Top staff positions at schools announced

Restructured system includes 3 new posts

2 succeed in appealing demotions

Howard County

May 28, 2004|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Howard County's interim school superintendent announced a restructuring of his top staff yesterday that includes three new positions and spots for two previously demoted administrators, who successfully appealed reassignments.

"I'm trying to put some balance into the system, structural balance," interim chief Sydney L. Cousin said after the school board meeting during which he presented the changes.

Cousin rearranged the hierarchical system into three areas, effective by June 12: curriculum development, curriculum implementation and business operations.

Curriculum development will be led by former Deputy Superintendent Kimberly Statham, who had been on administrative leave since being demoted in February to a teaching position by the previous superintendent after being accused of using her position to get preferential treatment for her children.

Statham appealed her demotion, and the school board decided in her favor late last week, paving the way for her to take the job as chief academic officer - a position she held before being promoted to deputy last year.

In charge of curriculum implementation will be Sandra Erickson, who was an associate superintendent in charge of Howard County instruction from 1993 until 2001, when she left to become an assistant state superintendent. She will take on a new post: chief of administration and school instruction.

Under her will be Roger L. Plunkett, who reassumes his post as assistant superintendent for school administration, which he also held until being demoted in February - accused of performing academic favors for Statham.

He, too, was cleared by the school board and steps into his old role, though he will no longer oversee school-based administrators. That job will fall to three directors of administration, two of whom are in place.

The school system will advertise for the third position, along with a job as director of facilities to oversee school planning and construction. Raymond Brown, who returned to the school system this month after a brief stint in Harford County, will head the business side as chief operating officer.

"All three of the chiefs are going to be a team that can help [Cousin] move the system forward," said Courtney Watson, chairman of the school board.

The last time the school system was reorganized at the top level was last summer, when Cousin retired as a deputy superintendent.

To deal with the hole Cousin left, then-Superintendent John R. O'Rourke promoted Statham and created a chief-of-staff position, with the expectation that the two of them would fill Cousin's shoes.

Cousin, who returned to the system in March, did away with the deputy superintendent slot and the chief-of-staff position, which its occupant - Mark Blom - requested. Blom will return to his previous position as school system general counsel.

"I want to devote myself more to schools," Blom said. "I realized it just wasn't possible to be chief of staff and provide the level of service to the schools that I want."

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