Five Board of Ed Seats on the 2020 Ballot: Will You Run?

2020-Elections

by T. Carter Ross

PGCABS does not endorse candidates but aims to provide information to the Prince George’s County community about those who are running and the candidacy process. We will publish candidate profiles and Q&As in early spring. Although the April Democratic and Republican primaries are closed primaries, registered independent voters can vote on Board of Education races.

While the Democratic contest for the 2020 presidential may be the biggest political contest of the moment, decisions about down-ticket races here in Prince George’s County are being made over the coming weeks. Five of the nine elected seats on the Board of Education — Districts 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8 — are on the ballot in the April primary election with the top-two vote-getters in each race advancing to the November general election.

The seats are currently held by David Murray (District 1), Raaheela Ahmed (District 5), K. Alexander Wallace (District 7), and Edward Burroughs III (District 8). The District 4 seat is currently vacant, pending an appointment by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. Any or all of the sitting board members may decide to seek re-election; however, anyone who files as a candidate may also run. The main requirement for a Board of Education seat is that the candidate must live in the district they are seeking to represent.

Board of Education races are non-partisan; however, to appear on the April 28, 2020, primary ballots, candidates must file in person with the Prince George’s County Board of Elections a certificate of candidacy before 9 p.m. on January 24, 2020.

As part of the filing process, candidates must fill out several forms outlining who they are, where they live, and the race they are entering. There is also a filing fee of $25. Candidates must also file a financial disclosure as part of the state of Maryland’s ethics rules. Additional forms and affidavits may be required, depending upon circumstances. The State Board of Elections candidacy information page outlines the full requirements and includes links to the required forms. (While the Board of Education races are non-partisan, the information under Democrat and/or Republican is the process used.)

Finally, candidates must also establish a Candidate Campaign Committee, which can be done electronically via the Maryland Campaign Reporting Information (MCRIS) website. As part of this a dedicated campaign bank account must be established. Before any money is spent or raised for a campaign, this committee must be organized and approved by the State Board of Elections. The MCRIS system is used throughout the election cycle to report contributions and expenditures as part of required filings. The public can use the same system to view current and past campaign finance reports, as well as information about any actions taken by the state regarding problems with campaign finance reporting.

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Recap of Last Tuesday’s District 7 Education Roundtable

by Robyn Kravitz

On September 18, Board Member K. Alexander Wallace hosted an inaugural Education Roundtable discussion for stakeholders from District 7. Attendants included parents from Wise High School, Imagine Morningside, Benjamin D. Foulois CPAA, Overlook Spanish Immersion, Bradberry Heights, and Arrowhead, along with District 7 residents, educators, and administrators.

Mr. Wallace shared that his job as a board of education member has three pillars — policy, budget, and community engagement. He hopes that this roundtable will be an ongoing tradition for District 7 residents that will help him with all three pillars. To drive the point home, Mr. Wallace has scheduled the next roundtable meeting for November 27, 6:30pm at Drew Freeman Middle School. After some quick introductions, the meeting was a true roundtable experience. Folks shared concerns and brainstormed potential solutions. Most points related to two different topics: communications and investment in PGCPS.

Many folks raised concerns about communications and consistency.  Different schools –and even teachers within a given school — use various tools to communicate with families. The idea that came out of the meeting was that a policy could be created requiring principals to release information to parents that clearly laying out the ways in which the school will communicate with families. There wasn’t a strong preference for one communication tool, just a strong desire for a consistent tool choice (i.e., ClassDojo, SchoolMax, Gov Delivery, text message, etc.). This idea resonated strongly with the room. It felt like a compromise that would give a principal the freedom to decide with method works best for their school but also provide transparency and a clear directive, so families know exactly where to look for communications.

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Board Member Wallace Answers Questions About Customer Service Handbook and Secret Shopper Program

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Board Member K. Alexander Wallace (District 7) answered our questions about the new Customer Service Handbook developed by Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). He also gave us insights into the new “secret shopper” initiative. The views expressed are Mr. Wallace’s own and do not represent those of the school system.

How was the idea for the Customer Service Handbook developed? Tell us a little bit about the philosophy behind the new handbook.

​While the Customer Service Handbook was something developed by the Maxwell administration and through the work of our PGCPS ombudsman, Dr. Edward Newsome, the topic of and discussion around bettering the interactions of all internal and external PGCPS stakeholders ​grew over time through collaborative discussions between the board of education and senior level administration.

As board members, we are often told stories of inappropriate actions, statements, or interactions of staff members, whether it be to a colleague or to a student, volunteer, or family member. Even a few board members themselves have received unsatisfactory customer service from PGCPS employees.

While these actions, statements, and interactions do not speak to the dedication of the vast majority of our nearly 20,000 employees, there is truth to the notion that “one bad apple spoils it for the whole bunch” — pun intended.

What is the timeline for training employees on the new handbook? Is there an initial area of focus (e.g. school offices, secretaries, transportation, etc)?

​The timeline for employee training and the order in which departments are trained will be decided by the administration. ​It is my hope that the training start with our support staff. While every department within the school system is extremely vital, it is a known fact that for every teacher or principal a student interacts with, there are several more support staff members (paraprofessionals, nurses, bud drivers, security assistants, registrars, cafeteria staff, building and maintenance staff, etc.) that students interact with — sometimes before they even step foot into the classroom.

Did looking at other school systems inform the development of the Customer Service Handbook? Who was involved in the creation of the handbook?

​From the briefings​ that I have been a part of, which were open to the public, the point was made very clear that not too many school systems of comparable size and demographic to PGCPS had a formal document that all stakeholders could point to and hold individuals accountable. Due to this, the handbook was formed out of a few key examples, including well known companies and organizations known for their high level of customer service: Nordstrom, Chic-fil-A, Ritz Carlton, etc.

