Monthly Archives: September 2018

A Case of Systemic Corruption in Maryland: A True Story – How deception and cover-ups are destroying the state


There are many people (including children) in Maryland who live in fear due to circumstances over which they have no control and because the color of their skin, their accent, religion, disability, and so on are used against them.  Governor Hogan (pictured above) has failed for too long to address key issues head-on. He still has a chance to address them. 

This week the U.S. Supreme Court will be reviewing five cases (5) which involve the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), Association of Supervisory & Administrative School Personnel (ASASP), California Casualty Indemnity Exchange, various law firms including Thatcher Law Firm, O’Neal Law Firm and others who engaged in bribery schemes of judicial officers to “get away with murder” in Maryland—specifically in Prince George’s County.  There has been widespread misconduct and fraud involving unions in Maryland which have facilitated criminal and unethical behavior that does not serve the best interests of the community.

Petitioner, Mr. Joseph Mua, wrote to the Maryland governor regarding misconduct and discrimination on various dates in the past. On July 30th, 2018, the Governor wrote the attached letter expressing that he was currently limited in his ability to intervene. (See attached letter from Govern Larry Hogan).  Maybe the governor had good intentions by replying, however, he did NOT address issues head-on.  Key issues we have tried to bring attention to are:

  1. CORRUPTION involving public agencies and representatives exists in Maryland.
  2. There has been evidence of peddling influenced by SELF-INTEREST GROUPS and persons who should be representing public interests.
  3. Some JUDGES (appointed by the state) have “allegedly” been COMPROMISED.
  4. There are Maryland LAWYERS ‘allegedly” involved in various SCHEMES to DEFRAUD both the state and their customers.
  5. There has been a failure to investigate uncontrolled corruption for years.

All we want from Governor Hogan and/or his successor (as well as Atty. Angela Alsobrooks) is to deviate from the past–stop the corruption. We cannot get fairness through a justice (and education) system where appointed lawyers, judges and politicians in the state of Maryland have ties to questionable groups and are influenced by them.

The Maryland Governor and other officials must always be reminded that they were elected to serve the interest of the common man and not the whims of the rich and powerful.  Regular, “surprise” investigations or checks and balances should be of the people, by the people and for the people.

Recently, Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order establishing a new state office to hold local school districts accountable. With this office in place now, we hope the governor revisits the issues pronto, seriously examines Mr. Mua’s concerns and orders meaningful action to help address the grievances. After all, many of these violations occurred under the staff hired by Maryland State Education Association. (See attached below)

The Maryland governor should also note that Mr. Mua has spent more than $1,000,000 trying to seek justice in Maryland.  He should be reimbursed for doing his civic duty—the job that public representatives are elected to do, paid to do and should have been doing all along.

The true measure of a MAN is his WORD…If your actions do not support your words, you are not to be TRUSTED. Information has been given to Governor Hogan and his team (including the office of the State’s Attorney/newly elected County Executive, Angela Alsobrooks) to end JIMCROW in Prince George’s County.

Along with The NAACP, our officials have a moral and ethical obligation to the BLACK community as well as the entire community. Our community is dying as they lock up our YOUTH across the County and in Maryland without due process and nothing effective is done about the education system (not the teachers but the problematic leadership) that fails them. The Police are permitted to commit “legal MURDER’ and go uncharged while continuing to be paid in many places in Maryland. The Maryland Attorney General has “allegedly” been part of the scheme to assist in discrimination and retaliation—to maintain the Prince George’s County plantation. This is unacceptable!

The current Maryland Attorney General, Brian Frosh, has failed. Maryland needs an Attorney General who is focused on the problems facing our state–NOT on Washington politics. Crime, drugs, corruption – those are not partisan issues. But they are exactly the issues on which the Attorney General should be focused.

To add insult to injury, while such officials do not hold themselves accountable, they hold our people (people of color) to an unjust standard of the LAW known as “black codes” and Jim Crow. Many of us have seen Jailhouse diaries showing names, dates and the injustices inmates deal with every day. A F James MacArthur is currently sitting in jail because he stood up against Corruption in Baltimore City Hall and against the murder and death permeating our streets.

