The Prince George’s County Board of Education voted 8-1 on Thursday to oppose any amendments attached to House Bill 1107, based on a proposal by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III to strip the board of its responsibility to hire and supervise the school system superintendent.
Under the original bill, proposed by Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith’s (D-Dist 23A) of Bowie, a task force would be created to look at the operation and membership of the Board of Education.
Earlier this week, Baker announced his intention to introduce legislation that would take appointment and supervision of the school system’s superintendent away from the Board of Education and make it a cabinet post in his office. The shift would take away budgetary control from the board, add appointed members to the board and direct the board to focus on student achievement and parental involvement.
Board member Carletta Fellows (Dist. 7), who voted against opposing the bill, accused the board in a statement of being “hostile to independent review, transparency or accountability” and making decisions “with embarrassingly little information.”
“Therefore, I join County Executive Baker in his efforts to bring results and accountability to what I see as an urban school system in crisis,” Fellows said.
Representatives from the county teacher’s union, support staff union and the council of PTAs were among the eight who spoke against the proposal. More than 40 people attended the board’s regular meeting at the Saccser Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.
Parent Melody Spruill, a member of the Mitchellville-based Kingsford Elementary PTA, said she would withdraw her child from the public school system if Baker’s proposal passed, and that several of her friends would do the same. She also said she might take legal action on the grounds that the public has had no chance to comment on the proposal.
Deborah Sell, a parent, said she has often challenged the board on issues, and supported Valentino-Smith’s original HB 1107, but could not support the Baker amendment.
“I feel that we have been betrayed and believe that such a radical change in school governance should only be taken after careful and thoughtful deliberation and ultimately decided by voters in a general referendum,” Sell said.