Prince George’s NAACP supports school governance plan

Prince George’s County NAACP officials said Tuesday that they support County Executive Rushern L. Baker’s school takeover plan and will not work with opponents to block the measure from taking effect next month.

Earlier this year, the Prince George’s County branch of the NAACP strongly opposed Baker’s (D) proposal to select the new schools chief and have control over the school system’s $1.7 billion budget. The organization worked with the teachers’ union and Citizens for An Elected Board, a community activist group, to persuade state lawmakers to reject the plan. But since an amended version of the bill passed last month, the NAACP had been silent on whether it would support a petition drive launched by Citizens for An Elected Board to take the issue to a referendum.

“It is time to put the madness aside,” Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s NAACP, said during a news conference outside the County Administration Building. “It is time for the community to come together.”

Members of Citizens for An Elected Board launched a petition drive this month to take the issue to a referendum in 2014. Petitioners need to collect 8,000 signatures by May 31 to stop the legislation from taking effect.

Jan Hagey, co-chairwoman of the group, said she was disappointed that the NAACP, which worked with her group years ago to do away with an appointed board, had reversed its position but that “it doesn’t stop us. We’re going to continue to get signatures.”

Juanita Miller, the education chairwoman of the local NAACP, said it will hold a forum on May 30 for parents and members of the community to discuss the future of the school system. “It’s time for change,” she said.

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.

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