A D.C. council member called the high number of mid-year teacher resignations at some D.C. Public Schools an “emergency,” and said Thursday that he wants Chancellor Antwan Wilson to come before the council’s education committee to address the problem.
The Washington Post reported this week that nearly 200 teachers have quit their jobs after the school year began.
“It is an emergency when a quarter or more of the teachers in some schools have resigned during the school year,” Council member Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large) wrote in a letter to David Grosso (I-At Large), chairman of the committee.
The resignations account for about 5 percent of the 4,000 teachers in DCPS, but a few schools have been hit particularly hard.
Ballou High School, in Southeast, lost 21 teachers, or 28 percent of its faculty, according to data obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request.
White wants to hear from Wilson, students and teacher who have resigned so that the education committee can “work aggressively to find a solution.”
Matt Nocella, a Grosso spokesman, said the council member “takes this issue very seriously and believes a stable learning environment puts students in the best position to succeed.”
The mid-year resignation rate for DCPS was higher than for some other urban school systems, including those in Denver, Baltimore and Seattle. In D.C., 184 of about 4,000 teachers quit from September to mid-May. That was a 44 percent increase over the 128 teachers who left in the 2013-2014 school year.
Ballou’s 21 departures were the highest in the school district. Some former Ballou teachers told The Post that a number of problems drove them to leave, from student behavior and attendance issues to their own perception of a lack of support from the administration. They also raised questions about evaluations. Some veterans said that in previous years they had received high marks from administrators, but this year they were given what they believe are arbitrarily low evaluation scores.
Ballou’s principal, Yetunde Reeves, lamented to her staff in an email sent Tuesday that The Post’s article did not portray the school in a “positive light.”
The subject line of the email declared: “Staying the course.”
In the email, Reeves said she is unapologetic about “leading with a vision that puts students front and center.”
She added: “I am grateful for those staff members, students, families, and partners who have been positive supporters of our work. Transformation is never easy and school turnaround requires resilience, leadership, commitment, trust, and faith.”
DCPS spokeswoman Michelle Lerner said in a statement: “DC Public Schools teachers do a challenging job in service of our students, and their hard work has meant that we are the fastest improving school district in the country. This is not to say that mid-year teacher turnover is not a problem in DC and across the country, and one that DCPS will address so that every student has a high-quality teacher in front of them every day.”