New State Board of Ed Nominees Clear Senate Panel

Lori Morrow, who was appointed by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) to be the first parent member of an expanded Maryland State Board of Education. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines

The first teacher and parent members of Maryland’s State Board of Education received approval from the Senate Executive Nominations Committee on Monday night, following a multi-year effort by lawmakers to add members to the board.

Rachel McCusker, a vocal music teacher in Carroll County at Linton Springs Elementary School, was elected in December by teachers throughout the state as the first teacher member of the board. If confirmed by the full Senate, her term would run through June 2022.

McCusker has been teaching in Carroll County since 1994 and was the county teacher of the year for 2015-2016.

The first parent member nominated for the board is Lori Morrow, who was chosen by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) from a list of nominees submitted by the Maryland PTA.

Morrow, the parent of two children in Prince George’s County public schools, has also served on the county’s Parent and Community Advisory Council and is a frequent contributor to the Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools blog.

She would fill a term that expires in 2023.

The two additional positions are the result of legislation passed by the General Assembly last year that will increase the state board to 14 positions. Hogan allowed the bill to become law in 2019, but did not sign it. He vetoed a 2018 version of the bill that would have put state teachers’ unions in charge of selecting the teacher member; lawmakers changed the bill last year to create the statewide election process instead.

The committee also voted favorably on a few familiar nominees Monday evening:

  • William B.C. “Billy” Addison, who retired as secretary of the Senate in December after holding the job for 22 years, is a nominee to the Maryland Environmental Service.
  • Jack Smith, Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent, is nominated to the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board.
  • Andrew R. Smarick, former State Board of Education president, is a nominee to the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
  • Sam Malhotra, Hogan’s former chief of staff and his one-time Secretary of Human Services, is nominated to the University System Board of Regents to fill the remainder of a term that ends July 1, 2022.
  • Garrett County Commissioner James Hinebaugh Jr. is nominated to the Maryland Economic Development Corporation Board.
  • Former U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who won the special primary in Maryland’s 7th District and faces challengers for the permanent position, was appointed to the Commission on African American History and Culture.
  • Thomas V. Miller III, who was nominated by Hogan for reappointment as a District Court judge in Anne Arundel County.

Miller recalled the first time he remembers being in Annapolis as a young child, for the swearing in of his father, now-Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), to the House of Delegates in 1971.

“I remember when your dad’s hair was dark like that too,” Executive Nominations Chairman Ronald N. Young (D-Frederick) said, gesturing to the younger.

“You have a lot of years to go to match his.”

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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.