Testimony Before the Council of the District of Columbia Committee of the Whole at the Public Hearing on Public Charter School Board Confirmations

Apr 25, 2022

Good afternoon, Chairman Mendelson and members of the Committee. My name is Shannon Hodge, and I am the Founding Executive Director of the DC Charter School Alliance, the local non-profit that advocates on behalf of public charter schools to ensure that every student can choose high-quality public schools that prepare them for lifelong success.

Let me state very clearly up front that we strongly support the reappointment of Lea Crusey and the appointments of Nick Rodriguez, Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan, and Shantelle Wright to the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB). Given the high number of board vacancies during what is a critical time for the District’s sole charter authorizer, we urge the Council to swiftly move these confirmations to a vote so that the DC PCSB can return to its full capacity and functioning.

The DC PCSB’s oversight is critical to ensure that the District’s public charter schools remain viable, high-quality, options for the students and families who choose them. Specifically, under the School Reform Act, the DC PCSB has several core responsibilities:

  • Granting, reviewing, renewing, and revoking charter agreements;
  • Monitoring charter school operations and student academic achievement; and
  • Ensuring that charter schools comply with their charters, applicable laws, and an annual reporting requirement.

Having a full, qualified Board is integral to the DC PCSB’s ability to carry out its oversight authority, which is why we encourage the Council to swiftly move the confirmations of these well-qualified candidates to a vote.

Lea Crusey, Nick Rodriguez, Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan, and Shantelle Wright have the backgrounds, experiences, and mindsets that are essential to ensuring that the DC PCSB carries out its responsibilities effectively and with equity at the forefront.

As a four-year DC PCSB member, current Board chair Lea Crusey has proven to be an engaged and thoughtful voice on the board, and she brings deep knowledge of public education and policy from her work across the country. Nick Rodriguez will bring years of charter governance experience, including financial and academic performance oversight, to the DC PCSB. And importantly, Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan and Shantelle Wright bring critical perspectives as former charter school leaders, as Ward 8 residents, and as educators working with many of the District’s most underserved students and families. The importance of having board members who have walked in the shoes of the leaders that they hold accountable cannot be overstated. Their voices, perspectives, and firsthand experience will be crucial going forward as we continue to deal with the ongoing pandemic and recover from its devastating impacts.

Equity must be at the center of everything we do. There is much, much more work to be done to improve education and opportunity for our students most at risk of academic failure, and these nominees share that vision. I’m proud to support the nominations of Lea Crusey, Nick Rodriguez, Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan, and Shantelle Wright, and I’m looking forward to working together to boldly serve students. Chairman Mendelson and members of the Council, I urge you to swiftly move these confirmations to a vote.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter, and I welcome your questions.