Prince George’s County school leaders are taking hits again over a “grade scandal.” Only this time, the punches are coming from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
In what was called an "unprecedented" meeting, Hogan met with the county NAACP, at least one whistle-blower and parents on the local issue on Tuesday afternoon.
Gov. Hogan met with everyone for about an hour in Upper Marlboro.
Afterwards, he told a room full of reporters that he legally can’t fire Prince George's County Public Schools' leaders – nor did he want to take a position on it.
However, here’s what he said about PGCPS’s CEO:
“I don't think he's helping the situation by not taking it seriously,” said the Governor.
This was after hearing concerns from people like Phyllis Wright. She and several others claim PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell and Board of Education Chair Segun Eubanks refuse to address the audit’s findings.
"They won't talk about nothing. All they do is let you talk for three minutes. They don't answer you - they don't say anything,” said Wright, who cried more than once on Tuesday, frustrated over the “grade scandal.”
"I'm just a mother and I love children and I care about what happened with our kids here in Prince George's County,” she said.
What happened was that an audit, ordered by the governor, revealed last month that more than 30 percent of the county's 2016-2017 graduates (that's around 5,000 kids according to Gov. Hogan) had graduated without meeting the state requirements or there was no documentation to explain why their grades changed.
"There were whistle blowers all over the system that came forward that were threatened by the County Superintendent,” Hogan said.
It's important to note, the audit found no evidence of system-wide intimidation. That’s why the Prince George’s County branch of the NAACP asked for the Tuesday meeting.
Chapter President Bob Ross asked Governor Hogan to further look into why teachers felt they had to change grades. At the meeting, Ross also suggested a curriculum audit and made mention of the National NAACP possibly filing a civil suit against PGCPS.
Ross called education the Civil Rights issue of the time.
Hogan said he hopes to address the first audit before initiating another. The governor also said PGCPS heads have until the end of December to answer the state audit.
PGCPS Spokesperson John White wrote in a statement:
"It is unfortunate that the school system was not invited by Governor Hogan or the local NAACP to participate in today’s meeting. However, Dr. Maxwell and his leadership team have taken the state audit findings and recommendations very seriously.
We have engaged high school principals, professional school counselors, registrars and teachers in the development of an action plan to make improvements to grading and graduation certification. In fact, we met with more than 50 today to receive feedback on our draft plan.
We began making changes to key programs to ensure academic integrity before the new school year began and have taken additional steps based on the state audit recommendations. We will soon present a comprehensive plan for improvement to our local Board of Education and to the state Board."