The head of Prince George’s County Public Schools is renewing his contract and staying on for another four years, a big moment for the system, which hasn’t had a two-term superintendent in more than 20 years.
“This community gave me the life I have today,” Dr. Kevin Maxwell said. “The opportunity to stand here as the leader of the school system from which I graduated.”
“We don’t want a superintendent who comes here, makes a name and goes off somewhere else, because we had seven superintendents in as many years,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.
This inconsistency in leadership contributed to a decline in school performance and enrollment. Some parents placed their children in private schools, refusing to consider public school as an option.
“Lots of highly educated parents, like myself, will withhold their kids thinking that they’re giving them a better education, but when all of us do that, we’re creating a huge void in our schools,” said parent Meghan Thornton.
Thornton said her decision to move her children from private school to public school was in part due to Maxwell’s leadership.
Since Maxwell began in 2013, the county has experienced increased specialty programs, growing enrollment and the highest graduation in the state. But his first term has also been fraught with scandal.
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Multiple cases of student sexual and physical abuse by staff lead to a number of arrests, mass firings and suspensions that had some calling for Maxwell’s job. Baker says Maxwell’s handling of these difficult incidents is part of the reason he’s the man for the job.
“At every point of an incident that has happened in our school system, I have never lost confidence in the man that is sitting there,” Baker said, indicating Maxwell.
Maxwell’s decision to stay on has provided much needed consistency, Duval High School Principal Mark Covington said.
“Dr. Maxwell, his guidance, his vision, make it very clear and make it very easy for the educators to stay focused on what’s most important,” Covington said. “And that’s educating the kids.”