Howard official says she'd take top job in Prince George's


Jacqueline F. Brown, whose post in the Howard County school system deals directly with the district's lowest-performing and most diverse schools, said that if asked to head the beleaguered Prince George's County school system, she would gladly accept the challenge.

Brown said she was asked by Prince George's school board members during the weekend whether she would consider becoming interim superintendent of the 137,000-student school district in suburban Washington if the need for one arose.

Brown, Howard's director of academic support services, said she told board members she would.

"This is my county of residence for 31 years," said Brown, who lives in Mitchellville, in Prince George's County. "I have a tremendous and deep abiding love for this county, and a tremendous unswerving faith and respect of the educators and the children in this school system."

A plan agreed to recently by Gov. Parris N. Glendening and state legislators appears to make the idea of hiring Brown a nonissue.

Reacting to the Prince George's school board's recent infighting, missteps and attempts to fire Superintendent Iris T. Metts, state officials have devised a plan that would strip the divided school board of its power, forcing its members to answer to a crisis management panel appointed by the governor, state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and County Executive Wayne K. Curry.

The plan would nullify any actions taken by the board since Friday, including its decision Saturday to fire Metts.

MSPAP scores in Prince George's County are the second-lowest in the state, ahead of Baltimore's.

Brown said she wasn't disappointed by the state plan because she is happy doing her job in Howard County, helping to eliminate differences in achievement between student groups.

It's only because it's here [Prince George's County]," Brown said. "If the situation was taking place in Anne Arundel County, no, I would not do it."

Before working full time in Howard, Brown was a consultant to the district and the State Department of Education in multicultural education and human relations. Before that, she was a tenured professor at Bowie State University.

Brown, who has worked in Howard County for 10 years, said she is working with "some of the foremost educators" in the state.

"I have no need to leave that except that if the situation ever arose where, just for a small point in time, they needed a hand to steady the ship, heal the process, just to hold the line" until a permanent leader was hired, "my love is such that if asked to do it, I would," she said of the Prince George's job.

Howard County Superintendent John R. O'Rourke said he would not discuss the situation as long as no formal offer has been made.

"The fact is, they have a superintendent in Prince George's County, Iris Metts," O'Rourke said. "So, frankly, there's nothing to talk about."

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