Frequently Asked Questions
On September 4, 2020 Maryland School for the Deaf Superintendent James Tucker had retired after 29 years of service. The Board of Trustees is currently in the planning stage and will soon launch a national search for a new Superintendent of MSD. Given these circumstances, we understand that there are several questions about the imminent leadership of the school and what to expect this school year.
This FAQ will provide some of the answers to immediate questions and there will be more questions in the future which will have responses posted on this FAQ sheet.
Has the board decided on an interim superintendent for the Maryland School for the Deaf?
Yes, after much careful consideration, the board has determined that an internal employee who fully understands school operations would best serve as an interim (temporary) leader until a permanent superintendent is appointed. The interim superintendent will work with the administrative team to ensure stability and continuance of school operations, as well as represent and advocate the school when it comes to budget and operations in working with the state government. Having that stability is critical given these trying times. The interim superintendent is not eligible to apply and will not be considered for the permanent superintendent position.
Who did the board appoint?
Frederick campus principal, Mr. Kevin Strachan has been appointed as the interim superintendent. Mr. Strachan has expressly informed the Board of Trustees that, while he loves MSD and is committed to helping through this transition period, he is not interested in the serving as the permanent superintendent. Mr. Strachan will return to his role as principal once a new superintendent is hired.
Why did the board decide that the interim appointee shall not be eligible to apply for the position?
The board strongly feels that the Maryland School for the Deaf needs to find an individual who is a transformational leader and an agent of change who will move the school in a new and different direction which is necessary to meet current and future challenges in education. We are seeking a leader who understands and is capable of addressing systemic inequities inherent in all aspects of school operations and culture.
Has the board decided on specific individuals to serve on the search committee?
The Board of Trustees has appointed two members, Akilah English and Krista Leitch Walker, to serve as co-chairs of the national search for a new superintendent. Combined, Akilah and Krista have extensive expertise and experience in education and Human Resources and have led or served on several executive search committees.
The Board of Trustees is committed to having stakeholder and community involvement. As a result, the search and hiring plan for the new superintendent includes several ways in which stakeholders and community members are involved in the process. This includes representation on the search and interview committee, as well as participation in focus groups and a survey. Furthermore, the board is in process of identifying an independent executive search firm to work with us in the recruitment, screening, and selection of the new superintendent.
Will there be an independent consultant hired to work with the board and school to identify and remediate systemic inequities?
Yes. The Board has hired Idaltu Counseling and Consulting, an external educational consulting firm based in Baltimore, to work closely with the Board and MSD's Chief Diversity Officer. Idaltu Counseling and Consulting specializes in fusing the healing practices of mental health counseling with social justice advocacy and antiracism education to identify and dismantle institutional practices of oppression. Since 2006, Idaltu Counseling and Consulting has provided guidance to schools, non-profits, and religious organizations on how to resolve inequitable policies, practices, and processes. The independent consultant will report to and be fully accountable solely to the MSD Board of Trustees.
What is the board's commitment to change of school operations and eradication of systemic inequities?
The board's first step will be to have school and community-based forums where frank discussions can take place with different stakeholders and communities, but this is only a first step and we do not want to predetermine how the next steps should take place without input from the equity and inclusion consultant and the new CDO. The Board recognizes that there are many different ways to address this matter and we would like to have outside guidance from different lenses to give us better opportunities to solicit input and more importantly implement real changes. The Board recognizes an old adage, "Talking is easy, but doing it is hard." And the board is committed to taking a hard look and must take difficult steps to eradicate systemic inequities that exist throughout the school and a real commitment to zero tolerance on systemic racism or inequities. The Board is committed to supporting Black Lives Matter movement and its goal of eradicating racism and all forms of systemic inequities.
All this sounds good, we have heard the same song and dance from t he board and the school. How do we know there is progress?
The Board will have, in every meeting, an open meeting portion where the members of the school community will make their report and we are going to invite public comment. We are committed to making this a transparent process, especially to get an open forum slot back onto the regular meeting agenda.
So far, the board seems slow to respond to community's concerns. What can be done to improve it?
We recognize that it can be frustrating when an immediate response is not provided and ask for the community's patience and understanding. The MSD Board of Trustees is comprised of volunteer professionals and community members, most of which are employed full-time. Additionally, our Board members and their families, like the rest of our community and nation, are dealing with the challenges of these times. We have established a Board of Trustees communications sub-committee to respond to public and community correspondence in a timelier manner.
Is the board really committed to serious action to eradicate systemic racism and all systemic inequities?
The MSD Board of Trustees is committed to making it happen. We understand that there is a long road ahead of MSD and we want to share the draft statement on Systemic Racism, and it is not a finished document since we need input from the community with the help of independent consultants. Normally, we would release this draft at a later date, but we recognize the urgency of this matter and do so now in spirit of getting the community to share their thoughts at this time. Please do email us: MSD.Board.Chair@msd.edu or send mail to: MSD Board of Trustees, 101 Clarke Place, P.O. Box 250, Frederick, MD 21705-0250.
Why can't the board members take over the operations of the school until a new superintendent is appointed?
The role of the board is clearly defined in the bylaws and state regulations that we are volunteers appointed to serve on the board at the discretion of the governor of Maryland. We are not employees of the state and not expected to manage the daily operations of the school.
Again, as stated above, this FAQ is a living document and more questions and information shall be added as we get input from the community.
MSD Board of Trustees
101 Clarke Place
P.O. Box 250
Frederick, MD 21705-0250