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William Hite tapped to run Philly schools

Photo: Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks

Dr. William Hite is the new superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

 

By Benjamin Herold for the Notebook and WHYY/Newsworks

Former teacher, principal, and Prince George's County, Md., schools chief William Hite is the new superintendent of Philadelphia schools.

“Philadelphia is one of America’s greatest cities, and I am excited about the opportunities it offers,” said Hite in a statement released late Friday.

“I look forward to working with the leaders and families of this city as we work to improve the lives of our youth.”

The hiring comes at the end of a six-month search process in which roughly 100 potential candidates were winnowed down to two finalists. Each of them was introduced to the public during whirlwind tours earlier this week.

School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos praised Hite in a statement.

“Dr. Hite is an eminent educator and a proven transformative leader,” Ramos said.

"Today we take a giant step towards providing safe, high quality educational opportunities for all Philadelphia children.”

The start date for Hite in Philadelphia and other details of his transition from Prince George's County are yet to be determined. Hite has a 120-day-notice provision in his current contract there.

School Reform Commissioner Wendell Pritchett, who chaired the District's superintendent search committee, said Hite’s contract will be made public as soon as it is finalized.

Immediate reaction to Hite's hiring ranged from joy to thanks.

"I was very impressed with Dr. Hite’s passion and commitment to educating children, support for the professional development of teachers and principals, and his dedication to working with the broader Philadelphia community," said Mayor Nutter in a statement.

The Rev. Alyn Waller, senior pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, the city's largest African-American congregation, expressed gratitude at Hite’s selection.

Like many in the city, Waller was drawn to the 51-year-old former reading teacher’s extensive background as an educator.

"As at the top of a church should be a theologian, at the top of a school system should be an academician," Waller said.

During a public forum and daylong series of meet-and-greets on Tuesday, Hite delivered a strong performance, showing a deft personal touch and demonstrating his experience both in the classroom and at the helm of a large school district plagued by poverty and budget woes.  Community and civic leaders quickly lined up to endorse Hite as their preferred permanent successor to controversial former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.

The Prince George's County Board of Education issued a statement late Friday about Hite's pending departure. He has led the district there since 2009.

“Dr. Hite has served Prince George’s County Public Schools with distinction over the last six years and it is with deep disappointment that we greet the news of his departure,” reads the statement.

“He has led Prince George’s County schools with vision and innovation under financial challenges that might have broken a weaker superintendent. We appreciate the stability, progress, transparency and accountability that accompanied his tenure.“

The local teachers union earlier also expressed disappointment at his potential departure.

Hite began at the district, which has a budget of $1.6 billion, as deputy superintendent in 2006. 

Earlier Friday, Pedro Martinez, Hite's final rival for the Philly schools' top job and deputy superintendent in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nev., was named superintendent of Nevada's Washoe County (Reno) School District.

"My ties to education in northern Nevada are strong, and I look forward to working with this dynamic team of professionals to further the education of every child in Washoe County," said Martinez in a statement.

After his high-energy performance during a public forum Monday night at District headquarters, Martinez acknowledged that he was also a finalist in Washoe County, but said Philadelphia was his first choice.

As the city’s new superintendent, Hite steps into a school system beset by budget woes and in the throes of a radical overhaul. The District is planning to borrow at least $218 million to cover operating costs next year. A variety of major initiatives, including a push to expand the number of “high-performing seats” in the city and a controversial “transformation blueprint” calling for dozens of school closings and a dramatic decentralization of the District’s operations, are already on the table.

Hite said Tuesday that he will prioritize trying to “synthesize” the various plans, but only after he goes on a “listening campaign” to hear the concerns of a city that has been traumatized by months of turmoil in its public school system.

“I think that it creates an opportunity to begin to heal,” Hite said.

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Comments (66)

Submitted by Bob Lendzinski (not verified) on June 29, 2012 7:24 pm

Welcome, I suppose! Roll up your sleeves, you have a lot of work to do! Good luck! It will be an uphill battle, but you know all about that having been a teacher.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 29, 2012 7:36 pm

Who didn't figure that???
Votes of no confidence, nepotism, misappropriation of funds...that is right up our alley. Welcome home Dr. Hite.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 29, 2012 7:48 pm

Winner by default.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 29, 2012 8:00 pm

He really was the default winner. He was clearly the better qualified candidate, having educational experience (as a teacher and as a principal) and as an administrator.

