Thursday, March 15, 2007

Not As Busy As We Thought 

Exactly a week ago we caught up on the activities of Ariana Quiñones-Miranda, who I first met when she was Director of the D.C. Public Charter School Association. It was exciting to learn she had been elected to the D.C. Public Charter School Board. I attended her first meeting on the board.

Then almost the next day we found out that she had joined the staff of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools. Here is where things get sticky. FOCUS helps those who want to start charter schools write their applications to the D.C. Public Charter School Board. Mrs. Quiñones-Miranda would then be voting on the very proposals that she or her employer produced. This seems like the definition of a conflict of interest unless she would recuse herself from every vote regarding a school that her organization aided. But it even more complicated than this because many charter schools (like ours) go to FOCUS for advice and support. So it seemed that balancing the two roles by Mrs. Quiñones-Miranda was going to be extremely tough.

Well the situation just became simpler. In a story in today's Washington Post by David Nakamura and Theola Labbe we find out that after less than 2 months on the D.C. Public Charter School Board Mrs. Quiñones-Miranda has resigned. It looks like her decision to step aside came after these Washington Post reporters contacted the Mayor's office asking questions about a possible conflict of interest. Mrs. Quiñones-Miranda then received a call from Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso in which she says she could tell from his voice that he wanted her to resign, although he did not come out and say that directly.

I like Mrs. Quiñones-Miranda and in the end it is probably better for her that she is employed by FOCUS and does not serve as a volunteer on the D.C. Public Charter School Board. D.C.'s charter school movement will benefit from her work without questions about possible conflicts of interest.

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