Prince George's school board to discuss probe of CEO Hornsby

April 21, 2005|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

The Prince George's County school board is to meet tonight in closed session to discuss possible responses to a federal investigation of the county schools chief, which attracted renewed notice Tuesday when FBI agents seized documents from school system offices.

County schools CEO Andre J. Hornsby has come under scrutiny for his dealings with several education vendors, including his approval in June of a $1 million purchase from a company, LeapFrog SchoolHouse, that employed a woman with whom he was living.

Hornsby has said his girlfriend was not involved in the deal, but she and another saleswoman left the company in December, along with the company's president, after its internal inquiry into what had happened with the $40,000 commission on the sale.

The school board, which cleared Hornsby in the fall of any wrongdoing, hired a forensic auditor to re-examine his vendor dealings after the departure of the saleswomen.

Board members are awaiting the auditor's report, but after this week's visit by FBI agents, members said it is time to revisit the situation.

"I have every confidence the board will meet and deliberate in good faith to ensure the integrity of the Prince George's school system," said board member Judy Mickens-Murray.

Del. James Hubbard, a Prince George's Democrat, said the time had come to place Hornsby on paid leave, if not fire him.

"He should have been placed on leave a long time ago, and now they should ask him to leave," he said.

Sen. Paul Pinsky, another Prince George's Democrat and a Hornsby critic, was more circumspect. Asking Hornsby to leave based on the FBI's visit may be rash, and it may be hard to place him on paid leave without knowing how long the federal probe will last, he said.

"While I have not been a strong supporter, I also believe in due process," Pinsky said. "Obviously, we have a mess."

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