCPS in 2007 and was named chancellor in 2010 after Ms. Rhee exited the post. Her six years at the helm of D.C. schools makes her the second-longest serving chancellor of DCPS.

She implemented a teacher evaluation system based in part on student test scores. Those who do well receive bonus pay and other awards; those who do poorly are terminated. Ms. Henderson has fired hundreds of teachers under the system.

“I am incredibly grateful to Kaya for her nine years of service to our students, our schools, and our city,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement Wednesday. “Without a doubt, DCPS is a very different place today than it was when Kaya joined our school system in 2007.”

Ms. Bowser went on to say that after decades of declining enrollment, Ms. Henderson shepherded the school system through six years of increasing numbers. In 2010, DCPS taught about 45,000 students; that number has risen to about 49,000 pupils in 2016.

John Davis, who currently serves as chief of schools, a position that directly leads all principals, will take over as interim chancellor when Ms. Henderson leaves on Sept. 30. The District will launch a nationwide search in the fall to find a permanent chancellor for next school year.

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Several current and former D.C. officials commended Ms. Henderson on her time as head of DCPS.

“Under Chancellor Henderson’s leadership for the past five and a half years, D.C. Public Schools improved dramatically in overall academic achievement, high school graduation rates, student satisfaction, and enrollment,” said D.C. Council member David Grosso, who heads the Education Committee.

Mr. Grosso, at-large independent, said the outgoing chancellor helped transform DCPS from a historically underperforming system into one that is “nationally recognized for its growth and innovation.”

Former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, who now runs the consortium of local business leaders called the Federal City Council, also lauded Ms. Henderson’s accomplishments.

“During Kaya’s tenure, DCPS’ performance improved more quickly than any other urban school district in the nation, which is a testament to Kaya’s leadership and commitment,” Mr. Williams said. “D.C. has been fortunate to have had such a strong leader guiding the reform and improvement of our school system.”

Jack Jacobson, president of the D.C. State Board of Education, also lauded Ms. Henderson for her service.

Kaya has been a strong partner for the State Board’s work. DCPS’ new leadership will start from a stronger foundation because of it,” Mr. Jacobson said in a statement.

He said Ms. Henderson led DCPS with a “strong vision to provide quality education throughout the District.” He added that he looks forward to working with Miss Bowser to ensure the next chancellor improves on the progress made by Ms. Henderson.

But Ms. Henderson’s tenure was not entirely without controversy. The Associated Press revealed in April that Ms. Henderson asked the city’s troubled food-service contractor for a $100,000 contribution to a gala honoring teachers and made similar requests from other companies that do business of the city. The report triggered an inquiry by the city’s ethics board.

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