School & District Management

Gov.-Elect Wants Chief to Go

By Vaishali Honawar — December 05, 2006 1 min read
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Maryland’s newly elected governor believes it’s time for state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick to say goodbye, but she says she’s not leaving the job she’s held for 15 years any time soon.

Nancy S. Grasmick

According to Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for Gov.-elect Martin O’Malley, who is serving his last few weeks as the mayor of Baltimore, Mr. O’Malley and Ms. Grasmick have not spoken directly in months.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, has said in a series of radio and television interviews since his election Nov. 7 that he believes it is time for a change at the state department of education, which Ms. Grasmick, 67, has led since 1991 under governors of both major parties.

“I think it would be a great time for a fresh start. ... I think in her heart of hearts, she probably knows that, too,” Mr. O’Malley told the Washington-based WUSA-TV last month.

Mr. O’Malley and Ms. Grasmick, who have long been at loggerheads over how to improve the Baltimore city schools, particularly clashed earlier this year after the superintendent attempted to take over four of the city’s low-performing schools under provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act—the first attempt in the country to invoke the federal law as grounds for a state takeover.

The legislature thwarted the attempt, but Ms. Grasmick’s move was interpreted by many in Maryland as political.

Although a Democrat, she has been a close ally of outgoing Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican who, at the time, was anticipating his eventual contest with Mr. O’Malley over the governorship.

Mr. O’Malley has no direct power to remove Ms. Grasmick, who was appointed by the 12-member state school board and is part way through a four-year contract that will expire in June 2008.

“The state department of education was designed to be separated from politics, and that has served the citizens of Maryland really well,” said Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for Ms. Grasmick.

A version of this article appeared in the December 06, 2006 edition of Education Week

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