Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO under fire for giving ‘unauthorized’ raises, board members say

By Lindsey Collins

The Prince George’s County Public School system’s CEO, Dr. Kevin Maxwell, has come under fire for giving unauthorized raises to staff members, according to school board members.

The incident came to light after three Board of Education members, Edward Burroughs III, Raaheela Ahmed and David Murray, sent a letter to County Executive Rushern Baker III about pay increases granted to two staff members in Executive and Management Scales.

The letter identifies a statement from Baker earlier this month in defending CEO Maxwell’s actions.

“In a recent interview on April 11, 2018, you defended Prince George’s County Public School’s Chief Executive Officer’s exorbitant salary increases to members of his executive cabinet by stating: ‘[Dr. Maxwell] certainly has the authority to hire and to fire and to raise people’s salaries, as long as he is doing it under the confines of the law,’” the letter begins. “You are correct that he does have certain rights under law. However, it appears that Dr. Kevin Maxwell has approved pay raises for several employees of the central office outside the confines of Maryland Law.”

The letter states that the “unauthorized” raises were given to two staff members in management and executive scales, outside of the CEO’s executive cabinet.

“Under HB 1107 that granted the authority to the CEO, it only covers members of his executive cabinet,” Burroughs said to WTOP. “It granted the CEO the authority to hire and set salaries for his executive staff. The individuals that he approved raises for in this latest batch are not members of his executive staff.”

Former Prince George’s County Public School student Elece Smith recalled being dissatisfied with Maxwell during her time there.

“I was in high school when they changed the title from superintendent and appointed him,” said Smith, a sophomore Japanese and anthropology double major. “I remember everyone was a little bit confused that we had a CEO instead of a superintendent. I remember talking about it in high school and being kind of discontent with the idea of being under the control of something that sounded more like a corporate entity than a school system.”

Despite the allegations, John White, the public information officer for the Prince George’s County Public school system, told The Washington Post that there was nothing improper about the raises.

The three board members also objected to the size of the raises in their letter, one a 9.4 percent raise and the other a 16 percent raise.

“The last salary increase approved by the Board of Education for individuals on the Executive and Management Scales was 2 percent,” states the letter, a significant amount lower than Maxwell’s approved raises.

“It appears he is going above and beyond what is legally his right,” letter co-author Ahmed told The Washington Post. “To me it’s very clear that when you’re talking about the office of the CEO, that’s a specific subgroup of people and not people in other offices.”

This is not the first time Maxwell has come under criticism. In addition to the three members of the Board of Education who sent Thursday’s letter urging Baker to fire Maxwell, the Prince George’s County chapter of the NAACP has called for Maxwell’s resignation.

“I think it is very concerning that the NAACP is asking for his resignation,” said UMD Black Student Union Social Action Committee member Maleeha Coleburn, a sophomore government and politics and public policy double major. “I’m from the area and it is scary to me. That should not happen.”

Democratic state Sen. Anthony Muse and Gov. Larry Hogan have also called for Maxwell’s firing.

“People are tired of the way the school board is operating right now,” NAACP Prince George’s County Branch President Bob Ross told WUSA9.

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