Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Will Not Seek Another Term

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon, who announced Tuesday that she will not seek another term. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines

Maryland’s state superintendent of schools announced Tuesday that she will not seek another term atop the state’s education system.

Karen B. Salmon, who has headed the state system since 2016, will continue through the end of her contract on June 30, 2020. The decision was announced at the end of a State Board of Education meeting in Baltimore on Tuesday.

Details about the search for Salmon’s successor and a timeline to find a replacement were not immediately available from Department of Education officials in the afternoon. Salmon’s contract required that she give the board advance notice if she intended not to seek another term.

“I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead education for Maryland. Together, with many stakeholders and the State Board of Education, we have accomplished much,” Salmon said in an afternoon statement. “Outstanding new staff in key positions and important restructuring has positioned MSDE to not only impact student outcomes in the short term, but also provide sustainability for the future. My focus for the remainder of my term will be to continue to provide a quality education to our students, and to prepare a strong foundation on which the next State Superintendent can build.”

Salmon was just the second full-time state schools superintendent to serve since the 20-year reign of legendary former superintendent Nancy M. Grasmick, who retired in 2011. The Maryland State Department of Education is headquartered in a building named for Grasmick in downtown Baltimore.

As state superintendent, Salmon worked to implement the state’s new accountability system and annual school report cards, transitioned the state from PARCC tests to the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program and has focused on improving equity in schools across the state, including through new state regulations.

Leaving the position culminates Salmon’s 40-year career in public school education, the state Department of Education said in a news release. She began her career as a special education teacher in the Caroline County Public Schools and then served in a number of leadership positions in Talbot County, including superintendent. She was also superintendent of the Bay Shore Union Free School District in Bay Shore, N.Y.

Warner Sumpter, president of the state board, reacted to Salmon’s announcement on Tuesday evening:

“While the Maryland State Board is saddened by her decision, it is also grateful for her exceptional leadership,” he said in a statement. “Dr. Salmon brought many years of executive experience to her position and her passion for equity and excellence has benefited all of Maryland’s students. It is her leadership that has placed Maryland education on solid footing for future achievements.”

Salmon’s replacement will be selected by a state school board whose membership has now been completely appointed by Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. — though under a new state law a public school teacher and a parent representative will be joining the board in 2020.

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Danielle E. Gaines
Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.