- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

The Prince George’s County Board of Education is supporting embattled public schools Chief Executive Officer Andre J. Hornsby and says the county PTA was premature in its vote of no confidence, board Chairwoman Beatrice P. Tignor said yesterday.

Mrs. Tignor also said board members likely will wait for an independent audit before making a decision about Mr. Hornsby.

“I believe that we should always have facts before we move too fast,” she said.

Mr. Hornsby, 51, is the subject of an FBI investigation related to a deal last June in which he purchased $1 million in educational software and other materials from a company that employed his live-in girlfriend, Sienna Owens.

Mr. Hornsby failed to disclose the relationship but said later that it had no effect on the sale. The school system’s ethics panel has cleared him of wrongdoing.

The audit by the Huron Consulting Group was commissioned by the school board in December and is expected to be finished in about two weeks.

Mrs. Tignor said the board sanction could range from administrative leave with pay to a dismissal.

Howard Tutman III, the PTA’s chairman, did not return a call for comment.

Mr. Hornsby also did not return a call yesterday.

The ongoing FBI investigation intensified April 19when agents arrived at Mr. Hornsby’s office building and another county building looking for information about the $1 million deal with LeapFrog SchoolHouse, a division of LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. of Emeryville, Calif.

Mr. Hornsby’s four-year contract, which expires June 30, 2007, includes an annual base salary of $250,000 and a clause stating that the school board can terminate his employment with a buyout, The Washington Post reported.

He was hired to replace embattled Superintendent Iris T. Metts about two years ago and three years after the state disbanded an elected school board marred by scandal. The school board was appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening and County Executive Wayne K. Curry. It will become an elected board next year.

Mr. Hornsby was forced to leave a job as superintendent of the Yonkers, N.Y., school system a year before his contract expired.

Mr. Hornsby is not the first Prince George’s County school administrator to run into legal troubles.

On Jan. 24, Pamela Y. Hoffler-Riddick, one of Mr. Hornsby’s assistant superintendents, was charged with five counts of money laundering in a $20 million drug operation.

Mrs. Hoffler-Riddick, who is now on unpaid leave, pleaded not guilty on Feb. 9. Her trial starts in July.

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