front page - search - community 

Parents group decries school board choice

(Published January 14, 2002)

The president of the D.C. Congress of Parent-Teacher Associations is criticizing Mayor Anthony A. Williams for allegedly putting politics ahead of children in making his recent selection to fill a vacancy on the D.C. Board of Education.

"We believe that this should not be an appointment made based on political maneuverings, but on who can have the greatest positive impact on the education of children," said a statement issued by DCPTA President Linda Moody.

Moody, a former president of the school board when it was a wholly elected body, also complained that the mayor did not seek input from the parents’ group in making his selection of Mirian Saez for the school board seat.

The mayor nominated Saez, a resident of Ward 4, to the board on Jan. 11. Her appointment to the board requires confirmation by the D.C. City Council.

If confirmed, Saez will fill the vacancy left when Robert Peck resigned from the school board last fall to head the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

The mayor was widely expected to name a member of the Hispanic community to the board and Saez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, fills the bill. The District’s Hispanic community is the city’s fastest growing ethnic population and its leaders have complained that their interests have not been well-represented in D.C. Public Schools policies.

But critics of the appointment, including Moody, have loudly complained that Saez is a newcomer to the District who lacks education-related experience and that Mayor Williams passed over someone they believe was more qualified to hold the post. DCPTA members were supporting the appointment of Paul Ruiz, an educator and long-time D.C. resident affiliated with the nonprofit Education Trust, which works to improve academic achievement among low-income and minority students.

Saez is part-owner of the Rosenberg Housing Group, a small business that specializes in property management of public housing. She currently serves as deputy receiver of the Chester (Pa.) Housing Authority. She previously served as a Clinton appointee in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Saez is a prominent activist for the Democratic Party and for gay rights. She recently was appointed to be an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee and was elected president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which focuses on advocacy of gay civil rights. She also was a delegate for Al Gore at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator