SEABROOK – The Republican Central Committee for Prince George’s County (RCCPGC) has begun an online petition to demand the removal of Board of Education (BOE) Chairman Segun C. Eubanks.
After negotiating a $790,000 severance package for former Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell and assaulting a member of the board, it is time for a change, RCCPGC Chairman Brandon Cooper said.
As of Aug. 27, the petition has 489 supporters with the organization promoting it on their website and their social media platforms on Twitter and Facebook.
“County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III must immediately terminate (his brother-in-law), Dr. Segun Eubanks, as Board of Education Chairman so that the school system can move forward past the scandals and poor performance of its leaders,” the petition said.
It comes after the end of a tumultuous 2017-2018 school year. After being engulfed with scandals, Maxwell announced his resignation on May 1. The decision to give him a lofty severance package in July was met with ire by most, including members of the board itself.
During the same Board of Education (BOE) meeting, members Edward Burroughs and David Murray made statements showing disappointment with Eubanks in not finding other ways to deal with Maxwell resignation.
“His contract did not require it,” Cooper said. “But it was given and negotiated by Mr. Eubanks. It just seems that to move forward in a new chapter for our county’s education system, we have to start with new leadership.”
After the board meeting, Eubanks reportedly assaulted fellow member Burroughs, III by pinning him up against the wall. Burroughs filed criminal charges against Eubanks the next day.
Results from the final meeting caused the petition to be released but bad sentiments about the BOE dated back in 2013, Copper said. The State Senate passed House Bill 1107, which added four new leadership positions to the board, all chosen by the county executive.
Since then, there have been disagreements on how effective the BOE has been, with resident protesting the school system outside the county administration building in Sept. 2016.
“It was a traumatic takeover of the school system and the elected members of the school board by giving all that power to Baker, the county executive, and the county council,” Cooper said. “When we say we want to return back to school board structure, we mean returning the power back to the people so voters can vote for their school board members and they elect a chairman and superintendent.”
Prince George’s County Educators’ Association (PGCEA) President Theresa Mitchell Dudley agrees with Cooper on the problems with the current structure of the board. While she did not publicly announce support for the RCCPGC’s petition, Dudley said that any change would add accountability to the BOE and give power back to the voters should be welcomed.
“(The bill passing) polarized the school system so when people are loyal to the people they serve, they make decisions not reflecting what their values might be but where their loyalty lies,” Dudley said.
“Whether (Eubanks) should resign or not, it is not my say. It lies on the hands of the county executive, and that is a problem when you do not have an elected school board.”
Cooper said that there are plans to expand the petition within the base “42,000 registered republicans” in the county and with more voices that speak out against Eubanks’ handling of the school system, like Burroughs and Murray; the pressure will continue to mount. The goal of the petition is to get residents’ voices heard on the topic, so it becomes larger, Cooper said.
“It is no secret that Prince George’s County has had problems with its school system,” Cooper said.
“We will continue pushing, and hopefully, the county leadership will listen to the residents who would like to see a new chapter in the education system.”
In a statement provided by the BOE offices addressing the petition, Eubanks said that his focus is on starting the 2018-19 school year in the right mindset.
“This is a new chapter for Prince George’s County Public Schools and an opportunity to support our students in new ways. I am focused on moving forward with our Interim Chief Executive Officer, the Executive Team and my fellow Board Members as partners in education.
“The start of a new school year is always an exciting time. I have every confidence that we will work together to build on our progress, address our challenges and celebrate our successes,” Eubanks said.
The petition was not addressed during the board’s first meeting of the school year on Aug. 23. Earlier that same day, a protective order against Eubanks was dropped but district court officials confirmed that criminal charges are still active. Both Eubanks and Burroughs did not appear in court but they both were present during the board meeting.