Roger Plunkett, the Howard County school system's business, community and government relations officer, will leave in mid-July to take the position of assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction with the Harford County school system.
The Harford County Board of Education approved Plunkett's appointment Monday. Plunkett, who has been employed with Howard County's public schools for 31 years, will replace Gerald E. Scarborough, who is retiring after 37 years with the Harford school system.
Plunkett, 51, said he is excited about his new position.
"They are growing," Plunkett said of Harford's schools. "They're basically where Howard County was with all this growth a couple years ago. I'll be able to work with them based on my experiences with Howard County."
Harford Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas said Plunkett's experience will benefit students and staff in Harford.
"Mr. Plunkett brings to this position a wealth of experience in school- and system-level administration," Haas said in a statement. "His experience with curriculum development, professional development, and curriculum and program implementation will ground him in his new position here in Harford County."
Howard County Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin said it will be hard to replace Plunkett.
"He wears many, many different hats," Cousin said. "To find someone with the personality and skills of Roger will be impossible. Roger is successful because he knows so many people. Roger's strongest skill is building and maintaining relationships. We wish him the best in Harford County; we'll miss him in Howard."
Plunkett is a former teacher and department chairman at Howard High School. He also served as an assistant principal at Hammond High and principal at Atholton and Wilde Lake high schools. He was named Howard County's assistant superintendent for school administration in 2000. Two years ago, he was named to his current position.
Plunkett was demoted from the assistant superintendent position in 2004 by then-Superintendent John O'Rourke after allegations of a grade-changing incident involving another top-ranking administrator. Both Plunkett and Kimberly Statham, the county's chief academic officer, were unanimously exonerated later by the school board. O'Rourke was eventually fired by the school board.
Plunkett is a past winner of the national Milken Award for Educational Excellence. He has been named Maryland PTA Educator of the Year and the Howard County Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year.
Plunkett has been known for his close work with student leadership groups. He also helped students successfully lobby to get partial voting rights on the Howard County Board of Education. He has also been responsible for keeping the school board abreast of education developments in the state capital.
"His rich experience in Howard County and statewide have earned him broad-based respect and will be of tremendous benefit to the Harford County public schools," Haas added in her statement. "We are thrilled to have him join our staff."
Plunkett, a Baltimore native and graduate of Dunbar High School, will defend his dissertation on organizational leadership this fall as the final step toward receiving a doctorate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He earned his bachelor's degree in English education and French from Morgan State University in 1977. He received a master's in educational administration from Loyola College in 1983. He has worked as a graduate instructor at the Johns Hopkins University since 1995.