Fenty Cans City Parks Director

New Parks Director: Ximena Hartsock was originally published on City Desk on Apr. 20, 2009, at 1:19 pm

At a press conference this morning, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced the installation of former D.C. public schools principal Ximena Hartsock as the head of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Hold on – that means someone was fired.

Yes, that was Clark Ray, who was nominated by Fenty in August 2007 to run DPR. True to the administration’s workaholic ways, the dismissal wasn’t done in accordance with any standard of work-life balance. City Administrator Dan Tangherlini brought Ray in for a talking-to on Sunday evening.

Said Fenty of the abrupt leadership change: “It was very clear we needed to shift gears.” He said that the department’s programming “needs to go to the next level.” Fenty said that Ray would be moving to a job with the Greater Washington Sports Alliance.

As for Hartsock, she was principal of Ross Elementary School in Dupont Circle before getting pulled into the administration of DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee. There, she ran the office of “out-of-school” affairs, managing afterschool, summer school, and Saturday programs—about 30,000 students, said Hartsock. Hartsock faces questions about her suitability for the job, considering that her resume is big on stuff like bilingual education but short on parks stuff. “Managing summer school is like running a school system,” said Hartsock at the press conference. Hartsock, a longtime resident of Arlington, will move to the District, as the law requires of agency directors.

At least one onlooker is puzzled by the move: “I just think he was a very responsive director,” says Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who oversees the department. “He set a standard so I don’t know what reason the administration had for letting him go.

Fenty was asked whether the dumping of Ray had anything to do with the controversy over his kids’ participation in a city basketball rec league. Michael Williams, who administered youth leagues at DPR, claims in a recently filed lawsuit that he was dismissed from his job after raising questions about whether the Fenty children were playing in the proper age bracket.

Hizzoner had no trouble dodging this question. “That’s a double no-comment, the first in the administration,” he said, referring to the fact that the matter is both under litigation and concerns personnel.

Reporting by Mike DeBonis

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