Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

Longtime Montgomery schools official steps down

Superintendent’s chief of staff, Brian Porter, will retire after 17 years

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Brian J. Porter, Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast’s chief of staff since 2004, is retiring to work full-time on a doctorate in education policy and leadership studies at the University of Maryland.

His retirement is effective Oct. 1.

‘‘I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with you,” Porter wrote in an Aug. 16 letter to Weast, obtained by The Gazette. ‘‘I made this decision with mixed emotions. There are great challenges ahead for this school system and many people I will miss who are my friends and colleagues. Thank you again for your support and friendship.”

In the letter, Porter said the school system ‘‘is far better now than at any other time” because of Weast’s reforms and initiatives.

Porter joined the school system 17 years ago as the director of communications before becoming Weast’s chief of staff. Before joining Montgomer, Porter was director of public affairs and communications for the Prince George’s County Public Schools and as assistant to the president for public information at Bowie State College.

But now, he said, it’s time for a change.

‘‘The upcoming new phase of my career is more or less a temporary academic sabbatical,” Porter wrote.

He will be working on his dissertation, which will examine crisis decision-making by Montgomery school leaders during the deadly October 2002 sniper attacks that paralyzed the region.