- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Prince George's County schools Superintendent Iris T. Metts is asking school board members to expunge the negative evaluation they gave her last July so she can make a clean start with the new board, The Washington Times has learned.
Sources close to the board say a majority of the board members would agree to such a deal because they are worried about the release of their personal and official e-mails to Mrs. Metts' lawyers. Members were asked to release their e-mails under an April 9 order from the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings in response to an appeal Mrs. Metts filed with the state Board of Education last year.
According to sources close to Mrs. Metts, some board members discussed getting negative information about her out before the evaluation.
Mrs. Metts' attorney, Stuart Grozbean, denied such a deal, saying the report was "100 percent incorrect." He said, however, that he was close to making a deal with the board's attorney, Tyson Bennett, on the appeal of the evaluation the superintendent received last July that gave her poor marks in several areas, including management skills and relations with the school board.
Mr. Grozbean said Mrs. Metts wanted to start off with a clean slate with the new board that will take office on June 1 under recently passed legislation. "We believe the first step would be to remove the evaluation and determine whether or not a new evaluation is needed," he said.
"Mr. Bennett and I have discussed a proposal that he perceived would get a majority of the vote" on the board, he said.
Because Mrs. Metts' appeal was filed against the school board as an entity, it would carry over to the new school board members after June 1 when they took office, he said, adding that she did not want such a situation.
Mr. Bennett would not give any details of what the board wanted, but said he and Mr. Grozbean were "still exploring possibilities" and added that various offers had been exchanged. "We have been talking every day for several weeks trying to come up with some way that is satisfactory to all of us," he said.
Board member James Henderson of Seabrook said he was willing to agree to a deal ending the evaluation appeal "because I want to stop the spending on lawyers." He said, however, that he had not changed his mind on the contents of Mrs. Metts' evaluation and was not worried about his e-mails. "Whatever I said in my e-mails is my reflection of her performance and the truth as I saw it," he said.
Robert Callahan of Bowie said, however, that he would never agree to a deal asking board members to expunge the evaluation in exchange for the e-mails. "I consider it blackmail," he said. "This is a valid evaluation, and I still stand by it."
Mrs. Metts' lawyers are studying phone records of the school board and checking their e-mails to determine if "there was any inappropriate comment or action by the Board of Education that would take away the objectivity of the process of evaluation," Mr. Grozbean said.
Mrs. Metts told The Times in an interview last week that she hoped to stay on through a transition period for the new, appointed board.
Sources have also told The Times that Mrs. Metts has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the District 23 seat in the Maryland Senate, currently held by Leo E. Green, Prince George's Democrat.

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