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When Ward 8 hopeful Eugene D. Kinlow put out a press release last week attacking Muriel Bowser-backed candidate LaRuby May, he aimed to score a few more hits on a potential frontrunner in the special election. Instead, he infuriated the management of a charter school that works with some of the ward’s most needy students.

In a press release, entitled “Who Is LaRuby May?”, Kinlow rattles off a list of ostensibly damaging details about May (she says she might move back to Florida someday!). But Kinlow also devotes a bullet point to Community College Preparatory Academy PCS, the adult education charter school whose board May chairs. Kinlow’s release says that the school, which opened in 2013, is “failing” based on a 13.1 percent retention rate and other unimpressive statistics.

Kinlow’s press release angered the school’s supporters, who say that it’s too early to judge the young school, which deals with an often troubled group of students.

“Mr. Kinlow has never even been to our school,” says Connie Spinner, the school’s executive director. “He’s lived in this community all of his life, but to not know anything about us and to say the things that he did was somewhat uncomfortable.”

Ward 8 bigwig Philip Pannell, who is also on the school’s board, isn’t so reserved. On the phone with LL, Pannell called Kinlow’s press release “despicable,” “desperate,” “shameless,” and “reprehensible.”

“I’m really upset,” Pannell says. “Here he has always had a reputation as being a gentleman. I don’t know what’s going on with him.”

May’s campaign declined to comment. In a statement, Kinlow spokesman Miguel Salazar says May’s “record is clear” on adult education.

“We need a councilmember beholden only to this community and not one that places the concerns of big business and developers ahead of residents East of the River,” Salazar says.

For Pannell, who says he’s kept himself “militantly neutral” so far, the press release has turned him against Kinlow.

“This is just not about politics anymore,” Pannell says. “This is about courtesy and decency.”

Photo by Will Sommer