“I regret that I have to say this, but we simply can’t afford for this same body to, in coming weeks, commit $1.7 billion of our tax dollars and hire the next superintendent,” Fellows said. “Our children, our parents and our community deserve better. We can no longer afford to sit around and passively accept the further degradation and deterioration of our schools. Therefore, I join County Executive Baker in his efforts to bring results and accountability to what I see as an urban school system in crisis.”
Fellows said her decision is based on her three months on the board, a body she found “hostile to independent review, transparency or accountability.”
“Significant decisions about millions in spending, major personnel, school security and curriculum issues were routinely made with embarrassingly limited information,” Fellows said.
Baker’s proposal, a dramatic move that would be akin to school takeovers in cities such as the District and New York, drew strong responses Sunday from county residents, community leaders and other elected officials. Some praised Baker for his attempt to turn around the county’s struggling school system, while others denounced him for what they described as a power grab.
Board member Edward Burroughs III (District 8) said he was disappointed by Baker’s decision to release his plan days before three school superintendent finalists from Durham, Chicago and Prince George’s are scheduled to attend community forums. Baker said it is unclear whether any of the three finalists would become superintendent under his proposal, and he didn’t rule out expanding the search beyond them.
“Time after time, [Baker] assured the people he had no desire to take over the school system, but today those suspicions have been confirmed,” Burroughs said. “This sounds to me more about power and control than student achievement. That’s the conversation we should be having.”
Carolyn M. Boston (District 6) said she could not comment because the school board was planning to meet on Monday. Other board members, including Chairman Verjeana M. Jacobs, did not respond to requests for comment.
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the county’s House delegation, applauded Baker for addressing what she called the “final and most important piece in our county’s renaissance.”
Ivey said she has attended numerous public forums in the county where residents have criticized Baker for the school system’s shortcomings.