Valerie Jablow, parent activist in the District of Columbia, posts often about the D.C. government and its passion for giving away public property.

In this post, she questions what happened to the playing field of a Duke Ellington High School of the Arts.

Some time in February, Ellington Field–the field that belonged for most of a century by court order to DCPS’s Duke Ellington High School of the Arts–was officially transferred from DCPS to the department of parks and recreation (DPR). Despite many appeals to the DC city council and to the deputy mayor for education (who has oversight of both DPR and DCPS) explicitly asking for the terms of the use agreement before the transfer and assurance that Duke Ellington high school would have first priority use among all users, no one in the public knows what the terms of that transfer really are; what use of the field the high school (or any DCPS school) is allowed; and whether Duke Ellington will be able to provide credited programming there ever again.

The Ellington transfer happened because Mayor Bowser gave Maret, a private school, exclusive use of a nearby public field, Jelleff. In the wake of public protest against the Jelleff deal, Bowser then transferred Ellington Field from Duke, to make it a public recreation center kinda sorta standing in for Jelleff.

So it was that despite opposition of parents, neighbors, and many others (see here and here for a few), this unprecedented transfer of an asset of a DCPS school, actively used by students, for the immediate and lasting benefit of those not necessarily affiliated with DCPS happened without much fanfare.

A short time later, on the afternoon of March 3, the private Maret school (yes, that same one) was photographed using Ellington Field. On its website, Maret had posted a spring schedule of activities it was hosting at Ellington Field.

All of this was quite some news to Duke Ellington HS staff, who apparently had no idea of Maret’s activities at the field that day beforehand–much less that the field had been, by that point, officially transferred from Duke’s control.