Prince George’s school board member resigns

A Prince George’s County school board member, who was once privately censured by her colleagues and accused of inappropriately using her ­county-issued credit card, resigned from the Board of Education on Thursday, citing personal reasons.

Carletta Fellows said in a phone interview that she could not give the school board the necessary time commitment.

Fellows, who first ran for the school board unsuccessfully in 2006, leaves office less than a year after she was elected. She defeated incumbent Henry P. Armwood Jr. by a wide margin in September and took her seat in December.

“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 brief statement.

Fellows’s decision comes after a closed session this week where board members discussed her background check and unauthorized credit card charges, according to two people familiar with the proceedings.

Fellows left the board a day after The Washington Post made inquiries about the closed meeting to Board Chairman Segun Eubanks.

Eubanks declined to comment about the session when reached Wednesday night.

Fellows said her decision to resign was based solely on personal reasons.

Fellows, 43, was convicted of misdemeanor theft in 1992 and 1993 in Portage County, Ohio. According to a resolution by the Ohio State Board of Education, Fellows said she had never been convicted of a crime when she applied for a new four-year provisional teaching certificate. As a result, the board revoked her certificate.

The two sources familiar with the proceedings said Fellows did not say on her Prince George’s application, which all board members must fill out, that she had been previously convicted.

Fellows declined to comment on the background check or her application.

“I was an elected official,” she said. “I was elected by the people. I’m not going to respond to it. It’s a distraction. The discussion should be how we move the school system forward.

The resignation comes as the county school system undergoes a major overhaul in school leadership that includes a new schools chief, new board leadership and an expansion of the school board.

Last month, the nine-member elected board was restructured when County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) was given the power under a new state law to name three new members. The County Council also selected a new member.

Under the new law, if a vacancy occurs on the board, the county executive must select a replacement, who will serve out the rest of the term. The County Council can reject the appointment with a two-thirds majority.

During her short tenure, Fellows has had a volatile relationship with her colleagues. She was the only board member to support Baker’s plan to take over the school system.

Considered an outsider, she has raised questions about the administration’s handling of the budget, the board’s awarding of contracts and its decision to discuss certain issues in closed sessions.

Less than two months after she took office, the board voted in a closed session to censure her.

“I’m going to ask questions, and it may be uncomfortable for some people,” Fellows said at the time. “I don’t care if you don’t like my tone. I’m doing my due diligence for District 7.”

Three months later, Fellows was stripped of her county-issued­ credit card for making more than $700 in unauthorized charges for utility bills, including payments to Pepco, Washington Gas, Comcast and Verizon Wireless.

Fellows defended the charges, but said she would repay the money.

According to two sources familiar with the credit card inquiry, Fellows has not repaid the school system. Fellows said Thursday that the payment has been made and “I’m moving on.”

Fellows is the second school board member to resign in the past year. Rosalind A. Johnson resigned in October after The Post discovered that she was serving in the elected position while living outside of her district.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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