Prince George’s school board chief rebuffs Alsobrooks’ request to resign

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Prince George’s Board of Education Chair Juanita Miller signaled on Friday that she has no plans to resign, despite a direct request a day earlier from the woman who appointed her, County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D).

In a video statement emailed to Maryland Matters, Miller said she intends to fight charges leveled at her by the state Board of Education late last month.

Those charges include the failure to sign a legal services contract with a law firm that was the choice of a majority of Miller’s colleagues. She signed a contract with a second firm “without local board approval,” the state board said in a formal statement of charges.

The state board also said it had “legally and factually sufficient” reasons to formally charge Miller with withholding from her colleagues seven ethics complaints. She then failed to respond to “findings and recommendations” to the county board in a timely manner.

Hours after the state Board of Education’s charges became public, Alsobrooks in a letter asked Miller to resign, “effectively immediately.”

In her video, Miller did not directly address Alsobrooks’s request. She called the state board’s charges “unfounded and frivolous,” and pledged to fight them while continuing to serve. By law, she has until June 10 to request a formal hearing from the state.

“There is a system in place which will hopefully dispense with the potential for political machinations to effect the removal process for members of the Prince George’s Board of Education,” she said. “While I do not relish the prospect of a hearing process, the process should not be allowed to be unduly manipulated.”

Miller, who was appointed board chair 16 months ago, said that she has been “committed to facilitating the board’s work of collaborative governance and competence oversight.”

“I will continue to fulfill my duties and responsibilities as board chair, with transparency, integrity and dedication to principal,” she added.

Miller expressed regret that the controversies surrounding the board have overshadowed the system’s gains, the graduation of the Class of 2022, and a “national award” that Prince George’s received for its language immersion program.

Miller’s refusal to depart could prove embarrassing to Alsobrooks, who is seeking a second term this year. Miller’s appointment extends until 2025. The executive has no ability to force her out if she refuses to step down.

Miller could be replaced as chair by her colleagues following the November elections, but she would remain a member of the board.

County Councilmember Jolene Ivey (D), who chairs the panel’s education and workforce development committee, said she was disappointed that Miller is refusing to leave.

“Clearly, her delay does not serve the students or the school system or the county executive, who trusted her with this appointment,” Ivey said.

An Alsobrooks spokesman declined to comment.

In her letter to Miller on Wednesday, the executive made no mention of the potential that her appointee could be forced out by the state board. Instead, she pointed to a new state law that takes effect this year. Under the change, members of the county school board — and not the executive — will decide who leads the panel.

“As we begin moving forward on a new path with our Board and its leadership, I believe that now is the time to start fresh with a clean slate and in order to help that process, and in light of what we discussed in recent days, I believe it is best for you to resign from the Board at this time,” Alsobrooks wrote.

Miller’s four-minute video was apparently recorded at her home, using her cell phone. She wore a green blouse and pearls, and appeared to be reading from a script. She smiled warmly as she reached up to end the recording.

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