Howard schools chief, Frostburg native named Leader in Diversity

Mike Martirano

ELLICOTT CITY — The Baltimore Business Journal named Howard County Public School System Superintendent Michael J. Martirano one of its 2020 Leaders in Diversity.

The award honors 13 top executives and business owners who are leading the mission to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the Greater Baltimore business community. Baltimore Business Journal editorial staff selected the winners from nominations submitted by early March.

Martirano, a native of Frostburg and graduate of Beall High School, is committed to ensuring equity and giving every student an opportunity to succeed in an inclusive and nurturing environment. Following his time as the state superintendent for West Virginia schools from 2014-2017, he joined HCPSS in 2017, and now leads the school system through his Strategic Call to Action, “Learning and Leading with Equity,” which is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all students and staff.

Last year, Martirano oversaw the largest school redistricting effort in Howard County’s history, to balance utilization capacity while advancing socioeconomic equity—measured by Free and Reduced Meals (FARM) program participation— across the district’s 74 comprehensive schools.

During his tenure, HCPSS developed Policy 1070, Protections and Supports for Foreign-Born Students and Families, to affirm that the school system welcomes and supports all students and families, regardless of their place of birth, immigration status or perceived immigration status.

Martirano is a proponent of establishing a restorative culture in schools and eliminating disparities in discipline across student groups. HCPSS is working to establish restorative cultures in all schools to support constructive communication and conflict resolution. Student voice circles and other initiatives deepen staff members’ understanding of student perspectives, increase students’ role in school leadership, and inform teaching experiences.

HCPSS has enhanced supports for students with the greatest need by adding special educators, social workers and nurses; increasing mental health resources and supports in collaboration with community partners; and expanding an initiative for making HCPSS schools bully-free zones.

Martirano has seven superintendent advisory committees — including one dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion and one to special education.

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