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Mayor nominates new D.C. public schools chief

From Sally Holland, CNN
  • Henderson has served as acting chancellor
  • She's been with the school system for 13 years
  • Former chancellor Rhee stepped down last year

Washington (CNN) -- District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray has nominated Kaya Henderson as the new chancellor of the district's public schools, his office announced Wednesday.

Henderson has been serving as the interim chancellor since November, shortly after former Chancellor Michelle Rhee stepped down.

"I have now worked with Kaya Henderson for several years, first in her capacity as Deputy Chancellor for the school system and, since last fall, as the Interim Chancellor. I have seen first-hand that she has the compassion, the drive, the wisdom and the focus on results that we need at this moment in our history," the mayor said in a statement. "I have confidence in her judgment and her character, and I want her imprint on our schools, as we build a high performing system steeped in the notion that every single child can and will learn."

The district's City Council must confirm the nomination. It's not clear when that meeting will take place.

Henderson said she's "honored and humbled to be afforded the opportunity to continue this work in the role of Chancellor."

"I have learned a great deal over the past four months as Interim Chancellor," Henderson said in a written statement. "I have had the opportunity to engage deeply with students, teachers and community members and to work with council members as we struggle with difficult decisions."

"I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Gray to make the critical decisions needed to ensure that DCPS becomes a first class school district," she added. "Our children deserve nothing less."

Henderson has been with the school system for the past 13 years, and was Rhee's deputy before being named as interim chancellor last year.

Rhee stepped down after more than three years as chancellor when former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty lost the election to Gray. In the District of Columbia, the school chancellor is hired by the mayor. Rhee's administration of D.C. schools was part of the focus of the documentary "Waiting for Superman."

Her time in office included successes in the form of higher test scores for D.C. students and a win in the second round of Race to the Top, a federal education program that provides funds to states that have innovative plans in education.

However, Rhee also frustrated the school system's teachers with layoffs for those who didn't meet new evaluation criteria. Both local and national teacher unions fought her changes.

CNN's Alanne Orjoux contributed to this report