BREAKING NEWS: Pope to Leave Hardy to Form New Arts and Music Magnet School; Hyde Principal to Replace Him

Tonight at a meeting for the Hardy PTA, Chancellor Michelle Rhee announced that Patrick Pope would leave his position as principal of Hardy Middle School and become the principal of a new arts and music magnet middle school. Dana Nerenberg, principal of Hyde-Addison, will become principal of both Hyde-Addison and Hardy.

The announcement was not taken well by the Hardy PTA. With Mr. Pope sitting silently in the audience, speaker after speaker criticized Chancellor Rhee for the content and process of the decision. GM will write up a fuller account of this, but for the curious, here is a recording of the bulk of Chancellor Rhee’s Q&A session (GM’s batteries died after 80 minutes or so):

What was not caught on the tape was what happened after Rhee left. Mr. Pope gave a heart felt speech of thanks and encouragement to the audience (he did not, however, discuss the plans for the new magnet school or whether he was in fact forced out; but in not addressing those issues he appeared to be confirming the PTA’s suspicions that he was forced out and that he was not entirely excited about starting over at a new school). After Pope spoke, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander gave a rousing speech in support of the PTA and Mr. Pope. Big quote: “We’ve got to get rid of Fenty. And Rhee. And you can quote me on that!”


Filed under Breaking News

32 responses to “BREAKING NEWS: Pope to Leave Hardy to Form New Arts and Music Magnet School; Hyde Principal to Replace Him

  1. Kate Whitmore

    Bravo to Rhee for underscoring the fact that Hardy is a neighborhood school. Hyde is also a neighborhood school but has relied on out of boundary students for its existence for many decades. Hardy has, too, and this is unlikely to change. Parents should not be so worried about this aspect. None of the current students or their siblings are likely to be affected. There is no danger of a storm of in-boundary kids coming to Hardy any time soon, with or without Mr. Pope. Too bad, actually, since neighborhood schools always benefit from more community involvement. I hope Hardy *does* attract more in-boundary students now that Dana Nerenberg will be principal. She has done an excellent job at Hyde.

  2. Mary

    The washington post is reporting that Pope will spend a year “planning” a new arts school (i.e. sitting in an office), not heading one up. Which is it?

    Maybe listening to the tape will help.

  3. PhillipMarlowe

    In listening to the tape, I heard that Mrs. Rhee acknowledge that her deputy misled the NAACP.

  4. Margaret

    Why didn’t Rhee let Pope speak while she was there?

  5. Ken Archer

    For those who weren’t there, this may help: The audio provided here, by starting with Rhee’s remarks, may leave the impression that Rhee set the meeting agenda. Just the opposite. This was a PTA meeting, and was moderated by Keenan Keller (, an attorney, former DC School Board member candidate, and the most vocal opponent of Rhee’s actions at Hardy.

    Keller’s “introduction” of Rhee consisted of laying ground rules that Rhee gets a 5-min opening statement followed by Q&A, with 3 minutes for each question (!!) and 3 minutes for each answer. Keller then read an email from his smartphone from Hyde Principal Neremberg sent an hour previously to the Hyde community announcing her future new responsibilities, and then Keller handed the mic to Rhee. That’s when the audio begins.

  6. If you are reading the Wash. Post online comments which are attached to Bill Turque’s story on Hardy- there you will note that Rhee has lost the support of many of her supporters with her draconian style of management. I think this offer of a new position for Principal Pope is suspect especially during a school budget deficit. Remember both Chancellor Rhee & Noah Wepman testified about all the budget pressures DCPS is under and this was the rationale for firing almost 400 DCPS staff of which 266 were teachers. It is highly unlikely Pope will get this new position and this is just another way to push him out through an involuntary retirement as Rhee has been done to thousands of competent educators and administrators. I encourage you to look at the city council hearings in October when hundreds testified until the wee hours of the morning on the unjust layoffs of hundreds of competent teachers and staff as indicated by their performance evaluations.

    Many believe that this offer to Pope is disingenuous (sp ?) and is only being proposed because of all the negative publicity Rhee has gotten lately with all the staff terminations, negative TV news coverage, student & teacher protests and now the oversized classes, and teachers teaching outside of certification particularly in schools east of the river.

    Thanks for your coverage of this story. I encourage you to read The Washington Teacher blog.


  7. Bukky

    I worked with Mr. Pope for sometime and he is very good at his job. What is going on is so sad and will only take Hardy downhill. I’m not surprised though ‘cos this is what happens when you let a novice such as Michelle Rhee handle a job they have no business running.

