School board drops plan for interim team

January 15, 1991|By Gelareh Asayesh

The Baltimore school board has abandoned plans for a proposed "transition team" that would have run the schools until Superintendent Richard C. Hunter is replaced.

Board members reconsidered the idea, broached last week during a closed-door meeting with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, in response to the objections of a prospective member of the team, Deputy Superintendent J. Edward Andrews Jr.

Dr. Andrews said he expressed reservations about the transition team in a conversation with the mayor late last week, after last Tuesday's meeting between the mayor and the school board.

"I don't have the point of view that committees can run anything," he said.

Board members reconsidered the idea at an executive session yesterday morning held to discuss plans for searching for a new superintendent, said board member James C. Cusack. "What was in place with Ed was working fine," Mr. Cusack said. "I think we came to too hasty a decision on how to handle the situation [last week]."

Instead, the board president, Joseph Lee Smith, said the board will "monitor" programs and projects in the school system and stick with the status quo, with Dr. Andrews continuing to be responsible for the day-to-day operation of schools.

Dr. Andrews was identified as one of three likely members of the transition team. Two other names mentioned were Leonard D. Wheeler, assistant superintendent for elementary schools, and Gary Thrift, director of senior high schools.

The transition team was proposed after it became clear that Dr. Hunter intends to stay for the balance of his contract despite the mayor's announcement last month that he had lost confidence in his hand-picked choice for superintendent. Theschool board followed the mayor's lead Dec. 20 when it voted not to renew Dr. Hunter's contract, which expires July 31.

The establishment of such a team, which was expected at this Thursday's board meeting, was viewed as effectively sidelining Dr. Hunter, who has said through school system spokesman Douglas J. Neilson that he plans to continue with his duties.

Even without a transition team, school sources privately acknowledge the end result will likely be the same. For example, Mr. Schmoke told House Appropriations Committee members last week that the school system's representatives in Annapolis this session will be Rosetta G. Kerr, the schools' official lobbyist in the capital, and Dr. Andrews.

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