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Leaders urged to jettison current school board system in Prince George's County

On the eve of a final public meeting, a Prince George's County Task Force is recommending an end to its "dysfunctional" school board.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Prince George’s County parents are demanding more democracy in hopes of ending chaos on the Board of Education, according to testimony given to a special Task Force assigned by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks to find a way forward.

On the eve of a final public meeting, the Board of Education Transformation Task Force has already released preliminary recommendations that would jettison the current "hybrid" board of education in favor of an all-elected model with one student member.

Among the preliminary recommendations:

  • The board should consist of nine elected members and one student member
  • Board members should be elected from single-member districts
  • The board should elect their own Chair and Vice-Chair and they should each serve one-year terms
  • School board members' compensation shall be increased to $27,000 and adjusted every four years by the calculated regional cost of living adjustments. School board chair compensation shall be $32,000 and adjusted accordingly.
  • Board members should be limited to two terms

Alsobrooks called for reform after a chaotic year that included an attempt by elected board members to oust the appointed chairman by complaining to state authorities, allegations that the ethics complaint system was being weaponized to suppress dissent, the abrupt cancellation of meetings by the chair and the resignation of attorneys hired to advise board members.

Edward Burroughs III is a former board member now serving on the County Council.

“You had appointed officials who were not in the majority weaponizing bogus ethics charges to remove six out of nine of the elected members," Burroughs said. "Not one of those members have been removed. You know, I left in order to join the County Council. But the ethics charges were completely and utterly false.”

Burroughs said the root of the problem is the hybrid system that pits nine elected members against four members who are appointed by the The County Executive. The appointed members include the powerful Chairman.

Much of the fighting was over how to handle remote learning and how to compensate teachers and staff during the pandemic crisis, Burroughs claimed.

In her announcement forming the reform Task Force County Alsobrooks said the system is not producing results.

“Over the last several decades, our Board of Education has continued to switch between an all-elected board, an all-appointed board and the current hybrid model, along with increasing in size, without achieving the intended outcome of having a Board that functions collectively with the best interests of students, teachers and our entire school system at the forefront of all they do,” Alsobrooks said.

The Task Force is hosting a final virutal meeting Wednesday evening at 6:30.

A change in the structure of the school board will require an act of Maryland's legislature.

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