Maryland legislators are taking a look at whether they made the right decision in granting the Prince George’s County, Maryland, executive unprecedented power over school leadership in 2013.
By law, Prince George's County executive Rushern Baker supervises and appoints the superintendent, and appoints some school board members and board leadership. It was responsibilities Baker wanted and got with legislation that passed 5 years ago.
However, since that time, a sexual abuse scandal within the schools, mass staff suspensions with some firings and an ongoing state investigation into alleged grade tampering and boosted graduation rates have been problems in the county school system. Lawmakers are looking into how things are working.
“Why is this better than what we had before?” asked state Del. Jay Walker (D - District 26, Prince George’s County).
“I would say that the legislation has worked,” Baker said. “Do we have challenges? Yes, we do, but we knew that when we enacted the legislation.”
Many people who live in the county wonder what's best for the kids.
“Maybe, they need more time under the new leadership, but I think there's still a lot of problems, a lot gaps and holes in there,” said county resident Joanne Ramsour.
“You, definitely, want elected officials for sure, because it adds accountability that comes with it,” said county resident Lauren Pruitt. “For the sake of Prince George’s County, the school system could use some improvement.”
Bills have been introduced to put power back in the hands of an elected board. County leaders have to convince state lawmakers there have been more wins than losses, or they could lose this structure.