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Virginia E. Hayes Williams says she sees the same potential in D.C.’s teenagers that she saw in her own children, including Anthony A. Williams. She wants to give them a good education, the kind that might one day land them in the mayor’s office. “We hope and pray to start another school,” Williams said.
She may be doing a lot of both of late, because that school is University High Public Charter. Last week, its application to set up shop on the site of the International Graduate University went before the Public Charter School Board. And, driven by a long-running feud with IGU and armed with charges of plagiarism in the school’s application, residents lined up to say why they oppose it.
WTOP reporter and Capitol Hill resident Mark Segraves accused University High of being a front for IGU, which lost its license from the Education Licensure Commission last year. IGU’s president, Dr. Walter Boek, signed University High’s articles of incorporation, but denies being anything but a potential landlord to the high school.
“What we are opposing is any school operated by Dr. Boek,” Segraves told the charter board. Other neighbors criticized the school for everything from its special education courses to the field it plans to use for sports.
One of the juiciest parts of the hearing actually came when it was over. Williams, one of the school’s founding members, admonished Segraves for criticizing it. “Too bad, sugar, too bad,” she said as he walked by her seat. “You’re still the Great White Father.”
According to Williams, she used the curious insult on Segraves because he came to the hearing with his mind made up about University High. Segraves said he was baffled by Williams’ attack.
Williams actually attributes resistance to the opening of University High to an alleged plot orchestrated by former Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose to gain IGU’s land.
Even the apparent plagiarism of much of Gonzaga College High School”s curriculum descriptions in University High’s application doesn’t concern Williams. She blames that on outsiders helping with the descriptions. “It was a compliment” to Gonzaga, she said.
The charter board will vote on University High’s application on April 19.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery