Local school board race begins amid school board turnover, restructuring
BY JOSIE JACK AND KIT SLACK
Amid restructuring and resignations on the Prince George’s County board of education, Hyattsville’s representative seeks to stay put, running for a second term.
Incumbent Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS)l Board Member Pamela Boozer-Strother (District 3), a marketing professional from Mount Rainier first elected in 2018, is running against challenger Varinia Sandino, a Hyattsville resident and state political staffer.
Boozer-Strother represents the school board district that includes Hyattsville, Lewisdale and Langley Park. She has championed the rapid construction of new schools in the area through public-private financing. She also co-chaired the work group that wrote the school board’s climate change action plan, passed April 28, which aims to make county schools zero emissions by 2040.
“I still have a lot more I want to accomplish on behalf of our community,” Boozer-Strother said.
Boozer-Strother’s challenger, Sandino, said that as a 20-year Hyattsville resident and the mother of three boys, she is running to make sure that children in the majority-minority community have a world-class education. “When I see my boys, I see the community I am in,” she said. She added that she would advocate in particular for more resources to prepare children, fifth grade and older, to be successful after high school.
Sandino is chief of staff for Maryland State Delegate Wanika Fisher (District 47B), who is running for county council. Sandino is also the sister of Hyattsville City Councilmember Rommel Sandino (Ward 5).
Four members of the PGCPS Board of Education have resigned in the middle of their terms since December of 2021. Among them are three elected board members who left to run for higher office. All three were accused of ethics violations by a school board ethics panel last summer. According to a letter obtained by Maryland Matters, all members of that ethics panel resigned April 3.
Disputes between elected board members and appointed board members have made consensus elusive on the board in the past two years. Under recently enacted state legislation, by 2024, the board will be returning to the all-elected structure last abandoned in 2013. In the meantime, the county executive can nominate replacements for open seats, to be confirmed by the county council.
So far, only one of the four recently vacated seats has been filled. Madeleine LaSalle Frazier, a long-time administrator with Arlington Public Schools, joined the school board this spring, becoming the board’s only Latino member other than the student board member, Alvaro Ceron-Ruiz.
Josie Jack is an intern with the Hyattsville Life & Times.