Prince George's NAACP meets with Gov. Hogan over school audit controversy

Parents and community members are asking for help from the governor as they continue to ask for the resignation of Prince George's County Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell after an audit of the school system found students are graduating without meeting requirements.

Members of the Prince George's County NAACP met with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Tuesday, requesting state intervention.

Some wanted the governor to take steps to remove Dr. Maxwell, but Hogan made clear he believes this is an issue that should be handled by the county executive.

Several parents met with Hogan following the NAACP meeting.

"At the end of the day, it's all about our children," said mother Phyllis Wright. "The CEO must go. He does not care about our children."

"People are outraged and we keep telling the county executive and school board that there is a disconnect with parents and they've run the community away," said Bob Ross, president of the Prince George's Co. chapter of the NAACP.

County Executive Rushern Baker appointed Maxwell, and has maintained faith in him despite the troubling audit findings. Baker is vying for the Democratic nomination to oppose Hogan in the 2018 governor's race.

"Parents are simply outraged, and they've lost the confidence in the leadership and the administration here in Prince George's County, and the chairman of the school board and the superintendent of the school system," said Hogan. "But that's not for us to decide that's for the county executive to decide."

That's for the county executive to decide. Parents and NAACP members thanked Hogan for his attention to the issue and for listening to their concerns.

The NAACP says there's more they want to see happen as a result of this audit, including a review of the entire PGCPS curriculum and potentially a civil rights lawsuit against on the county on the basis that students aren't getting a proper education.

Scott Peterson, spokesman for County Executive Baker released a statement that reads in part:

"It is really concerning how political this audit has become. The school system worked with the auditors and provided them with the necessary information so that they could complete the audit and issue a report. And the report clearly lays out the areas that need to be corrected in order to comply with state guidelines.

We are baffled by the number of times the governor has rehashed the results of the audit and implied that we are not approaching this matter seriously. The governor should know that since the audit results were issued, Dr. Maxwell and his team have been working diligently to correct the identified deficiencies and will soon be presenting a response to the audit within the designated 60-day period as required in the audit.

In addition, Dr. Maxwell and his team have met with the County's House and Senate Delegations, County Council, County Executive Baker's administration as well as with school administrators, principals and teachers. PGCPS has communicated with parents and begun to make the changes recommended in the audit. Now they are preparing for the final report for MSDE."

The audit, performed by D.C. consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal, found PGCPS "does not consistently monitor adherence to grading policies and procedures," that "grades are regularly submitted and changed after quarterly cut-off dates, and "a significant number of 2016 and 2017 graduates had unlawful absences in excess of 10 days."

It found in the 2015-16 school year, about 38% of graduates had more than 10 unlawful absences. In 2016-17 it went up to 44%. That year, 159 students graduated even though they had more than 50 unlawful absences.

About 30 percent of recent graduates surveyed were ineligible to graduate or didn't have proper records to determine if they were eligible. The students sampled all had grade changes past final grade entry cutoff date.

Dr. Maxwell and his staff will present a formal response to the audit at the school board meeting next Tuesday, Dec. 19.