Prince George’s County Board of Education member Donna Hathaway-Beck announced Wednesday that she is resigning her District 9 seat effective Sept. 6, citing personal reasons.
Beck, 57, an Upper Marlboro resident, said she has struggled to balance her role on the school board with her role as grandmother to four young children.
“It’s very hard for me, when one of my grandchildren is coming to visit me, and I have to go to a three-hour long committee meeting,” Beck said. “I’ve really struggled with providing the type of constituent services I used to provide.”
Changes under the new school governance structure, which took effect last June, have changed the board’s focus, she said.
“The role of the board member has morphed into community engagement and building families within the system,” Beck said. “I know at least 10 people in my district who would be phenomenal at this type of parental engagement work.”
Beck has served on the board since being elected as an at-large representative in 2006, following the dissolution of an appointed board.
Beck said she feels the school system will be in very capable hands with the appointment of Dr. Kevin Maxwell as school system leader, having known him for several years.
“I am very happy, very content with his appointment,” Beck said.
Beck said her resignation on Sept. 6 will give her time to close out her affairs.
“I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’m leaving in a huff or that kind of thing,” Beck said. Her current term would have ended December 2014.
A former president of the Upper Marlboro-based Frederick Douglass High School’s Parent Teacher Student Association, Beck has served on numerous education task forces, committees and PTAs, and said she had perfect attendance at board of education meetings for nine years prior to her election.
Board Vice Chairwoman Carolyn Boston (Dist. 6) described Beck as a tireless advocate for education.
“She really held our feet to the fire when it came to certain budget issues,” said Boston, citing Beck’s opposition in 2011 to then-Superintendent William Hite’s budget, which would have closed the William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center, “known as Camp Schmidt,” in Brandywine.
Beck is the second board member to resign this summer. District 7 representative Carletta Fellows resigned abruptly July 11, citing personal reasons. In April, board members voted to suspend her board-issued credit card after it was revealed she had made several unauthorized charges, including utility payments to Pepco, Washington Gas and Comcast.
Under the new board structure, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) has the authority to appoint members to fill any vacancies. The resignation increases the number of appointed members to six on the 14-member board.
An announcement regarding an appointment to the District 7 seat is likely this week, said Baker education advisor Christian Rhodes.
Education activist David Cahn, co-chairman of “Citizens for an Elected Board,” said he was “fantastically disappointed” to learn of Beck’s resignation.
“Donna will be sorely missed, not just because it means another appointment by Baker to the board, but because of her expertise on budget and capital improvement matters, and because she was always willing to go up against the powers-that-be,” Cahn said.
Beck said she felt the time had come to step down.
“You need to know when it is time to go, and when to let someone step into your seat,” Beck said. “I am not irreplaceable.”