State school board dismisses 4 appeals from Queen Anne’s
CENTREVILLE — The Maryland State Board of Education has dismissed three appeals concerning the decision of the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education not to renew Superintendent Dr. Carol Williamson’s contract or offer her an interim contract, according to a memorandum published by local school board member Annette Dimaggio on her Facebook page Thursday, April 27. The state board also dismissed a fourth appeal regarding the hiring of attorney Susanne Henley.
The memorandum from the state board, dated April 27, states, “State Board precedent required dismissal of those appeals as a matter of law because the only person with legal standing to challenge a personnel decision is the person who is directly and adversely affected by the decision. These orders of the State Board may be appealed to the circuit court.”
The memorandum goes on to say the state board did not act on requests to remove certain local board members, but that it would ask the board members in question to provide a response to the allegations made against them.
Bill Reinhard, acting director of communications for the Maryland State Department of Education, provided copies of the board’s April 26 orders to the Record Observer Thursday afternoon.
The appeals concerning Williamson were filed by (1) Laura Michelle Johnson and Holly Scott, parents of local students; (2) Angela Holocker, Matapeake Middle School principal; and (3) Brian Wright, another parent.
On the first two appeals, the state board found the appellants lacked standing to bring the appeal, not being the person directly affected by the personnel decision.
In both orders, Md. School Board President Guffrie M. Smith Jr. wrote, “Suffice it to say, the local board’s decision has led to an outpouring of support for the local superintendent and great praise of her accomplishments during her tenure. It has caused significant contention in the school community. Significant contention between a school community and its local board is not usually a harbinger of a good education environment.
“Yet, the role of this Board in resolving this issue is exceedingly limited. The decisions made by the local board are personnel decisions.”
In the order dismissing Holocker’s appeal, the state board noted it is separately considering her requests to remove three of the five local board members from office.
Wright’s appeal arrived April 2, 31 days after the March 2 announcement by the local board, and was dismissed as untimely — having arrived a day too late for consideration.
The appeal of Henley’s hiring was filed by local parent Laura Michelle Johnson, and, again, the state board found Johnson lacked standing to bring the appeal.
State school board member Andrew R. Smarick, who is from Queen Anne’s County, recused himself in all four cases. State board member Madhu Sidhu, of Kent County, dissented in the decisions on Holocker’s appeal and on Johnson’s appeal regarding Henley.
In all four cases, the state board told appellants, “The proper remedy for relief … lies with the electoral process.”
DR. CAROL WILLIAMSON