Friday, February 13, 2009

Abell protests meeting

By GRETCHEN PHILLIPS

A Charles County Board of Education member publicly cried foul on other members after an unannounced meeting regarding the health curriculum.

For several months, a hot topic around the community and the school system has been a health curriculum addressing sex education.

Recently a brief meeting held by the Charles County Board of Education raised a red flag with board member Jennifer S. Abell about whether or not there was a discussion on the topic in violation of the Maryland Open Meetings Act. [Indy]

Related: Dismissed Myself...

11 comments:

LegalBeaglette said...

Board Chairman Donald M. Wade said the purpose of the meeting was "to make sure all board members had the materials they needed on the health curriculum."

"I was concerned, I wanted to make sure board members were up to date on the number of revisions," he said.


It took a teleconference to do that? Oh, please. If the process of revision for the health curriculum is that muddled that the board members are expected (by its chairman) to be confused or their materials incomplete, does that not strongly suggest that the public might be equally confused or ill-informed about the several revisions? And a quiet little un-announced, non-public meeting at Starkey clarifies it for…?

Anonymous said...

Wade has to call a meeting to make sure everyone has their materials? Baloney! If you believe that, I have some swamp land in Florida I'd like to sell you. Does the chairman call a teleconference before each board meeting to make sure the members have all the materials they need? The answer to that question would be an obviously resounding NO! Go back and look at your videos. Almost every single meeting you guys don't have up to date reports or the reports we can access on board docks are different than what is acutally being discussed. It's always something. So why now? Why do this for the controversial sex ed curriculum? I'll tell you what I (and others) think. It is nothing more than a laughable attempt to cover up for being caught - once again - with their pants down in executive session. Wade has a fax and a phone, a finger and a mouth. He also has a secretary and a vice chair who could have made calls to each member if his retired self was too busy. This is a cover up, pure and simple! Guaranteed at least one board member wanted to discuss this behind closed doors to get everyone to agree and limit public discussion. The elusive Mr. Bailey quickly comes to mind. Mr. Wade apparently went along. So much for the military man's honesty, integrity, and respect for MD law. It's all about cover up and working behind the scenes. Heaven forbid you guys actually discuss anything controversial in public. What happened in that meeting? Did you guys each whip out your papers and make sure they were the same as the person sitting next to you? Aside from that, I can't see a need for discussion. Thanks, Ms. Abel for doing what is right. Shame on the remaining 6 (and your lawyer).

Anonymous said...

One question - did you guys vote to go into executive session for this little discussion? How in the world is it executive session worthy? Gee, let me guess. We will now see it listed as an executive function of the board (because that seems to be the latest and greatest CYA technique). So - did you vote to go into executive session or executive function?

Anonymous said...

You can't whip out papers and compare them with the person sitting next to you if you are in a TELECONFERENCE. I'm thinking there was more to the discussion.

Jennifer said...

I was told it was not executive session but an administrative function of the board. No votes taken

Janis Sartucci said...

The Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education was recently cited for an Open Meetings Act violation for failure to disclose the TOPIC of a closed session. No comment from the Board on this decision. What were the Board members discussing in closed session? The public later found out they were discussing the illegal curricular fees being charged to public school students.

http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2009/02/navarro-board-of-ed-breaks-open-meeting.html

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter if votes were taken or not. What was DISCUSSED? And since you weren't there, we will never know. I don't have any delusions that the rest of the clan will come clean. Why do you guys keep voting for this chairman when he pulls stuff like this? He's either very ignorant of the protocol or believes he is above the law.

Anonymous said...

Has the Maryland Independent ever investigated the number of times you and other governing bodies in the county have chosen to take advantage of the administrative function loop hole? You have to vote to go into exectuvie session, so those rendesvous are a matter of public record. The bigger question is do you guys have to vote to go into administrative function? Otherwise, how can the public keep track of the number of times you guys are meeting behind closed doors and just chalking it up to administrative function when someone gets wind of it?

Jennifer said...

Anonymous 10:22,
Are you suggesting I should have stayed in the meeting so we would know what was said? That sounds very familiar to someone else on staff that gave me the samse advice .....hhhmmmm...

Jennifer said...

Anonymous 11:01,
Indy doing a report, not that I aware of....vote for administrative function...obviously not

LegalBeaglette said...

Anonymous at 10:22 is correct: It does not matter if any vote was cast – and given the stated topic (of which we are aware only because Ms. Abell shared what she was told), no “vote” on any issue regarding it would appropriately be taken EXCEPT in public session. It is the discussion which, in my opinion, inappropriately took place outside the public view. The General Assembly, and the foundation of the Open Meetings Act: Citizens are to be allowed to observe the deliberations and decisions that the making of public policy involves.

I have long believed that the elected Board of Education members are grossly ignorant of matters such as the Public Information Act and the Open Meetings Act [Ms. Abell is an exception.] Given what I learned from the specifics of the inquiry made by the former board member, Mrs. Young, I think the attorney for the Superintendent, Eric Schwartz, has been muddling through the requirements for years…and unfortunately, the elected Board of Education members, the administration – and the public – relies on him to provide appropriate guidance. The Maryland Independent needs to employ a David Simon or two, and the county would be well served by the likes of the late Chief Judge Robert F. Sweeney.

As for the conductor of this little band, I share the mystification over his continued leadership. I would no more vote for Donald Wade as Chair than I would Collins Bailey to the Senate, as I find Mr. Bailey to be just as keen on closeted discussions. I object to the “Commentary” postings in the local paper purportedly written by Mr. Wade, because for me to believe that he wrote any of them would require me to suspend everything I have ever observed about the man.

But the fact remains that the other elected board members went along with this, even after Ms. Abell questioned whether it was appropriate. For elected members who – by and large – ran on platforms of “openness” and “transparency” and “accountability,” it indicates to me the public got suckered. Typical politicians – “Anything for the vote…”