The names of three finalists to lead Prince George’s County Public Schools are in the hands of County Executive Rushern Baker III (D), but the list is being kept confidential, raising concerns about the transparency of the process.
Baker spokesman Scott Peterson confirmed Monday that the search panel had given the names of three finalists to Baker, and that Baker would announce the school system’s next chief executive officer — previously referred to as the schools superintendent — by the end of the week.
Peterson said the names of the finalists would not be revealed due to confidentiality issues and concerns regarding their current employers.
“That’s a legal right we have,” Peterson said. “The opinion from our law office after checking with the state attorney general’s office is we don’t have to give out that information.”
The secrecy stands in stark contrast to the previous school superintendent search, halted by the passage of House Bill 1107, during which the three finalists gave presentations and took questions from the audience during a public forum.
HB 1107, however, transferred the power to select the next school leader from the school board and turned the process over to a three-member panel. The county executive will select the leader from the three finalists chosen by the panel.
Education activist David Cahn said the move demonstrates Baker’s “obvious disdain for the public.”
“It’s a gimmick,” Cahn said of the search process. “The whole thing is a put-up job.”
Cahn said the move highlights that the CEO will solely report to Baker and not the public.
“He’s not answerable to the community; he’s answerable to Baker,” Cahn said.
Although the names haven’t been released, speculation first reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel indicated that Gregory Thornton, Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent and a former Montgomery County deputy superintendent, was being considered for the position.
Thornton, 58, neither confirmed nor denied the rumors when asked last month, according to the Journal Sentinel,
Last week, the school board confirmed interim Superintendent Alvin Crawley’s contract through to Aug. 30. It was originally set to expire July 1.