State Board of Ed. Overturns Firing of PG
Only state Superintendent Nancy Grasmick can
fire Prince George's County Superintendent Iris Metts, the state
school board has ruled, overturning the county school board's
attempt to dismiss her.
The state Board of Education voted unanimously
Monday night to keep Metts, who was ordered by the county board
on Feb. 2 to leave her post. Metts said the board should have
consulted with Grasmick before dismissing her and appealed the
decision to the state board.
A circuit judge ruled Feb. 3 that Metts'
contract requires the board to give her at least 45 calendar
days notice of firing.
"We think that it is legally within the state's
board to have jurisdiction over this matter and that it is by
statute the state superintendent's authority ... to have
determination power over this part situation," said Marilyn
Maultsby, the Maryland Board of Education president.
"Dr. Metts is extremely elated," said her
lawyer, Stuart Grozbean. "She wants
to be here, she' s working hard for the kids. If she was going
to leave, she wouldn't be here."
Before the announcement, the state panel heard
arguments from attorneys for both Metts and Prince George's
school board members.
Tim Maloney, who represented three school board
members who opposed Metts' dismissal, told the state board they
were "the last word, the final arbiter in the administration of
"To have the superintendent told she must vacate
her position in 48 hours or at this critical time cannot be
allowed to stand," he said.
Andy Nussbaum, who represented the majority of
the Prince George's school board, said Metts' contract allowed
the board to dismiss her without state approval. Nussbaum said
contracts between local Maryland school boards and their
superintendents do not need state approval.
"I'm disappointed," said Prince George's school
board head Kenneth Johnson. "We're going to consult with our
legal advice and see how we proceed."
The Prince George'! s ! school board can appeal
the state's decision to the county Circuit Court.
Meanwhile, a bill working its way through the
Maryland House of Delegates calls for the establishment of a
five-member oversight panel with veto power over the county
school board on major personnel decisions and expenditures over
The panel would also have the authority to
review all school board decisions dating back to Feb. 2.
The bill has the support of a majority of the
delegates from Prince George's County and the governor. It was
scheduled for discussion before the full House on Tuesday.
Metts has had several public battles in recent
months with the county school board and Johnson. The disputes
have been over bonuses for Metts' deputies, authority over
spending and even where Metts sits at regular board meetings.
The board says Metts is a poor communicator and
is to blame for consistently low test scores in the county. She
says the board, which recently stripped her power to ne! go!
tiate contracts of more than $5,000, has tied her hands.
Copyright 2002 ABC 7 WJLA-TV