The Baltimore County Public Schools board announced Myriam Yarbrough will be the new superintendent of the school system.
Yarbrough currently serves as the deputy superintendent of the system and was the only finalist who works in the school system. She became the deputy in December 2021 after joining the system in 2020, quickly rising through the ranks under Darryl Williams. Previously, she was the chief of the system’s Division of Organizational Effectiveness, the executive director of secondary schools in the west zone and the director of school performance.
Yarbrough addressed the crowd after her selection was announced at a school board meeting Tuesday night. She said she spent her first year as a teacher in Baltimore County in the 1990s and that, at the time, it was the top district in the state for academics. Under her leadership, she said, that will return.
“You have my word,” she said. “The needs of Team BCPS students, staff and the system are growing, and there are undoubtedly challenges that we face. Nevertheless, I believe in our boundless potential. If we work together to meet the needs of our students and staff moving forward, we will improve and accelerate student learning.”
The room erupted in applause when Jane Lichter, the board chair, announced the next superintendent. She said Yarbrough was picked because she had a clear vision for the system, embodied the characteristics stakeholders described they wanted to see in the next superintendent, and understands the challenges the system faces.
“This job won’t be easy,” Lichter said. “There’s a lot of work ahead of us.”
The board started off with 24 candidates from 15 states and narrowed it down to four: Myriam Yarbrough, Baltimore County’s deputy superintendent; Robert Taylor, a former North Carolina deputy state superintendent; Kenny Rodrequez, superintendent of Grand View Consolidated School District No. 4 in Missouri; and Jason Glass, a commissioner at the Kentucky Department of Education.
A superintendent contract has to be in place by July 1.
Several speakers expressed their approval of Yarbrough’s selection. Two state delegates, Democrats Sheila Ruth and Cheryl Pasteur, were among them. Pasteur is a former school board member.
Marietta English, a member of the county’s NAACP branch, said the board did the right thing, and Bash Pharoan, former chair of the school system’s central area advisory committee, said the board made a wise decision.
In a statement, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski congratulated Yarbrough and said, “Selecting a superintendent is the most important decision the Board of Education makes, and I trust that BCPS has selected a visionary, inclusive and results-driven leader who shares my values and expectations of openness and transparency, academic excellence and school safety.”
He said he looks forward to building a collaborative relationship with Yarbrough so they can “tackle our shared challenges and provide a world-class education.”
Yarbrough will take over a school system that has been through a tumultuous eight years that included failures in leadership, a pandemic and a ransomware attack. The county has been without stable education leadership for the past decade. Superintendent Dallas Dance, hired in 2012, was convicted of corruption. An interim leader, Verletta White, hoped to get the job but stayed just two years. Williams faced criticism for flagging academic performance, school bus delays and allegedly creating an unsafe learning environment. He didn’t seek a second term. In addition, a divided school board has, until recently, bickered over numerous decisions.
The next superintendent will be expected to fix a host of problems that have accumulated during those years, including drops in academic achievement and a growing question about whether resources are equitably distributed in a school system with growing Black and Hispanic enrollment. The system saw families leave during the pandemic and enrollment dropped by 4,000 students.
The superintendent will have more money to help address those problems, however, thanks to funding expected from the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
Baltimore Banner reporter Liz Bowie contributed to this report.