A week after the leader of the Prince George’s County school system announced he planned to step down, the NAACP and union leaders urged that he leave by June 30, with a temporary replacement named quickly.
Speaking for the county branch of the NAACP, June White Dillard, a past president and a member of the executive committee, called for schools chief executive Kevin Maxwell to depart in short order and without the major severance package that some have speculated he might be given by the school board.
“He’s already wasted enough of our money, and we don’t need him to waste any more taxpayer funds,” Dillard said Thursday outside county government offices in Largo. She was flanked by a small group of community and union leaders.
Maxwell announced last week that he would be parting ways with Maryland’s second-largest school system three years before the end of his contract. He gave no date but indicated it would be after the end of the school year.
The decision followed a string of controversies about large pay raises to aides, inflated graduation rates, the loss of a multimillion-dollar Head Start grant and the oversight of a school volunteer who abused students.
Dillard and others directed their request for new leadership at County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), asking that he take immediate action. They said they realize contract issues fall under the purview of the school board but said they lacked confidence the board would respond.
Under the county’s unusual schools governance structure, Baker selects three board members, names the board’s chairman and vice chairman, and picks the chief executive.
He will also name an interim school system leader. But that announcement would probably come after the board negotiates the terms and date of Maxwell’s exit.
Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Baker, said Thursday that with a little more than a month left in the school year, the county executive encourages everyone to “turn their focus on the children, families, teachers and administrators who will be celebrating their achievement as the year ends.”
Once that happens, Peterson said, the board and Maxwell will work out the terms of his departure.
School district officials had little comment Thursday, saying only that Maxwell and the board would discuss the transition at the end of the school year.
In a statement last week, Maxwell, 66, pointed to “numerous distractions” that have taken a toll on students, families and staff. He also noted political realities, with candidates for county executive calling for Maxwell’s ouster. Baker is seeking the Democratic nomination in the governor’s race.
Dillard blamed Maxwell for the school system’s loss of a $6.4 million Head Start grant and for costs incurred as more than 800 employees were placed on leave last school year amid allegations of abuse and neglect, as the district tightened rules for reporting suspicious activity following a major sex abuse scandal.
“We’ve had too much of Dr. Maxwell,” she said. “We have had too many problems in the school system.”
She and others at the NAACP had lost faith in Maxwell more than a year ago, calling for his ouster in 2016 after the school system lost the Head Start grant and reeled from a sex abuse case involving school volunteer Deonte Carraway.
Dillard said Thursday that the school system’s ranks include two deputy superintendents — Monica Goldson and Monique Davis — who could take the top job on a temporary basis.
She said the system needs to launch a nationwide search for a chief executive.
The timeline for the transition in leadership is important, said Doris Reed, executive director of the principals and administrators union.
“It needs to happen soon because the interim person needs to be able to start appointing principals and filling other positions now,” Reed said. “The interim should be able to start July 1 with their people in place.”
Reed said tapping an administrator already in the county system makes sense. “They know all of the people and will be able to make the adjustments,” she said.