After Bitter Battle, New Howard Co. School Chief Urges Focus on Children

WASHINGTON — Shortly after his predecessor resigned under pressure from the school board, Howard County, Maryland’s acting superintendent said “our children are counting us, and they’re counting on adults to be organized and focused” on students’ needs.

Michael Martirano, the former state superintendent of schools in West Virginia, is temporarily in charge of Maryland’s sixth-largest school system, following the Tuesday resignation of Renee Foose.

Foose and board had quietly negotiated the terms of her departure for months, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Her opponents on the school board said they were elected to deal with a dictatorial leader. Foose also had been criticized over handling of mold found at a middle school, in 2015.

Under Foose’s leadership, Howard County schools scored the highest in Maryland on state and national tests, according to her lawsuit against the board, which accuses them of undermining her authority.

Foose told the Sun boards of education have become extremely politicized.

“What we need to do is step back and consider public policy about what the role of boards are and what the role of superintendents are.”

The newspaper reports the board will release details of Foose’s resignation package Wednesday.

Martirano previously worked in Maryland as superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools, and also was the director of elementary education for the Howard County system.

In his first appearance before the board, Martirano avoided referring specifically to the board’s tug-of-war with Foose.

“Our children are counting on us, and they’re counting on adults, to be organized and focused, on one singular issue — how are we going to improve their lives, so they can see themselves in the future, being productive citizens of society,” he said.

“Children are the only ones who don’t have a voice — they can’t vote,” said Martirano. “So we put adults in front of our children in our schools, who are expected to be those advocates for our kids.”

Martirano’s term as acting superintendent runs through June 30. Later this month the board is expected to vote on whether to retain Martirano, or search for another superintendent.

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