DCPS hires prominent labor relations lawyer as senior adviser to Kaya Henderson

D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson has hired Kenneth Slaughter, a prominent labor-relations lawyer, to serve as her senior adviser.

In the newly created position at D.C. Public Schools, Slaughter will work on labor and D.C. Council relations as well as “broad strategy,” Melissa Salmanowitz said in response to a request for a job description. He will earn $150,000 for the full-time job.

Slaughter arrives just as the school system restarts contract negotiations with the Washington Teachers’ Union, whose members are working under a contract that expired in 2012. The two sides were reportedly close to reaching a contract agreement last year, but talks broke off in July when Nathan Saunders — then president of the union — lost his bid for re-election.

The school system is also working toward a deal with the principals’ union, known as the Council of School Officers, whose members have been working on an expired contract since 2007. In October, the CSO rejected a contract proposal that members called unacceptable, particularly a provision that would have required principals to pay a $5,000 penalty if they waited until after Feb. 1 to announce their resignation. The school system, meanwhile, would have retained its ability to fire principals without cause each May.

Slaughter was previously a partner in the Washington office at the prominent law firm Venable, where last year — as a representative of the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings — he opposed an organizing effort by the city’s administrative law judges.

He also helped win a plea deal for Howard Brooks, a former campaign aide to D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. Brooks pleaded guilty to one felony charge of making false statements to the FBI regarding Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign.

Slaughter is a trustee of the SEED Public Charter School and has served on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington. He is also an honorary board member at Venture Philanthropy Partners, a nonprofit that invests in Washington-area organizations that serve low-income children, including charter schools.

“I am a proud DCPS graduate, who believes that the most important challenge of our times is to ensure that all of the District’s young people receive a high quality education,” he said in a statement to The Washington Post. “It is a great honor to help support the Chancellor and her great team of educational professionals engaged in this exciting work!”

Emma Brown writes about national education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.

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