Milwaukee schools chief may be interested in Prince George’s job

Rumors are swirling that Gregory Thornton, the Milwaukee school superintendent, is interested in becoming the next schools chief in Prince George’s County.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday that Thornton, who served as a deputy superintendent in Montgomery County in 2003, did not deny the rumor that he was considering leaving Milwaukee to return to Maryland.

The Journal Sentinel said that when Thornton was asked about whether he was in talks with anyone in Prince George’s about the chief executive position, he said, “It’s too soon to talk about it.”

According to sources, Thornton interviewed with the Prince George’s Board of Education this year but was not one of its three finalists.

Last week, state officials named a panel that will recommend three names to County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) to choose from to become the school system’s chief executive. The new selection process is part of a new governance structure that allows Baker to select the new schools chief, appoint three new board members and choose the board chair and vice chair.

Christian Rhodes, Baker’s education liaison, said Friday that the new state law requires that the search committee receive all of the information that was compiled by the Board of Education during its search for a superintendent, including all of the candidates that were originally considered.

“We haven’t engaged him,” Rhodes said. “It is up to the search committee on whether they will engage him.”

Baker sought complete control over the school system in March, less than a week after the school board announced its finalists for the school system. Sources familiar with the decision said Baker was concerned about the superintendent selection and whether the best candidate was being considered for the position.

The county has not had a permanent superintendent since William R. Hite left to take the top job in Philadelphia. Alvin Crawley, the interim superintendent, will leave his position June 3.

Rhodes said the search committee, whose work formally begins June 1, plans to meet with Baker to get an assessment on the type of candidate he wants for the job. The committee will also release a timeline of its work, Rhodes said.

Prior to going to Milwaukee, Thornton served as superintendent of Chester Upland School District in Chester, Pa. Before that, he was chief academic officer for Philadelphia public schools and worked in Montgomery County and North Carolina, according to the Milwaukee public school system Web site.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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