KayaHenderson

D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson

D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson is leaving the system’s top job after five years at the helm. That means Sept. 30 will be her last day running the system of 111 schools.

“Simply put, I am ready to take on new challenges, and I have complete confidence that the team we have built at DCPS is prepared to drive our work forward under new leadership,” Henderson wrote in letters to teachers, principals and parents.

Henderson, the second longest-serving leader in the school system’s history, was unavailable for an interview Thursday.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Henderson’s departure Wednesday in a letter to residents. The mayor touted Henderson’s administration for overseeing enrollment gains following years of decline. Enrollment went from 45,000 students in 2010 to almost 49,000 students this year, Bowser’s letter said. The city confirmed Henderson’s annual salary is $292,520, making her one of the city’s highest-paid employees.

Henderson was preceded by Michelle Rhee and previously worked as Rhee’s deputy in 2007 before replacing her in 2011. The Washington Post reported that their combined school reform efforts became a “national bellwether for urban schools.”

“I am incredibly grateful to Kaya for her nine years of service to our students, our schools, and our city,” Bowser wrote. “Without a doubt, DCPS is a very different place today than it was when Kaya joined our school system in 2007.”

While the school system’s national standardized test scores have been among the fastest rising in the country under Henderson, critics have questioned whether the city’s methods of fixing schools truly help the poorest children, the Post reported. Achievement gaps continue to persist between White and Black students and between the wealthy and the poor, the Post reported.

Bowser pledged continued education reform and to spend $220 million to modernize schools. She also promised a smooth change in power. DCPS Chief of Schools John Davis will serve as interim chancellor starting Oct. 1 while the city embarks on a national search in the fall to replace Henderson.

Henderson’s replacement won’t begin until after the following school year.