Online Word Wars Flare Around Candidate De Lacy

School Board candidate Ann De Lacy says the name-calling is more than uncivil. She says it’s dangerous. Her critics say she's running a divisive campaign.


Board of Education candidate Ann De Lacy says she has become “frightened” by the torrent of online criticism that has been lobbed her way as she wages a controversial campaign to get a seat on the school board in Howard County.

She has been called 'volatile,’ 'arrogant' and 'ignorant' by her critics, words that have appeared on blogs and online forums across Howard County.

“I’m a 62-year-old woman who served the community as a teacher. I’m a grandmother. I’m a volunteer in schools. So, it’s shocking to me to be called names in such a vociferous way,” said De Lacy, 62. “It’s totally uncivil. More than uncivil, dangerous.” 

In the 15-person primary in May, De Lacy, of Columbia,  with 28.6 percent of the vote.  In the general election in November, she is competing against incumbents Janet Siddiqui and Ellen Flynn Giles and challengers , and for three open seats.

A central part of De Lacy's platform is her belief in equity across the school system, an issue she publicly stated former superintendent Sydney Cousin and his chief of staff did not go far enough to address.

“I sincerely believe they felt that if they dared to veer from the status quo, they would be deemed as doing so because they were Black and feared the results,” wrote De Lacy on a Howard County Public Schools forum.

Attempts to contact Cousin for a response were not immediately returned Thursday.

De Lacy has also lamented Race to the Top, a federal program that ties student test performance with teacher pay, saying: “all we do is teach to a test.”

Additionally, she criticized  at a recent fundraiser at in Owen Brown and described enclaves of poverty that are being expanded throughout the county.

‘Who Died And Made you God?’

De Lacy acknowledges that she has once been “uncivil” during the campaign, which has made her a target for critics.

During one exchange with a high school student who had dropped out of the school board race and had declined to endorse De Lacy, she wrote this on the public schools forum:

“Corey, who died and made you God?”

Corey Andrews, 18, the former candidate who was finishing up his senior year at , had just written on the forum that he was supporting Ballinger, Giles and Siddiqui in the general election.

De Lacy acknowledged that it was rude of her to make the “Who died and made you God” comment about Andrews.

“That’s the only uncivil thing I’ve said,” said De Lacy.

The comment made waves.

Columbia resident Bill Woodcock quickly posted it on his blog under the headline “Civility Alert.”

Recently, De Lacy further clashed with Andrews on the online public schools forum after Andrews referred to her as a "union thug" on the forum on July 21.

They disagreed on teachers’ unions, and Andrews specifically wondered whether De Lacy's former involvement in the Howard County teachers' union made her a good candidate to change the school board.

At one point, De Lacy described Andrews’s comments on the teachers' union issue as “hate speech.”

De Lacy told Patch that people have told her not to respond to Andrews, but that she believes it’s harmful for him “to be so young and so bitter.”

On Wednesday, Andrews said he thinks De Lacy is "arrogant." He said during the primary, De Lacy had sent him an email asking him to drop out of the race and support her, to which he responded he’d rather stay in the race.

De Lacy taught at Owen Brown Middle School for 25 years. She has also served as president of the Howard County Education Association—the teachers’ union—for six years, from 2005 to 2011, and is currently a member of the HCPSS operating budget review committee.

Delegate Liz Bobo, a Democrat, is among those supporting De Lacy. She declared her support for De Lacy at a recent fundraising event.

“I’m supporting and planning to work for Ann,” said Bobo, who cited De Lacy’s courage, deep understanding of education and thoughtful decision making as reasons for her support.

De Lacy has also by the HCEA and the African American Coalition of Howard County.

Making Waves on the Web

Tom Coale, a board member of the Columbia Association and author of HoCoRising wrote that De Lacy appeared “volatile” in public forums.

Dennis Lane, who writes the Tales of Two Cities blog, wrote that he shared a "low opinion" of De Lacy with Woodcock, who writes the 53 beers on Tap blog.

Woodcock, a former president of the Young Democrats of Marylandwrote in one post that De Lacy is a “mean-spirited, divisive, ignorant individual with an ego approximately 80 times greater than [her] aptitude for service.” 

