APS Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer On Leave to Start School Year

Dr. Arron Gregory (photo courtesy APS)

The virtual learning staffing shortfall is not the only issue facing Arlington Public Schools. APS is also starting the school year without its Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

Dr. Arron Gregory, who was appointed to the then-newly-created position in December 2019, is currently on “approved leave,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed to ARLnow. He has been on leave since at least last week, as the new school year got underway.

No further explanation for the leave was given, nor is there any word on how long Gregory might remain on leave.

“I have no additional details,” said Bellavia.

In Gregory’s place, Dr. Jason Ottley, the newly-appointed Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for APS, is assuming the top DEI job — which reports directly to Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán — on an interim basis, according to a staff memo obtained by ARLnow.

The full memo, sent on Tuesday, August 31, is below.

Dear APS Staff,

I am writing to inform you that Dr. Arron Gregory, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, is currently on approved leave from Arlington Public Schools. In the meantime, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Jason Ottley, the newly appointed Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, will step into this role temporarily as Interim. Dr. Ottley will assume this position on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, and will help advance the priorities of the office.

Dr. Ottley has been a teacher, school-based administrator and has worked in higher education as faculty and administration.  His body of work demonstrates a commitment to data-informed practice, and he has experience with equity audits and policy reform. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Ottley as he assumes this interim role.

Thank you.

Dr. John Mayo
Chief Operating Officer

A 2020 podcast episode on education reform described Ottley as a race scholar and founder of The Bond Educational Group, “which strives to promote greater inclusivity and representation through the American education system and entrepreneurship.”

A D.C. area native, Ottley received his doctorate in 2018 from West Virginia University and has been focused on finding ways to promote student advancement in underserved communities while also boosting minority representation among teachers, according to the podcast. He has also taught at American University.

Before joining APS, Gregory served as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the school district in Trotwood, Ohio.

“Gregory brings over 18 years of experience in education with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) including the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio,” APS said in a press release when he was appointed. “His responsibilities included leading the development and implementation of proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, which support the APS strategic plan.”