Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
David Lever. (file)

Lever quietly leaves Md. schools’ post a month early

The embattled head of the state’s school construction program has quietly left his job a month earlier than expected.

David Lever, in a July 29 letter to the Interagency Committee on School Construction, wrote that he would leave effective immediately rather than wait until September.

“In light of new developments, I find it necessary to accelerate the effective date of my resignation,” Lever wrote in the letter.

He did not elaborate on the new developments.

Sources familiar with the resignation say the governor effectively froze out Lever in recent meetings of the Board of Public Works and that the outgoing executive director was concerned about the continual distraction. That source, who spoke on background, also said there was a concern about Gov. Larry Hogan Hogan moving to have Lever terminated before the end August.

Douglass Mayer, a Hogan spokesman, said he knew nothing of an effort to fire Lever but said the governor accepted his early departure.

“All of the governor’s past statements and positions about Dr. Lever are very clear and haven’t changed,” Mayer said. “He thanks (Lever) for his service and wishes him the best of luck.”

The subdued two-sentence letter stands in stark contrast to Lever’s scathing two-page missive in which the outgoing executive director of the school construction program took aim at Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot after they voted to withhold funding from Baltimore City and Baltimore County over a lack of air conditioned schools.

“It appears that the Board of Public Works intends to use its authority over capital funding to compel school systems to meet its objectives, irrespective of whether those objectives align with local priorities and the recommendations of the (committee),” Lever wrote in May just hours after the Board of Public Works meeting. “It also appears that a majority of the Board of Public Works members have no interest in being informed on critical matters by local school superintendents and other school officials, the individuals who have the responsibility to weigh the complex factors that intersect around school facilities and to determine the outcomes that best meet the needs of their students and their communities. The disrespect with which these dedicated, serious officials were treated at the meeting of May 11 is no less than astonishing.”

“I find that I cannot be a party to this degradation of a school construction program that I have worked hard to advance in professionalism and comprehensiveness,” Lever continued.

Hogan at the time said he was pleased with Lever’s decision to leave but questioned why he was waiting until Sept. 1.

“My only regret is that it doesn’t take effect immediately,” Hogan said at the time. “There’s really no reason for him to stay until Sept. 1.”

Since then, the relationship between Lever and Hogan and Franchot has been less than friendly.

At another board meeting in July, Lever was denied an opportunity to speak to the board on a school construction-related issue.

“We wanted someone else to attend,” Hogan said at the time and confirmed he requested Deputy Director Joan Schaefer, who has already been named as Lever’s interim replacement beginning in September, to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Hogan and Franchot then both expressed a desire to work with someone else other than Lever.

“The director has already resigned, not doing the work,” Hogan said, adding later that Lever was someone “we don’t have much faith in. We asked him not to attend. We asked the department to still be here.”