Ann Miller, a member of the school board of Baltimore County, wants to delay a vote…
An op-ed from BCPS board member Ann Miller
I submitted a request for information to the Baltimore County Public Schools Board Chairman in October 2015, two months before I was sworn in as a board member so that BCPS would have time to prepare answers for me and provide them after my confirmation in December. The reason I did this was that my first board meeting was the second meeting in December, and the board was voting on both the annual operating budget and the renewal of Dallas Dance as superintendent at the first meeting in February (about six weeks later).
The main items requested include:
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Dance asked the board to vote on his renewal in November, prior to the beginning of my term, even though state law required that the formal vote take place in February. Also in November, there was an orchestrated move to publicly discredit me for being an outspoken Republican and demand that my appointment be revoked. Governor Hogan, thankfully, stood by his appointment selection.
Unfortunately, answers were not furnished to me in December, and I had to resubmit them to the new board chairman again after being sworn in. The answers provided were insufficient to me, so I submitted a Public Information Act request in January 2016, as there were only four weeks remaining before key votes were to take place. Some answers were provided, but BCPS was going to charge me $5,500 in order to provide the remaining information. The answers to my PIA were given to me on the afternoon of the meeting in which these votes occurred in February, but were still incomplete.
After the February vote, I submitted a follow-up PIA in April, which is also posted on my Facebook page, BCPS Board Member Ann Miller, to attempt to get questions answered that applied directly to the employment contract details of Dr. Dance. The vote on his employment contract was in May 2016. At the time of that vote, there was a pending ethics complaint against Dr. Dance which later produced findings of two ethics violations.
Fellow board member Kathleen Causey and I shared similar concerns, asked similar questions, and got similar responses. Neither board chair would facilitate in getting the information we had requested from BCPS. None of our fellow board members at that time desired answers to our questions or even felt compelled to support our demands for answers. We continue to ask questions to this day, along with newer members Julie Henn and Roger Hayden.
Had the board chair acted on our behalf to get answers, many of the controversies that have arisen since that time might have been avoided or at least mitigated. The full board could have been better informed to make sound votes on key system issues.