Prince George's County School Superintendent Iris T. Metts wants to hire as her top deputies four out-of-state consultants whom she drafted earlier this month to help evaluate the school system and develop improvement plans, Board of Education members said yesterday.
Metts has not formally outlined how she intends to structure her cabinet, but she has indicated that she wants to fill her top posts with outsiders rather than longtime administrators within the school system, according to board members who met with Metts over the weekend. Metts is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.
Most board members seemed to agree that Metts's approach is the best way to bring about change to the 128,000-student district, which is facing a teacher shortage and has the second-lowest scores on standardized exams in the state.
"I think that's a terrific idea," said board member Angela Como (Laurel). "She really needs an outside team that she can depend on. She's not going to get a straight story from people in the system."
Metts does not need school board approval to hire her deputies or restructure the central office administration, but she is required by law to notify a state-appointed management oversight panel of all her major personnel decisions.
James Dyke Jr., a consultant to the oversight panel, said yesterday that Metts has told him that she is considering hiring her consultants as full-time deputies.
"I'm a firm believer you need to have your own team in place," Dyke said. "She is ultimately the one who is accountable, so she needs some leeway to pick her own people."
The four consultants on Metts's transition team are Alberta L. Paul, director of technology for the Philadelphia public schools; Claude G. Perkins, dean of the Albany State University School of Education; Franklin A. Rishel, director of personnel services for the Christina School District in Newark, Del.; and Kenneth H. Brown, Christina's director of business and finance. Before she was hired as superintendent of Prince George's schools, Metts was the Delaware secretary of education and previously served as superintendent for the Christina School District.
Metts's consultants are analyzing and developing reports on four areas of the Prince George's school system: technology, instruction, personnel, and business and finance. Already, Metts has said that the central office staff is bloated and that many employees are not being used efficiently. And she has expressed frustration with the school system's outdated technology, sources close to her say.
Metts replaced Jerome Clark, who retired July 1. Clark's top deputy, Louise Waynant, also retired, leaving Robert Slade, who oversaw all non-instruction-related school business, as the highest-ranking official from Clark's administration. It is unclear what Slade's future holds.
School board member James E. Henderson (Seabrook) said he will support Metts if she hires her consultants.
"It's incumbent on her to bring in someone she feels can do the job," Henderson said, "someone that she has a relationship with. . . . As I understand it, [the consultants] have already identified some problems, and nobody is in disagreement as far as their assessment is concerned."