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Education Government & Politics

Public forum scheduled on search for new schools leaders in Prince George’s

The Prince George’s County Public Schools headquarters in Upper Marlboro. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) announced this week that she will host a public forum for residents to have their say on the search for a new public schools leader to oversee Maryland’s second largest school system.

The forum will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Charles Flowers High School in Springdale.

Members of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, the firm hired to help with the national search, also will attend.

According to the county executive, an online survey drew more than 5,400 responses suggesting that the new schools leader should be “courageous, innovative, a collaborative leader and an outstanding communicator” with experience in elementary and secondary instruction and administrative leadership.

Those interested in testifying must sign up and can do so here, but must register by 5 p.m. April 25.

Anyone not able to attend the forum can submit written testimony via email to [email protected] by 5 p.m. April 28.

Prince George’s leaders sought to change the selection process through state legislation that would have created a search committee selected by leaders from the county and its public schools, but it didn’t happen.

The new leader will be chosen by a search committee comprised of two county residents, appointed by the governor, and a member of the Maryland State Board of Education, appointed by the state superintendent of schools.

A new school system leader would replace public schools CEO Monica Goldson, who plans to retire by June 30.

The new leader’s title will be county superintendent, rather than CEO.

The change is coming at a time of ongoing conflict between some school board members.

Last year, school board member Juanita Miller requested a hearing before a state administrative law judge after the state Board of Education decided to move forward with the process to remove her from the Prince George’s board. She faced allegations from six current and former school board members of misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty and incompetence.

Judge Richard O’Connor held online hearings in November and December with Miller as the respondent and the county school board members as petitioners.

The judge recommended last month that the state Board of Education allow Miller, who had served as the board chair, to remain on the board. The board selected Judy Mickens-Murray as the new chair in January.

Last month, the board members’ attorney, Brandon Cooper, wrote a letter asking the state Board of Education to “reverse” the judge’s recommendation.

The letter criticizes several of the judge’s rulings such as not allowing a report from the state Office of the Inspector General for Education to be viewed as evidence in the case.

According to the report, released in August, Miller violated board policy when she voted with a group of newly appointed members to accept a county school’s ethics panel’s report.

The attorney’s appeal letter also notes that Miller withheld certain ethics reports for more than nine months.

“Nevertheless, the [judge] erred by ruling that all reports from the OIGE would be excluded from this case, which contradicts the State Board’s well-established practice of admitting into evidence relevant final reports from other state agencies…” according to the letter. “As Chair of the Board of Education, [Miller’s] conduct deserves even greater scrutiny and accountability for her actions. The State Board decision to remove [Miller] will also clarify that the linchpin of effective Board operations is collaboration and not individual action.”

Miller’s attorneys, from the law firm MarcusBonsib, responded to Cooper’s letter on Monday, contending that the inspector general’s report isn’t relevant to charges against their client and “contains summaries and selectively quotes or refers to the contents of documents not admitted and not even attached” to the report.

“The evidence presented by Petitioners was legally insufficient to find that Respondent committed acts constituting grounds for removal from office,” Miller’s attorneys wrote. “The [judge] appropriately considered all the evidence and assessed all aspects of the witnesses’ demeanor to determine whether each witness was providing credible testimony and he appropriately considered all the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged events in rendering his decision.”

Zachary Hands, executive director with the state Board of Education, wrote in an email Thursday that the board will schedule an oral argument after the attorneys’ written responses have been processed.

After attorneys make their presentations before the state board, it will make a final decision. The email didn’t state when a decision would be made.


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Public forum scheduled on search for new schools leaders in Prince George’s