- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

The Prince George's County school board is unlikely to reappoint Chief Executive Officer Iris T. Metts when her term expires in July, sources say.
"The support just isn't there," said a county politician close to the board. "And it isn't that the support was there to begin with either."
School sources told The Washington Times that seven of the nine board members would not back Mrs. Metts' reappointment.
Mrs. Metts has led the county's public school system for almost four years and has expressed interest in continuing in the job. She was not available for comment.
An appointed school board replaced the elected board in June after state lawmakers dissolved the body and Mrs. Metts' position as superintendent. The new board rehired her as the school district's top administrator and gave her a one-year contract and an 8 percent raise, bringing her annual salary to $212,000.
The board, however, quickly hired the Maryland Association of Boards of Education to conduct a national search for a chief executive. Board members insisted publicly that they also would consider Mrs. Metts.
The finalists will be interviewed next month, and a decision is expected by April. Some state legislators, county leaders and school activists want a change.
"There should be nobody this board is considering from inside the system," said Delegate James Hubbard, Prince George's Democrat and former legislative liaison to the school district. "It is time to go outside and look for someone who has run a large urban system and has a record of success."
Two state lawmakers joined the chorus last week.
Sens. Paul Pinsky and Ulysses Currie, Prince George's Democrats, told an audience at a county chamber of commerce breakfast that it was time to consider replacing Mrs. Metts.
"I haven't heard a lot of supportive voices from anyone," said County Council member Thomas Hendershot.
Mr. Hendershot, District 3 Democrat, also is a former school board member.
Doris Reed, who represents the county's principals and is an outspoken critic of Mrs. Metts, said that speculation about the demise of Mrs. Metts has been exaggerated.
"So many elected officials say 'no way' to another year with her," Mrs. Reed said. "And I say, 'You said that last year.' But it is obvious that it is time for a change."
Mrs. Metts does have supporters.
Delegate Doyle Niemann, Prince George's Democrat and former school board member, said the board has worked with Mrs. Metts for a year, so its members know her strengths and weaknesses.
David Brown, who leads the Laurel branch of Stand for Children, said Mrs. Metts has done well despite a lack of resources.
"It's a tough position for anyone because the county receives inadequate funding for our schools," he said. "But we have turned the corner and gotten away from bad press."
Problems, however, persist.
The Maryland High School Assessments ranked Prince George's County high school students second to last among their state public school peers.
Critics scoffed at Mrs. Metts' $1.36 billion budget proposal because it included a request for a 23 percent funding increase. The typical raise around the region is less than 10 percent.
Sources say the relationship between the school board and Mrs. Metts has soured during the past half-year because board members feel she is withholding information.
"The writing is on the wall," said parent Donna Hathaway Beck. "She has too much to overcome to be a viable candidate. Her administration style doesn't seem to [please] either board and her vision was never really realized. I don't think we can afford four more years."
Vaishali Honawar contributed to this report.


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