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Elections 2016: Ahmed, Burroughs, Eubanks, Wallace, Murray Win Board Seats

Five seats on the Prince George’s County Board of Education were up for grabs in today’s general election. Incumbents Edward Burroughs (Dist. 8), K. Alexander Wallace (Dist. 7), and Patricia Eubanks (Dist. 4) successfully defended their seats on the Board, while Raaheela Ahmed won the open seat in District 5. David Murray ran unopposed for the District 1 seat, after his opponent moved out of state.

Here are the Maryland State Board of Elections unofficial results for the five school board races in Prince George’s County:

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Q & A with K. Alexander Wallace, District 7 Board of Education Candidate

img_0010_0This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with PGCPS Board of Education candidates. K. Alexander Wallace is a candidate from District 7 (see district map here). Mr. Wallace answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools. 

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and why you feel that you would be an effective member of the Board of Education.

In the spring of 2015, I went to the Board of Elections and filed for my candidacy to run for the District 7 seat on the Board of Education for Prince George’s County, a county that I was born and raised in. In November of 2015, the County Executive appointed me to represent District 7 and the County Council voted to affirm my confirmation, 9-0. I am proud to say that I currently represent District 7, a district where I was born and a district where I graduated.

I am running to remain on the Board of Education because I have the necessary experience it takes to fulfill the duties of a Board member. The Board is required to increase academic achievement, engage the families and communities, approve educational policies and procedures, and to oversee the nearly $2 billion budget. Throughout my nearly 15 years of combined education policy, community engagement, and grassroots advocacy experience, I have had the honor of working in the Maryland General Assembly and on Capitol Hill where I helped advocate for better educational polices and equitable funding and resources for children of color and children living in poverty – many of whom live in District 7.

I am a product of the county school system, K-12 (Patuxent Elementary, Gwynn Park Middle, Frederick Douglass High, Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High). I furthered my education at Towson University (Undergraduate) and the University of Baltimore (Graduate) where I spent countless years working with the University System of Maryland, the Maryland Higher Education Commission, and the Maryland Youth Advisory Council to advocate for pathways to higher education for Maryland’s youth by making sure education was affordable, accessible, and of high quality.

What are two or three special challenges that you see in your school board district, and how would you work with the community to address them?

One challenge is the high number of aging schools in District 7. While this district has received a handful of new schools and school renovations, such as Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School, Barack Obama Elementary School, North Forestville Elementary, and William Beanes Elementary Schools, there are still too many schools who have been overlooked by the county. We need to rebuild Suitland High School, as well as Drew Freeman and Benjamin Stoddert Middle Schools. Since my time on the Board, I have worked to push these three schools up on our priority list and construction/renovations in the coming years if we receive full funding from the State and County Council.

The school system has recently been under fire for several alleged incidents of abuse and neglect. How will you work to increase a sense of respect and security, for children and their families, in our school system?

The actions of the staff members that have been discovered have been outright disgusting and indefensible. It is because of these events, coupled with the unethical actions of previous PGCPS staff, from the Board of Education down, that has fractured the trust the community has. While these handful of staff members have been dealt with, for the nearly 20,000 staff members within PGCPS, we know that they wake up every day ready to teach, nurture, and grow our students. As Board Members, we need to promote that, governing by facts and not fears. We need to re-engage our stakeholders, on a macro and micro level. As the Chair of the Family and Community Engagement Committee, I have made this a top initiative for the committee.

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Q & A with K. Alexander Wallace, District 7 Board of Education Candidate

img_0010_0This is part of a series of interviews with PGCPS Board of Education candidates. K. Alexander Wallace was appointed to the Board of Education in November 2015 and is one of two candidates from District 7 (see district map here) whose names will be on the ballot in the general election. Mr. Wallace answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools. 

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose Board of Education candidates.

Tell us about your background and why you are running for the Board of Education.

In the spring of 2015, I went to the Board of Elections and filed for my candidacy to run for the District 7 seat on the Board of Education for Prince George’s County, a county that I was born and raised in. In November of 2015, the County Executive appointed me to represent District 7 and the County Council voted to affirm my confirmation, 9-0. I am proud to say that I currently represent District 7, a district where I was born and a district where I graduated.

I am running to remain on the Board of Education because I have the necessary experience it takes to fulfill the duties of a Board member. The Board is required to increase academic achievement, engage the families and communities, approve educational policies and procedures, and to oversee the nearly $2 billion budget. Throughout my nearly 15 years of combined education policy, community engagement, and grassroots advocacy experience, I have had the honor of working in the Maryland General Assembly and on Capitol Hill where I helped advocate for better educational polices and equitable funding and resources for children of color and children living in poverty – many of whom live in District 7.

I am a product of the county school system, K-12 (Patuxent Elementary, Gwynn Park Middle, Frederick Douglass High, Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High). I furthered my education at Towson University (Undergraduate) and the University of Baltimore (Graduate) where I spent countless years working with the University System of Maryland, the Maryland Higher Education Commission, and the Maryland Youth Advisory Council to advocate for pathways to higher education for Maryland’s youth by making sure education was affordable, accessible, and of high quality.

What are your top three goals for PGCPS, and how do you plan to accomplish them if elected?

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New Dist. 7 Board of Education Member Welcomed

K. Alexander Wallace, the new District 7 Board of Education member, was introduced at the November 12 Board of Education meeting.

You may watch Board Chair Eubanks’s welcome and Mr. Wallace’s introductory remarks, beginning at 14:50 and ending at 16:45 in the video of the November 12 meeting below.

 

Mr. Wallace is pursuing a Master in Public Administration at the University of Baltimore, after having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Towson University. He is a graduate of Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School in Prince George’s County and currently lives in Upper Marlboro.

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