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Baltimore City schools' chief operating officer steps down

Baltimore City schools' chief operating officer steps down
J. Keith Scroggins is stepping down as chief operating officer for Baltimore City Public Schools after more than a decade. Here, he is pictured checking on boiler room repairs at Medfield Elementary School in January. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore public schools’ longtime chief operating officer is retiring from the district, according to city schools officials.

For more than a decade, Keith Scroggins has been tasked with maintaining the district’s more than 150 buildings, overseeing student transportation and guiding construction projects.

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“Few jobs in this district are more complex and challenging than Operations, and for the past 12 years Keith has borne the heavy responsibility of maintaining the state’s oldest school portfolio with the highest degree of competence, professionalism and personal integrity,” schools CEO Sonja Santelises wrote in a Thursday letter to staff.

Scroggins’ final year in the position was marked with significant challenges. Last winter, nearly half of the city’s roughly 170 schools experienced heating issues or burst pipes. Images of city students bundled up in coats, hats and gloves — with thermometers displaying indoor temperatures in the 40s — went viral on social media.

Parents hurled their outrage at Scroggins and other district officials during tense meetings following the cold schools crisis.

Santelises said that “despite the immense pressures inherent in his position, Keith has consistently demonstrated the utmost consideration for his colleagues and staff, while always projecting an aura of calm self-confidence and personal dignity in handling every situation.”

Scroggins’ tenure has also included significant improvements to the district’s stock of school buildings. There were major renovations at Leith Walk Elementary/Middle, Baltimore Design School and other buildings. A handful of schools have also received new buildings through the 21st Century Schools program, a $1 billion initiative to revamp up to 28 city school buildings.

“Much progress has been made across the district in the course of Keith’s tenure of nearly 12 years,” Santelises said. “Equally important, but often unrecognized, is the day-to-day, 24/7 challenge of handling the innumerable details involved in maintaining 159 school campuses while maximizing limited resources.”

Lynette Washington will serve as interim chief operations officer while the district looks for a permanent replacement.

“We are very sorry to lose Keith’s expertise and reassuring presence, but we are grateful for his contributions to our staff and students, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Santelises said. “I am confident that Dr. Washington has the experience and expertise to oversee Operations during that time.”

Scroggins did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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