Iris T. Metts left the Prince George's County school system two years ago after a difficult tenure.
Now the former superintendent of the troubled school system is ready to go back. Sort of.
As president, chief executive and co-founder of a new charter school consulting company, Metts is helping three groups of parents seek approval from the Prince George's school board to open charter schools, which are publicly funded but independently run.
"I simply believe the structure of public education must accommodate the needs of the parents," Metts said in a telephone interview last week.
The county school board already rejected one of the schools she is advising: the Excel Academy, which would offer a longer school day and longer school year. The group behind Excel, which is looking for a location in Hyattsville or Capitol Heights, plans to resubmit its application. Metts is also working for a group of parents who want to open Turning Point Academy near Bowie. The parents want to eventually turn it into a boarding school for children from unstable homes.
Metts would not discuss the third project because it is in the early stages.
Metts incorporated A+ Choice Solutions Inc. in Delaware in September with a group of retired educators, including Kenneth Brown, who served as her associate superintendent for business and finance in Prince George's. Brown also worked for Metts in Delaware, where she was secretary of education from 1997 to 1999. Prior to starting A+ Choice, Metts served as chief education officer of Mosaica Education, a national charter school management company based in New York, until January.
Her four years in Prince George's were overshadowed by her firing by the now defunct elected school board and reinstatement by the State Board of Education. A new appointed school board grew critical of her handling of the operating budget after she told them that the system had racked up a deficit. "Their opinion was their opinion," she said, adding that any cost overruns "were probably because of my overreaching to extend programs to propel the system forward."
She said that those programs, such as full-day kindergarten, helped the system's elementary and middle school students post higher scores on the Maryland School Assessments administered in March. "I think I really started to structurally reform the system," she said. "Every superintendent builds a legacy for the next superintendent."
She would not discuss the schools chief she passed her legacy on to: Andre J. Hornsby, who resigned last month after an FBI investigation into his stewardship of public funds.
-- Nancy Trejos