- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2002

Iris T. Metts, chief executive officer of Prince George's County schools, has seen her top administrators quit steadily over the past year without being replaced, leaving gaping holes in the school system's leadership.
"I don't think people are applying. Nobody wants these jobs," said Doris Reed, chief of the county administrators union. Another administrator disagreed, however, saying there were several candidates.
Some observers blame Mrs. Metts' management style for driving employees away and discouraging potential replacements, while others blame the public fights between her and the former board that, they say, have tarnished the system's image.
Blame notwithstanding, seven top administrators are gone and one has shifted positions within the system:
This month, one of Mrs. Metts' top deputies, Kenneth Brown, director of budget and finance, quit to take a job in Delaware.
Suellen Harris, deputy superintendent for instruction, and like Mr. Brown part of Mrs. Metts' original team from Delaware, resigned last year to take a job with Trinity College in the District.
Pat Green, who replaced Miss Harris in an interim capacity, quit recently, leaving the position vacant once again.
Roland Moore, director of information technology services, resigned this year.
Leroy Tompkins, chief divisional administrator for instruction, resigned this year.
Judith Miller, associate superintendent of human resources, left last year to take a job in Pennsylvania.
Howard Burnett, executive assistant to Mrs. Metts, took the associate superintendent of human resources job, leaving his position vacant.
Alberta Paul resigned as chief of information technology nearly two years ago after reports she had lied on her resume.
The school board will soon have to address the vacancies; an overhaul of the system's top administration is in the works, and the board is expected to approve a plan over its next two meetings.
Legislation passed this year replaced the elected board with an appointed one, and also created three new positions that would report directly to the chief executive officer. A nationwide search is expected for these candidates. The board will also decide what happens with some of the top positions, like the one now held by Deputy Superintendent of Administration Franklin Rishel, said Mr. Burnett.
"The legislation didn't necessarily eliminate any other positions," besides the chief executive officer, Mr. Burnett said. "Frank Rishel has continued to perform in the role of a top administrator. There has been a need," he said.
According to Mr. Burnett, it isn't a lack of candidates that has kept the open positions vacant for so long. He said the school system had advertised some positions and heard from several candidates. But he could not say why no candidates have been chosen to take up these jobs.
"We did have an acting pupil-services director, and there were individuals at directors' level who could serve as director of technology. In fact, two directors served in that capacity," he said.
Ms. Reed said not many people would want to work for the school system the way it is right now. "There was a time when school-based people would have been fighting for the jobs now lying vacant, but since Dr. Metts came here, the Sasscer [administration] building is the last place anyone wants to be," she said.
Howard Tutman, county PTA president, said the image of the county schools had suffered because of the infighting between the previous school board and Mrs. Metts. "All that negative publicity, the bickering and fighting, kept people away," he said.
He said a nationwide search should be conducted to find the new candidates. "We need to find the best and brightest, but it may take some time to build up our reputation," he said.


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