Superintendent departures in Frederick, Spotsylvania counties tell of modern education challenges

Public school districts in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and Frederick County, Maryland, both saw the departure of their longtime superintendents on Monday.

While facing separate types of controversy in recent weeks, both departures tell of current challenges facing school districts nationwide.



In Frederick County, the school board said Superintendent Terry Alban, who has been with the system for 11 years, would be retiring from her post. The exit comes two weeks after the school district reached a settlement over the mistreatment of students with disabilities.

Calls for Alban’s resignation came soon after a Justice Department ruling on Dec. 1. and she was placed on administrative leave by FCPS a week later.

“Dr. Alban has served the Board, the children of Frederick County, and the Frederick County school community for over a decade, and the Board wishes her well in the future as she pursues other interests after a lifetime in public education,” the school system said in a statement.

Her contract with FCPS had originally been set to expire in June 2023. Mike Markoe has been appointed by Frederick County’s Board of Education as interim superintendent for the rest of the academic year.

In Virginia, Spotsylvania County schools superintendent S. Scott Baker announced he would be retiring at the end of the year.

At a county school board meeting Monday night, Baker shared the following statement:

“I do believe that this agreement is in the best interest of my family and the school division. It will enable the school board to begin a process for transition to new leadership and allow me to consider and pursue other professional opportunities for the future.”

The school board had been embroiled in controversy after parents of high school students demanded the removal of two books, “Call Me By Your Name,” a story that centers on gay relationships, and “33 Snowfish,” a three homeless teens, from school libraries.

Two board members, Kirk Twigg and Rabih Abuismail, suggested those books be burned.

Scott, amid the controversy last month, stated that he trusted the librarians to do their job.

Because of social media rumors parents would perform a book burning at the Monday night meeting, Spotsylvania deputies and fire crews were on hand.

There was no book burning, but parents and school officials did give a standing ovation to Baker for his service later in the evening. The board also, in a 4-3 vote, also approved a separation agreement for Baker, NBC Washington reported.

NBC Washington, Joshua Barlow and Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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