Under his county contract, he was required to give the board 120 days written notice. If Hite did not give notice, he would have had to forfeit his severance benefit.
The 120-day notice requirement was included in Hite’s four-year contract after the abrupt departure of Deasy. It was designed to help the school system have a smooth transition, Jacobs said.
“I’ve always been committed to making sure there is a transition process,” Hite said.
He said he wanted to “make sure this school system doesn’t miss a beat at the beginning of the school year.”
Jacobs also said Hite could recommend someone from his administration to serve in a temporary capacity. The board will name an interim superintendent in coming weeks.
“One of the things I’ve been able to do is form an effective leadership team that is focused on the work, not the people,” Hite said. “When you have a team like that, even if the parts changes, the focus doesn’t. We have talented folks on my senior team who could run the system . . . and carry it forward.”
R. Owen Johnson Jr., a former board member who hired Hite, said residents should be proud that two of the top educational leaders in the county were lured by other districts.
“It’s a credit to what has been done here,” he said.
Hite, who had two decades of educational experience in Virginia and Georgia when he came to Prince George’s, was hired in May 2006 to serve as Deasy’s deputy superintendent.
In that role, he helped shape much of Deasy’s agenda. Hite became interim superintendent in late 2008, stepping into the top post as the county slashed the school budget because of the economy. He signed a four-year contract in June 2009.
Since then, scores on state tests in Prince George’s have improved. Hite’s main focus has been on education equity, trying to ensure that students throughout the county have the tools needed to graduate from high school, ready to go to college or go to work.
After Deasy left, he continued to improve student achievement and implemented numerous initiatives, including an information technology high school, a student-run bank at Parkdale High School and a middle college program that allows high school students to obtain their diploma and associate degree in four years.
“We need consistency,” said Theresa Saunders, the outgoing president of the Prince George’s County Parent Teachers Association. “It’s important for our youth to continue to achieve, and it would be good to see the momentum to continue.”
The decision to hire Hite signaled a desire for stability in a system that has suffered from a revolving door of superintendents.
School chiefs over the past decade have left because of political challenges, including conflicts with school board members, state senators and delegates, and other elected officials.
In 2002, the school board fired former superintendent Iris T. Metts after political infighting.
The state legislature stepped in and dissolved the county’s elected board and created an appointed board (which has since been replaced with another elected board). Andre J. Hornsby was hired, then resigned after a corruption scandal, which lead to his imprisonment.
Howard Burnett became acting superintendent after Hornsby’s departure while the board began a national search. It hired Deasy in 2006. He stayed for two and a half years and took a position with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.