After writing that, he added in the same post, “Leave my name out of your mouth. Either spoken or in writing. Because if you continue to go there, you are going to unleash eleven weeks of fury that neither you nor your tens of supporters will be able to control. I guarantee you that.”

According to Woodcock, he said De Lacy was using his name out of context in a forum post in which she said school leaders weren't doing enough to change policies negatively affecting African American students.

Woodcock told Patch in an interview regarding De Lacy's fear of being harmed, that she has a penchant for hyperbole. 

"I mean her no harm and no ill will," said Woodcock on Thursday. He said that although he agrees with her on many of her positions on issues such as greater transparency and an expanded pre-kindergatern program, it has been her negative campaign that has drawn his criticism.

He said at a time when the board is reeling from divisiveness stemming from school board member against the board, the board needs unity, which he doesn't see De Lacy bringing.

"I see her agenda as wanting to settle scores," said Woodcock. 

Concern for the Future

De Lacy admits that some of this comes with the territory of running a campaign.

“If you’re going to put yourself out there like I have, you’re going to tick off a lot of people,” she said.

Still, she said she worries it could discourage future contenders from running.

“In light of all the shootings that have been going on, you don’t know what might set off another human being,” she said. “I just wonder that maybe people are not running for board of education or other things, maybe African Americans, because they are afraid of being targeted and called such names.”

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Editor's Note: An original version of this story stated Sonoma's was in Oakland Mills, it's in fact in Owen Brown.

