Baker picks Anne Arundel Superintendent Maxwell as Prince George’s schools CEO


Kevin Maxwell listens to a student answer a question as he taught a sixth-grade life sciences class in 2007 in Anne Arundel County. Maxwell has been named the superintendent of Prince George’s County schools. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) confirmed Thursday that Anne Arundel County Schools Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell, a former Prince George’s County teacher and principal, will become the county’s new schools chief.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Kevin Maxwell back to Prince George’s to serve as our new CEO,” Baker said in a statement. “His return serves a signal that we want our best and brightest to be part of the renaissance of public education in Prince George’s County.”

The county executive has scheduled a news conference for Friday afternoon to make a formal announcement and introduction.

Baker said Maxwell, who served for 22 years in Prince George’s before taking positions in Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties, is committed to moving the public school system forward and is a critical part of his plan to turnaround the county’s beleaguered school system.

“He was educated in our schools, he taught in our schools and now he will lead our schools,” Baker said. “Dr. Maxwell is an innovative educator who has come full circle, and I am confident that his outstanding talents and leadership will result in great achievements for our students.”

Maxwell, 61, will become the eighth schools chief to lead the county school system in the past 14 years. Maxwell submitted his resignation to the Anne Arundel County Board of Education on Thursday.

“The opportunity to lead Prince George’s County Public Schools . . . brings my career full circle,” Maxwell said in a letter to employees and parents. “I view this new position as a chance to give back to the county that started me on the pathway of what has been an incredibly rewarding career.”

In Anne Arundel, Maxwell ran a system that includes 125 schools and about 78,000 students. He now will lead a 123,000-student system that continues to lag behind many others in the region. Prince George’s schools also faces dwindling enrollment, a continued lack of trust from county residents and an increase in the percentage of students from low- income families.

Maxwell will come to Maryland’s second-largest school system as Baker is engineering a major overhaul, one that limits the role of a reconfigured Board of Education and places more power in the hands of the new superintendent, now known as the chief executive officer.

Baker has described the school system as a liability to the county, holding back economic growth as people choose to live elsewhere in the region in part because other jurisdictions have better schools. Baker sought a complete takeover of the school system three months ago, but in a compromise bill, state lawmakers gave him the power to name the new chief, select three new members to the Board of Education and choose the board’s chair and vice chair.

Putting Maxwell in the job ensures that Baker’s first schools chief is familiar with the county and the county’s schools, in addition to being a respected administrator with deep experience in Maryland.

Elected officials, union leaders and community leaders said Thursday that they are pleased with Baker’s selection.

“I think that Kevin Maxwell, with his stellar, sterling reputation and deep roots and connections to Prince George’s, is the perfect person for this moment in our county,” said Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), the chair of the county House delegation. “It’s unfortunate for Anne Arundel. They are losing a great leader for their school system. We, however, need him.”

Ivey said Maxwell will offer a unique perspective for Prince George’s, one she suspects that other applicants could not.

“He’s a native son come home,” she said. “I think he has the ability to see both sides. . . . He has the work experience here. . . . He’s worked outside the county. He has the breadth of experience that we need, but his heart is here.”

State Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Prince George’s), who heads the county Senate delegation, described Maxwell as a “blue-chip candidate.”

“We need somebody who will be here for the long term, has a proven track record and knows Prince George’s public schools,” Peters said. “He has all three of those things.”

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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