The NAACP needs to have honest, fearless leadership who gives an HONEST commitment to the Betterment of our Community. Let us start here in Prince George’s County–in the Courts and the offices of Angela Alsobrooks and Rushern Baker before both depart their current positions.

Regarding Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), many constituents and employees want to know where is the transparency and accountability when Monica Goldson (Interim CEO) fires her critics including the Ombudsman office that was trying to ensure accountability/checks and balances, promotes incompetent candidates with questionable pasts and associations? Why is she getting a pass when she forces an elected Board member to remove social media posts she does not like? What about the employees she fired unjustly and then interfered with their court cases in order to stay in power? What makes her any different than the slave owners and their overseers of yesterday? The historical term “house Negroes” has meaning in today’s systems when you have such people who are used to keep a form of slavery in place. The community has been bamboozled once again.

There is evidence that Monica Goldson, Christian Rhodes, and the current County Executive, Rushern Baker, are working closely with Doris Reed (Executive Director ASASP) and others to undermine justice in the county. If the President of the United States can be sued, and his case proceed to discovery, why are cases involving executives/leaders in Prince George’s County with ties to Public Corruption getting a pass?

For years Governor Hogan has failed to check corruption even after President Obama referred Mr. Mua to him. This week alone, it has come to attention, three county employees known to Mr. Mua have had heart attacks due to the ongoing shenanigans in Prince George’s County.  People are dying and losing everything due to corruption.  Mr. Hogan gives very carefully crafted responses but do his actions match his words and bring positive results for common Marylanders including county employees?  This is what voters need ask themselves. Why are we voting the same people into the same offices to do the same things?

If Governor Hogan and Mr. Brian Frosh are serious on their fight against public corruption in Maryland, they should challenge Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous to reign on Union corruption beginning with MSEA which is supporting his candidacy, AFSCME and others in order to create proper reforms within the state. After all, MSEA just recently sued the Maryland Governor for using “their” apple logo.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’ –Albert Einstein..

Has Governor Hogan ‘Changed Maryland’ for the good of the entire community? Furthermore, isn’t it time he has an Attorney General who will work WITH him – not AGAINST him to make Maryland safer and prosperous for the people who live and pay taxes here?

Thus far, there is not an apparent attempt to seriously, fearlessly, transparently and fairly address the issues raised by Mr. Mua on several occasions during Mr. Hogan’s tenure.  Voters need to acknowledge this and create a ‘Changed Maryland’ themselves.

Mr. Hogan must work hard to earn our votes. Some of us who campaigned for him now have serious concerns and reservations about his approach or lack of action regarding these years of allegations of corruption and retaliation.

These concerns are not just issues affecting Mr. Mua but are issues affecting employees and residents in all of Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland as a whole.

“We Deserve the Leaders We Elect…”  If we vote for empty promises, we should expect empty actions. If we vote out of anger, we will find ourselves with angry politicians who are cold and uncaring. If we expect little from government, then we should not be surprised to get a rotten government with rotten politicians who do little to help the people, but instead simply help themselves.

Friends, we need help to demand investigations concerning the above. The stakes continue to be incredibly high.


Use Simply enter in your Zip Code and get your representatives’ phone numbers.

Call your House Member and Senators. Tell them to demand an investigation concerning various criminal activities currently in progress in Maryland. Call Governor Larry Hogan as well at (410) 974-3901, 410-974-3901, 1-800-811-8336, MD Relay 1-800-735-2258.

Call your Senators and tell them to demand Josephat Mua get a fair hearing and support after Attorneys and Court Personnel were bribed to change facts once Mr. Mua won his administrative appeal. Request Federal Case No. Case No. 8:11-cv-01198-PJM Josephat Mua vs. Board of Education of Prince George’s County) be re-opened in the best interest of the public.  More to come!


Rushern Baker (seen here) there is evidence that Mr. Baker is working with  Monica Goldson (Interim CEO), Christian Rhodes, and Doris Reed (Executive Director ASASP) and others to undermine justice in the county as part of an ongoing scheme to “manage” things before he leaves office.


Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks is running for county executive. She was given incredible evidence at the beginning of her tenure as state Attorney and she failed to address major crimes and became part of the “cover up” through silence.

There is evidence that Doris Reed (Executive Director ASASP) is working with  Monica Goldson (Interim CEO), Christian Rhodes, and the current County Executive, Rushern Baker and others to undermine justice in the county as part of an ongoing scheme to keep things under wraps.

Dr. Monica Goldson (the interim CEO) initiated many of the problems seen in the Prince George’s county schools after many years of cover ups. There is evidence she tried to cover up for ousted Principal Simpson Marcus at Largo High School before Ms. Marcus got convicted by the Federal court in a high profile case.


Mr. Rhodes is the Chief of Staff for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) and reports directly to Dr. Monica Goldson (the interim CEO).


Sydney Harrison in major water after disrespecting a female volunteer as PGCPS Chief of Staff joins the fray.


Mr. Sydney Harrison is accused of disrespecting a female volunteer for Mr. Arun Puracken campaign team during back to school night.

There has been drama in the southern part of Prince George’s County after Mr. Sydney Harrison (democratic nominee) in district 9 for the county council seat in November 6th, election allegedly disrespected a female volunteer at Gywnn Park High School during  Back-to-School Night.

According to the facebook post by Mr. Arun Puracken, he told off Mr. Sydney by pinning the following on his social media wall.

” Sydney Harrison Sydney, next time you disrespect one of my female volunteers, make sure I’m present. She asked you for your name and you told her “Your daddy”. Be careful when you disrespect somebody’s daughter in that manner young man.”


Mr. Arun Puracken, he told off Mr. Sydney for disrespecting a female volunteer at Gywnn Park High School during  Back-to-School Night.

After major reaction on Facebook, Mr. Sydney’s campaign manager  Eric Bowman  wrote a response and stated the following:

As you know, I am Sydney’s campaign manager. Today, at Gywnn Park High School’s Back-to-School Night, Mr. Harrison, along with one of our campaign workers, were approached by your campaign member. In an attempt to avoid what appeared to be a potential confrontational engagement, Mr. Harrison turned walked away and stated “ have a nice day.” At no time did Mr. Harrison say anything disrespectful to the young lady. We do offer our apologies for any misinformation or communication. Please feel free to contact me directly so that we can discuss.

Additionally, to those who inquired, it is unlawful to conduct political activity on Prince George’s County School property. Please see the attached memo.”


After back and forth, the memo from PGCPS Chief of staff Christian Rhodes became the center of discussion which appeared to have been drafted in a hurry with some errors. At some point Ms. Doris Reed (executive Director) for Association of Supervisory & Administrative School Personnel (ASASP) joined in. She confirmed the Memo applied to employees. Paulina Denise noted that, “The memo also indicates they are allowed to do so outside of non-working hours -which deems it irrelevant to this issue.” Board member David Murray tried to correct Mr. Rhodes by stating the following:

PGCPS school properties are voting locations so your last statement is false as people campaign there during every election”

The rest of memo is attached below for your review.




A teacher forced her student into sex — and docked his grade after he refused, suit says


Jennifer Olajire-Aro is accused of forcing a 17-year-old student to have sex with her. Aro is a teacher at the Charleston County School District in South Carolina. (Charleston County Sheriff’s Office)

By Kristine Phillips

A 27-year-old math teacher, Jennifer Olajire-Aro, coerced a 17-year-old student into having sex with her, repeatedly threatening to dock his grades if he refused, according to a lawsuit filed by the South Carolina teenager and his mother.

The sexual advances had become so “public, direct, and obvious” that the student avoided Aro’s classes at Burke High School in Charleston, aware that administrators, other teachers and his classmates knew about them, the lawsuit says. The sexual encounters ended in December, after the teen refused to have sex with Aro — who then lowered his grade from 98 to 89 out of 100, according to the lawsuit.

