Baker has to consider options after school board member’s resignation -- Gazette.Net


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With the abrupt resignation of Prince George’s County Board of Education member Carletta Fellows (Dist. 7), county officials will have to appoint her replacement and one former board member expressed interest in regaining his seat.

Fellows began her four-year term in December after winning a seat in the September election, defeating Henry P. Armwood Jr. in the November 2012 election.

Fellows announced her resignation from the Board on Thursday, according to county schools spokesman Max Pugh.

Fellows did not immediately return calls and emails for comment.

Board Vice Chair Carolyn Boston (Dist. 6) said Fellows resigned for personal reasons.

“I wish her the best. I am sure her community will miss her, as she has been very active in her district,” Boston said. “I look forward to working with her in the future as she advocates for her community.”

Fellows frequently clashed with fellow board members, who voted to suspend Fellows’ board-issued credit card in April after it was revealed she had made several unauthorized charges, including utility payments to Pepco, Washington Gas and Comcast.

Fellows countered that the matter was being brought up “in retaliation” for her support of new legislation that granted County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) the authority to appoint three members to the board and the County Council appointed a fourth.

Fellows questioned the administration on a number of fiscal matters, and often abstained or voted against the approval of consent items and meeting minutes. In January, the board censured Fellows for undisclosed reasons.

“The Board extends its appreciation to Ms. Fellows for her service to students and families in Prince George’s County, and wishes her the best in her future endeavors,” the board said in a statement.

The legislation also gives Baker the authority to appoint someone to serve the remainder of the term, which will end in December 2016.

“As we have done with other recent appointments following the enacting of HB 1107, County Executive Baker will select a Board of Education member who will represent the best interests of the residents of District 7,” wrote Baker spokesman Scott Peterson in an email statement.

Peterson said as indicated by Baker’s swiftness in taking less than a month to make his initial three board appointments, the county executive plans to act quickly and thoroughly in appointing the best qualified candidate.

“My first reaction is I’m very saddened for District 7,” Armwood said. “Our parents and students need effective representation. If asked, I would be happy to [return] and what I’m hearing from people in the community is that they want me back. But that’s up to Mr. Baker.”

Lydia Walker Thompson, another former candidate for the District 7 seat, said she had no interest in being appointed while fellow candidates John E. Richardson was unavailable to comment and Lykisha Perkins could not immediately be reached for comment.

State Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly, who took part in a June 21 news conference questioning the lack of a Latino representative among the four appointed members, said Fellows’ resignation provides the opportunity for diversity, but finding the best candidate is most important.

“I think we need to take it a day at a time and see what is the best fit for the school board and that particular district,” Ramirez said.

David Cahn, co-chair of the education advocate organization Citizens for an Elected Board, said he was surprised by Fellows’ resignation as he thought she was happy with Baker’s increased power with the school system.

“I’m very disappointed by this because under the new law, this gives Baker another opportunity to appoint someone to the board,” Cahn said. “Democracy goes down and Baker goes up.”

Staff Writer Jeffrey Lyles contributed to this article.

egoldwein@gazette.net and janfenson-comeau@gazette.net