The Washington Post

Baker formally introduces new Prince George’s County schools chief

Anne Arundel County School Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell returned to the Hyattsville high school where he served as principal more than a decade ago to be formally introduced Friday by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) as the new schools chief.

Maxwell, who was lauded for his work in Prince George’s, Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties, will take the helm of Maryland’s second-largest school system after seven years leading Anne Arundel schools.

“Today we are here to celebrate a new beginning,” said Baker, referring to his plan to turn around the county school system. “We’re here to add the final piece to the new construction of our schools.”

Baker described Maxwell, 61, as a “teacher’s principal” and an innovator with a proven track record.

“He is truly one of our shining sons of Prince George’s County,” Baker said. “Welcome back one of our best that was taken from us. We’re taking him back.”

Maxwell said he looks forward to being a part of the effort to make the county schools great, and enlisted the help of the entire community.

“I can’t do this by myself,” he said. “I need every one of you.”

Maxwell, who submitted his resignation to the Anne Arundel County Board of Education on Thursday, will become the county’s eighth schools chief in 14 years. He will replace former superintendent William R. Hite Jr., who left last year to take the top job in Philadelphia.

Maxwell, who was greeted at the news conference Friday by many teachers and parents who had worked with him at Northwestern High School, said he was committed to the county over the long term.

“I look forward to spending the rest of my life here at home,” said Maxwell, who also promised to visit all 204 schools in his first year on the job.

Maxwell said academic achievement “has got to improve.” While Prince George’s has made strides in test scores in recent years, the school system is consistently among the lowest-ranking districts in the state.

He said he wants the growing number of parents who have chosen to send their children to private schools to know that “we are here for you. There have to be the right programs.”

Maxwell, a longtime Bowie resident, returns to Prince George’s schools after seven years as the superintendent in Anne Arundel, where he ran a school system with 125 schools and about 78,000 students. Prior to that, he worked in Montgomery County. He served as a high school principal before being promoted to community superintendent, responsible for 38 schools.

“He certainly is the right choice at the right time to lead the Prince George’s County school system to higher heights,” said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D), who was among a host of elected officials who welcomed Maxwell back to the county. Five of 13 members of the newly formed school board attended the news conference.

Christian Rhodes, education policy adviser for Baker, said Maxwell, who is negotiating his contract, will likely begin work in early August. Interim School Superintendent Alvin Crawley recently signed a contract extension that runs until Aug. 30.

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.

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