The teen and his mother sued Aro’s employer, the Charleston County School District, accusing officials of not quickly investigating Aro despite a history of sexual misconduct in the district. The lawsuit, filed last week in Charleston County Circuit Court, comes amid an investigation of the district’s handling of separate allegations against a different school employee, who was reportedly promoted despite accusations that he had used a school computer to view child pornography. That employee was later accused of molesting two students.

“They’d known about the propensity of their employees to have some type of sexual exploitations, and therefore they were all on notice,” said Mark Peper, who represents the teen and his mother, neither of whom is named in the lawsuit. “It’s just clear to me that they just didn’t care. It’s just a complete lack of oversight and supervision from the district itself. It’s a pattern.”

A schools spokeswoman said the district does not comment on pending litigation.

Aro, now 28, was charged in December with sexual battery of a student. Her attorney, J. Kevin Holmes, did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday. During Aro’s bond hearing shortly after her arrest, Holmes said she did not have a criminal record or disciplinary history at the school and had received teaching awards, the Post and Courier reported. She taught pre-calculus and algebra and is married with a baby girl.

But Peper said Aro was “hellbent” on having a sexual relationship with the student. She began flirting with the teen after she became his math teacher at Burke High in August 2017. She talked to him about sex before, during and after class, and made sexual advances in plain view of other teachers and students, the lawsuit alleges.

In November and December, Aro “encouraged and coerced” the teen to have sex with her on several occasions and at different places: at the school, in her car, in her home. At least once, it happened around Aro’s 10-month-old baby, the lawsuit says.

When the teen resisted, Aro turned to blackmail, Peper said.

“Each time he would show his hesitancy to continue this forced sexual relationship, she would remind him that she alone controls his grade,” Peper said.

Peper alleged that school administrators and teachers who knew about the misconduct did not report it to school officials.

“At this particular high school, all the teachers are very close. . . . It would shock me if the teacher herself didn’t share with other teachers what was going on with her student,” he said.

“We’ve all been in high school,” he added. “You can’t keep that kind of rumor mill under wraps. That gets around, and teachers are the first to pick up on that. . . . The bottom line is that if anyone knew about it, including teachers, they had an affirmative duty to inform the school administrators.”

The teen’s classmates knew about it, too, and teased him for being a “teacher’s pet, among other things,” Peper said.

The teen, the suit says, didn’t say anything about the teacher to his mother for weeks, fearing that Aro would dock his grade as she had threatened to do. But in December, he decided he couldn’t go on.

“He put his foot down and said, ‘You do what you got to do. I’m just not doing this anymore with you,’ ” Peper said.

Aro then docked the teen’s fall-semester grade by 11 points, the lawsuit says. He told his mother, who immediately reported the allegations to police and school officials. But Peper said the district did not investigate until about three weeks later, and Aro was arrested.

Erica Taylor, the district spokeswoman, said Aro was immediately placed on administrative leave and was fired in January, the month after she was charged.

The district has been facing criticism for its handling of sexual allegations against a former employee at another school. Marvin Gethers was promoted to a higher-paying job in 2014 and became employee of the year in 2015 — both after an IT specialist found that he had accessed child pornography from his school laptop, WCSC reported.

Gethers was arrested in 2016, after which time two children told police that he had molested them in 2015, the Post and Courier reported. Gethers was later charged with sexual exploitation of a minor and multiple counts of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor, online court records show. He died of heart failure in July 2017 and was never tried.

Taylor said the school district fired Gethers once officials learned of the allegations against him. She said school officials who were in charge in 2014, when Gethers was promoted, are no longer with the district.

Current officials have also hired outside counsel to investigate the allegations against Gethers and the district’s handling of the situation, and to “advise on ways to avoid a situation like [this] from ever happening again,” Taylor said.

Via Washington Post 


Charleston County School District (CCSD) is the second largest school system in South Carolina representing a unique blend of urban, suburban


Charleston County School District (CCSD) is the second largest school system in South Carolina representing a unique blend of urban, suburban.





Maryland state school board agrees to allow non-educators to become CEOs or superintendents


Maryland State Board of Education in meeting during a past session in Baltimore. 

By Liz Bowie

The state school board voted Tuesday to allow the appointment of non-educators to superintendent positions.

