School Superintendent Larry L. Lorton has announced that he will notfinish out his term as head of the county's school system.
Board of Education President Jo Ann Tollenger read a brief statement at theclose of Wednesday night's board meeting, stating that Lorton would leave his position as of Feb. 28.
"Dr. Lorton asked to be released from his service at the end of this month in order to give him time to explore other options and
opportunities, and to facilitate the smoothest possible transition as the board conducts a search for his successor," Tollenger said in thestatement.
"The board thanks Dr. Lorton for his dedicated serviceto the school system and wishes him well in the future."
On Jan. 17, Lorton announced plans to resign at the end of the school year. His four-year contract with the school system would have expired July 1, and there has been much speculation that the contractwould not have been renewed.
Deputy Superintendent C. Berry Carter II will become acting superintendent until a replacement for Lorton is named.
While both Lorton and board members have denied he was forced out of his position, the relationship between Lorton and board members has appeared strained.
In December, a public meeting ended abruptly andboard members went into closed session with Lorton after he announced plans for a four-day employee furlough. Lorton's plan was contrary to an agreement board members had made with employee unions.
The closed session lasted 40 minutes. When the public meeting resumed, Lorton withdrew his plans.
Lorton came to the county's school system in 1988 after serving as superintendent of St. Mary's County public schools for eight years.
Lorton will continue to draw his $94,815 salary until June 30. He also has agreed to be a consultant to the school board.
The outgoing superintendent is the third superintendentto head the county's school system in nine years.