Maryland State Board of Education leaders say they have not finalized an agreement with embattled State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury on when his tenure will end.
Earlier this month, Choudhury abruptly withdrew from consideration for another four-year contract leading the Maryland State Department of Education amid widespread criticism. The announcement offered little detail about what to expect for the final nine months of the superintendent’s current contract, which is set to expire at the end of June 2024.
“These conversations always take time,” board president Clarence Crawford said on Tuesday.
The board in the meantime is convening a transition team and committee to oversee a national search for Choudhury’s replacement, who will start a full four-year term on July 1, 2024. The two groups will begin their work immediately, according to a news release.
Crawford will lead the transition team alongside education department administrators Krishnanda Tallur and Mary Gable. The team will include board vice president Joshua Michael and members Monica Goldson, Susan Getty and Shawn Bartley as well as state administrators Deann Collins, Sylvia Lawson, Justin Dayhoff and Najib Jammal.
Michael will lead the search committee comprised of Crawford and board members Joan Mele-McCarthy, Warner Sumpter, Rachel McCusker, Nick Greer and Abisola Ayoola. The committee plans to recruit an experienced search firm to assist with a multiphased search process to include planning, community outreach and development of a recruitment strategy.
Board members convened behind closed doors for more than an hour Tuesday before returning to a public session to announce the formation of the two groups. Earlier in the morning, the board voted unanimously to revise sections of its governance and operations manual that refer to the timeline and process for evaluating the state superintendent’s performance and contract renewal.
They notably changed a deadline for meeting with Choudhury to “discuss and agree on the performance standards, goals, process, and evaluation instrument to be used to evaluate the Superintendent” to Sept. 30. The manual previously said September without specifying a day of the month.
The date change allows new members who joined the board over the summer to provide input during the process, Crawford said.
Choudhury appeared to have much of the board’s support earlier in the year, when he actively sought contract renewal. He was often touted as brilliant leader whose policy approach and deep analytical research dovetailed well with the goals of the state’s landmark educational reform plan called the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
However, former education department employees described a toxic workplace under Choudhury’s management contributing to high turnover within the department. The superintendent’s relationships with lawmakers and educational oversight authorities appear to have soured over time, which some worried would jeopardize the work of the Blueprint at a critical time for Maryland schools.