School Without Walls principal under fire for trying to hire wife

Parents and teachers of the Francis-Stevens Education Campus at 24th and N streets have voiced concerns over School Without Walls principal Richard Trogisch’s plans to hire his wife as assistant principal. Hatchet File Photo.

A student and member of Foggy Bottom’s top advocacy group wants the city to investigate a decision by a local school principal to hire his wife for another administrative post.

Junior Jackson Carnes, elected to the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission in November, is asking for a review of the appointment of School Without Walls principal Richard Trogisch’s wife as an assistant principal, according to a release.

Parent Teacher Association members claim Cynthia Trogisch, now a teacher at Hardy Middle School, announced that she would be an assistant principal at the new School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens.

Francis-Stevens Education Campus, which serves per-kindergarten through eighth grade, avoided closure in January after it was slated as a satellite campus for the School Without Walls. Richard Trogisch will now serve as principal of both schools, according to the Washington Post.

“This came to the surprise of everyone,” Carnes wrote in the release, adding that Cynthia Trogisch has already suggested a new teacher for the upcoming school year and told current Francis-Stevens teachers that they must reapply for their jobs and should send resumes to either her or her husband. He added in his letter to the inspector general that Trogisch’s daughter also expressed interest in a job under her father as well.

Carnes, who ran unopposed for his position on the ANC in the fall, is one of a handful of GW students this year to join the neighborhood governing body, which is typically dominated by local residents. The international affairs major said at an ANC meeting on Feb. 20 that Francis-Stevens’ current principal, Maurice Kennard, would not return as principal during the 2013-2014 academic year, after leading the school since 2008.

Richard Trogisch told the Washington Examiner that D.C. Public Schools Chief of Schools John Davis agreed to the request to hire his wife before DCPS announced the school merger. But a spokesperson for the school district said DCPS would not greenlight the hire.

The couple has worked as a husband-wife team before at schools in New Hampshire, according to the Foggy Bottom Current.

D.C. law forbids a school employee from “hiring, promoting or advocating for the hiring or promotion of a family member to any position in the school system,” the Washington Examiner reported. The high school principal has pointed to a statute in the law that allows DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson to grant an exception, but the clause also states an exception can last for 30 days at most and may only be granted in the case of an emergency.

Richard Trogisch has reiterated that he will not officially fill the assistant principal position until May.

The School Without Walls, a public magnet high school housed at 2130 G St., has a 100 percent college acceptance rate, according to its website. The principal emailed parents in January about the merger with Francis-Stevens on 24th and N streets, promising to align the school that has struggled with enrollment with the “academic rigor” of the School Without Walls.

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