- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 18, 2002

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday released the names of 23 candidates for the restructured Prince George's County school board, which is to begin its four-year term June 1.

"Selecting the final members of the new [school board] will be a difficult and challenging task," Mr. Glendening said in a prepared statement. "After speaking with County Executive Wayne [K.] Curry today, we both believe it is important that the citizens of Prince George's County have the opportunity to voice their opinions, concern or support of any of the candidates."

Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, urged county residents to send written comments about the candidates to the e-mail address [email protected] The governor and Mr. Curry, a Democrat, will select and announce the board's nine voting members and one nonvoting student member.

"While we had a preliminary discussion, no final decision has been made," said Mr. Glendening, a former Prince George's County executive. "I look forward to working with the county executive as we move forward in our efforts to help create a world-class school system in Prince George's County."

On Wednesday, the Maryland Board of Education completed a list of 24 school board candidates during a closed meeting in Baltimore, as community members and some politicians criticized the secrecy surrounding the process.

"The list reflects the diversity in the county," said education board member Reginald Dunn, who led the committee that examined 200 applications.

He said on Wednesday that the board had considered several factors, including geography, race, ethnicity and gender, while finalizing the list.

The list of candidates includes several persons who have experience in managing and overseeing the Prince George's County school system, including retired schools Superintendent Edward M. Felegy.

Among the candidates are Dean Sirjue, associate dean for administration for the Howard University School of Business, and lawyer Darlene Wright Powell. Both serve on the Prince George's County Public Schools Management Oversight Panel, which was set up to monitor the county's previously elected school boards.

Also on the list is Bernard E. Phifer, a current member of the elected school board, and Judy Mickens Murray, president of the county PTA.

The candidates, mostly working or retired professionals, range from Laurel in the northern part of the county to Accokeek in the southern part. Eight including Mr. Sirjue and Ms. Powell have children who attend county schools.

Outgoing board member Robert Callahan of Bowie said only some of the candidates he and other city residents had lobbied for were on the list.

"What is interesting is that I don't recognize a lot of the others who say they are residents of Bowie," Mr. Callahan said.

He said was worried about the learning curve for future board members who may not be familiar with the school system, especially because they have to pass the budget within a month of taking office.

The General Assembly this year passed legislation to create the temporary, appointed board following reports of financial mismanagement among elected board members and bouts of animosity between the elected board and Superintendent Iris T. Metts.

The legislation, which Mr. Glendening signed into law, also replaces the superintendent with a chief executive officer, a position for which Mrs. Metts is a candidate. The law allows the school board to be elected again in 2006.

A newly formed activist group called Citizens for an Elected Board is seeking to collect more than 19,000 signatures for a countywide referendum to block the appointment of the restructured school board.


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