Two dissident Prince George's County Board of Education members have been put on notice by the board chairman to immediately give up the names of employee whistleblowers in the school system or face sanctions that could include removal from their elected seats.
"Make no mistake, this is an attempt to silence us for telling the truth," said David Murray Monday.
"We will not reveal the names of whistle blowers who have come to us," said Edward Burroughs.
The letter dated Nov. 3 was issued by Board of Education Chairman Dr. Segun Eubanks and Vice-Chair Carolyn Boston in the wake of the release of a scorching state audit. The report found more than 30 percent of high school graduates sampled from the last two years in Prince George's Co. either graduated without meeting state standards, or were given diplomas without proper documentation to explain irregularities like changed grades and excess absences.
The state audit found no evidence that schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell or top administrators conspired to falsely raise the county's rising graduation rate.
Even so, the report cast doubt on the school administration's graduation rate success.
The latest letter to Burroughs and Murray demanding names of whistleblowers was issued on the same day as the public release of the state audit.
"If you fail to disclose any of this information by noon on Monday, November 6, 2017, we will refer a recommendation for action to the full board," the letter from Eubanks said.
"There are several board policies and well as contractual obligations that obligate you to refer any and all issues related to the audit and its findings to the Board and the Chief Executive Officer," the letter states.
Murray and Burroughs said they will not comply.
The roots of the conflict go back to May. At that time, Murray and Burroughs reported to Governor Larry Hogan in a letter: "Whistleblowers at almost every level in PGCPS have clear and convincing evidence that PGCPS has graduated hundreds of students who did not meet the Maryland State Department of Education graduation requirements."
As a result, Gov. Hogan and Prince George's School CEO Maxwell asked for a state investigation that produced the audit released Friday.
"We said hundreds of students were involved and that's exactly what the state investigation found," Murray said. "Now, the administration and the board chair want to shut us up."
Friday, Maxwell bitterly criticized Murray and Burroughs for politicizing their concerns and said they should not have taken their complaints past the Board of Education to higher authorities.