Submitted by B.E. Victim (not verified) on June 29, 2012 9:15 pm

The SRC has another puppet to add on to the misery of the School District. Since the growing theme is to place more support to a Charter School program, it must be accepted that the Future of the Philadelphia Public School System will be dissolved. There are no UNION employees in Charter Schools and Public Schools are under Union Contract in Philadelphia.

So NO more Unions. SRC wins. Time to brush off the resume and move on...so sad defeat is...so sad indeed.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on June 29, 2012 9:58 pm

Time will tell but I think the Parents will come to their senses with the leadership of the churches who, of course, hold check in urban areas.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 10:03 am

Yes. Time to move on. Good luck to you. I don't know how many unionized industries are left since the unions bankrupted most of them, but perhaps the auto industry may be a fitting place? Although, after the unions bankrupted 2 of the big 3, they had to make massive concessions, but instead of doing it across the board, they did what unions always do. They threw the younger workers under the bus to protect the older workers' "seniority." So the new hires only get paid half what they institutionalized workers get for the exact same job. You'll adjust.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 8:52 pm

Yes, we should go back to the 19th century: 12 hour work day, 6 day work week, starvation wages, child labor.
You are such an expert on union history, you deserve to be screwed over and exploited by your bosses.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 9:17 pm

That's what irks me about the trolls like the one you replied to. They act like they will escape the world they are trying to bring about like they live in some kind of bubble. It's like the Tea Party people who are at rallies protesting the federal government who hold signs that say, "Keep you hands off my Medicare!" like they don't see the corporate agenda they are supporting is to cut social programs. If the corporate agenda is carried out everyone will suffer.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 29, 2012 9:37 pm

There are no winners in the Philadelphia School District when the District is allowed to super impose duel certifications to cut down on teaching staff and teacher seniority. This district is a joke and they were selling emergency certifications for $100 from Harrisburg for just this year. What a crime! I would like to have heard Hite’s response to that? How is it in the kids best interest to emergency certify a mass number of teachers from everything from Physics to Chinese! What a joke! And all you have to do to receive this emergency certification is say you are going to take the praxis at sometime during the year. Completely awful and no media outlet is covering this story including the NOTEBOOK. I am starting to loose faith in the publications investigative journalism! Philadelphia residents need to know the news and more importantly the stories that matter! The notebook has missed several as of recently. A few suggestions!

1. Duel Certification Requirements Galore/ Emergency Cert Fraud
2. Students Graduating with the inability to read or do simple math despite being absent or suspended for the better part of the year
3. School Violence and what has changed since the Inquirers report?
4. Promise Academy Results vs. Costs
5. Graduating anyone with an IEP
6. Athlete recruiting and cherry picking between high schools

Please restore my faith!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 10:48 am

I agree that somebody should investigate schools' practice of graduating all students with IEPs, regardless of what these students may or may not have accompished or whether or not they have mastered any IEP goals. It is disturbing to see, year after year, students with very mild disabilities being pushed through the system and never pushed to learn.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 11:33 am

A question...I thought that students with IEP's received a "Certificate of Attendance" and not a diploma if they did not meet the critieria for graduation. Am I wrong?

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on July 1, 2012 10:48 pm

Regarding Promise Academies, you may be interested in the following report:
Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative: 18 Month Interim Report
http://www.researchforaction.org/spotlight-renaissance-schools-at-18-mon...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2012 12:14 am

Of course they will do better if already underfunded public schools have even more resources drained from them to go to a selected school population which is given advantages public schools can only dream of. It's an economically segregated system.

Submitted by ANON 452 (not verified) on June 29, 2012 10:30 pm

*Dual (meaning 2) not duel (meaning fight)--unless you were making an interesting pun.

*lose, not loose

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 9:38 am

I am so glad that is what you took away from the message. You provide the entire basis for the argument content over form. I hope a misspelling never inspires you to miss a life and death message. I will pray for you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 12:37 pm

Duel certification meaning you will fight with pistols or swords.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 10:13 am

Does anyone know how (if?) the input from all the community engagement sessions to find a new superintendent contributed to the selection of Hite?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 11:53 am

The community engagement sessions were such a joke! They were highly managed with breakout sessions to prevent the whole audience from hearing what someone had to say. Then they were completely ignored in the selection.

SRC members keep saying such and such was the result of the community meetings but it is all a scam. They want to give the appearance of democracy were there is none.

With things like selecting Universal to run Creighton, they are not even trying to give the appearance of democracy anymore. We better revise what is left of the history curriculum to say we once lived in a democracy.

