Prince George’s County educators, parents, community and faith leaders overwhelmingly support making public schools interim CEO Monica Goldson a permanent leader of Maryland’s second-largest school system.
Noah Millhouse, 9, read a letter backing Goldson in English and Spanish.
“Why do you need to find another CEO if Dr. Goldson is trying to make things better for all programs [and] not just Spanish Immersion?” said Noah, who attends Phyllis E. Williams Spanish Immersion in Upper Marlboro. “My dad said that changing leaders is not bad, but it may take time to get used to another game plan. I think that we need to give Dr. Goldson time to make things better for us.”
Noah and 79 other people signed up to speak during a public hearing Monday, May 13 at Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale to offer comments on the search for a permanent schools chief.
Although County Executive Angela Alsobrooks praised Goldson’s work since her appointment in September, she reiterated that state law requires the county to conduct a nationwide search for a permanent leader, briefly summarizing the selection process during the nearly three-hour session.
Goldson’s contract as interim CEO expires June 30. The firm of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates will be in charge of finding six to seven candidates.
Once complete, a three-member committee appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan will review and narrow the list to three people. The committee members are Warner Sumpter, a retired brigadier general in the Marine Corps and current member of the state board of education, Oretha Bridgewater-Simms, a retired Prince George’s educator, and Hallie Russell Williams, president of the Accokeek Academy Parent Teacher Student Association.
Hogan spokeswoman Shareese Churchill said the governor appointed the committee April 1.
Alsobrooks will review the committee’s choices and select one person. The county school board would negotiate a contract and send a letter to State Superintendent Karen Salmon for final approval.
No timetable has been established on how long it would take to hire a permanent CEO.
“It is something that every jurisdiction in our state is required to have,” she said. “Prince George’s County is not unusual in that regard. This happens in every single instance throughout the state.”
A few residents such as state Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-District 24) of Landover said the law seems unnecessary.
“A national search would the cost taxpayers over $100,000,” she said. “Why would we waste money on a national search when the most qualified candidate is already here?”
Others said the time frame is too short to select a permanent leader within two months.
The county school board can extend Goldson’s interim status while the search continues and she can be chosen as a candidate.
Several people in attendance lauded Goldson’s resume as a county native who taught and worked as an administrator in the school system and received credit from the state board of education for her work, namely for improvements to the grade-certification procedure.
“We need someone here who not only knows the county, but cares about all of the county,” said the Rev. Tony Lee, pastor at Community Hope AME Church in Temple Hills. “I am excited about Dr. Goldson because she cares about all of the community.”
Some residents summarized they would like the permanent leader to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline, increase teacher pay, provide more mental health services for students and even change the position’s title back to “superintendent.”
Rachel West of Bowie gave emotional testimony about having to travel to Howard County so that her 4-year-old son Marcus can receive special needs services for speech.
“I need someone who is going to be an advocate for children with disabilities and stand for them,” she said. “Everyone is talking about Dr. Goldson. I don’t know her. I would love to sit down and have conversation about the challenges my husband and I face on [Marcus’s] speech delay.”
Alsobrooks said someone from her office would contact West the next day to find a solution to provide services closer to home.
“We love all of our kids in the school system,” she said. “We will make sure we work with you and your family to make sure Marcus gets what he needs.”
The county plans to provide a link on its website this week for residents to submit written comments on a permanent school leader.