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Evans Considers Legislating the Return of Patrick Pope to Hardy Middle School

Councilmember Evans asked the community at the ANC2E meeting Monday for their opinions on legislating the personnel issue.

Jack Evans may legislate the return of former Hardy Middle School Principal, Patrick Pope, he told a group of neighbors at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting Monday. (See Video)

Pope was removed from his position as principal at Hardy Middle School at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. Since that time, a group of parents and students at the Georgetown public school for his return and fiercely opposed the changes and actions of Pope’s replacement, , and her recent .

Evans said he has generally been in favor of the District Council staying out of the schools. Last May other District Council members proposed a Sense of the Council Resolution, which Evans ultimately voted for, calling for Pope's continued leadership at Hardy. Evans called this a “meaningless document."Since that time, though, "that issue has not gone away” said Evans.

"It is now, I think, firmly in my court...and it is an issue that continues to overshadow everything," said Evans, cautiously.

The Ward 2 Councilmember said he is contemplating “legislating” Pope’s return as principal. Evans was quick to add that he was not certain of the legality of such an action.

Interim Chancellor of DC Schools, Kaya Henderson, "is not inclined to bring [Pope] back there,” said Evans who met with the Chancellor Friday.

Evans opened the question to the community, "Do we want Patrick Pope back there or should the council and the mayor stay out of this situation?"

Commissioner Bill Starrels spoke highly of Pope’s role at the school during the time that Starrels’s son attended. Several other neighbors spoke to Pope’s character and positive impact on the school.

Melanie Gisler, a Georgetown resident, said her impression of Pope was that he was "unwilling to reach out" to the Georgetown community. Gisler perceived Pope to be "not that interested in our children" and felt he treated Georgetown families as "less important."

Beyond the personality of Pope, several neighbors stood saying  the Council stepping into the schools was objectionable to them and set a negative precedent. “Where does this stop,” asked Georgetown resident Judith Bunnell.

Commissioner Eason chimed in saying he thought it was "wise" to remove the political overtones from the schools. Eason called it a "bad precedent...for the council to reinsert itself into staffing in schools."

Evans said the community feedback was, "helpful."

Ken Archer March 01, 2011 at 02:28 PM
Every principal in the city has recruitment of in-boundary students as one of their responsibilities. Why should Pope be exempt from that? His refusal to recruit in-boundary students led to Hardy having a far lower in-boundary enrollment than Deal, even though they have very similar test scores.
candycane1 March 01, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Since DCRA stipulates that the principal serves at the pleasure of the superintendent, will there be emergency legislation to re-instate those principals? Patrick Poe still receives a check every two weeks. He hasn't been fired so why is there legislation to be re-instated? Opening up a can of worms!!!! Those that should be re-instated should be those that failed to have due process. Pope is still working, at a job that doesn't use his talents to the fullest, but he is still working.
Judith Bunnell March 02, 2011 at 02:16 PM
I agree...this is a slippery slope when we let Council decide who runs which schools, which classrooms, which sports teams?....where does it end?

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