LARGO, Md. — Controversial ethics allegations against members of Prince George's County's Board of Education have been dismissed by the Maryland State Board of Education, according to a spokesperson for the agency.
In addition, a complaint seeking the removal of the board's powerful appointed Chairperson Dr. Juanita Miller for allegedly being unfit for office has also been dismissed because the complaint failed to follow procedure, according to Lora Rakowski, who speaks for the Maryland State Department of Education.
Miller's opponents said they will correct the complaint against Miller and submit it again in a renewed attempt to get rid of her.
The infighting drew a sharp rebuke from the Maryland State Board of Education.
In a written opinion dismissing ethics charges against board member David Murray, state authorities wrote:
"We also take this opportunity to express our dismay that a local board member invoked the removal process over matters that seem driven by the ongoing political disputes among various members of the local board. The removal process is a serious procedure to be utilized sparingly in only the most serious circumstances. It is not a process to be used as a political tool
or tactic when board members disagree over position or philosophy."
The opponents, including activist board members Murray and former member Edward Burroughs III charged that Chairperson Miller orchestrated the ethics allegations in an attempt to intimidate and silence them and other reform-minded elected board members.
"They were retaliatory," Murray said Thursday.
Burroughs called the dismissed ethics complaints "bogus" and "completely false." He said ethics codes had been "weaponized" to suppress reform on issues ranging from teacher pay to administration accountability for failing to meet reading proficiency goals.
While dismissing the complaint against Murray, state authorities faulted him for making an "inappropriate and unprofessional" social media post directed at Miller. Murray later apologized and deleted the post.
Critics said the episode is an example of "chaos" and "dysfunction" on the deeply divided board, which pits members appointed by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks against less powerful elected members from districts around the county in a so-called "hybrid" board.
As a result, Alsobrooks called for a special task force to make recommendations about how the board should be formulated in the future.
On Wednesday, the Board of Education Task Force voted unanimously to recommend that the hybrid model be jettisoned in favor of an all-elected nine-member board of education along with one student representative.
In a statement, Alsobrooks said she will forward the recommendations to legislators in the Prince George's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.
Any change to the structure of the school board must be approved by the legislature.
The complaint seeking to remove Chairperson Miller alleges that she intentionally obstructed board business by using her power to cancel regular meetings and refusing to allow agenda items proposed by her critics from coming before the board, according to documents submitted to the Maryland State Board of Education.
Miller did not respond to multiple requests from WUSA9 for comments or information.