Maryland State Superintendent’s Ousting A Blueprint for Educator and Parent Unity
Maryland State Schools Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury, who previously battled to save his position, has announced that he will not be seeking a second term in office. Choudhury’s departure comes after a short yet tumultuous tenure marked by controversy, allegations of misconduct, and mounting public pressure for his resignation.
Just a month ago, Choudhury expressed optimism about the future of education in Maryland and his confidence in securing a second term. State Board of Education President Clarence Crawford, who was part of the original selection committee that hired the superintendent, and others on the board, were ardent supporters of Choudhury. However, this support, along with the string of positive pieces from the institutionally aligned Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Banner, would prove insufficient to shield him from a powerful and unlikely alliance of critics that included local school boards, educators, parents, and politicians from both sides of the aisle.
Choudhury’s troubles began in February of 2023 when he introduced House Bill 119, a legislative initiative that sought to mandate the teaching of queer gender theory starting at the pre-K level. The bill triggered widespread backlash from public school parents across the state. Undeterred, Choudhury collaborated with the state delegation to revise and reintroduce the bill as a sweeping state takeover of local education. This move would have granted him absolute authority over curriculum, frameworks, standards, and instructional materials.
This audacious power grab alienated a broad spectrum of stakeholders, leading to a united demand for his removal. A Change.org petition, initiated by a coalition of Carroll County parents, quickly gained traction, amassing nearly 3,000 supporters statewide. The petition accused Choudhury of eroding the rights of locally elected school boards, teachers, and parents and labeled him an “ineffective leader of our state education system.”
The campaign to oust Choudhury gained momentum as current and former Maryland State Department of Education employees approached petition organizers and Informed Carroll, describing a “toxic work culture” under his leadership. Reports of Choudhury’s high-handed management style and his disregard for employee concerns further fueled the movement.
Then in May 2023, a former Maryland State Department of Education executive accused Choudhury of impropriety in his dealings with a consulting firm awarded sole-source contracts totaling half a million dollars.
The growing petition and revelations on Informed Carroll prompted several news outlets to take notice. Fox45’s Project Baltimore uncovered efforts by the MSDE to conceal school test score data for 23 Baltimore City schools, where no students tested proficient in math. Furthermore, the superintendent was accused of several illegal actions to hide communications from the public domain.
Politicians also joined the chorus of voices calling for Choudhury’s resignation. “It was clear that Choudhury was not the right person to lead Maryland’s Public Schools system. His management style as well as his lack of transparency and accessibility were extremely concerning,” wrote Senate Minority Leader Steve Hershey of the Eastern Shore and Minority Whip Justin Ready of Carroll County.
Delegate Chris Tomlinson wrote on social media, “It is safe to say that the soon-to-be outgoing State Superintendent of Schools was not in favor of local control and had no affinity for Carroll’s Board of Education. Many are relieved to see our State Board of Education searching for a new superintendent.”
Choudhury’s resignation leaves Maryland in search of a new state superintendent. A joint transition team, consisting of members from the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland State Board of Education, will once again be led by Clarence Crawford.
The same coalition of local school boards, educators, and parents that ousted the superintendent will continue to watch the MSDE intently as they select a new public education leader and remain hopeful that the next superintendent will work to mend the strained relationship between the state and local education systems.
The departure of Superintendent Choudhury serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between leadership and public trust in the realm of education, as Maryland seeks to chart a new course for its public schools.