Former MCPS Superintendent Paul Vance Dies

Vance also served as the superintendent of D.C. Public Schools and was a leader in the Montgomery NAACP

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Paul L. Vance

University of Maryland - Regents Photo

Paul L. Vance, a longtime Maryland educator and former superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, died Saturday, according to his family and the Montgomery County chapter of the NAACP.

Vance, 83, a Montgomery County resident, served as MCPS superintendent from 1991 to 1999. Vance retired after eight years at the top post. He was the school system’s first black superintendent.

Vance oversaw a significant period of change in the demographics of the school system. During his tenure, minority student enrollment grew from 10 percent to 45 percent.

After retiring from MCPS, Vance served as superintendent of D.C. Public Schools from 2000 to 2003, before resigning as the school system entered a period of significant change.

Montgomery County Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill said she and her board colleagues were saddened by the news, but grateful for Vance’s work.

“Dr. Vance’s work in Montgomery County, Washington, D.C., and many other communities had a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of students and his legacy lives on in their success and achievement,” O’Neill said, in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Vance’s family as they celebrate his life, his work, and his commitment to making the future better for our children.”

Vance got his start in education as a social studies and science teacher in Philadelphia where he rose in the school district’s the leadership to become the principal of Clarence E. Prickett Middle School from 1968 to 1972. During that time he was also studying for a doctorate in education, which he received from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974.

Vance started working for MCPS in 1977 as area associate superintendent. He was also a member of the NAACP of Montgomery County and was elected chapter president in 2011. Near the end of his career he also worked in higher education as a regent for the University of Maryland.

At his MCPS retirement party, Vance said in a speech reported by The Washington Post, “It has been my pleasure to serve. My friends, I would just say to you in the most humble way possible, I thank you for permitting this poor boy from South Philadelphia to be your leader.”

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