  8. richard

    why is ward 7 council member Alexander doing over here in the far side of ward 2. she doesn’t even represent us. we did NOT elect her. is ward 7 doing so great the CM Alexander can find time to come over her a run her mouth? i can tell her about some trouble on Nanny Helen Boroughs Avenue NE if she’d care to listen. she’s horrible.

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  11. ComeGetWhatYouDeserve

    Public schools are open to everyone, including those who are considered to be privileged. Privileged children (assuming that living in Georgetown automatically qualifies one as privileged) should have access to local schools that emphasize academics over arts, as this is the case throughout the district(this is not a judgment about the quality of such schools only their availability and emphasis). To do otherwise is to discriminate based on class. Equality means equal treatment for everyone, not just those who have traditionally suffered. Anyone who acts or speaks in a manner that is contrary to this is supports the very thing they claim to despise. No one ever questioned how a school district that struggles to pay for text books and other essential supplies managed to fund such a prestigious arts program at Hardy. Nobody questioned certain members of the administration, the counselor (100k), the deferment of administrative duties to security guards, and the blatant disregard of the needs of the local community. Perhaps if this is investigated further the true injustices that have been allowed to go on at Hardy for years will be revealed. The children who were deprived because what was meant for them was given to children who were deemed more talented and more entitled to such resources may finally get some justice. While there are many good teachers at Hardy, they should be aware that they are expendable even the ones who have received rewards (getting first place in a beauty contest for ugly people doesn’t mean you’re pretty). Next year when Hardy goes back to being a regular school there will no shortage of highly qualified teachers who want to work there.

  12. wow

    Mr. Pope is not the great leader everyone has proclaimed him to be. There are many holes within his style of leadership, there are many former students, parents, and teachers(some current who are secretly welcoming this change) who agree with this sentiment. The only reason he looks so good is because he is being compared to other DC administrators who are much worse. The only parents from the neighborhood who send their kids to Hardy are those who have no other options or are extremely liberal and feel that their children are smart enough that they will be successful regardless of where they go to middle school. The neighborhood parents are tax payers and deserve a public school that can meet their needs and does not have an arts emphasis to the point where academics suffer. It is clear from listening to the current and former Hardy students speak on tape that this is an area where Hardy make improvements. Hardy has potential to create a middle school that is an example of academic achievement not only by DC standards but by anyone’s standards for any school in any district. Under Pope and the current structure, this potential cannot be achieved.

    The arts program, despite Rhee’s flattery, is overrated, not that its not a good program or a model for other schools but its far from being Julliard Jr.High as some people seem to assume.

    The building wasn’t renovated for Mr.Pope, for the music program, or for a particular group of students, it was renovated to make the school safe and to modernize it for the community as a whole. Rhee should take a inventory of all the schools property, as it is likely that some individuals will feel that it belongs to them, when really it belongs to DCPS. This includes all musical instruments, computers, art printers, calculators, books and anything purchased by or donated to the school.

  13. PhillipMarlowe

    wow wrote:
    The neighborhood parents are tax payers and deserve a public school that can meet their needs and does not have an arts emphasis to the point where academics suffer.
    What are the current parents: Maryland residents?
    welfare recipients?

    Your slam at the staff at the end shows you have some anger issues you ought not to take out on children.

  14. wow

    Regardless of my personal issues, the facts demonstrate that Hardy is currently not an acceptable choice for neighborhood parents and that this is largely due to how resources(not limited to monetary) are allocated.

    When staff freely slams Rhee and her policies and remark that they are going to quit if Pope leaves they open themselves up to such criticisms. You should refrain from internet diagnosis of other people’s problems based on responses to current events issues. Security of property is an important issue whenever there is a change in leadership/policy where people are emotionally charged.

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  16. PhillipMarlowe

    Considering Mrs Rhee has made up her Baltimore Miracle, she is due criticism.
    As for being ataxpayer, how do you describe the current Hardy parents?
    On the dole?

  17. PhillipMarlowe

    Regardless of my personal issues, the facts demonstrate that Hardy is currently not an acceptable choice for neighborhood parents and that this is largely due to how resources(not limited to monetary) are allocated.

    What facts?

  18. wow

    I’m not going to list them all for you… mainly the neighborhood’s preference for a public NEIGHBORHOOD school that emphasizes academics over arts and Pope’s inappropriate(and probably illegal) attempts to control the admissions process, handpick students, and convert the school to a specialty school without express DCPS approval. You can read the various articles about this issue, talk to teachers and parents other than those who blindly support Pope, and look at the treatment of certain students placed in programs located at Hardy(specifically how funds meant for children in those programs were used) and discover them for your self.

