DETROIT (WWJ) - The man hired to turn around Michigan’s lowest-performing schools once led a district that wound up losing its accreditation Tuesday.
With the salary of about $200,000 and a $175,000 signing bonus, John Covington has been charged with turning around failing schools in Michigan as the new chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority, which will operate a statewide school district for the state’s neediest schools.
But, as WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas reports, the Kansas City School District he headed previously just lost its accreditation for failing to meet education standards. The district now has about two years to improve and regain accreditation before it could face state takeover.
The revelation has some Detroit School Board members now wondering if the 11 member board that appointed him did its homework before hiring Covington.
Detroit School Board member Carol Banks said she wonders if he got the job because he’s “well-connected.”
While in Kansas City, Covington oversaw the closure of nearly half the schools in the district, whose enrollment shrunk to about 17,000 from a peak of 75,000 in the late 1960s.
Covington is receiving a four-year contract as the first chancellor of the new Michigan Authority, which he was appointed to in August.
He issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“Yesterday’s decision by the Missouri School Board is the culmination of a process that has been years in the making. During the past two years we have begun to turn the situation around by implementing many reforms in the Kansas City Schools with the unquestioned support of the community and the state Department of Education,” Covington said.
“I am confident that the district, with continued implementation of those reforms and the continued full support of the community, with be able to carry on the rebuilding that started under my watch and regain full accreditation within the two-year period that the state board has given it to turn the situation around,” he said.
The new EAA begins its work next fall with about 40 failing Detroit Public Schools.