- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Prince George’s County Public Schools yesterday introduced the second of three finalists to run the school system, a New York City educator who said that involving parents and other residents is essential to improving grades and test scores.

“The curriculum is in place,” said Marcia V. Lyles, a regional superintendent for New York City public schools. “We have to enlist more of the community, to involve more of the community.”

Mrs. Lyles would face a tough task. The school system of 133,000 students in 199 schools is the second-largest in Maryland, behind Montgomery County’s, but second to last in test scores, outperforming only Baltimore City.

She also said her childhood in an all-minority school and work as an administrator in New York’s multicultural schools have prepared her for helping the racially diverse Prince George’s school system.

Mrs. Lyles vowed to provide much-needed continuity to the school system by saying she would stay until retiring.

“I’m ready to come here for the long haul,” she said.

The county’s school board on Monday presented its first finalist: John Deasy, superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in California.

The final candidate, W.L. “Tony” Sawyer, school superintendent of Topeka, Kan., is scheduled to speak today with officials and the public.

Howard Stone, the board’s vice chairman, said board members will select a new school chief executive officer later this month.

The board is announcing candidates individually because of the sensitivity of the search for a replacement to Andre J. Hornsby. Mr. Hornsby resigned in May, halfway through his four-year contract and amid an FBI investigation into accusations that he inappropriately awarded a $1 million contract for classroom equipment to a company that employed his live-in female friend. Mr. Hornsby has not been charged with a crime, and the school system’s ethics panel cleared him of wrongdoing.

Mrs. Lyles was born and educated in New York. She has been a regional superintendent in the city’s school system for two years. Her region serves 80,000 students and includes 150 schools, including some in Brooklyn, in which 80 percent of the students are minorities.

Mrs. Lyles’ salary is $184,000 per year. The Prince George’s County job pays $250,000 per year, said schools spokesman John White.

County school administrator Howard Burnett is serving as interim chief but did not include himself in the national search.

Mrs. Lyles graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English from Hunter College in New York in 1974. She received a master’s degree two years later from New York University. Mrs. Lyles received a doctorate in educational administration in 1992 from Teachers College at Columbia University.


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