An administrative law judge in Maryland has cleared former Prince George’s County Board of Education chair Juanita Miller of misconduct charges, and said she should be able to stay on the board.
In an opinion issued March 6, Judge Richard O’Connor found that Miller did not commit any of the offenses charged against her by the Maryland State Board of Education — including misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty and incompetence — and should not be required to be removed from the board.
“I recommend that the Maryland State Board of Education dismiss the charges against (Miller) and that the Maryland state Board of Education not remove (Miller) from her position as a member of the Board of Education of Prince George’s County,” he wrote.
The decision came after the State Board of Education filed charges against Miller, and nearly two years after nine other Board of Education members signed a petition seeking Miller’s removal citing her “misconduct in office” and “willful neglect of duty.”
The main claims of six of the board members are that Miller didn’t sign a contract with a law firm after the board approved it, allegedly allowed two representatives from different law firms to attend “confidential executive board sessions,” and that she withheld ethics reports from the board.
In August 2021, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks called for an “immediate review” of the finding from an ethics investigation that looked into conflict-of-interest charges against seven members of the county school board.
A board meeting regarding the ethics investigation devolved into chaos after chairwoman Miller was unable to garner enough votes amongst the board to accept the findings of the investigation.
After the state board sought Miller’s removal, Alsobrooks requested that Miller resign, but she declined.
Miller did not respond to calls, texts or emails about the judge’s decision.
Miller was tapped as chairwoman in January 2021 by Alsobrooks following the abrupt departure of chairman Alvin Thornton in the middle of the 2020-2021 school year.
The board, which is made up of both appointed members and elected members, has been beset by divisions for years.
In December 2022, county laws changed to allow board members to vote on a new chair, rather than one being appointed by the county executive.
At a meeting that month, Miller spoke before the board, saying “I look forward to hearing of the many future successes of this school district. I know it’s heading in the right direction and thank you for the opportunity to serve as the chair,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere, yet.”
In February of this year, the school board elected Judy Mickens-Murray as the new chair of the board.
“As I said last year, Dr. Miller absolutely had the right to see this legal process through,” said Alsobrooks, in a statement provided to WTOP.
“Now that the process has concluded, and the Board of Education has selected its own leadership, I fully hope and expect that the board’s work will be focused solely on children, teachers, and their parents going forward — without distractions.”
The judge’s decision can be appealed, and far from settles the county’s decision.
Those adversely affected by the decision of the judge and board can file a response in the next two weeks.
WTOP’s John Domen contributed to this report.