An elected member of the D.C. State Board of Education said Thursday he will resign from his post after accepting a city job, making his service on the nonpartisan board impermissible.
Trayon White, 29, started last week as a supervisor in the Department of Parks and Recreation, working in its “Roving Leaders” program with at-risk youth. Under the 2007 city law that disbanded the old Board of Education and created the new less powerful State Board, elected members may not “be an officer or employee of the District of Columbia government or of the Board.”
White said he was initially unaware he couldn’t hold both posts, but sought guidance from the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability three days after starting work. Officials there made clear, he said, something would have to give.
“It’s a sad moment for me, because I know I have a lot of support in the community,” White said. “But I will continue my service. … There’s a need for strong, young leadership, particularly in wards 7 and 8. My commitment is still the same.”
He expounded on his decision in a written statement: “At this stage of my career, I need to supplement my income in order to better meet my personal and family financial obligations. I will also be expanding my family in the very near future. For me, it has proven more and more difficult to survive on the DC Board of Education annual stipend of $15,000. It is important to note that I ceased accepting such income when I started my new position. It was my hope to balance both jobs because I love the work as a Member of the DC State Board of Education. Unfortunately, the rules do not allow me to do both. … I will be working to ensure that those who come after me in this capacity are permitted other government employment provided there are no conflicts of interest. The fact remains that $15,000 is not adequate compensation for the responsibilities assumed by those serving on the DC State Board of Education.”
White was elected in 2011, winning a special election called after longtime school board member William O. Lockridge died of a stroke, garnering the support of Lockridge’s widow and D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8). He won re-election in 2012.
It is unclear whether a costly special election will be necessary to fill White’s seat or whether the election can be included on the November general election ballot. Under city law, an election must be called for the first Tuesday more than 114 days after the Board of Elections declares a board seat vacant, though the office may also be filled in another election already called within 60 days of that date. Under those criteria, a special election would likely be held in mid to late July, because the November general election does not fall within the statutory window.
Jesse Rauch, the State Board’s executive director, said the board’s next steps will be announced later on Thursday.