Trayon White: Ballou Scandal Indicative of ‘Grave Errors’ in DCPS

Another high-ranking D.C. Public Schools official has been removed in the wake of allegations that Ballou Senior High School improperly graduated students.

While Ballou’s principal, Yetunde Reeves, was reassigned in December to the schools’ administrative offices, the ongoing status of secondary schools chief Jane Spence, who was recently removed from her duties at the schools system’s central office in downtown D.C., remains uncertain.

D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8), whose ward includes Ballou, said there is a “critical need” for a citywide system to address the issue.

“There are reasons students are being tardy and absent, and we must take a step back to assess the root of the problem,” White said in a statement. “I believe Principal Reeves had a strong belief that she was operating with good intentions— it is evident in the love and support shown by the students and their parents at the Council oversight hearing and my visits to the school.”

Ballou came under fire late last year after a commissioned study showed that the school graduated students who were chronically absent and others who could not proficiently read and write.

“There are grave errors inherent within the infrastructure of the system that are impacting our public schools across the District,” he said. “The flaws that have surfaced make this a public school system issue, not just a Ballou High School issue. As found in the recent report, Wilson Senior High School is also experiencing the same attendance challenges, reflecting an urgent need for wrap around services for students citywide. Ballou students, their parents, and the community as a whole are in great distress. We have to make a way for teachers to file grievances and feel safe at the same time.”

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