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Bowser Commits To Keeping Kaya Henderson As Head Of D.C. Schools

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Kaya Henderson, chancellor of Washington public schools, reacts after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch, before a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Kaya Henderson, chancellor of Washington public schools, reacts after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch, before a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Washington.

Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) committed yesterday to keeping Kaya Henderson as the chancellor of D.C. Public Schools if she wins November's mayoral election.

Shortly after defeating Mayor Vincent Gray in the April Democratic primary, Bowser was non-committal on Henderson's future, saying only that "she's been good for our city." Bowser had disagreed with Henderson over the 2013 closure of McFarland Middle School and Sharpe Health School, both of which are in Ward 4.

Still, in a recent Politico article on schools and the mayoral race, Bowser seemed to hint that she had moved towards keeping Henderson. "I value consistency in moving forward with our schools," she was quoted as saying.

Any remaining uncertainties were put to rest yesterday when Bowser, speaking to education activists at a meet-and-greet, responded to a question about Henderson's future and said she would keep her.

Bowser's campaign manager Bo Shuff says the candidate and Henderson have met more than once about the chancellor staying on.

Henderson, who replaced former Chancellor Michelle Rhee in 2010, has said that she would like to stay at DCPS through 2017, the end of a five-year strategic plan launched in 2012 that promises dramatic increases in proficiency and graduation rates.

In December 2013, Henderson said she would not consider a rumored job at New York City's public schools. "I love this city. I love our students. I love working with all of you, and I am not about to leave when our students have so much riding on the work we do every day," she said in a letter to central office staff.

Bowser's principal opponent, Council member David Catania (I-At Large), has not said whether he would keep Henderson or not. He has clashed with her over progress at DCPS, saying that the system likely won't meet the ambitious goals set by Henderson and Gray in 2012. He chairs the Council's education committee.

Catania's campaign manager Ben Young says personnel decisions should not be made in the context of political elections and that Catania has not talked to the chancellor about staying on.

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