  19. PhillipMarlowe

    Thank you.
    Hearsay and innuendo.

  20. wow

    Phillip you’re an idiot, if you new anything about evidence you would know that while hearsay is not admissible in a court of law unless it falls within an exception it is still relevant. Simply because a “brick of evidence” is hearsay doesn’t make it inaccurate, it just means that its reliability is questionable due to difficulties with verification and should sometime be inadmissible. Essentially any story you see in the news is hearsay. However this isn’t hearsay as Mr.Pope’s conduct is non-assertive and the neighborhood’s feelings on this issues are non-assertive. We aren’t in court so calling this hearsay is just silly and indicates that you speak from an area not located on your face. It is common knowledge that Pope attempts to control the admissions process in the manner described above, and that the neighborhood is not happy with Pope and desires the school to be more like it was when Carter’s daughter attended in the 70’s when Amanda Garnette was Principal .

  21. PhillipMarlowe

    Back to those anger issues, wow.
    No facts.

  22. PhillipMarlowe

    For someone who won, you sound very angry and defensive.
    Mrs. Rhee made a decision not based on data, as she claims she does, but on the whining of a few Key parents.

    Maybe you could donate your time and help “whine” on behalf of the SE parents.
    Or help with the “vocation ” programs you’ve suggested for them

    You remind me of the parents at parochial elementary schools who would gather an hour before dismissal and gossip.

    But you were right on one point:

    Rhee should have at least been considerate enough to include the current Hardy community in the talks

    Yeah, she should have.
    But as her friend Wendy Kopp, or her damage control for Kevin Johnson or her myth of her “Baltimore Miracle”, it all show for Mrs. Rhee.
    Give us your preditions for what the DC-CAS scores will be in 2011 and 2012, for all subgroups, post-Pope.

  23. wow

    Phill, if you think that its not a fact that Pope attempts to control the admissions process and that Hardy is not an acceptable choice for neighborhood parent, then you either are in denial or don’t understand what a fact is. The dictionary definition of fact is included below.

    1. something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
    2. something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
    3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
    4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.
    5. Law. Often, facts. an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect or consequence. Compare question of fact, question of law.

    Now if too much trouble click on the following links to view Mr.Pope’s attempt to control the admissions process by clicking/copying into your browser the following links from Hardy’s website. You can also view this information by going to Hardy’s website and clicking on the tab for the application process.

    Click to access 6thGrade-ArtsProgramApplication08-09.pdf

    Click to access 7thand8thGrade-ArtsProgramApplication08-09.pdf

    If you still think that Pope’s attempts to control the admissions process are not factual then I really don’t what to tell you Jeffro. Perhaps you should apply to 6th grade at Hardy? You have admitted that neighborhood parents are not happy in your posts. “Mrs. Rhee made a decision not based on data, as she claims she does, but on the whining of a few Key parents.” I would hope that you consider things you consider things you state are true to be facts or based on facts.

  24. PhillipMarlowe

    Your name calling is really immature.
    Hopefully your child won’t be the same.
    What parent was given the runaround by Principal Pope?
    Names and dates.
    Very easy to verify “facts.”
    As for neighborhood parents “not being happy” with Principal Pope, I refer to people like Amos Gelb( who, btw, said talk to the PTA about how bad Pope is yet complained about a letter writer who liked Pope. Who was the letter writer-Michael Coscia-PTA member) and drmommy as she refers to herself over at the W Post comments section.

    One of those comments at the Post included this transcript from the audio tape posted above:

    MAN: (Keenan Keller?):Okay, let me be clear, you had your staff misrepresent the position rather than say we can’t make an announcement right now.
    RHEE: That’s absolutely our, our fault for not being clearer about the fact that there was an announcement .(forthcoming?)
    MAN: This was also Kaya Henderson, your deputy who misrepresented your plans to the Washington area NAACP.
    RHEE: Yes, That we wanted to make sure to make that in one specific meeting that we make the annoucement.
    I don’t think the intention was to misled anyone.
    We wanted to ensure that we make the announcement in the right way.

    As I typed before, you sound very angry and defensive for someone who got their way. Pope’s leaving and you getting your gal.
    Hallelujah, joy be Jesus.

  25. wow

    Clearly you think the students in Georgetown are less entitled to a free and appropriate public education than other children in DC, as did Pope and Rhee put him in his place.

    It would be illegal for me to post such information about other people and I’m not going to explain why, but its safe to assume its the same reason why I use the name WOW. However a woman with the last name Henderson has made several public statements about Pope.

    Perhaps you shouldn’t make assumptions about who I am or why I am so concerned about Pope being viewed as some kind of super principal. I am not a current/former parent and no longer reside in Georgetown.

