Mayor Adrian Fenty fired the head of the city's juvenile rehabilitation agency under mounting political pressure to make changes to a system that has seen five of its wards killed and nine others arrested on murder charges this year.
Fenty announced Monday that Marc Schindler, interim director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, would be replaced by assistant attorney general for public safety Robert Hildum.
Deputy director David Brown and head of internment David Muhammad resigned from the agency, citing uncertainty about its future, a source with knowledge of their decisions told The Washington Examiner.
Muhammad was recently praised by an independent auditor for his role in developing a top-flight school at the District's juvenile detention center, New Beginnings.
Schindler took over the department at the end of January, replacing Vincent Schiraldi, who left to run New York City's probation agency. Hildum has supervised the prosecution of juveniles in the District since September 2007.
The Fenty administration declined to specify why Schindler was fired.
Kenny Barnes, who has been an advocate for improving DYRS since his son was killed in 2001 by a teen who was supposed to be under the city's supervision, said the mayor made the move to quell the growing criticism of the juvenile justice system.
"I think the [change] is political," Barnes said. "There's a lot of heat because of the absconding situation."
Since the beginning of the year, at least nine DYRS wards who had escaped from custody have been accused of murder and at least five have been slain themselves, The Washington Examiner was first to report.
Among those killed were:
» Joshua Hopkins, 19, a Capitol Hill intern and D.C. college student who had been under DYRS supervision since a 2008 arrest for destruction of property.
» DeVaughn Boyd, 18, one of four people gunned down in a March drive-by shooting in Southeast.
Among those charged with murder:
» Sanquan Carter, 19, accused of killing Jordan Howe on March 22 during a dispute over costume jewelry.
» The four District teens accused of robbing, shooting and killing D.C. middle school principal Brian Betts in April.
The agency has also been cited for the positive changes it has made. In the past two years, the repeat offender rate among the District's juveniles has dropped, and youth who commit violent crimes are spending more time behind bars.
Schindler was viewed as being a key part of the improvements. He has held leadership roles in the agency since he was hired as DYRS general counsel in 2005.
"I view the leadership change as a step backwards," said Councilman Tommy Wells, who heads the D.C. Council committee that oversees DYRS. "The mayor has lost the political will to reform the agency."
Scott McCabe contributed to this report.