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Baltimore County School Board Member Responds Sharply to Baltimore Sun Editorial Board Commentary

District Six Board Member Lily Rowe, for the Baltimore County Board of Education

Baltimore County School Board Member Lily Rowe did not mince words in her response to a Feb. 28 Baltimore Sun commentary in which the publication weighed-in with its advice on how the school board should function.

In response to [Baltimore Sun: Baltimore County’s dysfunctional school board can’t be fixed from State House | COMMENTARY ], Rowe suggested that — like Annapolis — the publication should essentially butt out of board operations.

At issue is an emergency state bill that aims to change the required votes needed in order to elect school board leadership. Some state legislators have taken a scalpel approach to how many votes they believe the Baltimore County School Board should require when it comes to electing its chair and vice chair positions. However, those legislators left alone the required votes needed for other board matters, suggesting that Annapolis may be attempting to influence the board’s leadership election process.

After at-large school board member, Roger Hayden, passed away in October, it left the normally 12-member board down one member.

In December, the board remained deadlocked for days as it attempted to approve its leadership for the next 12-month term.  While the board’s incumbent leadership, Chair Kathleen Causey and Vice Chair Julie Henn, received five votes each, District Two Board Member Cheryl Pasteur and her running mate, District Seven Rod McMillion, received six.

Currently, seven votes are needed in order for the board to elect its leadership.  But when the board failed to find the required votes in December, school board attorney, Andrew Nussbaum, concluded during the deadlock that Causey and Henn would remain “holdovers” until such time the board finds the required seven votes.

And this week, the Maryland State Department of Education upheld Nussbaum’s legal conclusion.

Even while a nominating commission, whose chair purportedly withheld over 40 percent of the applications from the rest of commissioners until it was discovered last week, works to fill Hayden’s vacancy, some state legislators put forth the emergency legislation to fix a problem they say the school board has, aiming to change the required votes from seven to a majority of board members who are in service at any given time.

The Sun’s editorial board had some advice for the school board on the matter, while not including that the emergency legislation occurred following knowledge that seven of 17 school board applications had purportedly disappeared from consideration until some of those applicants inquired about the status of their applications.

“The real problem isn’t the rules, it’s the polarization on the board. Chair Causey and Vice-Chair Henn have failed to form a functioning majority coalition,” The Sun’s opinion piece read.

In response to The Sun’s opining on matters involving the school board, Rowe, who represents in the sixth council district, fired off a response on her board Facebook page on Saturday morning.

“The ‘real’ problem is not that the Board is ‘polarized.’  It’s that the Sun Editorial Board obviously can’t stomach the outcomes of democracy in action. Quite obviously they prefer the neat rubber stamp methodology with no debate or questions from subservient insider political machine puppets the public in their immense wisdom fought so hard to abandon in favor of a hybrid elected Board.

Maybe what we really need is an ALL elected Board and for the Sun Editorial Board to unlock themselves from the upper room of the ivory tower where they whore themselves out to advertisers with this judgmental race-baiting drivel on a subject they so clearly know nothing about.

The legacy of Dallas Dance isn’t a legacy of education equity in the form of laptops for all to narrow the achievement gap. It’s educational maleficence victimizing students and taxpayers by pulling 200 highly qualified teachers out of classrooms to pay for these laptops which did nothing but widen the gap further than it has ever been. Not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on digital instructional materials many of which have been phased out by this Board and Dr. Williams in favor of more tested and reliable education methods like Open Court Reading for instance instead of iready.

Elections don’t always produce a clear majority and I suppose if people have a problem with that, they can contact their respective Board Members. As to this notion of ‘hostility’ to staff, since when is it hostility for an elected official to ask questions meant to provide transparency to the public about how the system they entrust their most precious children too runs?

This is democracy. Deal with it.”
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