Media-savvy Fenty Trumps School Board

The D.C. Board of Education had prepared for weeks to make today's big announcement: Its long-awaited plan to accelerate school reform--and fend off a school system takeover by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. Reporters were informed last week that the board would hold an emergency meeting at 10 this morning at McKinley Technology High School in Northeast, where the plan would be unveiled.

But late last night, reporters got another urgent bulletin--this one from the Fenty team, which announced that the mayor would be holding his own news conference with police chief nominee Cathy Lanier to talk about the rash of murders over the weekend. The "availability" would be today at, wouldn't you know it, 10 a.m! Across town in Southeast.

What was a reporter to do? For most newsrooms, the Fenty duties were farmed out to the crime reporters, while the school board meeting were covered by the education reporters. Those who cover the mayor's office had to pick (full disclosure: I went to the school board announcement). While both events were well-attended by the media, only Fenty's drew live television coverage. The Post's Web site, washingtonpost.com, has posted a clip of Fenty's presser, but not of the school board's.

Carrie Brooks, Fenty's spokeswoman, said the timing was simply a coincidence, and she brushed off suggestions that the media-savvy Fenty was using his event to steal the thunder from school board President Robert C. Bobb.

Fenty did not know about Bobb's press conference until Bobb briefed him on the school board's plans at about 9:20 this morning, Brooks said. By then, it was too late for the mayor to call off his production, which in addition to Lanier included others such as an FBI official.

Some reporters found that explanation a bit hollow, considering the media and schools activists knew about the board's plans by the middle of last week thanks to numerous emails from the board.

Seems the communication between the various branches of District government could use some of the streamlining that both Fenty and Bobb have been talking about.

By David Nakamura |  January 29, 2007; 2:01 PM ET
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Fenty, do not disappoint folks over a power trip. your kids do not go to DCPS. The people will turn on you over thier kids [schools] in a second. Get it together, the school board is going to fight. this issue will lead the education of kids into a deeper chasm, amidst all the bickering.

Posted by: oknow101 | January 29, 2007 05:42 PM

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