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
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
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 impossible.
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
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 from Grasmick.
"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
"I want to be sure there's stability in terms of the system.
My greatest concern resides with the students," Grasmick
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
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 is.
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 decisions.
"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.