For­mer com­mis­sioner asks state school board to step in

Record Observer - - Opinion - Centreville

The fol­low­ing is a let­ter to the Mary­land School Board sub­mit­ted by for­mer Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sioner Bob Sim­mons with a copy to the news­pa­per.

Please give us some relief from the dis­tress and in­jus­tice caused by the se­cret fir­ing of a school su­per­in­ten­dent, with vir­tu­ally none of the pub­lic aware that it was tak­ing place. I am not trained in law, but I have re­viewed the per­ti­nent laws and case law in Mary­land, and my lay­man’s read­ing does not give any av­enue for cor­rect­ing the ac­tion that has taken place ex­cept the Mary­land School Board step­ping in and tak­ing cor­rec­tive ac­tion. The most se­vere ac­tion that the Ethics Board or the Open Meet­ings Board could take is to re­quire that the QAC School Board read a state­ment ac­knowl­edg­ing that they had vi­o­lated the open meet­ings re­quire­ments or the ethics stan­dards in an open meet­ing. Mary­land is one of those states that al­lows declar­a­tive and in­junc­tive relief by the courts based on vi­o­la­tions of those two stan­dards, but I could not find a sin­gle case in­volv­ing a school board in Mary­land where any relief had ever been granted. That leaves it up to you.

I bring a lit­tle dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive than most of the writ­ers con­tact­ing you in the that I sat in school board open meet­ings for four years as a County Com­mis­sioner who was the li­ai­son with the school board. How is the elec­torate in the county to know who to vote for in a school board race if no one is al­lowed to talk about what they think or be­lieve or hope? Once it is whis­pered in a closed ses­sion, the sub­ject mat­ter is closed for­ever. This is a prob­lem that you need to work on not only for Queen Anne’s County, but prob­a­bly some other coun­ties find them­selves in the same po­si­tion.

Please step into the mess in Queen Anne’s County. If by law, you can­not over­rule the ac­tion of se­cretly dis­charg­ing the su­per­in­ten­dent, at the very least re­quire that the school board go through a process of eval­u­at­ing her per­for­mance mea­sured against es­tab­lished stan­dards, the lack of progress or amount of progress made from her last re­view, and an eval­u­a­tion of whether she will be able to meet the de­mands that will be put on the school sys- tem dur­ing the next 10 year plan. I also ask that you re­quire that the school board re­lease that eval­u­a­tion, or a sum­mary of it, to the pub­lic. That is the only way any­one will ever know that it has been made. Af­ter work­ing with the su­per­in­ten­dent for four years, it is my opinion that she would not re­lease her own eval­u­a­tion to any­one be­cause it had been dis­cussed in closed ses­sion.

Please step in and take an ac­tive role. We, and prob­a­bly most of the coun­ties in the state, have a prob­lem of hav­ing a lack of con­fi­dence and a lack of con­trol re­gard­ing our school boards. That does not bode well for the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion in Mary­land.

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