Schools Look to Mississippi For Hite's New Deputy

By Nelson Hernandez and Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 25, 2009

A veteran educator from Mississippi will take the No. 2 spot in Prince George's County public schools next week, officials confirmed this week, filling the vacancy left when former deputy superintendent William R. Hite Jr. was promoted to lead the school system.

Bonita Coleman-Potter's last job was as the deputy superintendent of the office of instruction for the Jackson Public School District in Mississippi, a system of about 32,000 students, where she said she worked to increase the graduation rate and student achievement. Before that, she had worked as an associate state superintendent in Mississippi and in a variety of administrative and teaching positions.

She was a finalist this year for superintendent of East Baton Rouge Parish schools in Louisiana. In her application for that job, she outlined what she thought she would bring to the post.

"I would work to inspire trust in people, attempt to always be known for listening and understanding problems, and approach solutions by scrutinizing timelines, processes, resources and values," she wrote. "It is incumbent upon us to seek creative ways to engage our parents and community."

She takes office in Prince George's on Wednesday with a mission to work on secondary school reform and early childhood education, Hite said Tuesday.

"I felt that her skills matched the skills of the individuals here to push our work forward," he said. "We are really pleased to have her as a member of the team, and we think she's going to fit in nicely."

She and Hite have one key thing in common: They both graduated from the Broad Superintendents Academy, a 10-month executive training program started in 2002 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad, which has been the source of numerous Prince George's education leaders.

The flood began with John E. Deasy, a graduate of Broad's Class of 2006, who became the Prince George's superintendent that year. After he left in December, Hite, Class of 2005, took his place. Hite's cabinet is stuffed with Broad alumni: Michael Glascoe, the chief of one of the school zones, Christine Knighton, the chief human resources officer, and Lawrence W. Fryer Jr., the school system's chief operating officer.

Hite said that he didn't overlap with Coleman-Potter, who was in the Class of 2008.

Candidates Line Up For Next Year's Races

The list of potential candidates for political office is steadily growing.

Percy Alston, former president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89, might run in District 9 to replace County Council member Marilynn M. Bland (D-Clinton), who can't run for reelection because of term limits.

In District 5, Adrion Howell is likely to run against council member Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale), who is serving her first term.

With all the talk about campaigns to fill County Council seats, many people are wondering about the next step for some council members who cannot run for reelection.

Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel) said he plans to run for state's attorney. Dernoga said last week that he had not made a formal announcement, but he told friends and supporters about his plans at a birthday party a few months ago.

Samuel H. Dean (D-Mitchellville) is a likely candidate for county executive. If he enters the race, Dean could face Rushern L. Baker III, State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, Sheriff Michael Jackson (D) or state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George's).

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