A longtime educator who rose through the ranks in the Prince George’s County school system was tapped Monday as its new leader, becoming the second woman to hold the top post.
Monica Goldson, 50, was named interim chief executive of Maryland’s second-largest school system in a one-year appointment that follows the exit of embattled chief executive Kevin Maxwell.
Goldson, who served as deputy superintendent for teaching and learning during a 27-year career in Prince George’s, was selected by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.
Baker, a Democrat, said he was sure Goldson would work hard to restore public confidence in the school system, which has been plagued by scandals over large pay raises to aides, a lost federal Head Start grant and inflated graduation rates.
“I believe that Dr. Goldson is the right person at the right time to lead our school system,” Baker said Monday. “She believes that every child has greatness in them, and that it is her job to lead and to help them grow. I am confident that she will move us in the right direction.”
Goldson has filled in as acting CEO since Maxwell’s departure in mid-July. She is expected to oversee preparations for the coming school year and work with the school board on issues including academic performance, the workforce, family and community engagement and organizational effectiveness.
A graduate of Prince George’s County schools, she began her career as a math teacher at Suitland High School and later served as an assistant principal before becoming a principal of Frederick Douglass and Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. high schools.
She was chief operating officer before taking over as a deputy superintendent in 2016.
She follows a long line of male school leaders. The first woman to lead the county school system was Iris Metts, who served from 1999 to 2003.
Maxwell arrived in 2013 as Baker’s choice — coming to Prince George’s after serving as schools superintendent in Anne Arundel County — but ran into trouble with a sexual abuse scandal that raised broader questions about oversight and the collapse of a multimillion-dollar federal Head Start grant. The controversies over graduation rates and pay increases followed.
Some voiced hope the leadership change would improve stability.
“The ship is really rocking, and you need someone to steady it,” said Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the teachers union. “Teachers come back in three, four weeks. This is a big system.
“There needs to be someone level-headed at the helm, and I think she is very level-headed,” Mitchell Dudley said. “People within the system hold her in a very high regard.”
Doris Reed, executive director of the union representing principals and administrators, said Goldson is respected and trusted in a school system struggling with low morale.
“We need someone people can trust,” she said.