Janey Leaves With Plans Unfinished

By Theola Labbé
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Clifford B. Janey arrived in the District nearly three years ago, hailed by city leaders and the Board of Education as the career educator whose experience teaching low-achieving, urban children was just what the D.C. school system needed.

After six superintendents in 10 years, Janey reassured parents and students in September 2004 that he intended to stay put and "finish the job."

But Mayor Adrian M. Fenty decided that Janey, 60, would not finish the job.

Fenty (D) told Janey in an 11:30 p.m. telephone call Monday, less than an hour before the mayor officially gained control of the D.C. Public Schools, that Janey would not be appointed to the new chancellor position. A few hours later, Janey's school system e-mail account had been canceled.

Janey did not respond to telephone messages left at his home for comment. He did not report to school system headquarters yesterday, and building service staff spent the day clearing out his office.

But the fallout from Fenty's decision was immediate. Janey's chief of staff, Peter G. Parham, and special assistant Robert C. Rice, announced their resignations yesterday.

Fenty said his general counsel, Peter Nickles, was working with Janey to negotiate a buyout of his contract, which was extended in 2005 to last through June 2008.

Reserved and soft-spoken, Janey was hired to be an academic change agent, to set standards for what children should be taught in every classroom and create a test to measure that learning. To do that, he shepherded the creation of the master education plan and master facilities plan -- programs that the mayor and new chancellor, Michelle A. Rhee, 37, acknowledge they will use as the basis for their reforms.

Robert C. Bobb, president of the new D.C. State Board of Education (until Monday it was the D.C. Board of Education), said Janey's legacy as a deeply committed education expert cannot be ignored. "No one can question Dr. Janey's commitment to the children of the District of Columbia, nor should anyone question the foundation he's laid for this school system," Bobb said.

But parents and others said progress under Janey's leadership was slow, deadlines were missed and patience grew thin.

When parents and teachers at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Ward 3 were frustrated with budget cuts and sought to convert to a charter school, Janey reached out and agreed to work to give the school more autonomy, starting with control over its budget and some hiring.

"He really encouraged them," said Cathy Reilly, president of the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators, a group focused on reforming D.C. high schools.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company