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The D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA) issued former Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles a public censure for her role in a school transfer scandal that cost her and former Chancellor Antwan Wilson their jobs.
Both Niles and Wilson resigned about a year ago amid reports that Wilson’s daughter jumped to the front of D.C.’s competitive lottery system and transferred from one high-performing school to another.
At the time Wilson’s daughter transferred to Woodrow Wilson High School, 639 kids were sitting on the waitlist, according to BEGA’s negotiated disposition for Niles.
Niles is the second top school official during Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s administration to violate government ethics rules and receive a public censure. BEGA has taken no action against Wilson, and conspicuously missing from the board’s censure of Niles is any mention of Bowser’s role in the scandal. In a report by the Inspector General’s Office released last October, Wilson said he discussed the transfer with Niles and Bowser. Bowser had claimed that she did not initially know about the transfer.
According to BEGA, Niles facilitated the transfer, though in her testimony she claims she told former Chief of Secondary Schools Jane Spence to follow all the rules “so there would be no favoritism or impropriety.”
Spence, after speaking with Niles, was left with the impression that Wilson’s daughter needed to be transferred immediately, according to BEGA.
Niles was found to have violated two sections in D.C.’s code of conduct including one that prohibits government employees from giving preferential treatment to any organization or individual. As part of the agreement with Niles, BEGA agrees to take no action beyond the censure.