Worst Political Oops | Bethesda Magazine

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Worst Political Oops

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Handling of Joshua Starr

Early in 2015, the Montgomery County Board of Education declined to renew the contract of then-Superintendent of Schools Joshua Starr, refusing to offer a public explanation and expressing confidence that it would have a permanent replacement before the next school year. In May, the board announced that it had its “preferred” candidate: Andrew Houlihan, the 36-year-old chief academic officer of the Houston schools district who had never served as a superintendent. Board President Patricia O’Neill likened Houlihan to a young Joe Gibbs, who was hired by the Washington Redskins at the age of 40 and led them to three Super Bowl victories in a decade. But just three days after the board announced its choice, Houlihan abruptly withdrew his candidacy amid questions from Montgomery County leaders about whether he was ready for the role. That left the board with little choice but to appoint an interim superintendent and to fall back on the plaintive hope of many a Redskins fan: Wait ’til next year.

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