Eubanks presided over the board through hopeful and rocky periods as the low-performing school system looked to improve student success but in the past two years became mired in scandals.
His term on the board was set to end in June 2021.
“It’s the right time for me personally and professionally, and I think it’s a good time for the system,” Eubanks said in an interview, acknowledging recent difficulties. “We’ve made some significant progress. Some of that progress was overshadowed by the challenges we had.”
He cited among his accomplishments recent work with an equity task force that is seeking to steer more resources to students who need them the most, as well as a community schools initiative to combine education with social services.
Eubanks said he continues to support the county’s hybrid board structure — with a mix of appointed and elected members — despite criticism from some in the community. “I think people will be a lot more accepting and embrace it” in years to come, he said. “The politics of change are never easy and never simple.”
Eubanks, 56, was appointed in 2013 by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who is leaving office after two terms and an unsuccessful bid to become governor. Baker thanked Eubanks in a statement, saying that during the chairman’s tenure, the school system saw a rise in enrollment and expanded academic offerings to help ensure students were prepared for college and the workplace.
Eubanks said the timing of his departure seemed right, given that Alsobrooks is about to take over and that he is steeped in projects at the University of Maryland, where he is director of the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement.
In a resignation letter addressed to Baker, dated Oct. 21 and made public Thursday, Eubanks said he would leave Jan. 1 or as soon as Alsobrooks appointed his replacement.
He said in the letter that he did not actively seek membership on the board of education but “happily accepted it with hope, confidence, and determination.”
He said the school system was better than five years earlier, pointing to an expansion in prekindergarten classes, dual enrollment programs that provide early access to college classes and opportunities in career and technical education.
He gave a nod to the difficulties — without naming them — saying that he and Baker “often joked that in my 30-plus years of education program and policy work, nothing has been more challenging than serving on the school board.”
Since 2016, Prince George’s has reeled amid controversies. A major sex abuse case that year involving a school volunteer, Deonte Carraway, raised questions about school district policies and oversight.
Eubanks at times faced sharp criticism from community members and several fellow board members, most notably clashing with member Edward Burroughs III. Following a tense board meeting in July, Burroughs accused Eubanks of pinning him against a bookcase in a backroom and yelling, “I will f--- you up” several times. Burroughs asked for a temporary restraining order and filed an assault complaint.
Burroughs later dropped the restraining order, and prosecutors dropped the assault case in August, citing insufficient evidence. As prosecutors dropped the case, Eubanks called the allegations false and reckless and said he hoped board members would “put other agendas aside” and focus on serving students.
Board member David Murray, who was often at odds with Eubanks, said Eubanks too often stifled voices of disagreement. He called the change a “good clean break” for the school system.
He said he looks forward to a more collaborative board chair who will “practice the oversight that the school board is supposed to conduct.”
John Erzen, a spokesman for Alsobrooks, said that she and Eubanks met to discuss board leadership and that the change made sense. Alsobrooks wanted to select her own board chairman, which she felt was important.
Erzen said Alsobrooks recognizes Eubanks’s long career in education and is thankful for his service to the county.
She has not appointed a replacement but is working on it, he said, adding that Alsobrooks told board members this week that she would leave the choice of a vice chairman to them.
Alsobrooks filled a vacant seat on the board with Paul Monteiro, an unsuccessful candidate for county executive and an official in the Obama White House who graduated from Prince George’s County public schools.
Monica Goldson, interim chief executive of the school system, voiced appreciation in a statement for Eubanks’s work, calling him “a dedicated community servant, champion of public education and fierce advocate for our students.”