It may be unseasonably warm lately, but did you know you are paying to be snowed? When our school system, which uses the majority of the HoCo budget, has to pay a PR firm to help them look good, we need to question priorities. I’ve been told by multiple sources that they are trying to blame the teacher’s union for inappropriate decisions. There may be some disagreements between these entities, but the current tide of complaints about the actions of the HCPSS cannot be placed on an external scapegoat.
At the Howard County Delegation Town Hall, many people shared tales of woe in dealing with the HCPSS. As part of my testimony, I promised to ask the Board of Education (BOE) to form a policy that would require their members to vote on each and every case in the Howard County Circuit Court as to whether they would allow their attorney to seek sanctions on an individual. In the Krupiarz case, a special education student’s mother tried to obtain a copy of an HCPSS special needs survey, report, and audit of the system. Not only was she denied access to this taxpayer-funded document, but sanctions were awarded against her. It came to my attention that Board members did not vote to request the sanctions, which begs the question, "Since the BOE is the client, who authorized these sanctions?" Hmm…
In the BOE public forum this past week, I asked the Board to please implement the sanction voting policy and to refund Ms. Krupiarz. I will keep people posted on their reply.
In the meantime, outside (contracted) attorneys are being paid many times over the amount the eliminated HCPSS in-house attorney had cost. Attorney Krew, the contract attorney, was not used in the past due to a reputation of adversarial and intensely antagonistic personal tactics to fight special education needs and enforcement of MD Public Information Act requests. You can see what he is currently earning a month in taxpayer funds HERE.
There are many other disturbing stories of HCPSS non-compliance with the MD Public Information Act. In the Krupiarz case, a document (a preliminary report) that was referenced in a BOE meeting was requested, but the HCPSS response to this public information act request was to (falsely) deny that it even existed. You can read the evidence of this preliminary report HERE.
I surely hope that given all the horror stories: ignored bullying; lack of suicide prevention and not implementing or communicating Grace’s Law; dragging feet on public information act requests or simply denying them; putting up walls with parents on communication in so many areas, the worst of which affects their children’s own health around mold; all are not responded to by simply blaming the teacher’s union. I hope that PR firm’s big price tag provides some advice on actually DOING some good things versus hiding the bad, passing the buck, and making irrelevant accusations of blame.