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Baltimore County Superintendent Defends Track Record As Pressure Mounts

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Baltimore County superintendent of schools is defending his record because of pressure mounting against him.

Some Baltimore County council members are requesting a search for a possible replacement for Dr. Darryl Williams. The five council members have concerns that the superintendent is doing a poor job at running the school system.

In a letter dated June 7, 2022, five Baltimore County council members said under the leadership of the current superintendent, there's low student and teacher morale, discipline and academic performance continue to be a big problem and for that reason, they want a search for a new superintendent.

"We recognize that the last two-plus years gave posed significant challenges,' the council members wrote in the joint letter. "But instead of rising to the challenge, BCPS leadership has struggled."

County council members are asking the county school board to conduct a comprehensive and wide-ranging search for a new superintendent.

In a five-page response letter, Dr. Williams defended the job he's doing and wrote in part that "BCPS is diligently working to address long-standing issues with staff climate and morale."

The superintendent also wrote in his letter, "It is important to note that while pandemic-related "direct health consequences" and "vast interruptions to everyday life" are referenced in the Council letter, notably absent from the letter is the recognition of the tangible, long-lasting impact on our society and public school systems. Our schoolhouse doors are open, however, as public health and educational experts have noted, expectations for a rapid return to normal are unrealistic and belie the lived experiences of families. This is not an excuse, but critical context for the current state of affairs.

Dr. Williams and his administration have faced criticism for their response to the pandemic along with bus driver and staff shortages. Even the teachers' union is saying their voices are not always heard.

"The communication is still an ongoing problem," said Cindy Sexton, President of the Teacher's Association of Baltimore County.

The superintendent has about 18 months left in his contract and some people are defending him.

"Are there problems? Yes, there are problems. There are shortages of staff, there are learning loss, social-emotional problems, all these things need to be addressed, but they take time," said Delegate Sheila Ruth of Baltimore County.

Parents have also been part of this conversation about leadership in Baltimore County schools. A parent group called the Baltimore County Parents' Coalition has been critical of the superintendent's performance.

"We had our concerns with Dr. Williams for the past few years and we just want to make sure we have the best person for this difficult job," said Amy Adams, President of the Baltimore County Parents coalition.

Other parents have praised the work that's being done inside their children's schools. And in instances where there are challenges, some parents say they are working to be part of the solution by being volunteers.

"I volunteer here a couple of times, like couple times each month as part of the other watchdog program," said Richard Lewis, a parent with students at Lansdowne Elementary. "When you have personnel in the community that lets the teachers know that they are appreciated, that morale comes right back."

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