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Deputy mayor nominee pledges to restore trust in DC schools

DC Deputy Mayor for Education nominee Paul Kihn. (ABC7)

A grade fixing scandal starting at Ballou High, an FBI investigation, a district-wide audit, a chancellor losing his job: this is what Deputy Mayor for Education nominee Paul Kihn is stepping into. If confirmed, Kihn would be Mayor Muriel Bowser's point person for DC Public Schools and would be the direct boss of the new chancellor of schools, once that person is named.

“I have been tasked with two things in the office. The first is to restore public trust and the second is to narrow the achievement gap,” Kihn told 7 On Your Side outside DC council chambers after his Thursday nomination hearing.

Kihn was Deputy Superintendent in Philadelphia. He helped create a system called Renaissance Charter Schools where parents could vote to have charter school operators take over low-performing schools. 7 On Your Side asked if he wanted to bring that experiment to DC.

“I currently don't anticipate that anything like that would be considered here for DC Public Schools,” replied Kihn.

Many parents have expressed frustration at the slow pace of improvements in DC schools. Last fall, some resorted to making videos pointing out keyboards with missing keys in hopes of getting help, help that Kihn says is on the way, “We have to ensure equal access to devices students need in order to get the learning opportunities at will allow them to be most successful.”

Councilmember Charles Allen expressed "frustration" at a lack of specifics coming from Kihn's testimony, but Kihn tells 7 On Your Side specifics will come soon, “Those people who know me know that I am extremely good at developing ideas and plans quickly and then shifting into gear.”

Allen also expressed confusion upon learning the “Our Schools Leadership Committee” composed of 19 experts, teachers, parents, and students released their report to Mayor Bowser without reviewing any resumes or names of chancellor applicants.

The committee’s report states what qualities it would like to see in the chancellor to replace Antwan Wilson, but did not review applicants.

Kihn and the Mayor’s office repeatedly expressed it was following the law. Further clarification from the office does not expressly state whether Mayor Bowser will seek any outside advice in reviewing chancellor applicant resumes.

This story has been updated Friday, Nov. 9, 2018

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