Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who said she planned a "major announcement" this month about the future of Hardy Middle School, will meet Friday evening with parents who'd like to know what she has in mind for the arts-focused Georgetown school.
Rhee kicked up considerable uncertainty and angst after a Northwest Current article in October quoted her as promising to "turn" the school, which has a 70 percent African American enrollment drawn from across the District. Some Hardy parents took this to mean that Rhee wanted to turn the complexion of the student body and make it more appealing to families at the predominantly white feeder elementary schools in the area.
Rhee said this isn't true, and that the "turn" she wanted was a change in the impression community parents had about the school, so that they would see Hardy as a bona fide neighborhood school even with its arts offerings and admissions process.
Parent leaders also charge that Rhee has met with parents at Key and other neighborhood schools--to sell them on Hardy-- while remaining unavailable to them, canceling at least one planned session. Rhee's office insists it has no record of any meeting with Hardy parents that was canceled.
In any event, Rhee has yet to describe her plan for Hardy, which parents strongly suspect will include the exit of long-time principal Patrick Pope and a change in the school's visual arts and instrumental music program. Speculation about his successor is centering on Elizabeth Whisnant, currently principal of nearby Mann Elementary, one of the schools Rhee would like to see Hardy draw from.
"Your voices must be heard before Hardy's curriculum is changed without your input!" said the flier announcing the "urgent" meeting, scheduled for 6:30 pm in the school auditorium at 1819 35th St. NW.
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