Former commissioner asks state school board to step in
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.