Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said Monday that he has appointed the state’s first Inspector General of Education. He announced the appointment of Richard P. Henry just ahead of the General Assembly’s bicameral, multi-committee hearing on the cross-filed and hotly contested 2020 Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
Hogan, who has made education accountability a top priority for this year’s legislative session, said Henry will begin his new position on March 4.
Henry has had an extensive career with the United States Marshals Service, including as chief inspector for the Information Technology Division, chief inspector for the Human Resources Division, senior inspector for the Judicial Security Division, senior inspector for the Financial Fraud/Asset Forfeiture Division, and supervisory deputy for Prisoner and Investigative Operations. He is the current executive director of the Office of Compliance and Monitoring for the State Department of Education.
Henry was appointed jointly by Hogan, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), and State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D) under terms of legislation passed last year.
“With the appointment of the first Inspector General for Education in state history, we are reaffirming our commitment to providing more accountability for parents, teachers, and taxpayers and better results for our children,” Hogan said in a statement. “Richard Henry has the experience and the passion to serve as a tough but fair watchdog in this new role.”
The role was borne from a bill passed last year to put the Kirwan Commission’s education reform funding recommendations into motion. That legislation passed without the governor’s signature.
The position passed as an amendment to the 2019 legislation with the intent of monitoring instances of fraud and the misuse of funds, among other issues.
On the first day of the school year in 2018, Hogan announced that he was creating an Office of Education Accountability, to be housed in the Governor’s Office for Children.
“We are proud to have some of the best and most highly funded schools in America, and we have continuously increased funding and worked hard to make them even better,” Hogan said. “But unfortunately, far too many of our deserving children continue to be stuck in persistently failing schools. Much tougher accountability measures are still desperately needed.”
During a conversation with reporters after a rally in support of the Kirwan legislation Monday morning, William E. “Brit” Kirwan, the chairman of his namesake commission, called the Inspector General “a nice add-on,” but he said the commission report laid the foundation for much more robust oversight than Hogan’s approach.
“The Inspector General — that’s a nice add-on. But the real accountability is embedded in this bill,” Kirwan said of the 199-page 2020 legislation. “I mean, there’s a very strong system of accountability. And I hope the governor will get on board with it.”
“Every education expert across the country who has seen this bill marvels at the degree of accountability that it embraces. So, I’m happy about the inspector general, but that’s only a small piece of real accountability.”
Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report.