Under a deal negotiated with Gray, Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson will take over for Rhee at the end of the month. Rhee's senior leadership team will also stay in place through the end of the school year to ensure minimal disruption to students.
Rhee leaves D.C. with a sizeable list of unfinished business, yet she assured Washingtonians that her reform agenda will continue. That list includes Rhee's new teacher evaluation system, efforts to reform special education and plans to expand standardized testing.
"His decision to make my Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson the interim chancellor of DCPS [D.C. Public Schools] should put any fears aside of what reform will look like under a Gray administration. The answer to that question is that reforms will continue," Rhee said.
Henderson and Rhee have a long history. They worked together at the New Teacher Project, the nonprofit organization that Rhee ran prior to becoming chancellor. Henderson was the first to join Rhee's team when she came to DCPS.
"As I told Chairman Gray, he should be able to start his term as mayor with the same privileges that I have enjoyed for the last three and half years, which is the ability to chose your own team and have full faith and confidence in the work that you're going to do together. … He deserves the opportunity to work towards his goal of 'one city,' with a team that shares his vision, can keep the progress going, and bridge the divide," Rhee explained.
Speaking at the joint press conference, Gray thanked Rhee for her service, saying her decision to resign was a testament to her commitment to school reform.
At the meeting with reporters, Gray said, "Now is the time for us to look forward. As I've said many times before, school reform will move forward under the Gray administration. We cannot and will not revert to the days of incrementalism in our schools. Our schools must continue to operate under the leadership of a strong, empowered chancellor who will move school reform forward, take it to the next level and work with the community so that all our stakeholders are invested in the process."
Asked why, if the plan is to keep Rhee's reforms and her team in place, are Gray and Rhee opting not to work together, Gray simply reiterated that it was a mutual decision for Rhee to leave the position.
As for what she will do next, Rhee made clear she hopes to continue to serve the nation's children.
"My goal is to continue to be able to serve the children of this nation. I think that one of the things I've learned over the last three and a half years is that there's a tremendous amount of work to be done across the nation. Lots of communities that want to push these reforms forward. So I look forward to serving American's children in my next role as well," she said.
Until she makes her next move, Rhee explained "I am going to take a little time off and figure out what's next."
"I will definitely be traveling a little bit to Sacramento," she joked in reference to her upcoming marriage to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.