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Howard County and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Well, it has been more like a two week run of bad news that the local community has had to endure. First, Superintendent Foose got a deserved tongue-lashing from Governor Hogan for miscommunication about mold in schools. He is requiring that she report back on the maintenance expenditures that she promised at the public works hearing. What’s this? Accountability? Oversight? I guess that the HCPSS can’t disband the State review as easily as it disbanded the citizens’ operating budget review.

Then, we had the terrible racist video which was handled oddly. Foose sent out an email to the HCPSS parents asking for a teaching opportunity, and saying not to watch it. An African American student shared the video, to condemn it, and was suspended. How many more blunders like this one would get someone else fired?

Next up, the Howard County Delegation failed to pass the Board of Education (BOE) by district bill. This bill was possibly the only way to solve this terrible situation where BOE members are not accountable to voters. Electing BOE members by district would force them to be more transparent and answerable to their constituents. They would not be able to continue to disregard community concerns, as publicly demonstrated by most BOE members. The exceptions are Vaillancourt and Atwerger, who deserve much credit for being communicative and reasonable, especially in such a combative atmosphere.

The BOE by district bill was killed by Senators Kasemeyer and Bates, who voted it down. Their reasoning was that “Council Districts” weren't the right “districts” to choose. Then, they should have drawn up different districts. The bill should have been amended and not killed. There are over 1,500 “Cut Foose Loose” petition signers, and there were hundreds (yes HUNDREDS) of emails and phone calls to our legislators! We need legislators committed to taking action and fixing these problems. Should we turn a blind eye to mold in schools, bullying, the needs of special education students, and wasted taxpayer funds just because of our school system rankings and awards? We should NOT.

For legislators to put more weight on what the HCPSS wants than what the people need from these bills is outrageous. So the fox should have more say in the protection of the hen house bills? Let's hope they vote to pass bill hoco 9-16 this Wednesday, which increases compliance of the HCPSS to the MD Public Information Act. Send emails again, please, to the entire delegation. Their email addresses are at the bottom of this post.

Then, the worst of all, the contract of the Superintendent was renewed by the BOE in a 5-2 vote, in the most perfectly symbolic thumbed-nosed, business as usual, having learned nothing, display of disdain for the community I have ever seen. That day, an email went out to staff having them show up and pack the public hearing room 30 minutes before the start time of 4PM so that the fire code capacity was met. Then, they placed some big dudes by the Board room doors to bar entrance to the public and locked the building doors. People attempting to testify were refused. A group trying to request the BOE postpone the renewal vote until the racism and mold issues were more fully addressed were not allowed entrance. Cindy Vaillancourt expressed her dismay at this group being thwarted.

The press was treated no better. The press called on the BOE to hear from the public before their decision, and the Board's response was to bar them physically, and berate them. Talk about proving everyone's points. This is how the BOE responds to complaints about being non-communicative, closing ranks, twisting the truth, and dismissing concerns. We are living in a cartoon.

Ann Delacy said that she didn't care what adults think, only children, which makes no sense coming from a Board member. How can the concerns of adults advocating for the children - parents, guardians, teachers, etc. - not be important? A friend said something funny that I shall repeat, "Hey Ann, the adults are the ones that vote."

Let's hope the galvanizing of support for the best Board of ED candidates - across party lines, across the sea of diversity of all types of people and ideologies in this County - can make a difference this time. Please stay tuned to The Ethics Ballot endorsements for Board of Education.

Email to support bill hoco 9-16 to increase compliance by the HCPSS to the MD Public Information Act:

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