Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s axing of dozens of school principals was "random and arbitrary," according to the union representing the school leaders.
In a harshly worded letter to Rhee, Aona Jefferson, executive vice president of the Council of School Officers, said the firing decisions were made in a "factual vacuum" and says that union leaders are "distressed by the random and arbitrary" way that principals were let go.
"Such treatment is simply unacceptable," the letter continues. "When ... decisions are made without reference to an individual’s performance evaluation, the entire evaluation process is rendered a mock and a sham."
Rhee began informing principals about a week ago that they would have to leave by the end of June.
Some principals learned of their fates from meetings with their instructional superintendents. Yet none have been given explanation, Jefferson said.
"I’m disappointed that there are people on the list that have been helpful to children," she told The Examiner. "They deserve more than just being kicked to the curb."
Rhee’s office refuses to give out a complete list of the principals who were not asked back, and her spokeswoman Mafara Hobson would not comment on the letter Thursday.
In Jefferson’s estimation, the number of fired principals is somewhere around 35, with a large portion coming from closing or restructuring schools.
One affected leader, Park View Elementary School Principal Charles Harden, has been in the D.C.Public Schools system for 29 years. Harden started as a teacher and moved up the ranks.
He told The Examiner that during his nine years leading Park View the school hit federal standards every time but once.
This year he expects the school to meet required benchmarks again, he said.
During his tenure, Park View was noted for its exceptional handling of special education, he said.
Based on those accomplishments, Harden said he was stunned to lose his job. "My track record has been good," he said. "Everyone knew these changes were coming, but I didn’t think I’d be one [of the principals]."