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Education

Monica Goldson announces her plans to retire from Prince George’s public schools at the end of the school year

Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Monica Goldson talks with reporters on the first day of school Aug. 29 at the new Cherokee Lane Elementary in Adelphi. Photo by William J. Ford.

One of the nation’s largest school districts will soon need a new leader.

Monica Goldson announced Thursday that she plans to retire at the end of the school year from her post as CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, the second-largest public school system in Maryland and one of the 20 largest districts in the nation.

Goldson, who’s worked in the school system for 32 years as a math teacher, school administrator and even a cheerleading coach, announced her intentions in a letter to the school community.

“My career has taken me to heights I never dreamed possible when I walked across the stage in 1986 as a Potomac High School graduate,” Goldson, appointed in 2019 by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D), wrote in the letter. “The children of this community are among the brightest and most innovative in the country. It has been an absolute honor to lead over 131,000 students in the place I call home.”

Within the letter, Goldson also mentions a divide within the school board.

“At present, there is a clear divide of philosophical beliefs on the Prince George’s County Board of Education about how we should move forward as a school district,” Goldson wrote. “To be clear, the current acrimony is not about one Board Chair. It is another example of the Board’s inability to work together in the best interest of our students. The continued political infighting among certain Board Members demonstrates a misalignment in the vision for the children of this county.”

Goldson also released a video entitled “My Next Journey,” but it doesn’t mention the school board.

The board chair in Goldson’s letter refers to Juanita Miller, who currently awaits a decision by a judge with the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings on whether she’ll remain on the board. Closing arguments for attorneys are scheduled for Jan. 18.

Since Miller’s appointment in January 2021 by Alsobrooks, there have been disagreements expressed privately and publicly, mainly between the elected board members and those who were appointed.

Six current and former elected members filed a formal complaint against Miller that include allegations of misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty and incompetence.

Because the Maryland State Board of Education voted last year to issue a notice of those charges against Miller, she requested a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Goldson was one of several people who testified during one of the hearings last month as witnesses on behalf of Miller.

Meanwhile, the school board plans to meet next Thursday to elect a new chair. Miller chose to relinquish the gavel.

Two other members are up for the position: Shayla Adams-Stafford and Judy Mickens-Murray. During a meeting last month, the board held a leadership vote seven times, but couldn’t get the eight votes required to appoint a new chair.

Janna Parker, a member of the advocacy group PG Change and a parent of two teenage daughters in the school system, thanked Goldson in an interview Thursday.

“For the past couple of years, we have had a solid and steady person to lead us through the pandemic. We have greatly appreciated what Dr. Goldson has done for our school system and our students,” she said. “I, along with many parents across the school system, continue to support our school board and its transition to being all elected to ensure continued transparency, accountability and growth for the students and their academic progress for the school system.”

In a statement, Alsobrooks also praised Goldson’s work, including increasing employee salaries, breaking ground on 10 new schools, expanding health services and managing various challenges during the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic.

“I could not imagine a better partner in service for our children, families, teachers, and staff,” she said. “While Dr. Goldson will be sorely missed by our community, I know that the impact she has had on our school system will continue to be felt for years to come. We wish her all the best in this next chapter she will embark upon at the end of this school year.”

Alsobrooks said the selection process to appoint a new CEO will begin this month with the goal to have a new person in place by the time Goldson’s contract expires on June 30.

Donna Christy, president of the Prince George’s County Education Association, said the teachers union not only wants to be included in the selection process, but also hopes a nationwide search is done.

Among other concerns, Christy said Goldson hasn’t addressed educators’ concerns about working with some school administrators. Within the first three years of their tenure, teachers can request a transfer to another school and “you can always tell using the turnover rate at a school where the problems are,” she said.

“We know what the problems are, yet year after year they go unaddressed,” she said.

Christy said a nationwide search for a replacement could “bring in some fresh ideas outside of the school system…[and] a fresh perspective.”