This article brought to you by Informed Carroll County.
Since launching a petition to remove Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury, a local parent group continues to receive stories from several current and former Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) employees describing an organization in disarray and a culture of “fear and chaos” under the Superintendent’s leadership.
“The environment is so toxic. Everyone is on edge,” said an inside source.
“Choudhury was a tyrant. He put the organization under immense pressure,” said a former director. “He would speak down to his team members, berate them in meetings, force them to work late hours to accomplish his unrealistic objectives.”
Another source described meetings where a domineering Choudhury would slam fists on conference tables and harass employees.
“He would hold meetings where he would have everyone who had been there 20, 30, 40 years stand up and he’d say to them ‘You’re part of the problem.’” said the source. “People would be humiliated in front of their peers.”
The stories highlight the Superintendent’s inability to lead the MSDE through the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future – a massive, top-down overhaul of public education that “prioritizes equity” and will cost state and local jurisdictions an additional $3.8 billion over the next 10 years.
The situation is so dire that current and former employees describe a “mass exodus” occurring in the MSDE, putting the organization on shaky grounds.
In fact, two key leadership posts have been vacant for months according to several sources.
Choudhury’s Chief of Staff, who was personally recruited by the Superintendent, would quit in August 2022, less than a year into their tenure.
“The Chief of Staff was in a meeting with the superintendent where he was so condescending and disrespectful to them that they finally had enough. They got up, walked out, and immediately put in their resignation”, said a source close to the situation.
Eight months later and the Chief of Staff position still remains vacant, according to the MSDE website.
The high-profile exit, among several other departures, spurred other MSDE employees to begin looking elsewhere for employment, and according to a source, this included Choudhury’s chief director of Blueprint – another personal hire of the Superintendent’s. When Choudhury heard word of the executive’s plans to leave in January 2023, the superintendent took immediate and swift action.
“When Choudhury found out they (Blueprint Director) were looking for another job, he had them immediately fired. The MSDE attorney suggested he have them resign, but Choudhury was adamant that they get fired.”
The Blueprint executive only lasted 15 months, and according to the MSDE website, leaves the state of Maryland without anyone leading the implementation of the $4 billion education makeover.
With the Maryland State Department of Education seemingly in shambles, a former executive close to the situation had this to say:
“For me the worst thing about Blueprint is the leadership who’s left leading it. They are effectively flying blind. There’s no support for the local jurisdictions to implement these measures.”
“Simply put, Choudhury’s leadership puts Blueprint at risk.”
The news comes as Superintendent Choudhury receives bipartisan backlash as a result of his now-failed attempt to completely take control over local classroom curriculum at the state-level through House Bill 119. The bill passed the house but stalled in the Senate after pushback from all 24 local school boards in the state, resulting in the State Board of Education pulling back support for the bill.
Choudhury would later back peddle from the overreaching amendments to the bill, claiming “I was not involved with that change”, but a source took issue with this assertion. “He wrote the amendment”, said the source.
While HB119 may be dead, former colleagues of Mohammed Choudhury have given stark warnings.
“He doesn’t have the temperament to be a leader. He won’t stop with this bill, and he’s going to continue to make every single effort to consolidate power.”