D.C. School Superintendent Clifford B. Janey announced yesterday that he has appointed four people from outside the District to top jobs in his administration, including a chief operating officer from Fairfax County public schools and a procurement specialist from ExxonMobil Corp.
In all, Janey announced the appointment of six key administrators. He said the hires, coming a month after he became the city's fifth permanent superintendent in a decade, are among the first steps he is taking to start the long process of reforming the troubled school system. Other officials, including a chief academic officer, will be named soon, he said.
"This is done with a sense of urgency, mindful of all the criticisms and challenges we want to reverse in our school district," said Janey, who added that while there are competent people working in the system, he chose highly qualified outsiders who were "at the right time of career development" to help the District's 64,000-student system.
As part of his early strategy to improve the system, Janey also planned last night to tell the Board of Education he will recommend that the District adopt the Massachusetts standards for curriculum, instruction and student assessment. The board is to vote next month on the standards, which are regarded by many educators as among the nation's best.
Of the four jobs that Janey is filling with outsiders, one is a vacant position, two are newly created posts and one is a job -- chief operating officer -- that Janey's predecessor, Paul L. Vance, abolished. Janey said lower-level personnel changes would be made by the new managers.
Janey wooed Thomas Brady, the chief operating officer of Fairfax County schools since October 2002, to work in the District in the same capacity, with the official title of chief business officer.
"I don't think a school district of this size, complexity and challenge can operate without a chief operating officer," Janey said in explaining why he revived the post.
Brady, who was responsible for human resources, finance, facilities, transportation services and information technology in Fairfax, said he took the District job because the challenge of helping D.C. youngsters was enticing. He also said he and Janey "hit it off."
"He's got this vision to fix the District," Brady said. "He appears singularly focused on it, he is looking for good people to help, and I really warm to that."
Janey also appointed to key positions:
* Capers Brown, an executive for ExxonMobil for 24 years in various capacities, including procurement, who will become executive consultant for contracts and acquisitions, a new post. Janey said that Brown is "on loan" from ExxonMobil and that his salary will be paid by the company.
* Meria Joel Carstarphen, most recently executive director for comprehensive school improvement and accountability at Kingsport, Tenn., city schools, who will fill the new position of chief accountability officer. She will be responsible for compliance with the federal "No Child Left Behind" law and implementation of the new academic standards.
* Mark K. Truax, owner and president of the Ultimate Basket in New York, a gourmet food company, and an account coordinator for School Link Technologies, a leading provider of school food automation, who will become director of food and nutrition services. His predecessor, Catherine Lynch, retired last summer.
Janey also announced that Nicole Conley, who had been serving as director for budget, planning and analysis for the public schools within the District government's Office of the Chief Financial Officer, will move over to the school system as new director of resource allocation and management.
And Janey said that Robert C. Rice, who served as interim superintendent for five months before Janey's appointment, will become special assistant to the superintendent, a new position.
School officials yesterday were unable to provide salary information on the new appointees.
Janey's appointments were praised by some education activists, including Michael Casserly, executive director of the nonprofit Council of the Great City Schools, an organization that advocates for urban school districts. Casserly said Janey is off "to a good start" and had "moved very quickly in naming a top team to reform the school district." He particularly praised Brady, calling him "one of the best" chief operating officers in the country.
Brady also was praised by Mary Levy, budget analyst for the D.C. education advocacy group, Parents United, who said that the Fairfax system has "really excellent financial and information operations."
But she said she was concerned about Janey's reliance on outsiders. "I hope he doesn't overdo it," she said.
"I believe that a significant part of the school system's current disorganization arises from people being brought in from the outside over and over again to the point where there is no institutional history . . .," she said. "I just hope these people are listeners. If they will listen to the people inside the system and outside the system and learn what has happened and what is going on in the system as fast as possible, they will make much better decisions."