Starr Resigning as Schools Chief

Superintendent, School Board ‘Reach Mutual Agreement’


Photo by Andrew Metcalf

[Updated] Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr is stepping down.  School board President Patricia O’Neill made the announcement at 11:30 a.m.

In a statement issued by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), O’Neill said the school board and Starr have “reached a mutual agreement” for Starr to leave his post.

O’Neill said that Starr’s resignation will be effective on Feb. 16. “The Board and I thank Dr. Starr for the work he has done since 2011 and we wish him much success in the future. The agreement we have reached today allows the Board and the district to move forward strategically to select a new leader and continue our tradition of excellence in Montgomery County.”

O’Neill said that Larry Bowers, the MCPS chief operating officer, will serve as interim superintendent through June 30.

The school board met with Starr this morning to discuss his status.

Starr’s future has been in doubt since it was revealed last week that he lacked the school board votes to approve the renewal of his contract.

By state law, Starr had to inform the school board by Feb. 1 if he wanted to seek a new contract. Apparently, he made no such request.

The following is the statement released by MCPS this morning:

The Montgomery County Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr have reached a mutual agreement that will end Dr. Starr’s tenure with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The Board voted unanimously today to approve a departure agreement that enables the Board to immediately begin a search for a new superintendent and for Dr. Starr to pursue new career opportunities. Dr. Starr asked to be released from his current contract and will resign effective February 16, 2015.

 “The Board and I thank Dr. Starr for the work he has done since 2011 and we wish him much success in the future,” said Patricia B. O’Neill, president of the Board of Education. “The agreement we have reached today allows the Board and the district to move forward strategically to select a new leader and continue our tradition of excellence in Montgomery County.”

In recent weeks, the Board of Education has been deliberating about Dr. Starr’s future with the district and whether to offer him a new four-year contract. After much discussion, the Board and Dr. Starr agreed it would be in the best interest of the district to appoint a new leader to carry forward the Board’s vision.
On Tuesday, the Board recommended Larry A. Bowers, currently the district’s chief operating officer, to serve as interim superintendent of schools effective February 16, 2015. The appointment is subject to approval by Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery.     

“I want to assure our community that the Board is committed to finding an outstanding superintendent who will lead our efforts to provide all students with a world-class education,” Mrs. O’Neill said. “While we go through this process, I know that Mr. Bowers will provide the steady leadership we need in this time of transition and that our outstanding employees will continue to meet the needs of our students each and every day.”

Dr. Starr said Tuesday that he was grateful for the opportunity to lead MCPS for the past three-and-a-half years and thanked the district’s employees for the exceptional work they are doing.

“It has been an honor to serve as the superintendent of MCPS, and I thank the Board of Education for the opportunity to lead one of the nation’s best school districts,” Dr. Starr said. “I am very proud of the work we have done together to prepare our students to thrive in their future, and I am very grateful to the employees of MCPS, who have been striving to provide our students with the academic knowledge, creative problem solving skills, and social emotional support they need to be successful in the 21st century.”

Dr. Starr came to MCPS in 2011 after serving as the superintendent of Stamford (Conn.) Public Schools for six years. He said he plans to continue working in the field of public education.

Under the agreement approved Tuesday, Dr. Starr will receive the remainder of the salary he is owed under his contract, payment for any unused sick and annual leave in accordance with his contract, and health insurance benefits through the end of 2015. (See the full details of the agreement.)

Mrs. O’Neill said an outside firm will be hired to conduct a national search for a new superintendent. The Board expects to appoint the firm this month and begin the search as quickly as possible. She said the Board intends to have a new superintendent in place on July 1.

“While we want to work quickly and efficiently, our main goal in this search will be finding the right person to lead MCPS into the future,” Mrs. O’Neill said. “We have an excellent district and my colleagues and I are committed to doing everything we can to make sure all students graduate college and career ready.”

Mr. Bowers is currently in his 37th year at MCPS—having served as chief operating officer for the last 16 years. He also has served as deputy superintendent, chief financial officer, budget director, assistant to the deputy superintendent, and assistant to the Board of Education. Mr. Bowers has guided strategic planning and the implementation of continuous improvement in MCPS using the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. In 2010, under Mr. Bowers’ leadership, MCPS was awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—the nation’s highest honor for organizational excellence.

“MCPS is a strong school system because of the exceptional women and men who dedicate their lives to serving our children. We will continue to deliver a high-quality education for every child in this time of transition,” Mr. Bowers said. “The executive leadership team and I will ensure that all operations continue normally and that schools have the support they need to help every child succeed.”


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