Board firm on Wil­liamson non-re­newal

Fails to de­fine plans for fu­ture

Record Observer - - News - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­

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.

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