By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]

When the residents of Prince George’s boldly advocated for one of their own to become the full time Chief Executive Officer of the school system, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks had no choice but to listen.

And she did.

The interim title was officially removed from Dr. Monica Goldson’s position when she was named the Chief Executive Officer of the state’s second largest school system June 18 after steadying its course following the resignation of Dr. Kevin Maxwell for almost one year.  She claims to be the first woman native of the County to lead the school system in more than 100 years.

After a nationwide search, native Prince Georgian Dr. Monica Goldson was selected as CEO for Prince George’s County Public Schools. (Courtesy Photo)

“She has a complete and comprehensive understanding of our school system,” Alsobrooks said, while making the formal announcement. She added that this broad experience gives Goldson, “a 360-degree view of our system.”

Maxwell was forced to resign after leading PGCPS for five tumultuous years. His tenure was marked by scandal and inefficiency that led to losing grant funding and being publicly admonished by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan with three years left on his contract.  However, Maxwell left with a severance package of almost $800,000.

“I started out as a teacher, and I’m a CEO,” Goldson said following Alsobrooks’ announcement. As state law required, Prince George’s County conducted a national pursuit led by the H.Y.A search firm where 20 candidates were vetted for the position. A three-person committee appointed by Gov. Hogan narrowed the list to three finalists who were then interviewed by Alsobrooks. The other candidates and Goldson were selected from that list.

In May a public forum was held at Flowers High School where residents of the County were given the chance to address Alsobrooks and the search firm that was charged with the task of establishing the list of finalists.  

Most of the residents who spoke during the gathering, which lasted almost three hours, said familiarity with the PGCPS was the most important factor that should be considered for its next CEO.  They had grown weary of outsiders running the system and were looking for a candidate who had a vested interest in leading it for more than just a great salary. They also stressed the importance of transparency when dealing with issues facing students and their families.

“As I worked through this process, the only issue that I worried about was having to tell children that if someone else was selected, they aren’t good enough to lead a district such as this, because I’m cut from the same cloth they’re cut from,” Goldson said.

Goldson is a native of the County who has been working in the school system for four decades.  Her career began as a teacher at Suitland High School and ascended to principal at Frederick Douglass and Henry Wise High Schools.  Goldson also had been the school system’s Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning before taking over as the interim CEO last July. Her formal education began at Barnaby Manor Elementary School before attending John Hanson Junior High and Potomac High Schools.  

Goldson’s children are reportedly enrolled in PGCPS schools.

“She was our choice before she was your choice,” said Alvin Thornton, chairman of the PGCPS School Board in response to Alsobrooks remarks and said that the board hoped Goldson would be selected.

The final contract will be negotiated with the Prince George’s County Board of Education then vetted by the Maryland State Department of Education. It is expected to be finalized by June 30, which is the day Goldson’s interim appointment officially ends.

“[The] challenges [facing the PGCPS] can be overcome if we all come together,” Goldson concluded.