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Back to public schools main pageThe accompanying order

Statement by Andrew Brimmer
Naming Emergency Board of Trustees the Control Board's "Agent"
February 12, 1998




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District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority
Washington, D.C.

February 12, 1998 202/504-3400

Dr. Andrew F. Brimmer

Good Morning. The District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority today meets to consider a Resolution and Order with respect to the D.C. Public Schools.

On January 6, 1998, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that Congress has provided that the Authority is able to use its Section 207 (d) power under Public Law 104-8 to issue orders as if it were the Board of Education, and that it is "up to the [Authority], and only the [Authority] to determine what authority is left to the Board of Education."

The Appeals Court also held that, under existing law, the Authority could not delegate to the Emergency Transitional Education Board of Trustees, created by an Order of the Authority on November 15, 1996, the authority to exercise the powers of the Board of Education which the Authority could assume and exercise itself.

However, the Court also recognized that the Authority … "may wish to use a body with the prestige and expertise of the Board of Trustees … as an advisory board charged with recommending certain actions…"

The Authority accepts the suggestion of the Appeals Court. Therefore, upon adoption of this Order, the duties and responsibilities of the Board of Trustees will be reformulated. The Trustees shall act as an agent of, and make recommendations to, the Authority on all matters relating to the District of Columbia public school system.

Upon receipt of a recommendation from the Board of Trustees, the Authority shall promptly review it. Recommendations to the Authority by the Board of Trustees shall be accorded great weight by the Authority. The Authority shall approve or disapprove the recommendation after its review.

The Trustees and the CEO, under the leadership of Dr. Bruce MacLaury and General Julius Becton, Jr., have accomplished a great deal under difficult conditions. We said when we established the Trustees that it would take time for the physical conditions and academic programs of the schools to improve.

We said that test scores would rise – but not immediately. Knowing the situation they faced, the Trustees and the CEO still rolled up their sleeves and went to work. These individuals are not paid, and they have put in countless hours. We commend them for their commitment to public service.

In November, 1996, our goal was to improve fundamentally our children's education. Today, our goal remains the same. In our report, Children in Crisis: A Report on the Failure of D.C.'s Public Schools, we emphasized a commitment to "instituting a structure for the public schools that puts students first, links performance and accountability for education results, and provides a safe environment in which learning can occur." Not only do we still remain committed to those objectives, but we also believe that the Trustees and the CEO in recent months have made considerable progress toward their achievement. The results to date reaffirm that our approach to improving the education of our children was appropriate and effective.

The Authority is pleased that the Trustees will continue to provide their valuable services to the District of Columbia. The Authority will rely heavily on the recommendations of the Trustees on all matters related to the Public Schools, and they will carry great weight in our deliberations.

In conformance with the Court's opinion, the Authority reaffirms also the position of CEO/Superintendent, and our confidence in General Becton. General Becton will now report to the Authority through the Board of Trustees, with respect to his activities and performance, the nature of the reforms he has instituted, and the effect that such reforms have or will have on the schools.

I want to note also that the Authority expects the elected Board of Education to play an important role in providing advice and assistance to the Authority, both on its own and through the Trustees. The President of the Board of Education will retain a seat on the Board of Trustees and will have a vote on all matters coming before the Trustees. In addition, it is our hope that the Board of Education will provide its input, advise, counsel, guidance, reports and recommendations on all matters related to the schools. In order to secure that assistance, the Authority will meet periodically with the Board of Education. The Board of Education will also continue to be an eligible chartering authority for Public Charter Schools pursuant to the District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995.

The Authority remains committed to the role of the Board of Education. We understand that the Board of Education and the Board of Trustees are engaged in helpful discussions regarding a cooperative relationship for their mutual participation and support in improving the quality of education in the District. We hope that these discussions are fruitful.

The Authority, through its approval of this Resolution and Order, reaffirms its commitment to the improvement of our Public Schools. We promise the children, the parents, and other residents and stakeholders of the District of Columbia that the interests of education will continue to predominate, and that children will come first in all of the Authority's decisions related to the Public Schools.

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