The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Board member in Md. asked to resign, as new county leader seeks change

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks wants “her own representation on the board,” her spokesman said. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks this month sought the resignation of a school board member appointed by her predecessor, in another sign of efforts to chart a new course for the Maryland school system.

Donna L. Wiseman, a former dean of the University of Maryland’s education school, was selected for the school board in 2017 by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). She submitted a resignation letter as requested, officials said, and it was received Dec. 10.

Alsobrooks (D) opted for the change as she works to ensure collaboration between her administration and the school board, a spokesman said. She took office Dec. 3.

“Ms. Alsobrooks would like to have her own representation on the board,” her spokesman, John Erzen, said. While a replacement has not been named, the goal is to have a member in place and “ready to go” before a board meeting in January, he said.

Wiseman, who led the U-Md. education school for a decade and remains a professor there, said in an interview she was surprised by the change and had hoped to serve longer on the county school board. Her term was scheduled to end in 2021.

“I felt like I was just gaining my legs and learning the ropes, and I was kind of taken aback,” she said. “But on the other hand, I understand her wanting her own appointment.”

The Prince George’s board is a hybrid of appointed and elected members. Three of 14 members are appointed by the county executive, and one by the county council, while nine are elected. The board also has a student member.

In recent weeks, Alsobrooks has made two board appointments.

For chairman, she chose Alvin Thornton, a retired Howard University professor widely known for his work leading a state commission on education funding. Thornton, 70, served on the Prince George’s board in the 1990s and was chairman for three one-year terms.

New leader tapped for Maryland school board after controversies

Alsobrooks’s other board pick was Paul Monteiro, who worked in the Obama administration and later made a bid for county executive in Prince George’s. He works as chief of staff in the office of the president of Howard University.

Paul Monteiro backed by former White House aide Valerie Jarrett

The board changes follow a rocky period for Prince George’s school system, which has faced scandals over pay raises, a collapsed federal grant and inflated graduation rates.

Its previous chief executive stepped down amid controversy, and this summer the deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, Monica Goldson, was tapped for a one-year appointment as interim chief executive.

Alsobrooks has not commented on the school board’s vote this month for Edward Burroughs III as vice chairman. Burroughs was leader of a minority bloc that brought attention to problems in the school system, including inflated graduation rates.

Alsobrooks previously said she would let the board pick a vice chairman. “I don’t see any reason to think she won’t move forward with what she has already told the board,” Erzen said.