Submitted by Phillip Aiken (not verified) on June 30, 2012 4:53 pm

This person got it! I was hoping some one else understood what had happen!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 10:20 am

A bit off track. I heard that Weyman was no longer at the District but now a school principal. Is this accurate? Good riddance!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 10:41 am

She is at Strawberry Mansion the last school no one wanted to pick at the selection session.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 1:06 pm

Thank you so much for the info. I wonder if someone at the District finally figured out the fraud that she is.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 2:36 pm

Actually, Linda sees this challenge as an opportunity to put in place many of things she tried to do as a supt. Hopefully, this may be the place she needs to be at this time. I for one, do wish her the best---we need to think about the students at Strawberry Mansion.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 3:15 pm

Yeah.......

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 4:08 pm

You must be a member of Penny's inner circle. Linda Wayman was ruthless, rude, belligerent and heartless as an Assistant Superintendent. I can't wait for a walk-through team to come to visit Strawberry Mansion tell her everything she is doing wrong and offer NO SUPPORT!! By the way where is Anna Shurak, her top head hunter going?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 10:09 pm

I think she was corrupt, ignorant and useless.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 5:11 pm

Weyman's management style: Ghetto bully. No substance.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 9:26 am

They always knew. Who doesn't really know?? That street and ghetto stuff only works for about 5 seconds, then, you need to know what you're doing and she doesn't. She's also too ignorant to ask for help or to learn anything new. Shame based comes to mind which is sad.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 6:54 pm

No, I am not. I am simply stating the obvious. Linda is the principal at Strawberry Mansion for the foreseeable future and we need to think about the students under her care. She may take this opportunity to reflect on her role as Asst Supt and commit to applying as best as possible the strategies/models she often looked for in her walk thrus. Anna is her AP.

Perhaps a year as a principal under the current fiscal/political constraints will serve Linda well should she ever have the chance to supervise other principals.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 6:11 pm

If Anna is her AP, does this mean Anna Shurak bumped APs who were laid off / cut? Shouldn't they get the first opportunity rather than Shurak since left CASA when she became Wayman's assistant in the regional office? Didn't Wayman leave CASA by taking the Assistant Sup. position?

What I'd still like the SRC to produce is a map of who is who in leadership. If Nixon is on top, who else is at 440? Which administrators that aren't leaving Philadelphia are in other positions? Ackerman never produced a map of whose who. Nixon, Knudson, etc. are following Ackerman's lead.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 7:00 pm

You are absolutely right is wanting the SRC to produce is a map of who is who in leadership. In addition, names of everyone who is at 440 in a "leadership position," including salaries. As taxpayers we have a right to know.

I'm still trying to figure out what position Karren Dunkley now holds since all parent ombudsman were let go a year ago.

Who else is still idling at 440...including principals' without a school?

And, why is a shrinking bankrupt district spending millions of dollars on a communication's dept.?

Hopefully, the new superintendent will have the guts to look around and ask hard questions about what is going on inside of 440.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2012 7:32 pm

There is a map floating around that includes the creation of Associate Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents positions. Of course, these positions come with a pay raises after non-represented employees took pay cuts and layoffs occurred. There are many, many offices where promotions are being handed out without positions being posted. Central Office remains top heavy and I beg Mr. Hite to ask tough questions, hold forums, solicit input, demote Ms. Nixon and put a stop to this madness. I wonder how the SRC can sleep at night knowing such shenanigans are going on. Will someone please post the map!!!

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on July 2, 2012 10:11 pm

Why, for example, was the principal at Ben Franklin HS (Chris Johnson) given a job at 440 as part of Nixon's cabinet? How can Nixon hand out positions while the new Superintendent is "in waiting?" Nixon, an Ackerman left over, needs to go. As you wrote, there are 440 positions given out without any job postings.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2012 5:01 am

I agree with this posting. There are huge changes at 440.
K. Kolsky(Asst.Supt) - Leadership, Talent and PD
C. Johnson(Asst. Supt) - School Climate and Culture
C.Averette (Deputy) - Parent, Family and Comm. Eng.
D.Seward(Deputy)- Student, Placement and Enrollment was laid off as Project Manager and brought back. Her previous salary was well over $100,000.00
Donna Runner(Asst.Supt) - Curriculum, Instruction and Assm.
3 Associated Superintendents TBD
Accountability, Equity and Compliance
School Support Services
School Performance Management
1 Deputy CAO TBD
TOP HEAVY with TOP SALARIES while people are losing jobs and non-represented employees are taking substantial pay cuts. Hite come in and do what you do best.

