A D.C. citizens committee, including former school superintendent Vincent E. Reed and several former school board members, said yesterday they are supporting seven candidates for the school board in the Nov. 3 election, but none of the four incumbents seeking reelection.
In the first major endorsement of the campaign, the self-appointed D.C. Committee for a Better School Board said it rejected supporting incumbents Barbara Lett Simmons and Frank Shaffer-Corona, both seeking reelection in the 18-candidate, at-large race, as well as Alaire B. Rieffel in Ward 2 and R. Calvin Lockridge in Ward 8.
Instead, the committee said it was "recommending" at-large candidates Frank P. Bolden, former athletic director for the public schools; the Rev. David H. Eaton, senior minister at All Souls Church; Manuel Lopez, chairman of the Adams-Morgan Neighborhood Commission, and Phyllis Young, spokeswoman for Parents United for Full Funding, as the best choices for the two at-large seats.
The 30-member committee said it also supports R. David Hall, founder of the D.C. Street Academy, in Ward 2; Wanda Washburn, who has been active in parent groups, in Ward 3, and Linda H. Moody, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission member, in Ward 8.
One committee member, former school board member William Treanor, said the committee was researching and rating the individual candidates because its members felt that an "adequate board" is not currently in office. The committee was formed last summer.
The committee said it had spent the last few weeks interviewing the 30 candidates running for the five board seats and examining their standing in the community, past work in promoting public education, their ability to work with others and their knowlege of the school board and city government.
The committee includes current board member Carol Schwartz, the Ward 3 member who is not running for reelection, former board members Minnie S. Woodson, Virginia Morris, Julius Hobson Jr. and Treanor, and former acting superintendent Benjamin Henley. But Reed, who resigned as superintendent last December while citing his repeated conflicts with the current board, was clearly the committee's most prominent member.
It is highly unusual for federal officials, such as Reed, to endorse candidates in local nonpartisan contests. But Reed, now the assistant U.S. secretary for elementary and secondary education, said he was acting strictly as a District resident and voter "vitally concerned about education in this city," and not as a Reagan administration official.
The committee's action drew immediate criticism from candidates who did not win its support.
Rieffel said she felt the committee's action reflected a general dissatisfaction with the current board, known for its bitter infighting, but did not take into consideration the contributions of individual members. Rieffel is opposed by Hall and Marjorie Maceda, a PTA president and Catholic school teacher.
Simmons said she disagreed "with any group of people who set themselves up as ordained by God to decide what is good for this city." and Marjorie Maceda, a PTA president and Catholic school teacher.
Simmons said she disagreed "with any group of people who set themselves up as ordained by God to decide what is good for this city."
"I think they are doing a great disservice to the city," said at-large candidate Athel Q. Liggins. "They are handpicking people they would like to see on the board. These are people who are members of a political clique."
The other 11 at-large candidates are Andrea Gonzalez, the Socialist Party candidate and a Metro transit employe; Trummie Cain, a former teacher; Angela Corley, a McKinley High School teacher; Ernest Mercer, principal of Langdon Elementary School; James Carter Jr., former principal of Ballou High School; the Rev. Katherine Bailey Moore, a local minister; Charlotte Holmes; Dot Cresswell, a junior high school counselor; Jonas Milton, housing director for the Southeast Neighborhood House; Berlene Newhouse, a parent activist, and Edwin C. Parker.
Mary Ann Keeffe, a Democratic Party activist, is opposing Washington in Ward 3.
The other Ward 8 candidates are Phinis Jones, former aide to Ward 8 City Council member Wilhelmina J. Rolark; Absalom Jordan, a community activist; Gordon A. White, a management consultant; O.V. Johnson, and Edward H. Moore.
Reed denied that the committee was trying to impose its will on the public. He said its members "simply did some homework and research for the public." He said he would not personally work for or against any of the candidates.
Hobson said the committee decided on its endorsements through a consensus. Not all of the committee members will work individually for the candidates whom the group collectively supports, he said.
Twenty-five of the 30 candidates agreed to be interviewed by the group, Hobson said, and all were asked if they have children in the public schools, what they would do if a constitutent complained that a teacher had abused a student, and if they support the system's current back-to-basics approach to education, the new academic high school, competency tests for teachers and the educational tax-credit referendum, which may also be on the Nov. 3 ballot.