* June 17, 1999: The Prince George's County Board of Education announces the hiring of Iris T. Metts, Delaware's secretary of education, to replace Jerome Clark. She is the first woman and second African American to serve as superintendent of Maryland's second-largest school system. Metts accepts a base salary of $160,000 a year for a four-year contract and volunteers to tie most of her raises to her success in improving schools.

* Spring 2000: Tensions begin to rise between Metts and the elected school board members. In a closed-door meeting, as board members hedge over a plan to implement full-day kindergarten, Metts snaps at them to stay out of her way. When she proposes expanding and revamping magnet schools, board members complain that the plan would detract from neighborhood schools.

* July 2, 2000: Despite complaints that Metts had failed to communicate with board members, the board awards her a $20,000 raise and a $10,000 bonus.

* Aug. 10, 2000: Board members learn that Metts awarded bonuses to four top aides, totaling $45,000. They demand that she force the deputies to return the money.

* Jan. 31, 2001: Four Prince George's schools are added to the state's takeover-watch list and one is removed, leaving the county with 15 schools on the list.

* May 7, 2001: Metts reports that county elementary schools posted their highest gains ever on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, with 34 percent hitting the national average, up from 21 percent the year before. (Several months later, after further analysis by the state, it turns out many of the scores were flat and showed little improvement.)

* Summer 2001: The flap over the bonuses explodes, with the board trying to force three of Metts's deputies to repay the money or resign. She threatens to resign if her deputies leave and later offers to forgo the next two years of bonuses to allow her aides to keep theirs. The board ultimately allows the deputies to keep the money, while Metts agrees to accept the blame and also agrees to a board request to switch to a lower seat at meetings.

Later, a school board motion to fire Metts falls one vote short. The board gives her a negative evaluation and denies her a bonus, a decision she later appeals to the State Board of Education. In 2002, the new appointed school board rescinds the evaluation.

* Jan. 28, 2002: Maryland School Performance Assessment Program scores drop in Prince George's and across the state; only 28.3 percent of Prince George's students pass. Board members blame Metts.

* Spring 2002: The board fires Metts after the two sides fail to agree on terms for her resignation. The state board later reinstates her. The state legislature dissolves the elected Prince George's school board and replaces it with an appointed board.

* November 2002: Auditors disclose that the school system overspent its 2001-02 budget by $15 million, mostly because of overstaffing and soaring costs for special education.

* Feb. 8: Metts decides not to seek a renewal of her contract, sources say. She confirms her decision in an interview the next day.