In resignation letter, former PGCPS board member calls school board 'dysfunctional'

A former Prince George's County School Board member calls the board "dysfunctional, " and cites lack of a "coherent educational plan" and "thoughtful budget" in her resignation letter.

Beverly Anderson was appointed by County Executive Rushern Baker in 2013 and wrote her resignation letter to him in June. FOX 5 obtained the letter through an open records request.

Anderson resigned soon after four board members called for a state investigation into allegations of grade fixing and other fraud to boost the graduation rate. In response, nine other board members condemned their colleagues calling the claims "appalling." Anderson was the only board member who did not publicly take a side.

In her resignation letter, she writes to Baker: "I have communicated my concerns to your office on several occasions about the School System's lack of a coherent educational plan replete with performance measures to move all of our children forward, particularly low performing students; the lack of a thoughtful budget to support the educational needs of all of our children, particularly low performing students; the lack of independence of board members to make decisions that are in the best interest of all of our children, and the inability of our system to see that several of the deficiencies of immigrant students are also shared by some non-immigrant students who need and deserve equitable educational support. I did my best in addressing these issues, but in some cases, my best was not good enough. The barriers were too hard to penetrate."

Anderson went on to say that she has been an ardent supporter of Baker, who's now running as a Democratic candidate for Maryland governor, for nearly 20 years.

"We have a dysfunctional board possibly because too many of the members are compromised or have conflicts of interest; an angry student body because we have not figured out how to incorporate some of their good ideas into our practices; unhappy parents because we do not solve in an efficient manner classroom or administrative problems impacting their children; and an apathetic teaching force. This scenario must change!"

Anderson declined an interview, but told FOX 5 by phone that she would consider returning to the school board when the climate changes. As for the allegations of fraud to boost the graduation rate, she said she believes the truth will come out.

"In my mind, sometimes it takes the storm before the calm," Anderson said in a farewell speech at her final board meeting in June. "And once we get that calm, we can start moving in the direction that all students are given a quality education."

FOX 5 asked County Executive Baker his response to Anderson's letter. He had nothing but praise for her in an emailed statement.

"I would like to thank Dr. Beverly Anderson for her service and commitment to the Prince George's County Board of Education," Baker said. "I appointed her to the Board of Education because she possessed the expertise we needed to change the trajectory of our school system. Since her appointment in 2013, Dr. Anderson has been a strong voice for all students and she consistently fought to ensure that the needs of low income students were met. In addition, she has been an advocated for programs and services that would help to improve the performance of our students so that they are college and career ready. During her tenure, graduation rates have improved, fewer young people are dropping out of school after 9th grade, dual enrollment and world language offerings have increased, and full day pre-kindergarten has expanded throughout the County. Dr. Anderson cares deeply about our children and her passion for educational excellence is matched by few. There is no doubt that our school system has improved as a result of her work."

The Maryland State Department of Education is working to secure a company to conduct the investigation into the fraud claims. A spokesperson said the public bid went out last week.

The Maryland State Board of Education voted unanimously to launch a third-party investigation into claims of grade fixing and other fraud after FOX 5 broke the story that teachers and staff members report being under tremendous pressure to increase the high school graduation rate. Some say they have personally been told make sure grades are changed for failing students.

Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell continues to deny the allegations, calling them false and politically motivated.

Dr. Beverly Anderson's resignation letter (app users: Click here to read)