PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. - The head of the Prince George’s County School Board is ratcheting up accusations against members of her own board, calling conduct by the board "unethical and potentially illegal" in a statement to FOX 5.
Dr. Juanita Miller was appointed by Prince George’s Co. Executive Angela Alsobrooks just a few weeks ago.
FOX 5 has repeatedly reached out to Alsobrooks for comment, but has received no response as of Monday night.
In a letter to the head of the county council, Miller alleges legal and ethical liabilities in how the board has awarded contracts, in the hiring of a board lobbyist and in the reorganization of the board office and staff.
She says as a result, the board should shut down until an audit and investigation is completed and she cancelled last Thursday’s meeting. Miller says six other, mainly appointed board members refused to show up for that meeting.
"An official public meeting requires eight members in attendance for a quorum. Fewer than eight Board of Education Members indicated they would attend the February 11 meeting," Miller tells FOX 5 in an emailed statement. "As Prince George’s County Board of Education Chair, I cannot in good conscience be in a position where the Board sanctioned unethical and potentially illegal conduct or actions that leave the Board open to legal liability. It is my fiduciary responsibility to provide oversight and governance over the Prince George’s County Public Schools system."
Miller said she wouldn’t do an interview until she got a response from the Maryland State Board of Education. The chair of the county council sent Miller’s letter to the state
superintendent saying the council has no authority to investigate.
The rest of the board, seven members who are all elected, have also contacted the state superintendent saying it’s Miller who needs to be investigated. The letter, sent by Edward Burroughs, David Murray, Joshua Thomas, Shayla Adams-Stafford, Raaheela Ahmed, Belinda Queen and Kenneth Harris, say Miller’s accusations are meritless and if Miller doesn’t resume board operations they will be forced to petition the State Board of Education to remove her.
Alonzo Robertson, an attorney and former member of the school district’s ethics panel, says he is flabbergasted by what’s happening. He says cancelling the school board meetings is one of the most irresponsible actions a leader can take during the pandemic.
"Given the crisis of COVID, the Chair’s action is frustratingly ridiculous," said Robertson. We need the Board members to develop plans and procedures for getting our children into safe schools. We need the board to ensure that our highly skilled educators can get back to educating our children without the hurdles and distractions that come from the virtual learning environment. We need the Board to do their jobs."
He said the only way for an ethics complaint to be investigated is to hold a board meeting.
"By refusing to meet, the Chair is essentially preventing the issue from being referred to, reviewed by, or resolved by the Ethics Panel," said Robertson.