The District of Columbia schools chancellor resigned on Tuesday after support for him, including from the mayor, collapsed in recent days over the disclosure that he had arranged to have his daughter transferred to a coveted high school.
For nearly a week, the chancellor, Antwan Wilson, batted away calls for his resignation and instead vowed to stay on and work to rebuild the public’s confidence. But Mayor Muriel E. Bowser told him on Tuesday that the damage was irreversible and that he needed to step down.
“It became very clear to me over the last several days that Chancellor Wilson would be unable to successfully lead the schools, having not been able to regain the community’s trust,” Ms. Bowser, who oversees the District of Columbia Public Schools, said at a news conference on Tuesday. “There are too many tough decisions in the coming months to have any distractions.”
The sudden departure of Mr. Wilson, 45, who held the chancellor’s position for only a year, delivered the latest setback to an urban school district at the center of the so-called education reform movement in the country. Mr. Wilson won praise, as well as riled many parents, at his last school district, the Oakland Unified School District in California, and was hailed when he was chosen to lead the District of Columbia schools.
But whatever good will Mr. Wilson had secured in the past year evaporated almost in an instant last week. That’s when Ms. Bowser said the District of Columbia inspector general’s office informed her that it was investigating whether Mr. Wilson violated district policy when his daughter recently bypassed about 700 students on a wait-list to enroll at Woodrow Wilson High School.
Mr. Wilson came under swift criticism after the investigation was made public last week. By the end of the week, a handful of public officials, including council members, said he had lost their support and needed to step aside. And on Friday, a top school district official, who had assisted the chancellor’s transfer request for his daughter, resigned.
As pressure mounted over the weekend, Mr. Wilson spoke publicly on Monday about why he had his daughter moved from a school near their home to Wilson High, which has one of the highest graduation rates in the district.
“My daughter was struggling socially and emotionally, engaging in behavior we had never seen before, certainly affecting her health,” he told WTTG-TV, the Fox affiliate in Washington. “I made the wrong decision in terms of how to go about it.”
With Mr. Wilson’s departure, Ms. Bowser will begin the search for the district’s fourth chancellor in the past decade. In the meantime, she said, she has named Amanda Alexander, who had been overseeing elementary schools, as the interim chancellor.
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