Interim School Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin is reorganizing his administrative staff and bringing back some key officials who left during the tenure of former schools chief John O'Rourke.

They include two administrators demoted by O'Rourke three days before he resigned in February.

Kimberly Statham, then the number two school system official, and Roger L. Plunkett were accused of using their positions to alter the academic record of Statham's daughter, then a student at Centennial High School.

Last week, the school board cleared them of wrongdoing and reversed O'Rourke's decision.

Cousin announced during a school board meeting that Statham has been designated chief academic officer and will oversee curriculum, instruction and testing. Her salary is $159,000, the same amount she had been receiving before O'Rourke reassigned her as a teacher, with less than half that pay.

Plunkett has been named assistant superintendent for school administration, a similar post to his previous job. His responsibilities include athletics, alternative education and school security. His salary will likely be about $120,000, commensurate with his pay under O'Rourke, Cousin said.

The restructuring is intended to reduce bureaucracy and allow administrators to make more decisions without his approval, Cousin said.

"I want to build the strongest team that I could," he said.

Two other slots are being filled by educators who worked with Cousin during his 16 years in the school system.

Sandra Erickson will be chief of administration and school instruction, which includes overseeing professional development and school principals.

Erickson worked in Howard County from 1977 to 2001, starting as an elementary teacher and most recently as associate superintendent for instruction. She then became an interim assistant state superintendent through 2002 and has been on personal leave since. Her new salary is $150,000.

Also returning is Raymond Brown, as chief operating officer. He will head the human resources, budgets and facilities departments.

Brown said "the appeal of Dr. Cousin coming home" prompted him to apply for the job. He had been director of operations under O'Rourke and left in January to become chief administrative officer for Harford County, Md., schools, despite taking a pay cut. His salary is $150,000.

Cousin also left Howard during O'Rourke's tenure. Last summer, he retired from the school system after serving two years as deputy superintendent. He took a job in the D.C. public schools as chief of facilities.

He returned to Howard as interim superintendent in March after O'Rourke resignation.

Cousin was to stay through June 30 -- the end of O'Rourke's term -- but the school board was expected this week to ask State Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick to approve extending his contract through June 2005, board Chairman Courtney Watson said.

The school board has hired a private firm to conduct a nationwide search for a permanent superintendent.

Cousin has said he will apply for the job.

In an e-mail interview recently, Watson said that Cousin "might be an excellent choice."