Prince George’s BOE seat continues to remain vacant

It took Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) less than a month to select Lyn Mundey to fill the school board seat vacated by Carletta Fellows (District 7) earlier this year.

After Donna Hathaway-Beck (District 9) resigned in late August, Baker quickly started accepting applications. Christian Rhodes, his education adviser, said at the time that the county executive planned to make an appointment by the end of September.

Three months later, the seat remains empty.

Baker has appointed four members on the 14-member board, which includes a student member.

Filling Hathaway-Beck’s seat would help Baker, who earlier this year sought a complete takeover of the school system, solidify his influence over the board.

So why has it taken so long for him to make the appointment?

“The selection process for each vacant Board of Education seat has been different in terms of the applicant pool as well as the dynamics of specific districts,” Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Baker, said in an e-mail. “We received many well qualified candidates for this seat, and the County Executive is going through a very deliberative selection process in order to choose the best applicant to represent the constituents of District 9.”

Newly-elected Council Chairman Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro), who represents the area, said he was told that Baker is “trying to be deliberate and thorough.”

Franklin said he did not know who is being considered for the position, but he does suspect that there are many elected officials and community leaders offering suggestions about the position.

“You know how these processes go,” Franklin said. “There are those who have opinions about who the selection should be, and they are trying to navigate all that.”

Whoever is selected is likely to run for the seat next year when the current term ends. To gain an advantage in the election, an incumbent would also need the support of their local delegation.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George’s), who represents the area and endorsed Hathaway-Beck in her previous campaign, said he has not made a recommendation on the seat.

“People are lobbying me for the position, and I tell them to call the county executive,” Miller said.

Miller said he has been told there has been a large number of applicants for the position, and the county executive is narrowing down the list.

Once the list is narrowed down, Miller said he hopes that he, Franklin and Del. James E. Proctor Jr. (D-Prince George's) will then provide input.

“I’m working with the county executive, he has promised to come up with the best names possible and then we will meet with them individually and jointly,” Miller said.

Peterson said Baker plans to make a selection by the end of the month.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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