Board firm on Williamson non-renewal
Fails to define plans for future
CENTREVILLE — Pleas to the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education continued to fall on deaf ears as dissenting board members, parents and staff begged one more time at the May 4 meeting for the board to offer an explanation of their actions for the past several months.
As members of the public pleaded for board members to change their minds and begin the healing process, one audience member said she felt like she was attending a funeral. Given the somber expressions and tears in the eyes of more than one person in the assembled group it was apparent many were feeling similar emotions.
Following public comment, board member Tammy Harper made a motion to offer Superintendent of Schools Carol Williamson a new, one-year contract at her current salary plus $1.
“This has become an occasion when good men do nothing. We need to heal. Healing requires leadership; by the grace of God, let us heal our community,” Harper implored her fellow board members.
Board member Captain Beverly Kelley seconded the motion. “All they are asking for is one more year,” Kelley said, “I don’t know what direction we are going either; we are fractured and I am feeling very mad and having a hard time concentrating on those issues we need to focus on [our children].”
For a split second it appeared that one of the other board members might be wavering, but as the vote was called for abruptly by board President Jennifer George, the motion was denied 3-2.
Since the March school board meeting, when the school board publicly revealed they had voted not to renew the contract of Dr. Carol Williamson as superintendent, majority members have offered few explanations for their decision nor have they provided any clear indication of their plan for moving forward with the exception of offering Assistant Superintendent Greg Pilewski the position of interim superintendent when Williamson’s contract expires in June. Pilewski had not been offered a formal contract at the time of the May 4 meeting.
George and fellow board members Arlene Taylor and Annette DiMaggio have remained staunch in their position not to reconsider the vote despite numerous requests to do so.
Requests made in public comment session of the March and April board meetings for written response to public concerns have gone unheeded. The agenda handed out at the board’s meetings states, “Citizen Participation [during public comment] is not intended to be a question and answer session. If you have specific questions the Board will make sure that an appropriate staff member responds to your question(s) at a later date,” but no responses have been forthcoming.
Sudlersville Elementary School Principal Richard McNeal told the board, “I find it challenging that the board does not feel it is necessary to communicate with the community. There has been much talk of transparency and a need to be open. I urge you to let us know where we are going.”
McNeal said board member Arlene Taylor told him she had been advised by the board’s lawyer not to speak on the matter.
Staff are increasingly concerned for their future with the school system and for the future of their students.
“Is it even worth trying to put effort into giving our input, or should we focus our efforts elsewhere?” asked Stevensville Middle School Principal Kevin Kintop.
Centreville Elementary School Principal David DuLac noted that, aside from hearing through other sources that the county had approved a funds transfer to conduct the search for a superintendent, he still had no understanding of how the board planned to proceed with filling the vacancy of superintendent and assistant superintendent, or if that position would remain vacant for a year, while Pilewski served as interim superintendent.
John Scott Dewey, a parent and language arts instructor at Sudlersville Middle School, said he had been satisfied working in the QACPS system for the last 10 years, but now he is concerned about what changes might transpire under this new, yet undecided leadership.
“Who will I be working for next year?” Dewey asked. “Will our next superintendent be supportive of the programs initiated [by Dr. Williamson] like the Chrome books, which have been so beneficial to our students?
“Nothing has been done to ease our anxiety. Will you please include us in your vision, so we might collaborate with you””
Dr. Angela Holocker, principal at Matapeake Middle School, reminded the board the staff is dependent on communication with Pilewski in his role with curriculum and instruction. “Please work with us, instead of intentionally against us,” Holocker asked.
Concerned parents and teachers fill the room at the May 4 Queen Anne’s County Board of Education meeting.
Board of Education President Jennifer George remains staunch in her decision not to extend Superintendent of Schools Carol Williamson’s contract.