Georgetown commissioner joins call for Pope return to Hardy

Photo by The Georgetown Dish
ANC commissioner Ed Solomon testifies at DCPS oversight hearing
ANC commissioner Ed Solomon testifies at DCPS oversight hearing

A second Georgetown elected official added his support for the return of Patrick Pope as principal of Hardy Middle School in Burleith. Long-serving Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Ed Solomon, whose Single Member District includes Hardy, called for Pope's reinstatement, joining Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans as an advocate for Pope's return.  Evans has introduced a resolution to that effect in the City Council.  

 In his testimony on Friday at the oversight hearing on D.C. Public Schools, Solomon pointed out that Pope had been removed by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee, not for disciplinary reasons or professional inability but “to design a new school based on his record and achievement at Hardy,” a decision that saddened Solomon but that he supported at the time as needed “to improve the education system of Washington, DC.”  The hearing was chaired by Council Chairman Kwame Brown in his capacity as head of the Committee of the Whole. 

 Now, however, the controversy has continued to build, leaving, as Solomon said, “a school that is hurting.” He noted that Pope “was good enough to be considered by Chancellor Rhee to design a magnet school...and that school is not in the plans, why would our new chancellor not consider moving Mr. Pope back to Hardy?"  Solomon added, "It seems to me that would be in the best interest of all concerned."

Head of Capitol Hill Cluster schools LSAT Vince Morris (Photo by: Head of Capitol Hill Cluster schools LSAT Vince Morris) Head of Capitol Hill Cluster schools LSAT Vince Morris
Adding a new dynamic to the situation, LSAT Co-chair of the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools Vince Morris (no stranger to DC politics since he was Mayor Tony Williams communications director in his second administration) said that the Capitol Hill schools had recently lost their principal and would ask to be allowed to consider Pope as they select a new principal.

In a separate interview on Sunday, Councilmember Mary Cheh also expressed concern over Hardy. "The chancellor has to respond to the community," Cheh said. "If her responses are inadequate, the Mayor should step in -- maybe this is one of those cases."

On Friday, two Hardy parent leaders testified for Pope’s return.  Candy Miles-Crocker, head of the LSAT, pointed out that, with “bullying off the charts,” five fulltime administrators are on duty at Hardy, whereas with Patrick Pope there one and a half people could run the Hardy. 

Hardy PTA president Sherry Woods said, “This principal [i.e. Pope] did nothing wrong…and the kids have suffered….Patrick Pope was not perfect [but] he was the real deal; why not let him come back?”

 In response, Chairman Brown said ‘I’m looking at it very closely,” acknowledging receiving many emails and calls both for and against Pope’s return.