Education

Urban Education

By Catherine Gewertz — October 01, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

—Catherine Gewertz

Everyone wants the first day of school to go smoothly, but leaders of the District of Columbia schools, in particular, really needed it to go well.

Washington’s school system is still smarting from political battles over its chain of command and whether the mayor should have more control of the schools. The city endured multiple rejections before finally finding a new superintendent.

So it didn’t help when the first day of school, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, found hundreds of students hanging around in front of Eastern High School, unable to begin their studies because no one had produced their class schedules.

Within hours, interim Superintendent Robert C. Rice had sent the students home, fired the principal and two central-office employees, and appointed a veteran principal and administrator as interim principal.

By the second day, with the story on the front page of The Washington Post, students returned to Eastern, but had to spend the day in homeroom because schedules still were not finished.

It wasn’t until midday on Sept. 3, the third day of school, that most schedules were distributed. And that took a round-the-clock blitz by school- and district-level employees laboring on aged computer software.

Eastern High stayed open Saturday and Labor Day to allow students to pick up the last of the schedules.

By Sept. 7, district officials were relieved to report that things seemed to be operating normally for the school’s 900-plus students.

“It was a great day in the life of the D.C. public schools, which it should have been last week,” spokeswoman Lucy Young said last week. “This shouldn’t have happened. And I can almost guarantee you it won’t happen again.”

Activists lamented the situation at Eastern, saying it reflected the depth of the challenges that the 64,000-student district faces as it tries to improve its operations. Clifford B. Janey, the incoming superintendent, will be the next to tackle the dysfunction.

“I hope Dr. Janey is going to put an end to that,” said Iris Toyer, the chairwoman of the advocacy group Parents United for D.C. Public Schools, “but I don’t think it’s that simple.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: June 12, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 29, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 8, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read