THANKS TO THE dogged persistence of D.C. Council member Kevin Chavous, the D.C. Board of Education finally has resolved the leadership struggle that made the 11-member panel the laughing stock of the city. Wilma Harvey (Ward 1) has survived a legally questionable coup launched by six board members. But she gets to keep her job as president in a power-sharing arrangement that might have been devised by a group of angry and jealous amateurs -- which it was. The recent crisis may be over, but the board's status as an effective governing body is as open to serious question as ever.
Given the board's current composition of power-hungry political wannabes, and the need to remove the school board sideshow from the public spotlight, Mr. Chavous, aided by At-Large school board member Robert Childs, probably negotiated the best deal possible. Under the compromise, a five-member executive committee will oversee Mrs. Harvey's work. Board Vice President Dwight Singleton (Ward 4) -- who was elevated to the presidency for a few days by his five fellow insurgents until the law was explained to them -- serves on the executive committee. Any correspondence Mrs. Harvey signs must be initialed by at least two executive committee members, with copies sent to the entire board. She now speaks for the board of education only if and when the board has adopted an official position -- and then only after consulting with the executive committee. In short, the board's president has been supplanted by a five-member committee. That means, self-destruction is still in the cards for the school board.
It's time for more mature heads in the city to step up to the question of D.C. public school governance. We note that Mr. Chavous, as chairman of the D.C. Council's Education Committee, has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 16 to take testimony "on the pros and cons of different public school governance alternatives." He also intends to examine governance arrangements in other jurisdictions. That is a much-welcome initiative. Now's the time for the mayor, council and community leaders to take a hard and constructive look at reforming the school system's governing structure. The current elected board has proven that it cannot.