woodbine5 September 04, 2012 at 04:45 PM
In response to Pufnstuf: Ms. De Lacy says she wants "equity" or equal opportunity, when in reality I find most people actually want equal outcome, which of course will never be achieved. And being Black has nothing to do with either. Some of the most money is poured in to "black" schools with no rise in achievement, while other schools that spend way less per pupil, regardless of race, achieve more. Why is every issue raised by Ms. De Lacy viewed with "race glasses". Achievement gaps are elusive creatures, shaped by home life, school input, personal experience, parental guidence and so on. Ms. De Lacy seems to intimate that if the students were white a different outcome or support from Dr. Cousin would occur. Baloney. Stop the race bating Ms. De Lacy
JEANINE BAUMGARDNER September 04, 2012 at 05:16 PM
One has to have blinders on their eyes to not think the "race card" card does not exist here . Look at our record. I have lived here 32 years, such has existed at tow different high schools, --- a court has proved this. So, don't try to purport that uncivility does NOT exist in Columbia. If this were not true, then there would be no need for a Black Student Achievement Prgram or, the other progams to shed light on our local inequities. The uncivil speech and fear spewed toward Ann Delacy is senseless and hateful. Do you really think that we are going to sit still and allow Ms. Delacy to be assailed? Not on my watch. Delacy, has repeatedly won the respect of being the Board of Educ -Teachers Union President. However, you rather recklessly purport she is arrogant and self-serving. Such comments, at best, are evil, self-serving, and, spread fear and uncivility. These descriptions are often attached to those we cannot "control", or, those who are courageuos enough to tell us the truth. I encourage others to see beyond the hate-mongers speech, young and old, (you know who you are) . Hence, they seek to disparage and attack her reputation. i enoncourage those to show our support behind DeLacy and do it by voting in the affirmative for her appointment to the Board. JMBnmMD
Curiousmom September 04, 2012 at 05:26 PM
@woodbine5.. What is a "black school"?
LOVE2READ September 04, 2012 at 05:30 PM
If you attacked someone's policies, that would be legitimate; however, names like arrogant and volatile are words generally reserved for African-Americans when running for public office or any position of power. The statement that one's ego is greater than his/her aptitude is one that repeatedly pinned on African-Americans. Of course, if it doesn't apply to you and you're not paying attention to how many times it is mentioned in reference to you or people in your community, it is easy to say that it is race-baiting. However, I've seen and heard too many times-- someone trying to paint an African-American as either too hot headed or incompetent to do the job-- to simply say it comes with the territory. These are the same stock statements used against African-Americans from local level politics, such as this, to national politics. Because she points them out does not make her a race-baiter. Argue against her politics, not her personality, and then we can have a substantive debate.
woodbine5 September 04, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Ms. Baumgardner: IF Ms. DeLacy is as good as you proport her to be than she can run on that! NOT on the fact that she is being discriminated against, or any other race issue. She can run on her success as a teacher, she can run on her success as a union president, she can run on her success as.....(insert her other successes). I have reviewed the blogs, sure some of out of line, but so was Ms. DeLacy's comment (yes I believe those running for office should be held to a higher level of civility to set an example-expecially when corresponding with a teenager). I agree with you that we need to see beyond the hate monger speech which is WHY Ms. De Lacy needs to stop pulling the race card (code word: if you don't vote for her you are a racist-hate speech exemplified) and RUN ON HER RECORD! If she is as good as you say she is via her experiences, then anyone should be comfortable that she will represent ALL citizens of HC on the board, but her retoric would suggest something far different. "people see the world as they are....not necessarily as it is"
Heather Cindric September 04, 2012 at 08:54 PM
I'm abridging my comments but I'll send them to howardpubliced if you are interested. Sorry WoodBine5 and Corey Andrews, you don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t think that any of you are dangerous yourselves but you are very wrong and your defensiveness is destructive to the discussion. I live in Oakland Mills and volunteer in OMHS. It burns me when I look at all the young, beautiful faces at OM and think of all the things which they are excluded. When rules are written so that it is easy for a wealthy family to abide by them and hard for a poor family, all you really have to do is enforce the law. Ann takes big risks to the detriment of her reputation to address it. She didn’t have to do that; she has endorsements up the wazoo, she been the head of HCEA, knows tons of people and has deep roots in Columbia. She struggles with it because it is important to talk about and decide what to do about it in a rational manner. She isn’t “pulling her card” she is addressing a problem which affects everyone. That is why she belongs on the board. Mr. Andrews and Mr. Woodcock and everyone else, I know you when you truly examine your own beliefs on race; you don’t agree that the statistics accurately reflect the intelligence of minority children either. Can’t you also admit that there is something wrong with rules? Heather Cindric
Truthteller September 04, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Ann DeLacey, in her role as HCEA president, had the opportunity to hear grievances from a multitude of teachers and staff from all the schools in Ho.Co. - THAT is how she knows the "inside story" (aka "buried bodies") concerning the inner-workings of the HCPSS. I have watched her use her "inside info" to advocate against programs that were not in the best of interest of our students - e.g., she was successful in demonstrating the pitfalls of the integrated approach, thus eliminating it from several middle schools. I, for one, do not want to elect a school board member who will do nothing but smile and sit on his/her new "throne".....our county will benefit greatly from someone who is bold enough to question any of the current policies that still allow our children to fail. It is rare to find an educator who is willing to "put it all out on the line" and tell the truth - Ann DeLacey is someone who is brave enough to do so.
