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School Board Nominating Commission Chair Purportedly Pulled Applicants from Consideration Before Interview Process

Interviews are underway for applicants who are seeking to fill a vacancy left on the Baltimore County School Board.

After at-large member, Roger Hayden, passed away in October, a nominating commission charged with finding Hayden’s replacement began the process of fielding applications for those whose names will be sent to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for selection.

But seven of the applicants who sent their applications to the commission almost didn’t make it to the interview process when they were purportedly weeded out by one person despite meeting the requirements.

It happened when Baltimore County School Board Nominating Commission chairman, Aaron Plymouth, is said to have tossed their applications before the applicants had a chance to be interviewed and without the rest of the 19-member commission knowing that they had applied.

But when some applicants did not receive notice of an anticipated interview – a process that began this week – they inquired about the status of their applications.

It was then that it was discovered that the applications never made it to the full commission for consideration. Instead, Plymouth is said to have single-handedly excluded those he felt did not meet the criteria to become a Baltimore County School Board member.

Plymouth purportedly admitted that he tossed out the names before the full commission had an opportunity to review them, but hung up on this reporter on Thursday morning, while first saying. “I’m not going to discuss with you. Goodbye.”

After some of the applicants complained, all seven that Plymouth allegedly removed were restored and will be interviewed in the coming weeks.  In all, the commission will consider 17 applicants for nomination.

Other than community input meetings the commission held for the public in January, the nomination process is kept confidential as well as the identities of those who applied.

But some elected officials who recommended their picks for the position, and who found out that their recommendations were purportedly eliminated before the applicants had a chance to be interviewed, expressed concern about the process.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents the fifth council district which includes Perry Hall and Towson, said that he wrote a letter of recommendation for one of the applicants.

Marks said that it is his understanding that the person has been granted an interview.  “I made some inquiries and I am satisfied that the other members of the nominating commission appear to have it under control,” he said.

Beginning in 2018, the historically 12-member fully appointed Board of Education for Baltimore County moved to a hybrid-elected board comprised of seven elected, four appointed and one student member.

The nominating commission fields applications from which commissioners vote on their selections and send commission-approved picks to the governor’s office for consideration.

Applicants must be at least 21-years-old and must have been a Baltimore County resident for at least two years.

They also cannot be employed by Baltimore County Public Schools, have filed a certificate of candidacy for election to the school board and cannot be a candidate for, or be an elected official who holds an office for, a political party for the local, state, or federal government

School board applicants were required to submit their resumes and two letters of recommendation which were submitted to the school board’s assistant who then passed the applications on to Plymouth.

But instead of forwarding the applications to the full commission, Plymouth allegedly decided on his own which should move on to the next stage, an interview process conducted in front of the full nominating commission.

After the commission concludes its interviews in the coming weeks, it will submit no fewer than two names for the vacant at-large seat to Gov. Hogan who will appoint the new school board member who will serve out the remaining term of the late Roger Hayden which ends in December 2022.

In September, Plymouth temporarily resigned from the commission when he faced two complaints made against him, one which involved a complaint made by this reporter that he violated the Open Meetings Act when it appeared that he continued commission business through email on a topic slated to be discussed during a public meeting that occurred earlier the same evening.

The Open Meetings Act Compliance Board ultimately determined that the Act was not violated.

Some of Plymouth’s fellow commissioners also threatened to file a bullying and harassment complaint against him which, email records show, also led to his decision to step down.

But he rescinded his resignation the following day, causing confusion for some employees of Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s administration, records obtained through a public records request show.

This story may be updated.
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