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Deliberations continue over whether to extend state superintendent’s contract

Maryland State Board of Education President Clarence Crawford, center, speaks with reporters Aug. 22 at the state Department of Education in Baltimore. Joining Crawford are Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury, left, and board Vice President Joshua Michael. Photo by William J. Ford.

Deliberations continue by the Maryland State Board of Education on whether to reappoint Mohammed Choudhury as superintendent.

“The board has not made a decision,” board President Clarence Crawford said Tuesday to reporters at the state Department of Education building in Baltimore. “The board is following what’s outlined in the governance manual. And as soon as we have something definitive to say, we will.”

Crawford spoke alongside Choudhury and board Vice President Joshua Michael. However, Choudhury didn’t respond to a question from a reporter when asked about an update on contract negotiations.

The board went into a closed-door meeting Tuesday afternoon. The section under discussion focused on annual evaluations of the superintendent and executive director.

When the board resumed the meeting more than three hours later around 6:08 p.m., a few board members gave committee reports and the board’s attorney summarized a few legal opinions.

The board adjourned around 6:21 p.m. with no update on superintendent reappointment.

Choudhury’s current contract of $310,000 expires June 30, 2024. He was hired two years ago after the retirement of former Superintendent Karen Salmon.

Choudhury informed the board in July that he wants to return as the state’s public schools leader.

The board could’ve voted on a new contract July 25, but continued to deliberate on whether to reappoint him. Choudhury was not in attendance that day, and five new board members participated in their first meeting.

According to board’s manual, it “shall work towards having a contract in place for the Superintendent by the regularly scheduled September meeting.” The date of that meeting is Sept. 26.

One day after the board’s meeting in July, a Senate committee held a briefing to review the state’s public education structure and get an update on the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reform plan.

Sen. Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery), who chairs the Senate’s Education, Energy and Environment Committee, wants Choudhury and former Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett to attend a future committee session.

One reason is because of miscommunication between the state Department of Education and the Accountability and Implementation Board, an independent body created to oversee the Blueprint plan. Leggett serves as chair of the accountability board, which approved the first submission of local school systems’ Blueprint documents last month.

Vermelle Greene, a former board member, attended Tuesday’s meeting to speak during the public comment period on another issue. In a brief interview, she praised Choudhury’s work on reading curriculum and other academic programming.

Greene said she hopes Choudhury will listen to “wisdom” from experienced leaders on the board such as Susan Getty and Warner Sumpter.

Some advice Greene said she gave to Choudhury, who’s younger than her 43-year-old daughter: respect local school boards.

“They know that their communities,” she said. “The local boards’ autonomy must be respected.”

Greene offered public comment suggesting that parents should be able to opt their children out of exposure to classroom materials they deem inappropriate.

The topic has been controversial in Montgomery County after the school board there recently amended a policy to not allow students to opt out of LGBTQ+ literacy instruction. Some parents pushed for an injunction in an ongoing lawsuit against the school system.


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Deliberations continue over whether to extend state superintendent’s contract