Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Process to Select Schools Leader Rushed, Parents Say

There’s growing concern in Prince George’s County that a decision may happen too quickly on finding a permanent public schools system leader.

Tonya Sweat of Accokeek said if a list of candidates isn’t presented by June 15, then more time should be given to find a person beyond the June 30 deadline.

“This thing was started extremely late,” said Sweat, who has two children in the school system. “I am not endorsing anybody.

Tamar McKinney of Lanham suggested the county not just settle on interim CEO Monica Goldson. McKinney, who has two grandchildren in the public schools and another scheduled to graduate from DuVal High School in Lanham, said a May 13 public hearing didn’t fully address what taxpayers want in a new school leader.

“I don’t doubt her qualifications, but it seemed as though individuals got invited to speak on behalf of Dr. Goldson,” she said. “Why isn’t this a conversation about what we want in a superintendent?”

Some did express those views for County Executive Angela Alsobrooks to select a person who would incorporate more service for special needs students; eliminate the school-to-prison; and revert back to the title of “superintendent” instead of CEO. About 80 people signed up to speak at Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale and the majority supported Goldson becoming the permanent leader.

County Executive spokesman John Erzen said if a person isn’t selected next month, the school board can vote to extend the contract for Goldson.

“We don’t feel we are going to be rushed,” he said. “We will make sure everything is done the way it needs to be to make sure that whoever is selected, everything is fair and everybody has the same opportunity.”

In the meantime, Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois, will be in charge of finding six to seven candidates. Residents can also fill out a survey on the CEO search at https://bit.ly/2YLV1G0.

Once the search concludes, a three-member committee appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan will review and narrow the list to three people. The committee members are: Warner Sumpter, a retired brigadier general in the Marine Corps. and current member of the state board of education; Oretha Bridgewater-Simms, a retired Prince George’s educator; and Hallie Russell Williams, president of the Accokeek Academy Parent Teacher Student Association.

The governor appointed the committee April 1.

Alsobrooks will review the committee’s choices and select one person. The county school board would negotiate a contract and send a letter to State Superintendent Karen Salmon for final approval.

Those interviewed all said the permanent school leader should revamp the central office at the Sasscer Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, especially replace some personnel who worked under former CEO Kevin Maxwell.

As for Goldson, she has worked in the school system for 27 years as a teacher, math instructional specialist, assistant principal and the founding principal at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro.

Her previous job title was deputy superintendent of teaching and learning.

Since being appointed in September to lead the state’s second biggest school system, an elementary school received Blue Ribbon award for educational excellence; school system reached a tentative deal with the teachers’ union to restore pay raises during the recession; and helped secure millions of dollarstoward education approved by state lawmakers this year based on recommendations from the ongoing Kirwan Commission.

However, state Department of Education data showed Prince George’s recorded the most students at 17,610 for in-school and out-of-school suspensions the last two school years. In addition, the school system ranks near the bottom in education rating.

Sweat said she will allow her son to complete his senior year at Oxon Hill, but she and her husband may change scenery for their daughter currently in first grade.

“We have given ourselves a year to make that decision,” she said. My husband and I graduated from public schools. We believe in the public school system, but we are very concerned about our children who have to live in the 21st century world. We want to make sure they are going to be ready.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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