UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - Dr. Monica Goldson was officially named interim CEO of Prince George's County Public Schools Monday. She will be leading the school system for at least one year after former CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell chose to leave his job and was paid nearly $800,000 in severance.
Dr. Goldson has worked for Prince George's County Public Schools for her entire career, starting as a teacher 27 years ago and was most recently working as a deputy superintendent.
"I am up for the challenge," Goldson said in an interview with FOX 5. "I accept responsibility from this day forward for the decisions that are made in Prince George's County Public Schools. What you will find that's different is we will have an accountability system."
Dr. Maxwell often refused to do interviews, and twice walked away during a FOX 5 interview.
We asked Dr. Goldson if it was a new day for accountability and transparency in the school system.
"I'd like to think it is," she said. "Just having the opportunity to sit down today is the beginning of my approach in making sure that we continue to keep an open communication between ourselves and the media. We have nothing to hide. Our taxpayers put money in each and every day. I'm a parent. I send my child to school in Prince George's County schools each and every day. I want to make sure parents trust us again and we are open and transparent."
For months, FOX 5 had been trying to talk to Maxwell about massive pay increases for employees in the central office. The school system's own auditing department found hundreds of thousands of dollars in excessive and inappropriate pay.
"I'm definitely researching ways to make sure we don't get in the situation again," Goldson said, agreeing that the CEO is responsible for oversight.
In April, FOX 5 exposed that some school executives got raises of $35,000 to $50,000 over a few years. Goldson is taking action immediately. She has announced 20 executive and management jobs will be eliminated and some positions will see pay cut for a savings of at least $1 million. She is promising taxpayers their money will be spent right.
"I have started the process to make sure that takes place," she said. "Each day, I am analyzing our own current pay scale to make sure it's aligned with other education agencies around the state of Maryland."
She said broader goals for the future include improving communication and acknowledging mistakes.
"If we have done something, we need to own it, admit it, make sure we make corrections and inform our parents our staff and our students," Goldson said.
A new county executive will take office in December. And this time next year, that person could sign Dr. Goldson to multiyear contract or choose someone else.
Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks won the Democratic primary and released a statement congratulating Goldson.
"I would like to congratulate Dr. Monica Goldson on being named Interim CEO of our school system," Alsobrooks said. "I hope this appointment allows us to begin looking forward and return our attention to where it should be, on our students, teachers and parents. It is imperative that we work together to ensure that resources reach the classroom, our teachers are compensated fairly and that we work with parents to remove any barriers to learning that exist for our children."