Baltimore County to restart process to fill vacant school board seat

Published 5/1/2023 5:30 a.m. EDT

The sign near the entrance to the Baltimore County Board of Education’s Greenwood Campus on 8/18/22.

Baltimore County Public Schools is restarting the process to fill the open seat on its board, even though the governor’s office has still not explained why it didn’t pick a candidate the first time.

The first of three virtual public input sessions will be held Monday to inform the public of the process.

The meetings start at 7 p.m. on May 1, May 4 and May 9. The public can watch on Zoom or call in.

The board now has 11 members with the latest three appointed by Gov. Wes Moore’s office April 18. Tiffany LaShawn Frempong, Emory Young and Tiara Booker-Dwyer were tapped to join the county’s 12-seat board of education, replacing Hogan-administration appointees Moalie Jose, John Offerman, Russell Kuehn and Erin Hager.

The three new people were selected from eight candidates the nominating commission sent to the governor’s office. Rather than picking all four state-appointed board members, the governor’s office chose three and told the commission to send two new people to consider.

It caused frustration and confusion among the public and members on the commission at the time. The governor’s office still has not given a reason for leaving the seat empty. The board will be incomplete when it picks a new superintendent, a search that has been narrowed down to four finalists. They will announce the new superintendent sometime in May.

Cindy Sexton, chair of the commission, said she can only share that the governor’s office took the process seriously and interviewed all the candidates the commission submitted.

Moore’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s unclear how often this happens; most boards of education in the state have all-elected members. But it‘s not unprecedented. In 2002, before Anne Arundel County transitioned to an elected school board, former Gov. Parris Glendening chose not to pick the candidate who received the most votes at the district’s school board nominating convention. Instead, he selected a candidate recommended by the county executive.

Del. Cathi Forbes, a Democrat who represents Baltimore County, said she was disappointed that Moore’s office didn’t pick from the commission’s submitted names at first. However, she said, “the appointment secretary gave me a full explanation for his [Moore’s] position.” She said she respects and appreciates the thought they put into making this decision and said “the governor’s office was earnest in their work.”

Forbes, an education advocate, said as a community member she helped pass the bill that led to the county’s hybrid board, with eight elected members and four appointed ones. Former Sen. Jim Brochin, who co-sponsored the bill, said he wasn’t surprised by the governor’s decision.

“I don’t think it’s unusual if the governor wants his way and wants his person,” the Democrat said.

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