Renee Foose won’t be working for the Maryland State Department of Education, after all.
The Baltimore Sun’s Liz Bowie and Erin Cox broke the news last night that the formerly embattled Howard County Public Schools superintendent declined the job offered to her on Tuesday. As the state’s new assistant superintendent for assessment, accountability and information technology, she would have made between $92,333 and $123,236 in salary, according to an agenda from Tuesday’s state education board meeting, where her offer was approved.
“Our education system is being undercut by toxic politics,” Foose wrote in an email to The Sun last night. “The only way to change this toxic environment is to demonstrate civility and lead by example. I have a great deal of knowledge and skills to contribute, but not at the expense of having my family, friends and colleagues attacked and harassed.”
Many in Howard County were upset to learn Foose would be newly employed in a top role after her springtime ouster from her previous job. Following a testy legal and public spin battle over the last school year, Foose agreed to resign three years early from her post as Howard County schools superintendent in May in exchange for a payout of $1.65 million. If she had accepted the job offer this week, she would have been earning additional salary from taxpayer dollars on top of what she’s already receiving.
Foose served as Howard County Public Schools superintendent for five years. Under her leadership, the county saw on-paper improvements in performance and student graduation rates. However, a significant number of community members accused Foose of making opaque administrative decisions and responding poorly to a crisis involving mold in several schools, among other criticisms. They circulated a petition that called for her firing.
Relations between Foose and her colleagues crumbled. She sued the school board, arguing they were undermining her authority. The board, in turn, submitted their own filing in court asserting a right to make decisions without consulting their superintendent.
Several months after her resignation, many were surprised this week to learn State Schools Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon offered her a position with the Maryland State Department of Education. Foose would have reported directly to the deputy state superintendent for teaching and learning.
Howard County lawmakers and a union representing local teachers condemned Foose’s hire to media outlets. Gov. Larry Hogan was also among those who disapproved.
In a letter shared by the governor’s office that Hogan sent out to concerned constituents, he wrote that his office doesn’t have any control over hires made by the state education board. (It merely appoints the board’s 12 actual members, “with the advice and consent of the State Senate,” according to the state board website.)
“However, I am aware of the serious concerns raised by many Howard County school board members, educators, parents, and residents about Ms. Foose’s tenure as Superintendent,” Hogan wrote. “I share those concerns, and hiring Ms. Foose is not a decision I would have made.”
He noted that he’d asked Dr. Salmon to reconsider her choice for the position. It seems that won’t be necessary anymore.