New Prince George’s school board chief selected

Jamie Forzato,

BELTSVILLE, Md. – A new law means new leadership for the struggling Prince George’s County school system. On Saturday, County Executive Rushern Baker appointed a new Board of Education chairman.

Dr. Segun Eubanks was the director of teacher quality for the National Education Association and replaces board chair Verjeana Jacobs.

“You couldn’t get anybody more talented. And he’s a parent – he has two children in our school system right now,” Baker says. “So we not only bring in the expertise in education but we also bring in someone who is a parent and brings that perspective to the board, which currently we don’t have.”

The law, which went into effect Saturday, allows Baker to appoint new members to a redesigned school board. Baker will also pick a vice chair and another board member; the county council will select a fourth member. According to the new law, Baker will also pick a schools superintendent from a pool of three candidates.

The group Citizens for an Elected Board petitioned to block the legislation, arguing it’s too politically driven. But the petition fell about 2,500 signatures short.

“We are concerned that the county executive has not laid out a plan of action,” says Janis Hagey, co-chair of the organization. “He has focused on a change in governance but has not said what he will do to assure improvements in student achievement.”

“We need a champion for education, and having the county executive have the sole privilege to name the superintendent is a dangerous precedent,” Hagey adds. “It’s not a new normal that we want to accept.”

Baker says change takes time, and adds, “If you don’t like it, you can vote me out.”

He adds, “I think that’s the way it should be. It gives people a chance to assess whether, in fact, the changes we’re making are what they want to see and whether we invested in the future of education in the right way. If not, it gives them a chance to bring in a new leader.”

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