- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2002

Iris T. Metts has agreed to resign as superintendent of schools in Prince George's County, according to sources in the county school system.

Mrs. Metts, who has held the post for 21/2 years, had said this week that she is looking at other job offers because she is tired of the lack of support from the Board of Education. The Washington Times reported yesterday that several board members said they could no longer support her and welcomed her resignation.

School system sources said Mrs. Metts agreed to offer her resignation yesterday after the board informed her it had gathered enough votes to support a resolution to fire her.

Her resignation could come as early as next week. "It is 99.9 percent sure it will happen that way," a source said.

Board members tried to fire Mrs. Metts during a retreat in July, when they gave her a negative evaluation, but the attempt fell short by two votes. Now they have managed to garner a six-vote majority against her on the nine-member board, sources said.

Mrs. Metts, Delaware's former education secretary, offered to resign to avoid the embarrassment of being fired, sources said.

Several board members told The Times on Wednesday that they believe Mrs. Metts should step aside because of her inability to work with the board.

"It has just gotten worse every day. She responds late to everything and wants to make us look bad in Annapolis," one member said.

However, board Chairman Kenneth E. Johnson said he had spoken with Mrs. Metts yesterday and had received no indication that she is leaving. He declined to discuss the superintendent, but added they would talk about personnel issues at a closed meeting after a work session last night.

School system sources said the board was expected to take the first steps toward negotiating the terms of her resignation at the closed meeting. One source said the board would not be willing to buy out the rest of Mrs. Metts' four-year contract, but might pay her salary until the end of the school year. She earns $160,000 a year.

School system spokesman Tony Ruffin yesterday declined to comment on whether Mrs. Metts was planning to resign and on her future plans. "She has no comment, either," he said of the superintendent.

According to sources, contenders for the interim superintendent's job include Pat Green, deputy superintendent for student services; Howard Burnett, associate superintendent for human resources; and Jackie Brown, director of academic support services for Howard County schools.

Mrs. Metts and the board battled all of last year over several issues, including her awarding of bonuses to four of her deputies without board permission and establishing a military academy at Forestville High School. Last week, a dispute erupted when the board stripped Mrs. Metts of the power to sign any contracts costing more than $5,000.

Mrs. Metts told The Times on Wednesday that she is considering "several job options." She said she might consider staying in her position if she got more support from the board. Board members, however, ruled out offering her any more support.

They held Mrs. Metts responsible for the county's poor showing in the Maryland Schools Performance Assessment Program, results of which were released this week. "There ought to have been some improvement in three years," Mr. Johnson said.


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