After Verjeana Jacobs was elected by her colleagues to her sixth one-year term as chairwoman of the Prince George’s County school board, she urged members to put rancor behind them and work together.
“Some six years ago, I pledged to work for the children of this school system and to make a difference, and I have tried to do my very best. I plan to do even more with the opportunity that you have given me,” Jacobs said Monday, adding, “Speaking for myself, I would like to leave the divisiveness, the bitterness that sometimes enters the debate in our very important work, and leave it where it belongs: not in the boardroom ... stay focused, and remember, we are all in this together.”
The meeting saw newly elected representatives Zabrina Epps (District 1) and Carletta Fellows (District 7) sworn in with re-elected members Jacobs, Patricia Eubanks (District 4) and Edward Burroughs (District 8). Only five of the nine school board seats were up for grabs this year, as elections are staggered to allow for consistency on the board.
After the swearing-in, the board entered an executive session to obtain legal advice. When the board returned to open session, Jacobs was re-elected by a 9-1 vote.
The sole “nay” vote came from student member of the board Shabnam Ahmed, whose sister, Raaheela Ahmed, challenged Jacobs for the District 5 seat in the general election last month and lost after placing first in the primary election.
“As student member of the board, it is my duty to represent over 124,000 students,” said Shabnam Ahmed, adding, “I really hope that in the future the student member will be allowed to sit in on executive sessions and have more of a role on the board.”
According to the school board handbook, the student member is not allowed to join the rest of the board in executive sessions called for particular reasons unless invited by a majority vote of the remaining board.
District 6 representative Carolyn Boston, who was unanimously elected vice chairwoman, said she would “work hard to focus on family and community engagement in our school system and ensure we have parent-friendly schools.”
After the meeting, Jacobs said that with the election now past, the board can focus on the process of selecting a new superintendent.
Jacobs said the school system received more than 1,700 responses to its online request for input in the superintendent search, and with additional input from the four community meetings, Jacobs said the consulting firm will hold a meeting with the board at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 to discuss its findings. The meeting is open to the public, but there will not be space in the agenda for public comment.