Forced out as D.C. chancellor, Antwan Wilson is back working in the Denver school district as a consultant

Former Denver school leader Antwan Wilson, whose career took a sudden fall this year when he was forced to resign as Washington, D.C., schools chief amid scandal, is back working as a consultant for the Denver school district.

Denver Public Schools brought Wilson on as a part-time consultant to help build a strategic plan for a career and technical education program called CareerConnect, spokesperson Will Jones said Thursday in response to inquiries from Chalkbeat.

Jones in an email cited Wilson’s “experience and expertise in post-secondary readiness, specifically the career apprenticeship approach.” Jones did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment about the decision to work with Wilson, or details about the duration and cost of the consulting deal.

Wilson resigned in February as chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools after it came to light that he had skirted the district’s competitive school lottery process so his oldest daughter could transfer to a high-performing school.

A Kansas native, Wilson came to Denver in 2005 to serve as principal at Montbello High School. He went on to become an instructional superintendent supervising school principals and an assistant superintendent supervising middle, high, and alternative schools. He left in 2014 to become superintendent in Oakland, California, and then accepted the D.C. position in 2017.

While in a leadership role in Denver, Wilson oversaw the controversial turnaround of struggling Montbello High, which was shuttered and replaced with three smaller schools. Wilson’s return comes at a sensitive time, with a heated debate underway in far northeast Denver about whether to resurrect the traditional high school.

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg has been a champion of Wilson, crediting him for his work reducing dropout rates, halving suspensions and expulsions, and increasing graduation rates.  

The program Wilson is working on in Denver, CareerConnect, is part of a push by the district to prepare students for life after high school through experience in the classroom and the workplace, with mentoring, internships, apprenticeships, and more.

A $7 million federal grant the district won in 2014 kickstarted the program, and a $56.6 million mill levy override voters approved in 2016 included money to fund and expand it.

Jones, the district spokesman, said Wilson will be “conducting stakeholder engagement, research, and analysis to help refine the vision, specific strategies, priorities, measurement tools, and plans for our future CareerConnect programs.”