After Warily Taking Job, Reinoso Finds Critics, a Mountain of Work

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 6, 2007

Victor A. Reinoso, the man tapped by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to head his high-stakes takeover of the failing D.C. public school system, is a reluctant warrior.

Late last fall, when Fenty (D) asked him to take the post of deputy mayor for education, Reinoso turned it down more than once, citing concerns that the job would limit his time with his wife and two young children.

Reinoso, 38, a former Board of Education member, ultimately gave in to the mayor's hard sell. But his ascent to one of the city's top education jobs has been met with a mixed reaction from public school employees and parents. Some ask whether his résumé qualifies him for such a vital position, whether he has the requisite management experience and education expertise.

"To succeed, you have to feel the pressure," Reinoso said of his effort to manage the 55,000-student school system.

He is at work on a long to-do list to ensure that schools open smoothly in August. He is expected to be the ultimate authority for areas of pressing need, including hiring teachers, repairing facilities, ordering textbooks, lining up student immunizations, visiting schools, hiring an ombudsman, raising money from private donors and organizing town hall meetings.

Assuming Congress ratifies the mayoral takeover plan the D.C. Council approved last month, Reinoso also will participate in a management review that will help determine whether the administration keeps Superintendent Clifford B. Janey.

"We want to raise the bar, and people expect to have a different experience, a better one relative to what they had with the school system" in charge, Reinoso said. "We feel pressure to deliver that, and we have a long way to go."

Reinoso had recently been promoted to chief operating officer at the Federal City Council, a nonprofit organization of Washington business leaders, when he left to join the Fenty administration in January.

Reinoso, who grew up in Oklahoma with parents who had emigrated from Peru, holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from Georgetown University and a master's of business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He worked for years in telecommunications consulting and started a short-lived Internet venture to provide Spanish-language broadcasting to the Latino community before joining the Federal City Council in 2003.

Iris Toyer, head of Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools, said she doubts Reinoso's ability to manage because he has never been in charge of a large number of people.

"I need to know that the person . . . put over these agencies has a real understanding and experience of running something," she said.

Save Our Schools, an activist group that opposed the takeover, complained about Reinoso's ties to the business community and said that Reinoso lacks creativity. The group cited a WAMU (88.5 FM) radio report last week that he and the Fenty administration had taken portions of their education strategy from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school system.

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