The new regulation passed despite significant protest by educators across the state, including the association representing local school boards.

Across the nation, it is not unusual for individuals with a track record of success in another field to take the helm of a school system. Most notably, Joel Klein, a lawyer, headed the New York City school district from 2002 to 2010.

The impetus for the change came last year, when members of the board set up a task force to look at creating a new regulation that would allow local school boards to go outside of the usual education circles and find an “exceptional” leader.

Maryland currently requires its superintendents to have specific academic credentials, as well as teaching and administrative experience.

The new regulations do not go as far as many board members would have liked.

“The board’s intention has been so watered down. We asked for a cake and you come in with a stale cookie,” said board member Chester Finn.

Finn said he doesn’t believe most people who are experts in their field would be willing to take on a superintendent’s job given the requirements in the first year.

After considerable opposition from teachers, local school boards and others in the education community, the staff proposed amendments that require any non-traditional candidate to be an interim superintendent for one year. During that interim period, the candidate must take six credits of graduate course work in public school administration, supervision, and methods of teaching.

A number of state school board members were opposed to the regulation. Michelle Guyton said she had discussed the issue with many people in the education community.

“I don’t think this is something that teachers and administrators are comfortable with,” she said.

The vote Tuesday allows the regulation to be published, and for the public to comment on it. A final vote will be taken at an upcoming meeting.

Via Baltimore Sun




Prince George’s County pension-spiking is ripping off Maryland taxpayers


The total value of Kevin Maxwell’s pension package is about $4.8 million.
(Image courtesy screenshot)

On Sept. 17, 20 weeks after his announced resignation, Maryland’s highest paid public-school employee will end his tenure as CEO of the Prince George’s County Public Schools. On July 12, PGCPS announced Kevin Maxwell’s severance package as $790,000, a sum that many considered excessive. The teachers’ union president attacked it as “appalling.”

But this sum grossly understates the actual cost of Maxwell’s post-employment compensation. Most notably, it fails to include the increased value of his Maryland state pension. When that compensation is factored in, the cost of his severance package doubles to approximately $1.6 million, with most of the unreported amount being paid by Maryland rather than the county school system. The total value of Maxwell’s pension package is about $4.8 million.

From one perspective, $1.6 million is a steal for taxpayers, because PGCPS had a four-year contract with Maxwell beginning last year. The cost of the remaining three years would have been more than $1 million in cash compensation plus additional pension benefits.

One reason PGCPS could be so generous in bolstering Maxwell’s pension is that Maryland, rather than PGCPS, pays for such pension spikes. The Board of Education wasn’t lying, then, when it said that the cost of Maxwell’s severance package would only cost PGCPS approximately $790,000.

To eliminate pension spiking, as illustrated by Maxwell’s case, pension costs should be completely shifted from the state to local level. Relying on the state to effectively eliminate pension spiking by tinkering with its rules not only has not worked, but cannot work.

Another reason that PGCPS could be so generous is that Maryland’s right-to-know laws have been designed to hide the type of pension spiking that PGCPS engaged in. To the extent that pension spiking can be hidden, it will thrive.

Maryland should require pension transparency at the individual level, just as it does for salary transparency. If the excuse for hiding pension data — e.g., unused sick leave — is protecting privacy, the solution is to change the pension formula, not to hide its components. Moreover, to have meaningful public disclosure, all compensation information must be proactively disclosed online. Relying on Maryland’s archaic and ineffective Public Information Act for K-12 public school compensation disclosure has been a recipe for public officials’ endless delays, doubletalk, noncompliance, and intimidation and deterrence of requesters.

Maryland’s local governments and teachers unions are staunchly opposed to these proposed reforms. Perhaps the best hope for reform is Gov. Larry Hogan’s new Office of Education Accountability, which began operation on Sept. 12 and is tasked with investigating K-12 public school corruption. But the General Assembly is unlikely to grant this office the subpoena power it needs to do its job effectively.

PGCPS ripped off the rest of Maryland, including Prince George’s County more generally, and then hid the full extent of its payouts from the public. If the law cannot be fixed, we should at least be able to expect a frank discussion from Prince George’s Board of Education and acting school superintendent.

