School Board Clowns Make Takeover Seem Right (Demo)

This Thursday May 2nd at 7pm, Citizens for an Elected Board (CEB) will hod a meeting at 8000 Marlboro Pike, Forestville MD 20747 (PGCEA building) to kickoff a petition drive in hopes of bringing County Executive Rushern Baker‘s Board of Education takeover to a referendum.  More than 8,000 signatures are needed by May 31 to stop the bill from going into effect on June1. If CEB gets 25,000 signatures for their petition by June 30, the bill would be on hold pending the referendum.  But juvenile, retaliatory behavior by School Board Chairwoman Verjeana Jacobs has me saying put your pens down.  Jacobs and her merry band of jesters have voted to suspend the credit card of fellow board member and County Executive Baker BOE takeover bid supporter Carletta Fellows.  It’s a sorry state of affairs on that Board. 

Carletta Fellows
Carletta Fellows, Courtesy PGC Blog

Carletta Fellows reportedly made purchases for her home office that included a Washington Gas bills ($103.22), Verizon Wireless bills ($212.71), Pepco bills ($26.45) and a $20 bill for alcohol.  Ummm now Carletta, you can’t buy booze on my dime.  According to the Gazette article, these expenses don’t qualify as expenses a Board of Education Member can charge, but to strip her of her card just reeks of retaliation, “Edward Burroughs III (Dist. 8), who put forth the motion to strip Fellows of her credit card at the board’s April 25 meeting.  An emergency item was added to the agenda, where school system internal auditor Michele Winston presented the board with a list of expenses for February and March, during which Fellows’ county-issued Visa was used to pay Washington Gas bills ($103.22), Verizon Wireless bills ($212.71), Pepco bills ($26.45) and a $20 bill for alcohol.
“Board chairwoman Verjeana Jacobs (Dist. 5) said Winston first brought the issue to her attention in March, and that
Verjeana Jacobs
Verjeana Jacobs, courtesy PGC Blog

multiple attempts were made to resolve the issue with Fellows before it came before the board.  Winston said Fellows’ credit card was also used to purchase $116.55 in supplies from Staples, including paper towels and toilet paper.  Fellows agreed to pay back the alcohol bill, but said the other items, totaling $722.56, were allowable home office expenses.”   And please take note of this quote from Verjeana Jacobs; it’s priceless.  “It doesn’t make sense,” Jacobs said. “How could it be retaliatory when she is the one who made the charges?”
This is the kind of foolishness that has the Board of Education at a loss of control.  In the meantime,  Debbie Sell, president of Prince Georgeans for an Informed Citizenry and a member of is leading the petition drive to keep the current school board in place.  With behavior like this, you have to ask, why even bother?


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Comments (4)

I’ve become a regular reader of your blog, and I very much enjoy your posts and generally agree with your common sense take on things. On this particular issue, however, I have to disagree with you. Maybe I don’t know all the facts, or maybe the media optics have unfairly distorted my view of Carletta Fellows. But the picture of her that has emerged seems to be that of a person who has not been willing to do the hard work of required of those on the BOE, truly understanding the system and putting in the effort needed to make sound decisions. Rather, she seems like a person who likes the image of a rogue reformer and the attention it brings. This financial stuff only adds to this emerging picture of her, making her look sloppy and clueless as to appearances of impropriety. If her power increases as a result of the Baker takeover, I would not be surprised if some years down the line we will reading about a scandal of some sort surrounding her. There are many valid reasons to be skeptical of Ms. Jacobs and other BOE members, but in this case I was really expecting the term “clown” to be referring to Ms. Fellows.

I have to agree that I may be wrong on some aspects of this post. So much information has come flooding in about Carletta Fellows and her ties to politicians in PGCo. Wow! Also found out that there was a Board of Education WIDE problem with the use of credit cards and they ALL were supposed to be revoked. Thanks for reading the blog!!!

I support the taking over of the school board. While I dont personally know how to run a school system, I do know that what is in place now has not been working for decades. I am willing to take a chance on trying something new that may or may not work but at least its better than sticking to the same thing that has not been working for decades.
If Rushern Bakers plan does not work at least they can say they tried something and it did not work, take the mistakes from that plan and work on building a new plan until you get the right formula in place, but doing nothing and continuing business as normal is what I am against.

I agree that PGCPS is in need of a shake-up of some sort, no question about it. But the timing and the way the takeover was orchestrated are obviously creating circumstances that are not conducive to improving the schools, certainly not in the short term. The interim leader is leaving, we’ll get another interim leader, and who knows how long it will be before we have a permanent CEO/superintendent. Also, Baker is hinting about a “non-traditional” CEO, which is a huge red flag for me. That sounds to me like a Gates Foundation-approved corporate-type leader who knows nothing about education and who is likely to bring exactly the kind of changes I don’t want. (But, I try not to pre-judge. I’ll wait to see what/who Baker rolls out. Not that I haven’t contacted Baker to express my preferences…)
Anyways, the legislation was passed and I think we need to unite in an effort to improve our schools. That’s why I’m not keen on the efforts to challenge the legislative changes through a referendum. It will only extend the fight and chaos, and keep us from focusing on the schools and our kids. That’s why I will be focused on being actively involved with my child’s school and being a parent advocate within the new governance system.

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