The School District of Philadelphia on Thursday named veteran educator William Wade to head the low-performing Martin Luther King High School in East Germantown.

Wade, who most recently served as head of Vaux High, a district Promise Academy, has had success "in reversing the downward spiral of academics at some of the country's most underperforming schools," district spokeswoman Jamilah Fraser said in a statement.

In taking the post, Wade was optimistic.

"In the weeks ahead, I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and preparing a comprehensive academic overhaul plan for this school," Wade said. "My mission is simple: Provide the same quality education to the students of King that I would want for my own children."

The school has failed to meet state standards for several years running. In 2009-10, just 22 percent of King students met state goals in reading and 20 percent in math.

The high school had been set to become a charter earlier this year under the district's Renaissance school plan.

In April, the company that had signed on to run MLK as a charter withdrew its bid, citing a climate of "unrelenting hostility."

Foundations, a New Jersey nonprofit, was the second potential charter operator that month to walk away from King.

The decision came amid allegations of conflicts of interest and political wrangling involving School Reform Commission Chairman Robert L. Archie Jr. and State Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.) over the school's future. The school is adjacent to Evans' West Oak Lane district.

Based on the school's 1,100 students, a charter operator would have received about $10 million.

The district on Thursday also named Richard Gordon, currently an assistant principal at Washington High, as Wade's successor at Vaux.

 
Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or samwood@phillynews.com.