Howard County Superintendent Retires After Tense Relations with Board of Ed

On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, Howard County Public School System’s Superintendent Dr. Renee Foose announced her resignation via staff members. Dr. Foose became the first female superintendent in 2012, and was reappointed in February 2016 in a 5-2 decision, which was not without criticism from parents, educators, and elected officials.

     During the five years she has been serving Howard County, many issues have arisen that have increased tensions in the school system. In 2015, a petition signed by more than fifteen hundred people urged state superintendent Karen Salmon to suspend Dr. Foose’s contract. More than eight hundred and fifty people also signed a petition in February of 2017, which asked Board members not to reinstate Dr. Foose after her four year contract was over, though she was reappointed anyway. Both petitions cited Dr. Foose’s lack of communication with county officials and parents about the mold issues at middle schools in Howard County, and her removal of the school systems in-house attorneys.

After a tough Board election that replaced many of Dr. Foose’s supporters, a new power struggle emerged between the Board of Education and the Superintendent. The new members took office in December 5, and promptly passed eight new measures to extend its authority against Dr. Foose. This triggered Dr. Foose to sue the Board, claiming they passed illegal measures to undermine her. In that suit, Dr. Foose wanted to have the ability to run the school system without interference from the board. A court date has not been set.

     Opponents of the Superintendent have voiced several complaints against her, with the phrase “Cut Foose Loose” traveling around the school system. Dr. Foose has defended herself by saying that the Howard County Public School system has consistently ranked as the best school system in the state, and one of the top systems in the nation because of her hard work and dedication.

     Dr. Foose issued a public statement about her retirement, saying, “I want to express my gratitude to the teachers, administrators and staff of the Howard County Public School System for their incredibly dedicated work during my five years as Superintendent. The Board of Education, via Chairman Cynthia L. Vaillancourt, also issued a statement saying “The Board of Education of Howard County wishes to express its appreciation to Dr. Renee Foose for her commitment and service to the Howard County Public School System.”
     The Board appointed Dr. Michael J. Martirano, Ed.D. Martirano as the acting superintendent.  Martirano was the former director of elementary schools for Howard County, and was also the Superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools, where he was named Maryland Superintendent of the year in 2009. Most recently, Martirano was West Virginia’s state superintendent of schools, where he resigned in June to move back to Maryland.

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