Alas, this is legally prohibited because part of Maxwell’s severance contract mandates that neither the school board nor superintendent can henceforth engage in any public discussion that might be construed as “disparaging” to Maxwell. Since the public and press depend on conflict among such insiders to understand controversial issues, this ban harms First Amendment values of free speech. It should be challenged in court.

Given the practical difficulty of holding this conversation in Prince George’s County, it should be held elsewhere in Maryland. It should be central to the discussion of the Kirwan Commission Report, which will call for higher K-12 compensation, when it is publicly released after the November election. The public is entitled to know how much its public school employees are paid. Until the public has this information, including the huge and growing discrepancy in total compensation between junior and senior teachers, no changes in compensation should be made.

Maxwell’s case vividly illustrates not only how little the public knows about the magnitude and components of total public-school employee compensation, but also the perverse incentives that go into setting and disclosing it, especially when local governments determine its cost but the state pays for it.

J.H. Snider, the president of, publishes K12 Public School Compensation Transparency.



Major dispute over apple logo as Hogan campaign trolls Maryland teachers union after Union scheme goes awry.


Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

By Luke Broadwater

Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign trolled the state’s teachers’ union Wednesday after its representatives warned him that he was violating its trademark logo.

For years, candidates supported by the 80,000-member Maryland State Education Association have proudly displayed its red apple logo on their campaign materials to burnish their education bona fides with voters.

So, when representatives of the union — which has endorsed Hogan’s opponent, Democrat Ben Jealous — noticed Hogan was using a red apple logo and touting support from teachers in his campaign materials, they objected.

“We alerted Governor Hogan’s campaign to materials we believe violate our trademark and hope to quickly resolve this matter,” said Adam Mendelson, a spokesman for the teachers union.

In response, Hogan turned to social media Tuesday evening.

“A representative of the MSEA called our campaign and threatened to sue both our campaign and me personally for, get this, using an apple on our bumper sticker,” Hogan wrote on Facebook. “They said only their union has the right to use an apple. Like this post if you think they should focus on more important issues like educating our kids and get your free Teachers for Hogan bumper sticker.”

On Wednesday, the Hogan campaign posted large images on Facebook and Twitter of a red apple that said, “Teachers for Hogan.” And, Hogan campaign staffers delivered a basket of apples to the union’s headquarters in Annapolis — filming the delivery and posting it online.

The union said in a statement that it will “vigorously defend this trademark against infringement no matter the candidate or political party.”

Hogan’s campaign attorney, Chris Ashby, wrote to the union to argue it cannot have “a monopoly on public expression and political endorsement by teachers.”

“If ‘Teachers for’ infringes your mark, then there is no expression of support by a group of teachers for a political candidate that would not be infringing,” Ashby wrote.

Hogan campaign spokesman Scott Sloofman also released a pun-filled statement mocking the union’s litigation threat.

“It’s ridiculous that the MSEA is going bananas over an apple. They are being unraisinable,” he wrote in an email. “It’s unfortunate that they are attempting to squash the First Amendment rights of our thousands of teacher supporters who think our Teachers for Hogan bumper stickers are peachy.”

The Jealous campaign called Hogan’s actions part of a pattern in which the governor has acted “in an incredibly divisive manner and targeting educator leaders,” including referring to union leaders as “thugs” during a budget dispute in 2016.

“By mocking teachers, Larry Hogan is taking a page out of the Republican playbook,” Jealous said in a statement. “Educators deserve far more respect in our society than they get and they certainly don’t deserve to be mocked when they unify their voice to advocate for policies that help their students.”

Via Baltimore Sun.


Hogan’s opponent, Democrat Ben Jealous — noticed Hogan was using a red apple logo and touting support from teachers in his campaign materials, they objected.



Former Md. gubernatorial hopeful hired to school post after backing county leader


Onetime Maryland gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin

By Donna St. George and Ovetta Wiggins

Onetime Maryland gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin was hired into a six-figure job with the Prince George’s County school system less than three months after she dropped out of the governor’s race and threw her support behind the county’s top leader.

