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Interim Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins today announced that she will appoint a Blue Ribbon Commission on Equity and Achievement to examine issues related to achievement and discipline gaps and make recommendations to narrow disparities that exist among student groups in Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

Mrs. Perkins said she has had conversations with educational and community leaders from across the county and state about the commission. She intends to finalize a list of members in the coming weeks.

“I believe it is critically important that this school system expands the lenses through which we are looking at this issue,” Mrs. Perkins said. “There is no question that there has been progress, but there is also no question that unless we hasten the pace, we are going to leave more children behind. As a school system, we cannot be afraid to acknowledge that we do not have all the answers and we must not be myopic in our approaches. This region is rich with incredible minds willing to lend their talents and expertise to help us win in this mission for our children.”

The announcement comes on the heels of one last week in which Mrs. Perkins said she would restructure and realign the Office of Equity and Human Relations as part of an ongoing effort to better address and narrow existing academic and disciplinary disparities. The newly renamed Office of Equity and Accelerated Student Achievement will maintain its focus on these issues, and its work will be strategically aligned with student services, school performance, professional development, and community involvement.

The commission will meet at least four times a year, and make reports to the Board of Education at least twice annually. Mrs. Perkins said one of the commission’s co-chairs will be the school system’s new Executive Director of Equity and Accelerated Student Achievement, and the other will come from outside the system.

“I applaud Mamie Perkins and the school system for taking this step and harnessing the vast resources that exist in our communities to help our children,” said County Executive Laura Neuman. “The Commission on Excellence that I established shortly after taking office made recommendations that are paying great dividends for our county, and there is no reason to think this commission will not do the same for the school system. In the end, it will be the children of our county who are the real winners.”

AACPS Chief of Staff George Arlotto, who will take over as Superintendent of Schools on July 1, 2014, called the creation of the commission a bold step forward that will help more students more quickly.

“Mrs. Perkins has spent a great deal of time studying this issue over the last year and I believe she is exactly right in her belief that we must look at these gaps from new, more expansive perspectives,” Dr. Arlotto said. “I envision this commission playing an ongoing and vital role that is integral to the work we must engage in, and I very much look forward to working with its members. I also believe they will provide our Board with additional assurance that the achievement of all of our students is our top priority.”