Mea Columbia September 04, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Ann has already apologized immensely to Andrew, but he is not a child. He is an 18 year old, now college student, who spewed some pretty uncivil and incendiary comments towards Ann, so in my eyes, if you can dish it out, learn to be able to take it in. Some people mistake Ann's passion and engagement for our children and communities as negative attributes and want to tear her down because she IS willing to talk about the vast inequalities that our schools face instead of wearing blinders like most people. She is not out to settle scores, she is out to improve the lives and welfare of our children and our communities. People don't like her because she is willing to tell the truth, rather than sweep the dirt under the rug. For once, our school board needs someone who is willing to go against the grain and not be 'yes' men and women. Ann De Lacy gets my vote. And in regards to playing the race card, what a farce. In today's political climate, it is not so far fetched for her to believe that speaking out against the popular mandate is cause for alarm. Did she say she fears for her life that someone is going to gun her down? No. There have been various studies done in regards to the political efficacy and unlikelihood amongst women and minorities to run for public office due to the extreme backlash they may face. Her statement was taken out of context and until you are a minority or a woman running for any sort of race, you can't even begin to understand where she is coming from.
Mea Columbia September 05, 2012 at 12:17 AM
* My apologies, I meant to say 'Mr. Andrews'
Corey Andrews September 05, 2012 at 12:36 AM
"I know where the bodies are buried." "I'm not afraid to throw stones." "I know everything about the HCPSS." "In fact, you, Jim Adams, and Bob Ballinger were so vicious in your attacks..." All of these things were either spoken or written by Ann DeLacy long before the "died and made you god" thing. Do these things not count as uncivil? She never apologized for any of these things. Why is it uncivil when we react to the hateful comments that Ann has made, but not when she says these things?
Teacher Mom September 05, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I am a teacher in HoCo in a Title one school that has had the FARMS population more than double in recent years...in the next few years the plan for redistricting is sending 250 of our mostly white and also non-FARMS students to the new middle school. In turn, we will have 200 students (nearly 90% FARMS and African-American) being sent to us. This does not mean anything to most people but as a teacher who spends most of her morning making sure her students get breakfast, have basic school supplies, and are wearing appropriate clothing before beginning instruction, this means A LOT. Ann is the only candidate I know who even acknowledges the disparity. It is not playing the race-card, it is the reality card for many teachers, staff, and administrators in high needs schools. I have taught at and worked with professionals in other schools which have low numbers of FARMS students and statistically are mostly white in HoCo and the idea of educational racism is not exactly foreign.
Teacher Mom September 05, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Yes it's true that more money is spent on low/under achieving schools but it's with all these random initiatives (IA, CFIP, killing Reading in middle schools, etc.) that YES as nice as he is, Dr. Cousins seemed to approve without without much thought. All of this in turn burns good teachers out (e.g. some teachers have 40 kids in their classes. Some have 10 students in a class of 32 with IEPs...it's all too much!) and creates a culture of inequality (even among the teachers...teachers from low performing schools are like lepers during in-service days). Ann doesn't mince words. Ann makes mistakes and guess what? I am sure she will make more...Who hasn't? Who hasn't on the current board or in the current pool of candidates? At least she owns up to them. I have yet to hear an apology from anyone about the current scheduling debacle in Middle Schools after the ill-thought out ellimination of reading... Ann genuinely cares, not only about the teachers and the students but, about making HCPSS a world-class educational system for ALL students (TG for Dr. Foose!). Ann is real and passionate about her views. Some people can't handle all of this and thus resort to name-calling, e-attacks, and just plain negativity. I encourage you to meet and talk with Ann directly, she is very available, as I did, and get to see who she REALLY is, not who some portray her to be. Will she shake things up at the board? Absolutely! That's why I am voting for her, my job depends in it!
Corey Andrews September 05, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I have spent hours speaking to this woman and participating in candidate debates. Since then, I have tried to privately contact her to discuss these issues, yet she hasn't actually taken the effort to speak to ME since March even though she has no problem posting about me on Howardpubliced.
Mea Columbia September 05, 2012 at 02:58 AM
I have a hard time believing that. Ann will talk to anyone and everyone.
Corey Andrews September 05, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Not me. I had made SEVERAL attempts to contact her long before this started. Then... on election night, she took a swipe at the three people who also happened to be listed above her on the ballot, me included.
Sue Medicus September 05, 2012 at 10:32 AM
I'll simply put the comments I put on Howard Public Ed Having worked with Ann on the Operating Budget Review Committee, I can attest to the fact that she worked to build consensus. We may have had spirited discussions, but she knows the value of working together, yet holding firm. Many current members of the Board of Ed have been quoted as saying "they only want good news"" Or " the turf fields were a wise decision" We need to be wise, and elect people to the Board of Ed who will question and ponder. Let's not let the current Board of Ed waste our time or money yet again by refusing to get along. Please understand that the ones who insisted on impeachment of our friend Allan are the ones who cannot get along. Ann is excellent at getting along, I came to the committee as an extreme conservative who should, by stereotype, have NEVER gotten along with Ann. Yet I admire her more than any other member of our committee, if only because of her steadfastness in approach. Bravo Ann. Sue Medicus
