"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rhee's CFO Thrown Under the Bus: Will Rhee Be Next?

In March 2008, Noah Wepman, 34, had reason to be upbeat. He had just been appointed CFO for DC Schools by his young friend and colleague, Michelle Rhee. From WaPo, March 26, 2008:

"The chancellor and I have a very good relationship," Wepman said in an interview in his office at the school system's Northeast Washington headquarters.

"I have a good understanding of where she wants to take the school system and what reforms she has in mind," he added. "We're all on the same team."

By last Friday afternoon, Noah was no longer on the team. It seems that his cover-up of the out-of-kilter budget situation this past summer has now cost him his job, just like the 266 teachers who lost their jobs as a result of Wepman's and Rhee's duplicity. Does anyone believe that Wepman withheld this information without the permission of Michelle Rhee? Will Rhee be next? Will Wepman come clean? From Bill Turque:

DCPS chief financial officer Noah Wepman, excoriated by the D.C. Council last month for sitting on news about mounting budget pressures in the school system, submitted his resignation Monday, according to a top District source. WTOP, citing sources, reported late Monday afternoon that he'd been fired.

Whether he was thrown from the train or jumped off by himself, it was clear that Wepman had big problems after acknowledging at an Oct. 29 hearing that he had not reported the existence of a $12 million-plus deficit in DCPS' 2010 budget. Wepman handled school finances for Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, but reported to District CFO Natwar M. Gandhi, who certified the District's 2010 budget as in balance without knowledge of the deficit. Although he had told Rhee's people, Wepman conceded that he should have made Gandhi aware of the problem.

Both D.C. Council president Vincent C. Gray (D) and Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) had called for Wepman's head. Last week, Gray described Gandhi as "deeply concerned" about Wepman's disclosure, which came during a discussion of Rhee's decision to lay off 266 teachers and staff on Oct. 2. The layoffs were triggered in part by the deficit.

Wepman could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

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