ANNAPOLIS, MD. -- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan used an executive order on Tuesday to create the Office of Education Accountability.
Hogan said the office will be an independent watchdog responsible for "analyzing, coordinating, and providing recommendations on matters including procurement, child abuse, neglect, safety, grading, graduation requirements, assessments, educational facilities, and budgets."
"After repeated allegations of wrongdoing, mismanagement, and corruption citizens have lost confidence in the leadership of their local school systems," said Hogan at the signing ceremony.
He pointed to recent scandals in Maryland public school systems, including the grade-fixing allegations in the Prince George's County Public School system.
The office will be led by Valerie Radomsky, who is a former Baltimore County Public Schools teacher and most recently worked for Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot as his chief advisor for education policy.
Hogan added that if he is reelected he will reintroduce legislation in the 2019 session to create the Office of the State Education Investigator General.
But Democratic lawmakers argued that Hogan's executive order and promised legislation do not address the underlying issues facing school systems.
"The root of the problems we’re seeing in some of our schools with procurement and ethics can be fixed by stronger procurement laws and stronger ethics laws," said Del. Eric Luedtke (D-14, Mont. Co.). He added that Hogan's legislation failed in the 2018 session because it was redundant. "There are already agencies in state government that have the power to do all the things he wants to do and they all work for the Governor. So, if he wants these things to get done he just needs to tell his people to do their job."
Hogan's opponent in the November election, Democrat Ben Jealous released the following statement in response to the Governor's executive order:
"Today as many of our kids across our state can't start learning because their schools lack cooling, Larry Hogan is yet again attempting to pass the blame instead of offering solutions. A political investigator run out of the Governor's Office won't change the fact that our schools are underfunded by billions of dollars and our teachers are underpaid. As governor, I will fully fund our schools, not blame our hardworking teachers and support staff."