Delaware's education secretary and a high-ranking Nabisco executive are among the six finalists being considered for school superintendent in Prince George's County, sources close to the search confirmed yesterday.

Iris T. Metts, the top school official in Delaware, and Ronald A. LeGrand, Nabisco's director of minority relations and business development, join the previously disclosed list of finalists.

That group consists of John Thompson, superintendent of Tulsa schools; Patricia A. Daniel, former superintendent of Hartford, Conn., schools; Jacqueline Brown, a Howard County school administrator whose oversees minority student achievement; and Roger Reese, chief financial officer of Baltimore city schools.

All of the candidates were interviewed by a 29-member search committee last weekend, and all six likely will appear before the county's nine-member Board of Education for a second round of interviews as early as this weekend, sources said.

Each member of the search committee -- four school board members and 25 citizens -- ranked each candidate, a source said. Metts received the highest score, with Brown second and Thompson and Reese tied for third, the source said. The full school board wants to interview all of the candidates before narrowing the field.

The board has less than a month to meet the July 1 deadline to find a replacement for Jerome Clark, who will retire this month after serving as superintendent for four years. Two Prince George's school officials have applied for the job, but board members would prefer someone from outside the 128,000-student system.

School board members and representatives of the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates have declined to comment about the candidates because they say several finalists asked not to be identified.

Clark was the county's first black superintendent, and the six finalists are black. Prince George's has never had a female superintendent.

Metts, 56, was named Delaware's secretary of education in 1997. She has championed a school choice effort in the state that has proved popular among parents. But critics have complained that the policy, which allows parents to enroll their children in virtually any public school, has produced crowding in some schools and empty seats in others.

Metts was superintendent of the 20,000-student Christina School District in Wilmington from 1990 to 1997. There, she helped develop the magnet schools program to help keep the county's schools integrated after a desegregation order was lifted in 1995.

Metts received a bachelor's degree from Hampton University, a master's from the College of William and Mary and her doctorate in education from Virginia Tech.

George E. Evans, vice president of the Christina school board, said yesterday that Metts was focused on reform efforts and that "she can motivate people to do almost anything. She has sophisticated savvy dealing with a variety of political elements, and she always included the business community. A call to Metts's office was not returned.

As Nabisco's liaison to the black community, LeGrand has helped black businesses develop partnerships with the company since 1991. He is a member of the national advisory board of Marketing Opportunities in Black Entertainment, has bachelor's and law degrees from Boston College and is licensed to practice law in the District, according to MOBE's Web site.

The site says that LeGrand once lived in Mitchellville. He could not be reached for comment.

CAPTION: Tulsa School Superintendent John Thompson, shown at a news conference last year, is among the finalists to lead Prince George's County schools.

CAPTION: Finalist Patricia A. Daniel is former schools chief for Hartford, Conn.

CAPTION: Finalist Iris T. Metts is Delaware's secretary of education.