PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. (Reform Sasscer) – Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS) board member Raaheela Ahmed (District 5), is resigning from her position citing flawed governance system in the county and public corruption.
“As many of you know, it has been a challenging year on the Board of Education. Too many times to count, I’ve seen our democracy under attack, with passed votes of the body utterly disregarded or actively halted by our system’s leadership, and policy violations right and left that have gone without true accountability. It’s my firm belief that this is a function of the flawed governance system created by our State Legislature nearly a decade ago — a system that is devoid of proper checks and balances, dilutes the vote and voice of our community, and does not allow for proper system oversight. Although some positive corrections seem to be coming, they’re not nearly enough to re-democratize our system…,” she wrote in part and posted a letter to her social media account on Wednesday, which is dated, Feb. 9.
Raaheela Ahmed writes that her resignation is effective February 19 and that it has “been a great pleasure and honor to have served the district, community, staff, and students.”
Citing specifics, Raaheela also writes that she hopes that the divides that have been caused lately can be bridged and that movement forward in a progressive manner that accounts for all students’ needs can be found. “I am not resigning from the Board of Education because of apathy or defeat due to this flawed system; to the contrary, I’m resigning out of a sense of strong responsibility to our students and our community, in order to attempt to restore our democracy and our voice, and to focus on representing us all in the Maryland State Senate, District 23.”
Below is her full text as written on facebook post::
“It’s with a heavy heart that I announce that after 5+ years of service to our community, I will be resigning from the Prince George’s County Board of Education, effective February 19, 2022.
As many of you know, it has been a challenging year on the Board of Education. Too many times to count, I’ve seen our democracy under attack, with passed votes of the body utterly disregarded or actively halted by our system’s leadership, and policy violations right and left that have gone without true accountability. It’s my firm belief that this is a function of the flawed governance system created by our State Legislature nearly a decade ago — a system that is devoid of proper checks and balances, dilutes the vote and voice of our community, and does not allow for proper system oversight. Although some positive corrections seem to be coming, they’re not nearly enough to re-democratize our system.
It has become abundantly clear that the only way to improve the governance shortfalls of our school system, and work towards a better, stronger education system for our students, is for me to run and advocate for us at another level of government.
I am not resigning from the Board of Education because of apathy or defeat due to this flawed system; to the contrary, I’m resigning out of a sense of strong responsibility to our students and our community, in order to attempt to restore our democracy and our voice, and to focus on representing us all in the Maryland State Senate, District 23.
Rest assured, my fire and passion to fight for us runs strong. It has been my greatest pleasure and honor to serve you in this role. My service to and for us is far from over. I look forward to our future together.
Yours in power, always, Raaheela.
Drummed up Ethics Charges.
After major fallout with county Executive Angela Alsobrooks last year, the ethics panel acting under orders above organized a scheme to deprive elected board members of their powers in the county. Thus, after the Prince’s George’s County School Board recommended that six elected board members either resign or be removed following an investigation.
The charges came after those same board members petitioned the state to remove the board’s chair. Their initial complaint was recently dismissed without prejudice citing lack of an affidavit but has since been refiled.
The ethics findings are not public, but documents were reviewed by the press. They were also anonymously sent to each elected leaders throughout the county.
The ethics panel recommended the resignation or removal of Edward Burroughs, David Murray, Raaheela Ahmed, Joshua Thomas, Kenneth Harris and Shayla Adams-Stafford. The panel recommended sanctions for Belinda Queen.
Only the state board of education can remove a board member from office.
Some board members have hired attorneys since then, and three are represented by former Prince George’s Co. State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey.
Recently, the State Board cleared Board member David Murray.
“I know it’s supposed to be confidential, but somebody took it upon themselves to anonymously mail them around to elected officials in the county,” said Ivey. “And I happen to live with two of them.”
The ethics findings say board members violated policy when they hired a board lobbyist and when they decided to reorganize the board office, making staffing changes and prompting a “federal discrimination lawsuit.”
“I think they are riddled with inaccuracies and false on their face,” said Ivey of the findings.
Some board members are also accused of a pay-to-play scheme involving a labor union they received campaign contributions from.
Ivey said that the actual resolution passed by the board does not name the labor union in question and disputed the notion that there was anything unethical about the campaign donations.
Board chair Dr. Juanita Miller called for this ethics investigation soon after she was appointed by the county executive as board chair.
More recently, this group of elected board members petitioned the state to have her removed, making their own misconduct claims against Miller.
While there was a public board meeting at night, the primary discussion about the ethics investigation happened in executive session.
Six members, mostly appointed, voted to accept the findings. The seven members under investigation were barred from voting. This left them shaken to the core after County Executive Alsobrooks went after them for drummed up “ethics violations” until they ran scared for their dear lives as their political future was on the line. However, Alsobrooks is violating the law and her administration is engaged in violating peoples rights using the court system to punish some personnel in the school system and others opposed to their illegal schemes using lawyers tied to them, records show.
Raaheela Ahmed’s resignation from PGCPS comes at a sensitive time, when corruption, in particular in Prince George’s county has become a state capture, leading to polarization among county citizens: those in support of corrupt regimes (because of kickbacks and handouts) versus those opposed to them. In the presence of diametrically opposed groups in society, compromise and reasoned discussion has diminished in many ways. As a result, Policies are judged not on the basis of ideology or a project’s inherent merits, but on who the policy proponents are and what benefits competing networks can reap such as within the Board itself and elsewhere.
In our blog post yesterday, we cited the role the county Executive Angela Alsobrooks is playing in advancing public corruption in the county through violations of law including campaign finance. Whether falling under the label of political cronyism, crony capitalism, political party cartels, oligarchy, plutocracy and even kleptocracy, widespread patterns of private and public corruption construct social systems that are rigged in the private interest as seen in this case. Citizens with strong ethical principles (and citizens who lack significant funds, connections, favours to dispense, “hard power” over others such as guns or private enforcers) lose representation, influence and power.
The rule of law is fundamental to maintaining the freedoms of individuals in a society, and for the protection of people’s rights. You cannot ask the county citizenry and their kids to obey the law when you are violating it in many ways willfully yourself”, one parent who did not want to be identified said.
When corruption pervades the justice system, people can no longer count on prosecutors and judges to do their jobs. The powerful may escape justice. And citizens, especially those with few resources or few powerful allies, may be unfairly accused of crimes, deprived of due process, and wrongly imprisoned.
Maryland State Senate, District 23
In the race for Maryland State Senate, District 23, Raheela will be competing against Dr. Ron Watson a former PGCPS Board member and current senator and Ms. Sylvia Johnson a close ally of Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. Raaheela Ahmed will be expected to bring a robust political representation. So when we talk about inclusive policies, we can’t be inclusive without robust representation, which means every person within a community has a voice. And it is only with robust representation that communities can advocate for a spectrum of needs for their community as well as surrounding communities. Needs such as clean air, clean water, sewage infrastructure, adequate and resilient housing, modern roads and bridges, modern schools, clean energy, and other infrastructure needs can all be advocated for.
There must be constant vigilance by “we, the people” to ensure that our constitutional rights are defended! We hope the situation will be positively changed for the better soon and not the other way around.
More to come.