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on July 3, 2012 8:25 am

Were any of these positions posted? I check postings and didn't see any for the above positions. Is this just another "friends of Penny" (Nixon) being shifted around at 440? The cuts to date have primarily been of union positions with those making much less than the "Asst. Supers." If there are going to be cuts, the top heavy titles need to be re-evaluated.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on July 3, 2012 10:33 am

Clear rules and procedures for the selection of leaders need to be established by the SRC. All leadership positions should be publicly advertised with notice as to the criteria for selection and the process that will be used for selection. It should be an open and honest process.

We can no longer allow our leaders to be chosen on the basis of 'Whose friend are we putting in today?"

That is an institutional illness that we have lived with far too long. A community that follows no rules in the selection of its leaders will always become a dysfunctional community.

We need to come into the 21st century and out of the feudalism of the past in our notions of school leadership and school governance.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 7:53 pm

Shurak was Wayman's assistant (although no AP) at Rhodes because she couldn't handle teaching. She had one class at Rhodes and was overwhelmed. So, Wayman gave her other "duties" and eventually made her principal. This is so Philadelphia - fail in the classroom, "network" and then get promoted. Shurak will evaluate teachers - how is that possible when she failed in the classroom?

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on July 1, 2012 9:47 am

You are so right. Failures and really jokes in the classroom, are promoted to administrators in the S.D. Donahue comes to mind immediately. She couldn't even begin to deal with the kids so Donahue was made an administrator. Thankfully, she was so nuts or whatever that was, that the S.D. made her "retire." Wayman is just a bully who would be ignored like the boob that she is, in the suburbs.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 7:23 pm

Let's see how long it takes for Dr. Hite to bring in his cronies. Although when asked by an unscrupulous Ackerman hanger-on if he would retain the current 440 staff his rely was that he is looking forward to working with the current administration. Yeah...sure...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 7:21 pm

Wait till the kids from Mansion start beating the crap out of the Fitz kids, then Wayman can get "all street and ghetto" with them. Can't wait until Sept.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on June 30, 2012 8:55 pm

Emmanuel Caulk (AD-8) takes job in Portland, Maine. He is a good administrator, they are lucky to get him.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/06/29/news/portland/philadelphia-school-...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 9:52 pm

I hear lay off notices were sent out yesterday. Anyone heard anything about this?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 10:47 pm

Thats what they were threatening not that any news media would cover that story about layoffs!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 10:04 pm

I know someone who received one!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 11:40 pm

Linda was not given Strawberry Mansion she chose it. Like or not she is a difference maker. I often hear how certain teachers/principals don't like wor king for her. But the students lives she's touched, would defend her to this day. And really, they are the ones that matter.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 9:48 am

Linda is lots of things but difference maker is not one of them but she is "somethin."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2012 11:16 am

She didn't "choose" it. She picked it from the scrapings of the list. Let her go back to where she belongs.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 1:08 am

BS,BS,BS.!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 6:51 am

If Linda Wayman is a difference maker what difference did she make at Rhodes when she principal? Test scores were well below state standards for consecutive years under her watch. Ms. Nixon's administrative style is similar to Dr. Ackerman, create an inner circle of friends to keep all things the same. Dr. Hite if you are who they say you are look beyond the surface and change the way the Ms. Nixon commands this ship we are sinking fast!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 11:47 am

Another academic in the driver's seat at the head of the SDP. Unless the SDP can get it's financial house in order, it will keep falling into the abyss. When will people understand that an academic doesn't make you as/more fit to run a School District. Wasn't the previous Super an academic and what real gains did the SDP really make? What can we point to as real progress? If nothing else, there is more debt and more financial dismay.

I vote for a two-person system with equal power - one focused on eliminating waste, closing schools, and fiscal matters and the other focused on increasing academic rigor, hiring/firing teachers, and putting a sustainable curriculum in place.

The Democrats have run many of our major cities for years and many are in very difficult shape. At some point, one must ask if we should continue doing the same things over and over. Our schools have been run by "Educators" for years and we have to ask the same question. Is this working? I am not saying we need to hire a Republican, but we MUST do something different for the sake of our children.

We have seen this episode before... charismatic leader steps in to "Joe Clark" the SDP, the people love him in the beginning, he makes a few decisions that people of influence don't like, and gains he has made are undermined and opposed at every turn, he is reviled and asked to leave, we pay him big bucks to leave, and our kids suffer while the "adults" continually undermine their futures with nonsense.

Really?

