Millard House II, who has spent the last two years leading the Houston Independent School System, will become the new superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools on July 1. House’s appointment was announced by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks at a news conference Wednesday morning.
“During his time with Houston’s school system, out of a list of 50 schools that were rated D or F, his leadership pushed 40 of them to the level of A, B or C,” said Alsobrooks.
House grew up in Oklahoma and began his educational career in Tulsa. He eventually was named the chief operating officer of the school system in Charlotte, North Carolina. After five years there, he took over the Clarksville-Montgomery County school system in Tennessee for four years, before heading to Houston.
House is married and has a daughter starting college in Texas this fall, while his son will be starting sixth grade.
“A part of who I am, in terms of the fabric of this work, goes back to my history as a son of two educators,” who both worked for more than 30 years in the Tulsa school system, House said. He said he overcame a learning disability and speech impediment growing up, and got into education after originally wanting to be a physical therapist.
The 51-year-old saw his tenure in Houston come to an end last week. He was forced out of his job after the state’s education agency moved to take over the school system there, but leaders in the Houston area lauded him for the work he did while he was in charge.
“His leadership has produced outstanding results,” said Alsobrooks. “Now 94% of HISD schools have earned an A, B or C rating — up from the 82% that they had prior to his arrival.”
She also said his schools ranked among the highest in Texas, and that last year he was named a finalist for a national superintendent of the year award.
Passing the baton
House, who had a relationship with outgoing school system CEO Monica Goldson, says he started eyeing this and other jobs as that process played out this year. He said he chose Prince George’s County over other opportunities that were presented to him.
“He is community driven, he cares about children and he’s going to listen,” said Goldson. “I’m excited to be able to pass the baton to him.”
Goldson said she advised him to come in and listen to other stakeholders after pushing him to apply for the job.
“We have improved student achievement in reading and language arts,” said Goldson before rattling off other selling points of the job. “So when I speak about it, I speak about all the changes we’ve made and all that can still happen under amazing leadership, and I think he’s going to be the person who can continue to propel us.”
House admitted that the political climate and how it relates to education influenced his decision to take this job.
“It’s different than anything I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “This is a very different community and I think the galvanization around public education — the idea of not so much political back and forth in reference to what it is to support our children — is a major, major difference-maker in terms of my decision.”
He added, “I think the synergy is in a place that aligns with my experience, aligns with the love that I have in terms of innovation, and I think all of those things coming together are a really good match. I had a few different opportunities that had been presented to me prior to coming to Prince George’s County. This is the one that I wanted and I’m glad to be here.”
House beat out two other external candidates for the job.
Under state law, a search firm and committee narrow down the list of applicants to three names before the county executive could even get involved. Alsobrooks said she still doesn’t know if anyone within the system ever applied. She said the same process is how Goldson got the job previously.
“They brought to us very, very strong candidates who each in their own right could have led this school system,” said Alsobrooks.
Goldson, who agreed to stay on for 90 days as a consultant during a transition period will aid House in his arrival.
“I feel a sense of relief,” she said. “We have not in years been able to do a true transition where both superintendents were present.”
She added that she’ll be leaving what she called a transition guide behind, too, and she said she’ll be willing to meet with House as often as he likes, but also indicated she was ready to stay out of the way too.
“I won’t be stepping on his toes. He is the superintendent on July 1 and he will be the one making decisions,” said Goldson. “I’m here to answer any questions, and assist to make sure that all of the stumbling blocks I ran into he will not have to deal with.”
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