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
"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
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 $25,000.
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