Rhee resigns as D.C. public schools chancellor, says she has confidence that reforms will continue

Jessica Puente Contributor
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“I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into the children of the District for the last three and a half years and I have completely enjoyed every minute of it,” said Michelle Rhee as she announced her resignation as D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Wednesday morning.

At a news conference at the Mayflower Hotel, Rhee  announced that she and Vincent C. Gray — the Democratic nominee for D.C. mayor who is all but certain to be elected in November — had reached a “mutual decision” that she would step down. Replacing Rhee at the end of the month will be Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

While Rhee will no longer be in charge of her school reform revolution, she says her successor will continue it.

“His decision to make my deputy chancellor Kaya Henderson, the interim chancellor of DCPS, should put any fears aside of what reform will look like under a Gray administration,” she said. “The answer to that question is that reforms will continue.”

Rhee, a long-time mentor of Henderson, says she has “a high degree of confidence in this team.”

Current D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, Gray, Henderson and Rhee united to announce Rhee’s resignation and the continuance of reform by Henderson. The soon-to-be former mayor said he had “confidence” in Henderson and thanked Rhee for taking on “the thankless job” three years ago.

Education reform was a major theme of the D.C. mayoral primary that pitted Fenty against Gray, and Rhee’s reputation as a tough reformer became a central issue in the race. At the premiere of the school reform documentary “Waiting for Superman” at the Newseum last month, Rhee said the results of Democratic primary were “devastating.”

Rhee’s reforms produced results in Washington where  students continually produced below-average test scores. A year after Rhee became Chancellor, 99 schools increased their scores in both reading and mathematics.

“The thought of not being in this role anymore is heartbreaking, to put it mildly, but I do know that it is the right thing for the school system,” said Rhee.

Gray said that while the job of chancellor was not an easy one, neither was the task of assigning the post.

“We cannot and will not revert to the days of incrementalism in our schools,” he said.

Rhee said she would be taking some time off to “figure out what’s next,” but her goal, she said, is to continue serving America’s children.