- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

Now that they have been handed their pink slips by Maryland lawmakers, some school board members in Prince George's County are preparing to make a bid for higher political office and at least one wants to join the appointed school board.
Bernard Phifer of Hillcrest Heights will try for a seat on the new school board, which is expected to be named in mid-May. He has served on the current board since March 1997, when he was appointed by County Executive Wayne K. Curry, and was elected a year later.
Mr. Phifer said he had submitted his application with the Department of Education yesterday. The Maryland State Board of Education is expected to review all resumes within the next few days and create a list of the best candidates, from which Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Mr. Curry will select the nine members of the appointed board. They will take office June 1.
Mr. Phifer, who has a long track record of community service in and around Prince George's County, said he hoped to help the new board through its transition.
"I want to be involved with improving the school system," he said. "I don't have any aspirations of moving up the political ladder I just want to help the children," he said.
At least three other school board members are considering making a bid for higher political office.
Doyle Niemann of Mount Rainier will vie for a Maryland delegate's seat in Prince George's County's newly created District 47. Mr. Niemann said he hoped to better help the county's disabled school system as a delegate.
"The secret to good schools is not just in education. We need to address economic issues and lower crime, among other things," he said.
Robert Callahan of Bowie has expressed interest in running for the delegate's seat in the newly created District 23B. James Henderson of Seabrook also says he is weighing running for a delegate's seat.
"I also hope to be actively involved in the putting forward a candidate from the Bowie area for the appointed board," Mr. Callahan said.
The state has been advertising for school board members in newspapers since last week. Reginald Dunn, a State Board of Education member who chairs the committee that will review applicants' resumes, said he had also received "quite a few calls from people wanting to provide service."
He said that while he was disappointed that people's votes were taken away, "there is a notion that we can build a system that is first class" through an appointed board.
The new legislation lays out specific qualifications for board members: At least four should have a background in business, one should have experience in special education, and one should be a parent.
Sources said Judy Mickens Murray, president of the county PTA, was likely to make a bid for a position on the board. Among other potential candidates are Bea Tignor, president of the dismantled Management Oversight Panel, and Bill Shipp, who was a member of the panel.
The names of County District Court Judge Gerry Devlin and Black Chamber of Commerce Chairman Hubert "Petey" Green are also being floated as potential board members. Some sources say Alvin Thornton, a former board member, is in the running for the chief executive officer post that will replace the superintendent.
Prince George's Superintendent Iris T. Metts is waiting to see who is on the new board before she makes a decision to apply for the position of chief executive officer.
Her attorney, Stuart Grozbean, said Mrs. Metts has been talking to people on various job potentials but has not yet made a decision. Mrs. Metts reportedly was approached to run for a senator's seat opposite Leo Green, but sources close to her said she had declined.
Mrs. Metts has sought to have last year's negative evaluation expunged from her record. But yesterday, sources said that a majority of school board members were not willing to do so.

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