Submitted by Ken Derstine on July 1, 2012 12:57 pm

The problem is not having educators run the District. (Remember Constance Clayton.)The problem was Ackerman who, while she was Superintendent, was on the Board of the Broad Foundation, a major corporate privatizer which has trained Superintendents all over the country to wreck public school systems thereby promoting their privatization agenda. Just look at the deficit Ackerman ran up with her Promise Academies and Renaissance Schools. At the same time she cooperated with Corbett in starving the public schools to force parents to move their children to charters. This is all by design!

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on July 1, 2012 1:58 pm

Hite is a product of the Broad Foundation. We also have Knudson of PGW with the Boston Consulting Group to dismantle the SDP. Then there is the "Great School Compact" which with the help of Nutter, Scott Gordon, Lori Shorr, etc. will close at least 64 public schools and channel millions to charter operators and parochial/private schools. Yes, there is also Corbett who has lead the "illustrious" PA General Assembly through a budget which strips from those in need while padding the pockets of international corporations.

So, what do we do to try to both bring quality educational options for ALL students at SDP schools, (not just students who fit in "high quality seats" or who live in gentrified / well to do neighborhoods), financial accountability and stability, and job stability / fair contracts for all SDP employees? I'm a worried parent and teacher...

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on July 1, 2012 6:11 pm

These scum bags focus on the inner cities where dysfunction and poverty are widespread---kinda like vultures picking over dead animals. Of course, it is all by design so what do we do about it NOW??

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on July 1, 2012 6:33 pm

Yes, it is so what do we do about it NOW??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2012 12:13 pm

Amen,Amen,Amen.......did I say Amen!!!!!

Submitted by sdop_educator on July 1, 2012 7:50 pm

Before Ackerman, there was 14 years of non-academics running the District, and not with stellar results. Neither Hornbeck nor Vallas were Academics. Neither was Phil Goldsmith in his short stint. If you have a problem with Ackerman then so be it, she brought any ill will on herself. But you can't use her tenure to paint all academics with a broad brush.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 6:32 pm

Could the "Anonymous" who posted about the dual cert problem please email me? Thanks.

Lisa Haver

lhaver1039@yahoo.com

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 11:28 pm

Who are you?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2012 12:44 am

You should attend or watch some SRC meetings. Ms. Haver is a retired teacher who is not afraid to ask the tough questions, of the SRC, of Mr. Hite, or of anyone else. If you want someone to be like a dog with a bone and follow this through, Ms. Haver is the one who can do it! Good luck.

Submitted by Abby (not verified) on July 2, 2012 4:09 pm

Thrive for change; propose the entire school board and superintendent be
elected by the people...not the party in power, or say the political machine.
In other areas around the country, the people vote for their local school board and school leaders.
The time is now to make a real meaningful change, one that empowers the people and not continue to create victimized sheeple.
This done, and it certainly would not be an easy task, raise funds via separate school/education bonds created specifically to develop the local or regional economy's growth industries (excluding prisons and other non productive categories) to match or partner with national or international industries for constructive positive change. Think about what best serves the children, families and larger community. Put power back into the schools with programs that inspire job/career/vocational development after finishing high school. Ride this storm out, then link with others on the same path of solution.

Submitted by Diane (not verified) on July 2, 2012 9:10 pm

Trouble is this storm may destroy the Public Schools before it runs its course. All unions need to fight this together.

Submitted by PhillipMarlowe (not verified) on July 3, 2012 7:34 am

Well, don't believe him if he tells you that he wants to grow gray in Philly. That's what Dr. Hite said down Prince George's County.
Will he get a chauffeur with a Denali?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2012 12:23 am

It is funny how people make all sorts of judgements and assumptions. Yes, there are some good as well as bad administrators in the district. The same holds true for the classroom...teachers come in lazy, unprepared, complaining, about everything and do nothing! Shame on all who point fingers, get off your horses, teach your students, and then we will see a difference in our children. The only thing that you all have been complaining about is Adults.......enough already! I am thankful for my job, and sadden by my fellow colleagues who received their pink slips. Philadelphia public schools will only become better. When we all agree to disagree...but at the end of the day we ALL roll up our sleeves and get the job done!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2012 11:54 am

Over the past few years, Prince George's County has quietly amassed the largest cluster of charter schools in the Washington suburbs. " I support the expansion of quality schools, that's regardless of the type of school," Hite said. " It's all about more choices for our parents."
As a parent of two grade school children in a charter school, I was pleased to hear our new superintendent Hite is a big supporter of charter schools.

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