Nation’s Top State School Superintendent Stepping Down

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Maryland Board of Education Superintendent Nancy Grasmick on March 30 announced she would retire June 30 after 20 years on the job.

Grasmick, who steered the state system to a top national ranking for the last three years, told the Associated Press that she wanted to spend more time with her family. Her announcement triggered an outpouring of gratitude from all over the state.

“Dr. Grasmick will be greatly missed in Prince George’s County,” Prince George’s County Public Schools Superintendent William Hite said in a statement. “She has visited our schools on numerous occasions to recognize our successes, participate in district events and celebrations, and share her input on programs and initiatives. We wish her the best in all her future endeavors, and extend our gratitude for all she has done for the students of Prince George’s County.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley also extended his thanks to Grasmick for serving the Maryland public school system.

“I want to thank Dr. Grasmick for her service to the children, parents, and educators of our state as she steps down from her role as State Superintendent,” O’Malley said in a statement. “From her days teaching deaf children in Baltimore City, to now serving as the head of America’s number one public school system, Dr. Grasmick has been long-regarded as a champion for many of the progressive reforms we’ve implemented in Maryland.”

Despite O’Malley’s words, his relationship with Grasmick has been contentious at times. O’Malley and Grasmick butted heads several times over the years, including when O’Malley was the mayor of Baltimore and Grasmick threatened to take over 11 failing city schools.

Later, during O’Malley’s first gubernatorial run, Grasmick aligned herself with then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich, further driving a wedge into the relationship. Ehrlich lost that election to O’Malley.

Some believe Grasmick’s departure was overdue. State Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D) told The Baltimore Sun that O’Malley “has always wanted to appoint someone to that position.”

However, as a result of the national successes generated by Grasmick’s educational leadership, the possible friction between the two in the early phases of the O’Malley administration may have been resolved. O’Malley indicated in his statement that he wished Grasmick “the very best in her future endeavors.”