The Prince George’s County Public Schools Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Search Committee held a town hall-style conference call on June 10 to get community feedback on the necessary qualities for a new schools leader. Charlene Dukes, chair of the search committee and president of Prince George’s Community College, moderated the 90-minute call.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III expressed his appreciation for public comments from county residents, “so that we pick the best CEO possible for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS).” Baker plans to appoint a CEO for the schools by August.
According to Baker officials, more than 2,000 residents dialed in to the telephone town hall and calls were fielded from all over the county. Callers included parents, teachers, PTA members, students and recent high school graduates. A phone survey of call participants found that 38 percent were parents with children in PGCPS, 45 percent were Prince George’s residents without school aged-children and 15 percent were parents of students not enrolled in county public schools.
The new schools bill, which went into effect June 1, calls for a three-person committee appointed by the state to conduct the schools CEO search. The committee is required to meet three goals: gain public input on the CEO search, interview prospective candidates and send three recommendations to the county executive.
The CEO search committee has two other members in addition to Dukes, who also chairs the Maryland State Board of Education. They are Kenneth Johnson, a Prince George’s native and an attorney with Sodexho and Orlon Johnson, a former board member and former chair of the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland.
Dukes reassured callers that the committee is dedicated to finding a committed schools CEO and that their work will be, “informed by the understanding of the importance of stable, long-term leadership for the school system.”
Segun Eubanks, the newly appointed chair of the Prince George’s Board of Education, addressed the town hall and shared that he looks “forward to working with a committed and dedicated new CEO of PGCPS.”
An overwhelming number of callers expressed the importance of a long-term commitment from an incoming CEO, a needed boost in parental engagement and major concern for school safety.
A caller from Upper Marlboro asked that the search committee conduct a thorough background check of potential candidates.
“Follow up and do references,” the caller said. “I’ve known superintendents who came from other states and read that if there simply was a reference check it could have prevented the things that have happened in our system. Having a background check makes sure that the person who is selected is really eligible to be a superintendent of the schools.”
An Oxon Hill High School student requested greater student inclusion in the CEO search.
“Please keep students engaged in the process as students do have a voice and this all impacts students. As you keep parents updated, please keep students updated,” the student said.
Another caller from Upper Marlboro voiced her frustration with the transparency of the school budgeting process.
“You’ll give these big spreadsheets with all these terms that the average person would have to hire an accountant to read. I don’t have that kind of money and I don’t have that kind of time,” she said. “It would be nice for you to offer more opportunities where those kinds of things can be discussed so we can become more involved.”
Dukes assured callers and listeners that their suggestions will be taken into consideration as the search committee goes forward with the selection process.