WASHINGTON — Washington’s mayor tried to quiet questions about whether high-ranking city officials gamed the system to secure coveted school placements for their children, saying they were not at fault for requesting the transfers.
A recent report by the District of Columbia’s inspector general found that former schools chancellor Kaya Henderson improperly transferred the children of seven people, including three city officials and one former elected official.
One of those who received a transfer has been identified as a deputy mayor, Courtney Snowden. But Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday that the inspector general erred in concluding that another mayoral appointee, City Administrator Rashad Young, got his children transferred. The inspector general’s office later said in a statement that it would amend the report to “correct a misstatement.”
The office did not find any wrongdoing by the city officials, which is why they were not named in the report, and concluded instead that Henderson misused her authority. Bowser said Snowden followed the same process that’s available to members of the public who want a transfer for their children.
“The inspector general found that people who sought — both inside and outside the government — who sought a discretionary placement were not found to do anything wrong,” Bowser said.
The issue is politically sensitive for Bowser because the school lottery, designed to promote fairness, is a hugely significant and stressful part of life for parents who seek to get their children into high-ranking, out-of-boundary public schools or charter schools.
“If you’re a high-level government official, you have more access to the chancellor, and therefore it’s not fair,” said D.C. Council member David Grosso, an independent who chairs the council’s education committee.
Bowser said she expects her appointees to act with integrity and would seek to make any needed changes to the process for granting transfers.
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