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Howard County's own custody battle

January 17, 2017

It reads like an emotional divorce complaint. She doesn’t like me, and says nasty things. This other person said she said really bad things about me. She wants me out. She says I can’t make all the decisions anymore. How sad that I am referring to the Superintendent of Schools “counts” of actionable items against the Board of Education (and its Members as individuals). Custody of the well-being of the School System is at stake and my bet is the Board of Education will win this battle, and I just hope they stay strong and use their resources to do justice and not just line Foose’s pockets.

 

Now, unless you pay no attention to local HoCo civic issues, and you must if you are reading this somehow, you already know about the myriad problems and issues of concern regarding Howard County Public School leadership which led to the election of three new Board Members last November. Many feel these problems sourced from the top down, and greatly desire more oversight from the Board of the Superintendent. If you want a reminder of the issues see www.ipetitions.com/ipetition/cut-foose-loose for sourced complaints.

 

The new Board hit the ground running, and made some badly needed changes right away in their first meeting in December. One with which the Super took great issue was their decision to hire their own attorney and not allow her to speak for them to that attorney, and communicate with their own attorney themselves. In Foose’s complaint, this fact is twisted to somehow include her not being allowed to hire her own attorney, even though that’s not what was said or done.

 

The Board Chair went over some other smaller issues in the complaint, and how they were being handled with Foose prior to the litigation being filed. It sounds like they were working on things, then Foose decided to just file a lawsuit. She had the nerve to accuse the Board of setting up issues for her to be insubordinate. Who needs to set them up? Complaints about not having enough time to debate things, or notice to discuss things were laughably hypocritical. Seems to me that there have been so many instances of Foose mischaracterizing things in the budget, and not giving the Board the information they need, that she is giving enough examples of her insubordination on her own, the pinnacle of which is filing a lawsuit of very questionable merit against her employer.

 

During the meeting on the evening after the lawsuit was filed, Foose refused to answer Board questions about School System issues because of the lawsuit, even on topics not in the complaint! Her answers to questions from the Board regarding the Ombudsman’s report on HCPSS wrongdoings in handling MD public information act requests, was hard to watch. Non-answers, inaccurate answers, and mischaracterizations were given, in a hostile and uncooperative way. This is an attitude and choice of relationship here now, that the MD Superintendent needs to know is occurring, ASAP.

 

This latest waste of taxpayer funds to be laid at Foose’s doorstep, I believe, is a strategic action to fire the first shot, to cost them money and get a better negotiated settlement to leave, or dig in and try to snow the MD Super to let her stay around in this outrageously impossible situation she has created. Maybe all these audits being done can help things along on that path, but in the meantime, we, the people of Howard County spoke, nearly as one last November about wanting the Board of Education to oversee the Superintendent. We can now come together again, and inform the MD Superintendent, that we need her help.

 

If you want to reach out to the MD Superintendent and weigh in on issues in support of the current Howard County Board of Education dealing with obfuscation, and an obstreperous and hostile employee, then write to Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D.,  Karen.Salmon@maryland.gov 

 

If you send an email, be professional, concise, and just let her know if you believe Dr. Renee Foose is showing unwillingness to work for the new Board of Education, and is litigating questionable issues with them for trying to oversee her which is their job. If you have specific issues you can forward to Dr. Salmon, do so, but keep things factual, and brief, and if you choose, point out that Howard County needs assistance and support for the Board of Education to fix these problems.

 

Why should you care? If you don’t have direct effect from the HCPSS, you should care where over half your tax money goes, so let the MD Super know, the HoCo BOE needs help and support to fix the problems in HoCo, since Foose has now made it abundantly clear she will not allow them to do so.

 

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