    It is very unfair and extremely hypocritical for you call me out for what you perceive as anger and then to call me out for identifying you as some kind of village idiot or mildly retarded person.
    I am done responding to your conclusory remarks(to be considered an argument the things you assert would have to be based on valid points). Clearly I am not going to convince you of anything Jeffro. I suggest that you find a dark corner and go perform a series of impossibilities because you will no longer be able to get your jollies by provoking me.

  26. PhillipMarlowe

    It is very unfair and extremely hypocritical for you call me out for what you perceive as anger and then to call me out for identifying you as some kind of village idiot or mildly retarded person.

    And then you’re back to Jeffro.
    and go perform a series of impossibilities

    And did you mean accusatory or conclusory?
    By your standards, you must a product of Pope’s Hardy.

    And again, you won.

  27. Star

    I am a teacher at Hardy and dismayed that segregation in Georgetown has finally surfaced its ugly head. Hardy IS NOT just an arts and music school. We do focus on Academics as well, as our DC CAS scores show (the gauge by which Michelle Rhee judges academic progress and success). The real gist of the issues at Hardy is that Georgetown residents DO NOT want their children to attend school alongside Black students. With wealth and privilege and white skin comes a sense of entitlement that most Black parents and students are unaccustomed. For most of the white parents, who are wanna-be teachers, the color of their skin is a seeming permission slip to run the school – curriculum, administration, community. What’s funny to me is that feeder school parents complain about the integrated arts program at Hardy, but then spend hundreds of dollars to have their children participate in programs at the Fillmore Arts Center that is located in the Hardy school building. What is comes down to is this…Mr. Pope is a strong, unwavering administrator; a man who has decided(unlike other white men) that all children need and deserve access to a good, sound education. If white parents would be honest with themselves, they would see that their children are exactly what we as teachers know – students that can benefit form learning. Please stop thinking because your child has an interest in reading, can multiply, and has read a book in history that they are brilliant. Every child needs to be taught by a teacher, and even though you think Black students are not equipped to learn alongside your children, I’m sorry to say that some Black children can even outperform yours and may even be able to help you child. Let’s pretend that this is 2009 and not 1959.

  28. NoNeedForAName

    Star(1 star out of five): In response to your post….
    1. Pope does not believe that all children are entitled to all children deserve access to a sound education. This is evidenced by his treatment of children who receive special education services and his attempts to avoid the valid admissions process mandated by the DC government.

    2. A reasonable person would find it hard to believe that the liberal residents of Georgetown are raciest and want Hardy to change because they have reservations about their children interacting with children of different races based on the political leanings of Georgetown and attempts to increase diversity at private schools.

    3. The DC Cas scores demonstrate that a significant portion of the students at Hardy are at basic or below basic levels in math and reading. This suggest that your reasoning is based on raw emotion rather than a careful analysis of relevant data. The fact the white students do better as a group indicates that Hardy does not do enough to support black, Latino, and asian students academically and the teachers should be helping students more rather than making determinations about which race is smarter or more qualified to help people of other races. The word some means at least one and is insufficient to describe overall trends.

    4. It is disheartening that a teacher at a public school is as prejudiced against white males as you seem to be based on your post. Perhaps a neighborhood school in a predominantly white neighborhood is not the best fit for you in consideration of your obvious prejudice towards white students.

    5. Evidence of money spent on an extra curricular activity does not prove a desire to have an academic program that is based on such activities that is why programs such as Fillmore are commonly called extra curricular as they are meant to enhance not replace or even improve upon traditional academic programs.

    6. If Hardy is focused on academics then why are students permitted to skip a significant portion of traditional academic classes to focus on art based classes and programs? Also why are/were funds used to support arts for regular education students over providing grade and age level appropriate materials to students who are/were in special education programs? Such allowances seem to endorse arts over academics.

    7. If Mr. Pope is a strong(this word seems to have little meaning in the manner you use it) leader than how do you account for his loss of his job at Hardy, his failure to adopt a plan to turn Hardy in to a charter school, and his inability to successfully convince feeder school(neighborhood school) parents of the value of Hardy’s current program? Perhaps by strong you mean stubborn and totalitarian?

    8. Much of your post seems to be conclusory. In other words you are assuming a conclusion, that people who have white skin and wealth feel entitled (perhaps this magic combination of white skin and wealth explains Michael Jackson’s behavior after his skin bleaching procedures?) to remove black students from Hardy, without providing example of such prejudice. You then are attacking or endorsing the conclusions you assume. This is a major flaw in reasoning and you should be wary of saying such things as there is a very high probability that you are wrong given the lack of evidence you provide in support of such conclusions.

