By Bruce DePuyt
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan chastised a rival, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) on Wednesday, saying Baker should have axed schools CEO Kevin Maxwell “a long time ago.”
In response to a question from a reporter, Hogan (R) said allegations of grade inflation and graduation irregularities in Prince George’s are “a saga” that “has gone far too long.”
Hogan said state lawmakers, members of the county school board and others have pressed for a state review of allegations that thousands of students earned high school diplomas after having grades changed and in spite of excessive absences.
“Enough is enough,” Hogan said. “Instead of having the superintendent report to the duly elected school board, they changed the law so that he’s not accountable to anybody but the county executive, who said the buck stops with him.” Baker, in Hogan’s view, hasn’t taken allegations of wrongdoing seriously.
Baker, a candidate for governor who is leading in the early primary polls, dismissed Hogan’s suggestion almost immediately. Talking to reporters outside the State House after testifying before a House committee, he said of Hogan, “If he believed [Maxwell should be terminated], he would actually have his state school board start doing something. That’s where he has authority.”
Baker said the Prince George’s school system has seen enrollment gains and improved teacher retention under Maxwell’s leadership, among other advances.
The governor’s comments are “political,” Baker said, in that they come “right after a poll comes out showing that his lead over the Democratic field has shrunk.”