Ann Delacy September 06, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Until this article was written, Corey Andrews never asked me to meet with him. The meeting is of no consequence but the fact that he has been less than honest in stating that he requested one or any meeting with me is worth noting. Thank you.
Corey Andrews September 06, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Like a lot of what you have said, Ann, that is another lie. I've emailed you at least a half-dozen times requesting to speak to you.
stephen feldman September 06, 2012 at 07:54 PM
This all is much ado about nothing. While I'm an independent with a more skeptical view of the federal govt role in education than Ms delacy or some of her supporters, I find her suspicion of teaching to the test and the fascination with assessments over quality, everyday education for all our students of all economic backgrounds to be well merited. Parents of Howard County students(including me), educators(including me) and legal experts on our education systems(including me) know that while our school system is very good compared with other US public school districts, it is hardly perfect. Ann de Lacy, with whom I've had the honor to serve for the past year on the OBRC of our school board, is a woman of honor, integrity and tolerance. She, like me, will not stand for anything other than demands of excellence from our students, teachers, administrators, and yes, parents. I dont agree across the board with Ann politically, but we need Ann de Lacy to make sure that our kids are not subject to sociological experiments without practical benefit, testing for skills that dont reflect what our society really needs or thinks it is learning by test results, and that our ed system serves each local community and not some consultant or foundation driven model.
EL September 07, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Yes, it seems she did apologize to Corey Andrews but looking at the blog, it seems it was not until others called her on the comment. It appears that she has a short fuse or perhaps she posts without really thinking about the fact that this is a PUBLIC board. Either of those answers are not great because she either needs to control a short fuse or be more aware of where she is putting her words. I keep hearing she has said "she knows where the bodies are buried" but if this is information that is important, why aren't we hearing it? Why the "teaser" until she gets elected? I just don't get it.
ReadingExchange September 07, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Ann Delacy has followed school board issues for a long time. She has worked in the school system and has a unique perspective on the challenges we face. If you talk with her, you will get it. :-) Corey, your rhetoric will not serve you well if you should choose to engage in future political efforts.
Thomas Diller September 07, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Corey, the actual quote was "I love to throw rocks at things I view to be wrong". So it looks like we could expect a viscous outburst everytime she disagrees with something. Another favorite of mine is when she said "I know more about public education than anyone who has ever served on the BOE." How arrogant is that? She's the queen of narcissism!
Corey Andrews September 07, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Funny, too, considering Sandra French is just as qualified as a former teacher and really probably more qualified having served on the Board for quite a long time.
HWood September 09, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I admit that I am largely clueless when it comes to the subject matter of this article. As a county resident but very busy self-employed person, I cannot speak in defense of the these very polarizing positions. What I can tell you with certainty is that we have become a disingenuous species that supplants the courage of face-to-face communication with hollow words passed easily through forums on the Internet. This is why I detest FaceBook and other forms of "social media". When we should actually be reaching out and using ALL of our means of communication, we hide behind our keyboard instead. You'll recall how easy it is to blast your horn and denigrate a bad driver while insulated inside your car. You can be bigger than you actually are because you have 2 tons of steel and glass to protect you. But when you've finished yelling at the top of your lungs with no actual affect on anyone other than that angry idiot you see in your own rear-view mirror, it dawns on you just how pathetic and disconnected from each other we have become. For me, THIS is the lesson to be learned from this article. That this very disappointing display of human interaction happens be about local politics is nothing more than an example of the lesson. God help us all.
bill bissenas September 25, 2012 at 11:39 AM
De Lacy and the Howard County Teachers Union are attempting a hostile takeover of our childrens' education for their own enrichment. If you vote for De Lacy and other unionist Board candidates, the Union will own you and your children.
bill bissenas September 25, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Installing De Lacy and the other union lackeys on the school board would be a disaster for our childrens' education. Why? Because their first loyalty would be to enriching union members, which means confiscating more of your property. All HoCo parents should find the unions powerplay to effectively take over the county as offensive and unacceptable.
bill bissenas September 25, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Nice threat. So someone who stands up for what he believes in should just sit down and shut up? Nice. This is how the left works its magic.
Greg G. October 24, 2012 at 08:04 AM
Someone please just provide a link that works, giving bullet points on what each candidate stands for.
Ann Delacy October 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Greg, please visit my website: anndelacy4boe.com. You can also email me at anndelacy@verizon.net.
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