District Notebook: Council Resolution Would Support Student Protesters

By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 8, 2009

On Monday, students from McKinley Technology and Spingarn high schools raised their voices in protest at the John A. Wilson Building.

And the D.C. Council backed them with the introduction of a "sense of the council" resolution Tuesday that would recognize the students' community activism in bringing attention to the layoffs of nearly 400 D.C. public schools employees, including 229 teachers.

It was a sight to see: students and poster boards everywhere.

One council aide asked a student Tuesday why he wasn't in school. "I don't have a teacher," the student replied, cleverly.

Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) called for the Office of the Inspector General to investigate the terminations and a scuffle Friday amid an after-school protest at McKinley that led to the arrests of a student and an adult.

"I am deeply concerned that our teachers and students were treated with disrespect and were publicly humiliated and embarrassed by District police. My office has received dozens of calls from students, their parents, and administrators who are distraught by Chancellor [Michelle A.] Rhee's action, and insensitivity to this manner," Barry said in a statement.

But Wait, There's More

Council member Marion Barry isn't stopping at the schools as he chides the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). He's also commenting on the Housing Authority.

Michael Kelly, who recently announced his resignation from the D.C. Housing Authority after nearly a decade, has landed on his feet in a big way: as general manager of the New York City Housing Authority.

"Seldom do you find someone as qualified as Mike Kelly to assume a position as important as general manager of NYCHA," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) said in a news release.

With the D.C. housing board increasingly filled with new members appointed by Fenty, Kelly resigned under pressure as the mayor was ready to put his stamp on the agency.

This wouldn't be the first time someone Fenty fired has gone on to a position that is as challenging or more challenging. Former schools chief Clifford B. Janey, pushed out in favor Rhee in the mayoral takeover of public schools, runs the show in Newark schools.

Newark's mayor is Cory Booker (D). Fenty has teamed with Booker and Bloomberg politically, particularly when it comes to fundraising.

Barry seized on the moment to call for the resignation of Bill Slover Jr., who was appointed chairman of the Housing Authority board by Fenty in May.

"I am greatly disappointed by the actions of this board and the ineffective leadership of Mr. Slover," Barry said in a statement. "The board had the responsibility of providing a strong vote of confidence during the contract negotiations of Mr. Kelly. In my opinion, they have failed the authority, they have failed the housing community and, most of all, they have failed the residents of the District.

"They should have worked more rigorously and provided a sense of commitment to Mr. Kelly, to ensure that he remained here in Washington. He's exactly what this city needs."

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