The leader of the Prince George’s County school system pushed back this week against Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s suggestion that he be fired, saying he had no intention of leaving his post and asserting that politics are at play.
Kevin Maxwell, chief executive of the school district, said in an interview that he was “completely taken aback” by Hogan’s comments, which come amid a diploma scandal in the state’s second-largest district.
“I absolutely believe it’s political,” Maxwell said. “You can agree or disagree with that. It’s clear that the governor is running for reelection and that my county executive is running for governor.”
Hogan (R) last week called on Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, to dump the schools chief he handpicked in 2013 and reappointed last year.
“This saga has gone on for far too long,” Hogan said. “Enough is enough. . . . In my opinion, it should have happened a long time ago. But I’ll say it today — the county executive needs to fire Kevin Maxwell.”
The remark came a day after the Maryland State Board of Education called on Prince George’s to prove it is fixing problems uncovered in an investigation of alleged fraud in graduation rates. The board asked for written progress reports and took the unusual step of assigning a state employee full time to monitor those efforts for the next year.
Maxwell said he and other county officials are working with state education officials.
“It’s not really clear to me that the governor is in sync with his state board of education, with the state department of education,” he said.
He said he had not heard from the governor or his staff.
“They don’t even seem interested in what’s really going on in our school system,” he said. “The comments are not helpful to the conversation. They’re not helpful to improving education in Prince George’s County or the state of Maryland for that matter.”
Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor stands by his remarks regarding Maxwell, noting issues including the action by the state education board. She pointed out that when the teachers union recently took a vote of no confidence on the school board structure, it mentioned Maxwell’s removal of employees at DuVal High amid the diploma scandal as an instance of “scapegoating.”
Baker (D), who leads six primary rivals in the polls but comes in well behind Hogan, waved off the governor’s comments last week, saying he listens to the parents and students in Prince George’s and regards Hogan’s comments as “purely political.”
Maxwell said problems in the school system preceded his arrival and that he has worked to resolve them.
“We’re here engaged in trying to improve this district, and that’s what I intend to continue to do,” he said. “I just got a new contract. I intend to fulfill the terms of that contract.”
Maxwell has a four-year contract that extends through June 30, 2021.
Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report.