D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser picks Lewis D. Ferebee new schools chancellor
Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday named Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis D. Ferebee of as the new chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, apparently rejecting her advisory panel’s recommendation.
Mr. Ferebee, a former state superintendent and graduate of George Washington University, said he “was thrilled to be joining the team.” He reportedly bested more than 40 other applicants for the job, including interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander.
“I want to thank all the students, families, educators, and community members who participated in the search process,” Miss Bowser said during a surprise press conference.
However, the majority of the 15 students, parents, teachers and union representatives who served on the advisory panel for the District’s chancellor search did not recommend Mr. Ferebee, said Elizabeth Davis, president of Washington Teachers Union Local 6 who also served on the panel.
“I was a little stunned when I heard earlier today that she selected him,” Ms. Davis told The Washington Times.
The union leader said that after the panel interviewed Mr. Ferebee on Saturday, “the most support was behind Dr. Amanda Alexander. I was actually certain she was going to be selected.”
In August, a group of residents tried to obtain a restraining order to stop the chancellor search. They argued the mayor hadn’t nominated enough members to the advisory panel in accordance with city law, which requires she “consider” the panel’s recommendation and “give great weight to any recommendation of the Washington Teachers Union.”
At the time, the residents said they worried inadequate representation meant the mayor didn’t plan to listen to the panel.
Following a judge’s recommendation, Miss Bowser added two students, two teachers and a parent to the panel in September. But she faced renewed criticism in November, when she failed to provide candidates’ resumes to the panel to review before its deadline to disband, The Washington Post reported.
The mayor said she expects Mr. Ferebee to start work on Jan. 31, pending the D.C. Council approval.
However, council member David Grosso, at-large independent and chairman of the Education Committee, said in a statement he has “no plans” to hold confirmation hearings until the new year.
“In Mr. Ferebee, the mayor has chosen to nominate an individual from outside of the District of Columbia,” Mr. Grosso said. “The vetting of such a candidate should not be taken lightly or hastily.”
In February, Miss Bowser announced the resignation of schools chief Antwan Wilson, who was caught breaking his own ban on school transfers to move his daughter to Wilson High School.
At that time, DCPS already had been rocked by a grade inflation/graduation rate scandal. By the end of the 2018 school year, only 42 percent of students were “on track” to graduate.
In addition, an audit found a significant number of students attending D.C. schools without actually living in the city and not paying for tuition.
The scandals have eroded public trust in the school system, over which the mayor has sole authority, and invited more scrutiny by lawmakers.
Mr. Ferebee will take charge of the troubled system, which is about twice the size of the Indianapolis school system, which has a $500 million budget for 32,000 students, 4,500 teachers and staff, and 60 schools, according to the mayor’s press release.
DCPS operates on a $701.3 million budget (as of fiscal 2019) for 48,144 students, 7,525 teachers and staff, and 116 schools, according to its website.
Mr. Ferebee’s base salary as chancellor will be $280,000, up from his base pay of $214,581 in Indianapolis.