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Education Justice

Juanita Miller may testify at hearing to decide whether to remove her from Prince George’s school board

Prince George’s Board of Education Chair Juanita Miller recorded a message for the public earlier this year, rejecting a request from County Executive Angela Alsobrooks that she step down. Screenshot.

The attorney for Prince George’s County school board chair Juanita Miller said she may testify this week before a Maryland administrative judge during an ongoing case to decide whether to remove her from the position.

Bruce Marcus with MarcusBonsib of Greenbelt said during a virtual hearing Monday that besides Miller, school board member Pamela Boozer-Strother, public schools CEO Monica Goldson and former vice chair Sonya Williams may also give testimony.

The hearing before the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearing resumed Monday on Miller, who faces allegations of misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty and incompetence by current and former school board members.

Those elected members have clashed with Miller, appointed to the board in January 2021 by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, on alleged unilateral decisions she’s made without full board approval and other decisions.

The six members  Raaheela Ahmed, Edward Burroughs III, Kenneth Harris, David Murray, Shayla Adams-Stafford and Joshua Thomas  filed a petition in July 2021 to have Miller removed, but it was dismissed.

A second petition was filed, but this time the Maryland State Board of Education voted in May to move forward with the process to remove her from the county board.

Ahmed, Burroughs and Thomas are no longer on the board.

Miller requested a state administrative hearing based on the state school board’s decision.

Part of the alleged offenses stem from Miller choosing a different law firm to represent the board without approval that deals with Karpinski, Cornbrooks & Karp of Baltimore.

Kevin Karpinski, a managing partner of the firm, testified Monday on behalf of Miller.

Karpinski said county attorney Rhonda Weaver contacted him to serve on a temporary basis and later put in contact with Williams. The reason, he said, was due to “lack of professionalism during meetings and [the board needed] directions with Roberts Rules of Order procedure. That would be the focal point of what I would do for one or two meetings.”

In June, the school board approved to hire Shipley & Horne of Largo as the body’s legal counsel.

At the first hearing Nov. 28, the county school board members attorney Brandon Cooper highlighted how Karpinski and Keith Stewart, a representative of the school board, signed a contract May 26, 2021.

A month later on June 24, 2021, Cooper asked Karpinski on Monday if Miller authorized him to attend that closed-door meeting. He asked Karpinski if he could respond “No, yes, or I don’t recall.”

“It’s not a yes, no, or I do not recall response,” Karpinski said. ‘I would need to elaborate on that.”

Cooper asked Karpinski the question one more time.

Marcus said Cooper doesn’t “have the ability to dictate” what the answer would be.

“I agree. There’s no need to be hostile to the witness at this point, Mr. Cooper,” administrative judge Richard O’Conner said.

“Ok, your honor. We’ll move on,” Cooper said.

The hearing will resume Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the school board has moved on, somewhat, in selecting Lolita Walker as the new vice chair on Thursday.

However, the board couldn’t get the required eight votes to choose a new chair between Adams-Stafford and Judy Mickens-Murray.

The board postponed selecting a chair and will reconvene Jan. 12 when Walker will preside over the meeting.