LARGO, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has finally weighed in on the drama surrounding the school board, and its controversial new chair.
Speaking exclusively to FOX 5 Thursday, the county executive noted that there are parents who are concerned about the incidents surrounding the board, but stressed that to those parents that the work involved in getting kids back in school is still progressing.
In recent weeks, members of the board have accused the board chair of being unfit to serve after she shut down meetings over allegations of improprieties. She has since eased on such measures.
"We’re in the middle of the pandemic, I don’t have any reason to hide. But what I can tell you is that I wanted to come out and address the concern that many parents have, that the business of the school system is not continuing right now – and Dr. Goldson, I have appointed a very strong school CEO, she had laid out a reopening plan for us to get back to school. She’s in the process of implementing that plan and the business of the school system is continuing," Alsobrooks said.
Although Alsobrooks has been silent on the matter for two weeks, she says she’s not hiding.
"There’s no running, no hiding – I’m working, diligently, to vaccinate Prince Georgians, to take care of the important business of Prince Georgians and I don’t want to be distracted away from that business to deal with acrimony and discord that was here before I got here, and unfortunately still continues. It doesn’t matter who the chair is," she said.
Alsobrooks went on to say that the dysfunction has been going on for about eight years and that former School Board Chair, Dr. Alvin Thornton, resigned because of it.
FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts first reported over a week ago that the newly appointed School Board Chair, Dr. Juanita Miller, canceled the school board’s Feb. 11 meeting, citing a tip alleging possible illegal board contract activity – like contracts going to friends.
She had wanted to shut down the board until an investigation was complete. Elected board members fired back, saying the accusations were meritless. Critics called canceling school board meetings irresponsible – that this is hurting kids with agenda items not being addressed.
As of Thursday morning, at least nine mayors and other municipal lawmakers sent a letter to Alsobrooks, calling on her to address the matter.
Now is simply not the time for the Board of Education, or any critical government body, to stop operating on the basis of what seems largely to be petty politics and an internal clash of personalities.
Alsobrooks declined to say outright whether she plans on calling for Miller’s resignation.
She told FOX 5 that everyone in the school district must get back to work – and that includes hosting meetings. She also said the meetings did not need to be canceled.
According to Alsobrooks, she talked to school board officials on Thursday, asking them to work together.
"If I dip my hand into over 70 boards to negotiate and help them navigate the work that they have to do, we couldn’t get anything done," she said.
The Prince George’s County school board failed to pass the school system’s $2 billion budget Thursday – a budget due to the county council on Monday.
In an almost unanimous vote, the board decided to call another meeting for Monday evening where they would vote on the budget as well as a host of other agenda items from the Feb. 11 meeting that was canceled.
Board member Edward Burroughs proposed the new meeting for Monday saying board members did not have time to submit budget amendments due to the late scheduling of Thursday’s meeting by the board chair.
Board vice-chair Sonya Williams was the only board member who voted no. Chair Dr. Juanita Miller abstained from the vote but voiced her concerns about Monday’s meeting saying she had other meetings scheduled already.
Monday’s meeting will include votes on a number of initiatives, including learning hubs for vulnerable students.