At the close of the Baltimore County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night in which Superintendent Dallas Dance’s contract was approved, board member Marisol Johnson condemned some other members’ recent actions.
“We all have the right to create our little blogs or Facebook posts and chat rooms, to hold community meetings, public forums, to write and distribute many emails, to simply have your own opinions and share those with your family, friends and constituents,” Johnson said. “But when lies, confidentiality breaches, harassment, hate, revenge and rumors are at the root of all of your intentions, with the members of the public … at what point do you ask yourself, Are you a productive member of this board?”
When asked if her comments were directed at Ann Miller, who was appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan and who has been critical of Dance and Common Core, Johnson said that some of her comments were directed at everyone.
“I truly feel we are doing important work. But we can only get the work done if we are moving forward and not constantly trying to logjam policies, or bring up issues that have been resolved, or use our position to fight individual battles,” Johnson said in an email. “However, Ms. Miller has been a voice of dissension from before her appointment. Which I’m fine with, I actually invite the conversation.
“But IN MY OPINION, she has ulterior and self-serving motives,” Johnson said.
In response, Miller said she will continue to raise questions.
“It is the moral and legal obligation of every member of the board to provide oversight of our superintendent and the school system. That is actually the “board’s work.” Board members don’t make implementation happen. We authorize it by our votes. So, to say that oversight is getting in the way of the work of the board is a display of a lack of understanding of the proper role of the board,” Miller said in an email.
“Not only is oversight our responsibility, but reporting issues of suspected abuse or ethical violations is required by board policy of all employees.”
She said she thought it was ironic that Johnson’s comments came in the wake of a discussion about retaliation within BCPS.
“It is a keen point that within an hour of the board passing a new anti-retaliation policy (Policy 8420) to protect whistleblowers, in response to widespread expressions of the need for such a policy, several board members engaged in what could be seen as a violation of that policy. Marisol Johnson actually serves on the Policy Review Committee, which presented Policy 8420 to the board for approval,” Miller said.
“I believe her comments were made in a retaliatory manner to my involvement with the filing of an ethics complaint against Dr. Dance last week by a stakeholder and could be a violation of Policy 8420. I will continue to do my job as a member of the board, regardless of how some of the other board members react to it.”