Deeply divided members of the D.C. Board of Education agreed late last night on a framework for a compromise to resolve a feud that erupted last month when a majority of the panel voted to oust Wilma R. Harvey (Ward 1) as president.
At a meeting led by D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7), one member of the majority, Robert G. Childs (At Large), agreed to switch sides and reinstate Harvey under one key condition: that a newly formed executive committee, composed of the six members who voted to oust Harvey, be given power to approve or reject all of her actions as president, Chavous said.
"I think this gets them off of the questions of who is in charge and whether their actions were legal," said Chavous, who served as a mediator in his role as chairman of the D.C. Council's education committee.
Final details of the compromise are expected to be worked out today.
Reinstating Harvey would require a formal meeting of the school board. Harvey had been replaced by Dwight E. Singleton (D-Ward 4).
The compromise left some members angry, sources at the meeting said, after a session that was so loud at times that a security guard once came to the door to check on shouting.
The feud has been ongoing since Harvey was removed by a majority that accused her of improprieties, including failing to communicate with other members.
The fight came at a time when the board was supposed to be preparing to regain the power to oversee the school system. In 1996, the D.C. financial control board declared the schools in a crisis and said the school board was incapable of doing its job.
The leadership battle prompted new criticism of the board, especially after the interim D.C. corporation counsel, Robert Rigsby, said in an informal memo to Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) that it was unclear whether the board acted legally in removing Harvey. In a memo to school board members on Monday, Rigsby said he would produce a formal opinion on the issue by Aug. 13.