Baltimore County schools Deputy Superintendent Elfreda W. Massie has accepted a management position with an educational publishing company near Chicago, ending speculation that she might become the county's first African-American schools chief.
According to sources in the school system and the community, Massie is expected to leave before June. She has not submitted a letter of resignation to the Board of Education, said board President Donald L. Arnold.
"I'm sad to see her go if that is true," Arnold said. "I think very highly of her. She is a very accomplished administrator. She was one person whom we could talk to to get issues resolved more quickly."
Massie is expected to become a vice president at Rigby Education, a publishing firm in Crystal Lake, Ill., that produces supplementary literacy resources and alternative reading programs, and conducts staff training for educators.
Marchione, who appointed Massie deputy superintendent in 1996, declined comment earlier this week regarding her departure.
Recently, Massie said she was "definitely interested" in the superintendent's job. It is unclear, however, if she formally applied for the position. She could not be reached for comment yesterday.
About 30 applications have been submitted to Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the Illinois consulting firm that is helping the county search for a a superintendent, according to Arnold. He said an announcement about the post is expected before April.
Reports of Massie's expected resignation dashed hopes by some that the 49-year-old schools administrator might replace outgoing Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione when he retires in June.
"I am devastated by the news that she will be leaving," said Ella White Campbell, chairman of the county's African-American advisory group. "She has been extremely effective and is a confident administrator. She would have served the school system well as superintendent."
Sources said Massie planned to announce her resignation during last week's school board meeting, which was canceled because of snow. Since then, talk about her new job has been circulating at the school system's headquarters in Towson.
When Marchione named Massie deputy superintendent four years ago, some school system observers said it sent a message that ethnic and cultural diversity was a priority with county officials.
Others said the appointment was meant to mend relations with the Baltimore County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Some NAACP members had challenged Marchione's promotion to superintendent.
Massie supporters say she has improved educational opportunities for African-American students, who make up about 30 percent of the 106,723-student school system. Many had expected her to be a top candidate in the superintendent search.