The District’s Deputy Mayor of Education resigned Friday after it was revealed she helped the D.C. Chancellor of Education sidestep his own rules when seeking special treatment to transfer his daughter to a new school.
According to city officials, Chancellor Antwan Wilson asked Deputy Mayor Jennifer Niles to transfer his eldest daughter to Wilson High School mid-year, and she complied, also allowing Mr. Wilson’s daughter to bypass the District’s lengthy lottery for students looking to attend schools outside their region. Additionally, it was revealed the chancellor did not seek approval from the Board of Ethics—a step required whenever a D.C. government official requests a school transfer.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Friday she was “disappointed” to learn of the infractions from the Inspector General earlier this week, and that she had accepted Ms. Niles’ resignation Friday afternoon.
“What we’re talking about was a discretionary transfer that’s outside of our policies,” the mayor said in a press conference Friday afternoon. “We had a very lengthy discussion about this last year around this time where we didn’t have very clear guidelines about discretionary transfers in place but we put those guidelines in place.”
Except it was Mr. Wilson who penned the guidelines, less than a year ago.
The top education official created the “Discretionary Out of Boundary Transfers Policy” in June to prevent government officials from preferential treatment when it came to enrolling their children in the District’s best schools. The regulations were a response to an investigation into the previous education chancellor, Kaya Henderson, who allowed several D.C. and federal officials their choice in schools for their children.
In a public letter also released Friday, Mr. Wilson said his, “actions did not align with DCPS policy. In doing so, I failed the school system and the DC community.” Despite this, the mayor told reporters Mr. Wilson would remain on the job, albeit with some, unspecified, corrective actions.
According to a spokesperson for the Mayor, Wilson High School where Mr. Wilson transferred his daughter, currently has a 100-person waitlist for prospective students.
Mr. Wilson withdrew his daughter from the school on Friday.
In a letter to at-large D.C. council member David Grosso last July, Mr. Wilson wrote that his regulations would ensure that, “no past or current public officials will receive such a placement, to limit any possibility of favoritism or improper use of public office for private gain, or even the appearance of favoritism.”