In 2002, when Baker was state delegate, he led a successful campaign in Annapolis to replace the elected school board in Prince George’s with one whose members were appointed by the governor and the county executive. In 2006, after protests from residents angry that their vote had been taken away, the county returned to having an elected board.
Although standardized test scores have climbed slightly, the school system often has been engulfed in controversy. In recent months, for example, a school board member was found to have been serving illegally.
Baker, in an interview, said his frustration with the board dates to 2011, when he asked members to propose an innovative program his administration could fund. He said he was hoping for an idea that would make him say, “Wow!”
“It was really hard trying to get that coordinated,” he said. “Some of the pushback was . . . should you, the county executive, be involved in education?”
While Baker has considered ways to change school governance for years, he said he felt a new urgency in July when William R. Hite Jr., the county’s superintendent, announced that he was leaving for Philadelphia.
Hite’s departure, Baker said, clarified that he had “to seriously start looking at, does this structure that we currently have really operate in the best interest of the county and our school system?”
His frustration with the board peaked the first weekend in March, when it hosted interviews with 10 candidates to replace Hite. Baker had wanted to attend the interviews but could not devote the weekend to it because he also was trying to finalize the county budget.
He asked if he could send Pinsky as his representative. But Jacobs, the head of the school board, said her colleagues on the panel had extended the invitation only to Baker.
To Baker, that answer was another sign of the board’s dysfunction. His anger magnified five days later when he hosted a meeting on youth violence. No one from the school board attended. The members’ explanation — they had a board meeting that afternoon — did not mollify the county executive.
“I stopped the whole government that day,” Baker recalled later. “But they didn’t show up.”
A week later, Baker announced that he wanted control of the school system.
Miranda S. Spivack and Aaron C. Davis contributed to this report.