Sources say D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson is considering Eliot-Hine Middle School Principal Willie Jackson for the position of athletic director of D.C. Public Schools after Marcus Ellis announced his resignation. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Marcus Ellis officially resigned as athletic director of D.C. Public Schools official Friday afternoon. He had served less than two years in the position.

Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who said that she will immediately begin a search for candidates both inside and outside the school system, has already identified Ellis’s successor, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.

The sources said Henderson had focused on Willie Jackson, the principal at Eliot-Hine Middle School, before she and Ellis parted ways. Several DCPS principals were told of this during a three-day meeting at Eastern High School last month.

“He’s under consideration, absolutely, but it’s not a done deal,” Henderson said, adding that she has received interest from several candidates, one of whom she said has had six people call on his behalf.

In a letter sent to Eliot-Hine students on June 29, Jackson wrote that he “will be stepping away from [his] position at Eliot-Hine prior to the 2011-12 academic year. This move is a result of my conversations I have had with the chancellor this past year, letting her know my interest and willingness to serve in a district-wide role.”

Jackson was one of three DCPS principals who accompanied Henderson on a trip to an international education conference in Bahrain last October.

Jackson, who would become the fourth permanent DCPS athletic director since February 2008, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Ellis may still have a role in D.C. athletics yet. Multiple sources said Mayor Vincent C. Gray is considering establishing a new position in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), which would oversee athletics in all District public schools — both traditional and charter, and would effectively supercede the DCPS athletic director. Dating from when he was D.C. Council chairman, Gray has acknowledged on multiple occasions of the need to combine traditional and charter schools under the same ruling body.

A source with knowledge of the situation believed that Ellis, 34, might be interested in such a position if it were created.

Ellis, however, said he is focused on stepping away from government work for the time being, and “plan[s] on doing work in the Ward 8 community” in which he has resided since last year.

“There’s a lot more that I can do to help our city,” Ellis said, explaining his decision to step down.