- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 3, 2002

The Prince George's County school board will file an appeal against the reinstatement of Superintendent Iris T. Metts, the board's new attorney said.
Largo attorney Stan Brown, hired this week to represent the board in its battle for control of the school district, said he hopes to expose some of the flaws in the argument that local authority is superseded by state officials in Annapolis.
He met with the board members on Friday to discuss the process of filing the appeal.
He said he would scrutinize the 10-page reinstatement opinion released by the state Board of Education. "I will expose some of the defects" in the opinion, he said.
The county board is required to file the appeal before March 13, the deadline set by the Department of Education, which reinstated Mrs. Metts on Feb. 11.
The board, on Mr. Brown's advice, also decided to allow three members who have supported Mrs. Metts in the past Doyle Niemann, Mount Rainier; Bernard Phifer, Hillcrest Heights; and Catherine Smith, Cheverly to attend its meeting.
The board did not discuss its strategy for the appeal because of the presence of Mr. Niemann, one member said.
It had issued memos last week saying that the three would not be allowed to attend meetings where the rest of the board would discuss their appeal. Chairman Kenneth E. Johnson, Mitchellville, said the three members had a "conflict of interest" because they had filed appeals to reinstate Mrs. Metts.
Mr. Niemann, Mrs. Smith and Mr. Phifer on Monday filed an appeal with the state board against their exclusion.
Mr. Niemann said yesterday that he would attend the meetings because "it is not up to Ken Johnson to decide whether or not I can come in. I have the right to pick and choose what meetings I attend."
He added that he and the two other members still plan to go ahead with their appeal to the state board because there was a possibility that they would be excluded from meetings in the future.
The state board on Feb. 11 decided to reinstate Mrs. Metts, who was fired by the county board on Feb. 2. It ruled that, under state statute, only the state superintendent has the right to fire her.
In an opinion released last weekend, the state said the county board could also not place Mrs. Metts on administrative leave a move some members had suggested after the superintendent was reinstated.
One county board member said the committee might still explore other options to remove Mrs. Metts, including another negotiation for a buyout. An earlier attempt on Feb. 2 to negotiate such an arrangement failed. That led to the board's attempt to terminate Mrs. Metts' employment.


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