Metts' Attorneys Win Temporary Injunction
by 9 News and The Associated Press
The head of the Prince George's county council
is falling in line behind the embattled superintendent.
Peter Shapiro says it was a mistake for the
school board to fire Iris Metts. He calls the decision
"strange," and says it's hard to see how it benefits the
children of the county.
Shapiro tells 9 News, Prince George's County has
a difficult school system that faces unique problems, but that
Metts has been up to the task of addressing them.
Also today, several state lawmakers who support
Metts are expected to introduce legislation in Annapolis to
strip the PG school board of its powers.
A majority of the board voted over the weekend
to fire Metts, effective immediately. But a judge ruled Metts'
contract require the board to give her 45 days' notice.
A lawyer for Prince George's County
Superintendent Iris Metts says the judge's ruling invalidates
the county school board's resolution to fire her.
Attorney Stuart Grozbean
says he's gratified that Judge Chief Circuit Court Judge William
Missouri ruled to grant a ten-day injunction to prevent Metts'
firing until further hearings can be held.
But school board chairman Kenneth Johnson says
his interpretation of the ruling is that the board was wrong
only in failing to give Metts 45 days' notice before firing her.
Johnson says the board plans to deliver that notice Monday.
Metts plans to appeal her dismissal Monday to
state Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick. Metts maintains
that the county school board cannot make an important personnel
decision without consulting a state Management Oversight Panel
named in 1999 to solve the county's education problems.
The board had voted 6-3 Saturday to remove the
controversial head of Maryland's largest school district after a
contentious two-and-a-half year term that was marked by
infighting between panel members and Metts.
The board wanted to install an interim
superintendent on Monday, but Missouri's ruling will make that
Metts' attorney, Stuart
Grozbean, asked the court to issue the injunction because,
he argued, the board had overstepped its authority by firing
Metts without approval from a state advisory panel.
Lawyers for the school board told the court they
acted legally and that under Metts' contract they have the
authority to dismiss her.
Late Sunday, board chairman Kenneth Johnson said
his interpretation of Missouri's ruling was that the board was
allowed to fire Metts, but must first give her 45 days notice
under state law.
"We already know what the next step is," said
Johnson. "We are going to issue the 45-day notice."
In an interview Sunday after the judge's ruling, Grozbean said the ruling means the
board cannot "unilaterally terminate" Metts without approval
"I believe the court found that the actions
taken in the resolution were wrong yesterday (Saturday)," he
said. "Why would it be valid tomorrow?"
Grasmick said on Saturday that she plans to
discuss Metts' firing the state Board of Education to be sure
Metts is treated fairly.
"I want to be sure there's stability in terms of
the system. My greatest concern resides with the students,"
School board member Doyle Niemann, a Metts
supporter, said the board had been considering appointing two
internal candidates as acting superintendent -- Associate
Superintendents Howard Burnett and Scottie Griffin. Howard
County's Director of Academic Support Services, Jacqueline
Brown, has been identified as a possible long-term successor.
Johnson told The Associated Press that the board
had reached a "tentative agreement" with an interim
superintendent to take over for Metts, but would not say who it
Meanwhile, Del. Rushern Baker III, D-Prince
Beorge's, plans on Monday to introduce emergency legislation
that will strip the board's of its power to make major
"I think this is horrible," Baker said. "My
intention is to immediately put in legislation to restrict the
board from hiring a replacement. This is just crazy."
Legislators also are considering bills to
replace the elected board with an appointed one, or to make it a
combination of elected and appointed members.