Chancellor Antwan Wilson resigned from leading D.C. Public Schools on Feb. 20, after he was criticized for asking the city’s deputy mayor to transfer his daughter from one city school to another without following proper protocol.
The day before his resignation, Wilson went on an attempted name-clearing media campaign, talking to various news outlets to express regret and explain his role in the transfer of his daughter from Duke Ellington School of the Arts to Woodrow Wilson High School. Wilson made it clear in various interviews he felt he was doing what a father would do.
One of his appearances was on Howard University’s radio station, WHUR. Wilson answered questions from the show’s host Harold Fisher.
“My daughter enrolled in one of our selective schools and she was excited,” Wilson told listeners. “She began to experience issues socially and emotionally. The way it manifested was that my daughter was not leaving the room, she was not eating,” Wilson said on the radio show.
Fisher asked Wilson, “Why should parents trust you?” Many callers, like a woman named Charita, understood him putting his family first. “He asked his boss for permission. You are a parent first.” Another caller said that it is “petty,” for council members to ask for Wilson to resign when this city is filled with those who received “second chances.”
While Wilson had good reception from WHUR listeners, Mayor Muriel Bowser expressed displeasure in the chancellor’s actions and felt that he could not regain District residents’ trust; thus, she asked him to resign.
“Like so many of you, I was deeply troubled and disappointed by recent revelations that Antwan Wilson violated DCPS policy,” the mayor said in a statement. “After listening to community members and DCPS families, it has become clear that Wilson will not be able to regain the community’s trust and I have asked for and accepted his resignation.”
Wilson’s resignation comes days after Jennifer Niles, deputy mayor for education, stepped down after assisting the chancellor’s family. The D.C. Auditor along with a number of council members wanted Wilson to step down after Niles despite the chancellor’s explanation of his actions. “I asked my supervisor about my options. She went over options with my wife. She told me to stay out of it,” Wilson said.
“But you didn’t stay out of it! “Fisher told Wilson. “Most parents wouldn’t have that option.”
“It didn’t make sense to me to make a decision about my own child in DCPS. I asked the deputy mayor for direction. I learned on Monday what I thought to be true was not,” the chancellor explained.
Wilson apologized for his actions, blaming it on his paternal instincts. “I apologize for the mistake. I got it wrong. We were a family in crisis. I had tunnel vision in terms of work. I was struggling as a father and a husband at home,” he told Fisher.
Wilson took the job as chancellor of the school system in 2016. He and his family moved to the area from California. While he made reforms, his tenure has been rocked by a grade-fixing and attendance scandal at area high schools.
Although it was understood some of the grading scandal was inherited, Wilson’s recent DCPS policy violation forced him into resignation a year into his position as chancellor. Mayor Bowser named Dr. Amanda Alexander interim chancellor of DCPS. Prior to her new title, Alexander served as chief of the Office of Elementary Schools.
“As the chief administrator for elementary schools our students have thrived. She will bring that experience and commitment to our children across the District,” Bowser said.