The human resources chief of the Prince George’s County school system, who faces a trial this month on a charge of leaving the scene of a May vehicle accident, told school officials Tuesday that she plans to resign.
Synthia J. Shilling notified the Board of Education and School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. that she is resigning, according to Briant Coleman, the schools spokesman. No effective date was given. Shilling has worked for the system since 2006 and has led the human resources division for the past two years.
The charge is not Shilling’s first run-in with the law since she was hired by the state’s second-largest school system.
Shilling was given probation before judgment and fined more than $400 for second-degree assault on a Maryland state trooper four years ago. According to police reports, Shilling kicked the state trooper in the face and bloodied his lips after a 2008 traffic stop in Anne Arundel County. She also received probation before judgment for driving while impaired at the time of the incident.
A probation before judgment finding by a judge allows a defendant not to have the matter treated as a conviction.
Coleman said Shilling was unavailable for comment Tuesday. No one answered two phone calls to her home. No information was available about the name of Shilling’s attorney.
Coleman said Hite was aware of Shilling’s probation when he named her to lead the human resources division. Records show she is paid $172,289 a year. Her responsibilities include hiring, employee evaluations, labor relations and “strengthening the screening process for all applicants.”
Hite would not comment, referring calls to Coleman, who said the school system would not elaborate further on what is a personnel matter.
The resignation comes at a sensitive time for Hite, who is transitioning to Philadelphia to become the schools chief. Shilling is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 27 in Anne Arundel County District Court for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident, according to court documents. She is charged with reckless and negligent driving in the May accident, which caused property damage but no physical injuries, according to court documents.
Shilling, a lawyer who is also known as Synthia J. Kucner, was hired as deputy general counsel by then-Superintendent John E. Deasy in November 2006. Hite promoted her to her current position in March 2010.
Doris Reed, president of the county principals’ union, said she was concerned that Shilling was promoted despite the 2008 incident and that she serves in a capacity that allows her to dismiss school employees for lesser offenses.
“Every employee should be treated equally,” Reed said.
Four years ago, Shilling was driving a 1998 Volvo on Route 32 in Anne Arundel when she was stopped by a state trooper, according to the police report.
Another state trooper performed a field sobriety test and wrote in his report that “Kucner was unable to walk in a straight line and stumbled and staggered.”
According to the police report, while the state trooper placed Kucner in the police car, she “pulled her right leg up with her knee near her chest and then kicked striking the left side of my face. The heel of her foot made contact with my upper and lower lip causing both of them to split.”
Kucner’s blood alcohol level was 0.16, or twice the legal limit, six hours later at the detention center, according to the report.
In the May 19 incident, Shilling was charged with failing to stop after an “unattended property damage accident,” negligent driving and reckless driving in Anne Arundel. Police also cited Shilling for failing to provide written identification.
In her positions, Shilling played a key role in helping the county address recent troubles with the U.S. Labor Department. The school system was fined $5.9 million last year for shortchanging teachers hired from abroad. The department fined the county schools after finding the system was a “willful violator” of federal labor laws because it should have paid $4.2 million in process and payment fees for more than 1,000 teachers who received temporary work visas. The federal government said the school system had to repay the teachers, mostly Filipino, the back pay and it imposed a $1.7 million penalty for the violation.
Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.