Reports: Former Baltimore Schools CEO Forced Out

Carmen Russo’s Attorney: Don’t Blame Client For Current Budget Crisis

POSTED: 5:04 pm EST March 5, 2004
UPDATED: 7:36 am EST March 10, 2004

BALTIMORE — Carmen Russo, the former Baltimore City schools chief executive officer, was asked to resign over concerns about her job performance, according to published reports.

But Russo’s attorney said Friday night that she was already planning to leave and that she inherited a major budget deficit when she came to Baltimore, WBAL-TV 11 News education reporter Tim Tooten reported.

Portions of Russo’s school system evaluation turned up in a local newspaper Friday. School officials won’t talk about the job review, which was critical of the former CEO.

But Russo’s lawyer, Stuart Grozbean, is concerned.

“It is not to be released, it is not public record and no one has the right or the ability to release that information,” he said.

Grozbean said his client found a deficit when she took the city school system job in 2000.

“She was told there was no deficit, that, she was told, there was a surplus. And what she found out immediately is [that] there was a $19.8 million deficit and a $16 million surplus [that] she thought was wasn’t there,” Grozbean said.

That’s part of what Russo (pictured, left) shared with 11 News on March 18, 2003, just months before she resigned as school system CEO.

“I was shocked when I found out. I had a deficit when I came here, as you may remember. We’ve worked very hard to eliminate it,” Russo said last year.

During that same interview, Russo gave no indication she was being forced out.

“I just think that it was time for me to just move on and let somebody else take the school system to the next level,” Russo said.

Russo’s attorney said Friday that the school system’s current money problems should not be placed at the feet of his client.

“When one person goes and another [comes] in, it’s easier to look back at the prior person and say ‘This is somebody’s legacy; therefore, don’t put it on my legacy, don’t pass the buck to me,’ ” Grozbean said.

Grozbean also represented Iris Metts, the former Prince George’s County schools superintendent who asked the county School Board not to be reappointed.