Emily Durso, former interim D.C. education superintendent, named to new DCPS role


Emily Durso, center — with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Abigail Smith, second from right, and D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson — is becoming deputy chief for the school system’s office of college and career readiness. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
January 14, 2014

Emily Durso, who briefly served as the District’s interim state superintendent of education last year, has taken a new job with D.C. Public Schools, where she will be responsible for overseeing an effort to improve the city’s traditional middle and high schools.

Durso will be paid $144,654 in her new role as deputy chief for the DCPS office of college and career readiness, a position that had not previously existed by that name but which is certain to have the community’s attention at a time when parents and politicians are calling for stronger middle-school options.

Besides managing the team that is seeking to reimagine the District’s approach to secondary schools, Durso is also responsible for dual enrollment programs, academic planning and scheduling, career and technical education, guidance and counseling, and the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps branch, spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said.

Salmanowitz said that Durso’s new position includes duties that had previously been spread among different jobs and was part of a broad reorganization of central office responsibilities after Chief Academic Officer Carey Wright left last year. College and career readiness had previously fallen under Wright’s umbrella but is now among the responsibilities of Chief of Schools John Davis.

Durso did not respond to requests for comment.

Durso has served on the University of the District of Columbia’s board of directors and was a co-founder of Hospitality High, a D.C. charter school that gives students training for jobs in the hospitality industry.

But most of her professional experience has been outside the field of education and in the private sector, including being president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., for 20 years.

She left that role in 2010 to join the transition team for incoming Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).

The next year, Durso joined the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the city agency responsible for dispensing federal funds to local schools. She was OSSE’s assistant superintendent for post-secondary and career education before she was tapped to lead the agency on an interim basis in June 2013.

During her tenure as interim superintendent, OSSE came under scrutiny for its handling of the city’s 2013 standardized test scores. Durso stepped down Oct. 1, when Jesus Aguirre started working as acting superintendent, and since then has been a senior adviser to Aguirre, according to an OSSE spokeswoman, who said that Durso has continued to draw her interim superintendent’s salary of $169,000.

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