Friday, May 27, 2005

Reaction to Durham news

Wilma Durham's latest exploits sure have stirred up a hornets nest of interest Today in the mail I received emails from both DC residents and officials who are speaking out on the issue.

Click for the rest of the story.

Ward 4 resident sent the following letter to the superintendent, news and local education organizations.
Dear Superintendent Janey,

As a citizen of the District of Columbia, I am outraged by the actions or inactions of people in various government positions as it relates to DCPS personnel. I am writing to you because I believe that you should take action on these matters. I have copied the DC Council and the DC School Board as I believe they should take action as well.

The Washington Post, together with the Embassy of Italy and an Italian Foundation, awarded Wilma Durham a fellowship which consists of a 10 day trip to Italy valued at $4,500. Durham is one of six DC area winners of the fellowship, which is designed for “principals and supervisors of foreign language programs”. Durham is none of the above.

In summary, Durham used her fake doctorate and abused the school system all to her advantage. The Post is actually paying for her airfare and the panel of judges/grantors just seems to be bowing their heads in embarrassment as they were not aware that her credentials were not authentic.

When Councilmember Sharon Ambrose was in office, she asked the Superintendent that Ms. Wilma Durham the current principal of Walker-Jones Elementary be removed from her position. A newspaper article disclosed that Ms. Durham has a '“fake degree'” and doesn'’t hold the qualifications to run a school. Her actions as a leader of Walker-Jones Elementary on a day-to-day basis caused concern for teachers and students.

The outcome of that request was that Wilma Durham was transferred from Walker-Jones to Eastern High School to Eastern High School. Durham received a salary increase based on achieving her Mickey Mouse doctorate and this was later retracted by DCPS-Human Resources. Ms. Durham went from making about $120k to $110k annually maintaining an administrative job in DCPS at Eastern High School.

Superintendent Janey, having a phony degree, using the degree in an inappropriate manner to obtain a fellowship that should go to other more hard working individuals and being protected by the Superintendent show a disdain for the children in our school system as well as a sense of invulnerability that anyone will do anything about it. It is like getting slapped in the face if you believe in the sanctity of education and learning. You should personally ask Wilma Durham to give back the fellowship.

What about Jerry Marlin, a principal of Bunker Hill Elementary who was found guilty of sexually harassing a subordinate at a previous school position he held. Worst yet, he went on to another school system after this incident and was terminated for poor performance. DCPS then hired him.

The school system recently fired Enrique Watson from Lincoln Multi-Cultural Middle School. He funneled enough money from the school system to buy two new buses and sold one to someone in his native Panama. Of course, he denies any wrong doing. The same report disclosed cohesion between Mr. Watson, then principal and Awilda Hernandez, Assistant Principal in check writing and check cashing of school funds for personal use. The disclosures continued as it was discovered that $27,000 of cash and checks were being stored in the building at Ballou Senior High School and the records for the funds were in deplorable condition. (IÂ’m not sure what action was taken here) Last year it was at Burroughs Elementary school where the principal spent $10,000 on items such as spas, DVDs, a palm pilot, etc.

Anyone who holds a position in the government and is involved in misrepresentation of facts/information or mismanagement of funds is just a common criminal and those actions are plain and simple fraud. Not only should they be fired, but I believe that criminal and civil action should be taken against them.

Make Wilma Durham give back the fellowship so that an honest principal/teacher can be considered.

You need to do something about this. It is deplorable.

Pat Bailey
Resident of Ward 4
This was quickly followed-up with this from BoE memeber Victor Reinoso
I too share Ms. Bailey's disgust with this situation. If the facts bear out what was presented in the Post, then Ms. Durham has misrepresented her position in DCPS for personal gain. In my view, ANY employee who abuses their position in DCPS for personal gain should be summarily dismissed. To do otherwise perpetuates the view that DCPS is not only unable but also unwilling to hold people accountable. Disciplined accountability may do more to turn around our school system than anything else may.

Victor Reinoso

BOE Member

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