In the final stretch of the campaign, Ervin regularly stumped for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who was in a heated battle for the Democratic nomination. Baker hinted publicly that if he were elected, Ervin would join his administration.

But Baker lost the June 26 primary. In August, Ervin was hired to a $133,200-a-year position as a special assistant in the school system’s Office of Employee and Labor Relations. Officials in the state’s second-largest school system said the job was created in August to improve communication with the labor unions representing the district’s 20,000 full-time employees.

At least one school board member, David Murray, raised questions about political favoritism.

“It’s disappointing because it appears that school system jobs are continuing to be used as a political bargaining chip,” said Murray, who has been critical of Baker. “All too often, the school system is forced to hire friends, relatives and political allies of powerful politicians in the county.”

Murray said that although Ervin is qualified for the post, he is concerned about the manner of her selection. “The circumstances are questionable,” he said.

School district officials said this week that more than 40 people applied for the position, which was advertised, and that four applicants, including Ervin, were selected to appear before an interview panel.

The panel had five members, including the school system’s legal counsel, Shauna Battle; communications officer Raven Hill; a human resources staff member; a local union president; and Christian Rhodes, the school system’s chief of staff.

Rhodes worked for Baker as his education policy adviser from 2012 until joining the school system in 2014.

The panel scored Ervin highest among the four finalists, officials said. Her appointment was approved by the school board Aug. 23 in a closed session.

“This decision was not made in isolation,” school system spokesman John White said. “It followed the normal process.”

Rhodes said in an interview Tuesday that Ervin’s résumé “speaks for itself,” noting her labor background and time as a school board member and County Council member in neighboring Montgomery County.

“She is one of the foremost labor leaders in the country and has extensive knowledge of how local government works,” he said. “We look forward to using her expertise to forge a better relationship with our labor partners, especially in the realm of compensation.”

Ervin did not respond to requests for comment on her selection.

Before taking the schools job, Ervin worked as a senior adviser to the national Working Families Party, a political organization that advances issues important to working families, including paid sick leave and increasing the minimum wage.

Ervin, who was a candidate for lieutenant governor earlier this year, was running on a ticket with Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and decided to seek the state’s highest office after Kamenetz, 60, died of a heart attack in early May.

She ended her long-shot bid for governor in early June and endorsed Baker.

Much of Ervin’s background centers on unions. She started as a union organizer in the Mississippi Delta, working with laborers on poultry and catfish farms. She was promoted by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in 1987, leading her move to the Washington area.

As county executive, Baker persuaded state lawmakers in 2013 to give him expanded control of the county’s low-performing school system. He has the authority to select the school system’s chief executive and name the school board’s chairman and vice chairman.

A spokesman for Baker said Tuesday that Baker does not have authority to make hiring decisions such as the one involving Ervin. He also emphasized Ervin’s qualifications.

“Ms. Ervin’s background and credentials as a former Montgomery County school board member, County Council member and her experience working with labor unions, make her qualified for the position she obtained,” Baker spokesman Scott Peterson said. “The students, teachers, and administrators . . . as well as the taxpayers of Prince George’s County are very fortunate having a person with her background working on their behalf.”

Doris Reed, executive director of the Association of Supervisory and Administrative Personnel, the union that represents principals and supervisors, lauded Ervin’s hiring, adding that “she applied for the job like everyone else.” Reed described Ervin’s credentials as impeccable.

In recent days, some in the community reacted to a Facebook post noting that Rhodes drew a major salary increase, to $213,000 a year. Monica Goldson, interim chief executive of the Prince George’s school system, promoted Rhodes from chief of strategic and external affairs to chief of staff. His appointment, announced July 31, was confirmed by the board Aug. 23, according to White, the school system spokesman.

The salaries of Rhodes and other top aides became a flash point several months ago when critics spotlighted raises given by Kevin Maxwell, who was chief executive of the school system at the time. Figures released then showed Rhodes’s salary rose from $138,300 in 2015 to $188,100 in 2017.

His most recent salary in that position was $195,800, officials said.

Via  Washington post