Official to resign in wake of remarks

Arundel aide erred in saying student had been arrested

March 09, 2002|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A top aide to Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens is expected to resign next week after she wrongly identified in public an Annapolis youth as having been arrested and said the local Boys and Girls Clubs had turned him around.

A county spokesman confirmed yesterday that Susan Kleinberg, a clinical psychologist, will leave her $99,979 Cabinet-level post as the county's human services officer in the wake of remarks the spokesman termed unfortunate and inexplicable.

Kleinberg did not respond to telephone messages yesterday.

At a meeting Tuesday to discuss community improvement at the troubled Orchards at Severn community, Kleinberg said that Monte Graves, a St. Mary's High linebacker who went on to play football for the University of Maryland, had been accused of a crime, but the Boys and Girls Clubs had helped him tremendously, Owens spokesman Matt Diehl confirmed.

But that was only partly correct: Graves participated in the Annapolis club, but he was not arrested. Kleinberg has been apologizing ever since.

"This mistake is completely unexplainable," Diehl said.

Kleinberg had hoped to highlight the benefits of the national network, which includes clubs in Annapolis and at other sites in Anne Arundel County.

Word got back to Graves' mother, Deneice Fisher, who helped found the Planning Action Committee of Anne Arundel County, and who was upset, sources said. Fisher did not return telephone messages yesterday.

Kleinberg met Thursday with Fisher to apologize and met repeatedly with Owens through yesterday afternoon, Diehl said.

He said he could not discuss whether Kleinberg offered to leave her post or whether Owens sought her resignation. The resignation is expected next week, he said.

Asked if Kleinberg, who is white, was stereotyping a black youth involved in the youth clubs, Diehl said he could not explain her remarks but doubted that was her intent.

The youth clubs offer targeted activities to at-risk children. But they also provide a range of general community programs to people age 18 and younger, including recreational sports leagues, tutoring and arts. Efforts to reach local club officials yesterday were not successful.

Last month, Graves received the Youth Service Award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County for serving as a positive example of a participant in the organization.

He earned scholar-athlete honors at the University of Maryland and is expected to graduate in May, according to published reports.

Kleinberg has been a key player in the Owens administration's moves to redevelop the former Wiley H. Bates High School, in efforts to create affordable housing and in programs to help troubled kids.

Sun staff writer Rona Kobell contributed to this article.

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