    9. Your argument does not address the needs of neighborhood students. Do neighborhood residents have any rights in terms of controlling the type of public school their children are offered or should they accept a public school curriculum they deem inadequate because children from different neighborhoods are more entitled to public schools based on their race and economic status?

    10. “Whats funny” is that a person who is so upset by what he/she perceives as racism is very quick to make assumptions about others based on nothing but their race. Perhaps you are so raciest and predisposed to seeing things in terms of race that you assume everyone is as inherently prejudiced as you are and that any time a group that is predominantly one race disagrees with a group that is predominantly another race that the only basis for their disagreement is race and all other issues are imaginary, irrelevant, or minor.

    Free speach:(I think you meant to use the name Free Speech) All evidence demonstrates the Rhee’s adjustments to DCPS have improved the system overall thus far. Your feelings or your son’s love of his teachers is irrelevant in considering the overall quality of Hardy Middle School. It would be unwise for DC to remove Rhee with out giving her a fair amount of time to make changes and to realize the results of such changes. DC has a long history of replacing leaders based on changes without allowing for enough time to objectivly determine if such changes are successful. If this pattern of removing superintendents/chancellors continues DCPS will never see any improvements regardless of who is in charge. The only objective way to evaluate a school is through standardized test scores. Based on Hardy’s scores it should be clear why most Georgetown families lack confidence in Hardy’s ability to provide an education to their children. The residents of Georgetown along with citizens throughout DC do not consider above average scores for DC to be good enough for their children and indicative of a quality education. This is further evidenced by teachers who have middle school aged children that refuse to send their children to Hardy despite Pope’s offering of such opportunities.

  29. PhillipMarlowe


    “2. A reasonable person would find it hard to believe that the liberal residents of Georgetown are raciest ”

    Free speach:(I think you meant to use the name Free Speech)

    All evidence demonstrates the Rhee’s adjustments to DCPS have improved the system overall thus far.
    What evidence?
    Like Sunday’s W Post:
    Test Data Reveal Stubborn Racial Gaps”
    From the article:

    The average scores of white D.C. fourth-graders over the past two years grew from 262 to 270 (on a scale of 500), but their African American peers’ rose just three points, from 209 to 212. The achievement gap actually grew between 2007 and 2009, from 53 to 58 points.
    African American progress in the eighth grade remained essentially flat, dipping a statistically insignificant one point, from 245 to 244.
    The picture across a six-year stretch isn’t more encouraging. The gap separating white and black fourth-graders in 2003, when the first NAEP in the District was given, was 60 scale points (262 to 202). Although the scores achieved by children in both groups have increased during this period, the difference has barely narrowed to 58.

  30. NoNeedForAName

    She definitely overstated improvements made during her terms of service in DC thus far, still a 3 point increase is better than no increase. It would be unwise to get rid of her before the changes she makes have enough time to make an impact. The changes she makes will have less effect on older students and a greater effect on younger students given their respective levels of brain development and amount of exposure of past systems that have failed. A better measure of her success/failure will be evident when the students who are currently in elementary school are in high school(provided DC doesn’t go through another 5 or 6 superintendents or chancellors before that happens). Finally it is unfair to criticize her based on the achievement gap between white and black students. The white people who live in DC tend to be extremely advantaged in terms of wealth and family educational history and the black people who live in DC tend to be extremely disadvantaged in terms of wealth and family educational history. Comparing the achievements levels of these two groups given the wealth and education factors is unfair and says little about her progress or potential progress. Also it turns the issue away from how to improve the school system overall to why do the black kids do worse on tests than the white kids. Rhee played a dirty trick by overstating her scores, the reporter who wrote that article is also playing dirty tricks as indicated/suggested above. Improvement in test scores is the fastest path to more $$$ for the school system. This money can be used to help more students by hiring less politically ambitious principals and more qualified teachers and obtaining better materials. This is why the black students in DC need more white students from highly educated families to attend public school in DC. The current occupiers of Hardy should just accept this and move on for the sake of the city as a whole. Soon Pope and others at Hardy will be exposed and will have to explain some of their past actions to the public…..

  31. PhillipMarlowe

    the reporter who wrote that article is also playing dirty tricks as indicated/suggested above.
    You suggested nothing regarding Mr. Turque.
    The current occupiers of Hardy should just accept this and move on for the sake of the city as a whole. Soon Pope and others at Hardy will be exposed and will have to explain some of their past actions to the public…..
    Some of those upset with Rhee will have their view of the Hardy situation through race-coloured glasses reinforced with your comment.
    Occupiers , indeed.

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