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Howard County Board of Education Reportedly Votes to Oust Allen Dyer

Allen Dyer's conflicts with his own board reportedly reach new level.

An ethics complaint against Howard County Board of Education member Allen Dyer was quietly dismissed last month, but Dyer's conflicts with the board are reportedly far from over.

Dyer had been accused of promising to increase the power of the school board’s student representative from having partial to full voting rights in exchange for the student’s support of Dyer’s bid to become school board chairman.

But both an ethics panel and the school board dispatched the complaint within minutes during a closed meeting, finding no violation, according to minutes of the meeting released by Dyer.

However, late Thursday, Explorehoward.com reported that the school board voted 5-2 to request that the Maryland State Department of Education remove Dyer from his board position.

The resolution was reportedly introduced by board member Frank Aquino, who charged that Dyer had breached confidentiality by releasing information from a closed meeting that named the student board member.

According to Maryland state law, the State Board of Education must give a board member 10 days to request a hearing before taking any action. 

The original ethics complaint against Dyer accused him of violating a policy banning board members from using “the prestige of their offices for their own private gain or that of another.”

The complaint appears to have stemmed from conversations and correspondence Dyer and others allegedly had with student representative Alexis Adams in late 2010, prior to the board's election of a chairperson.

Dyer did not win the seat.

The school system did not publicly acknowledge that there was an ethics complaint against Dyer. News of the complaint leaked out in March 2011 on local blog Tales of Two Cities, and Dyer subsequently released related documents.

Dyer and his attorney released copies last week of the ethics panel’s decision and a transcript of its hearing on the case.

“This entire complaint and the way it has worked out through the ethics regulations and proceedings has interfered with my ability to work with my fellow board members, and particularly with the student member,” Dyer said in an interview with Patch before the vote to oust him. “That's where there is a serious problem.”

Dyer has lost seven of nine lawsuits he has filed against the board on which he serves. A chart listing the cases and their outcomes accompanies this article. 

Dyer said his cases have made a point.

“The board hasn’t won,” he said. “The board has lost and the board has lost dramatically—lost the ability to receive guidance from the court.”

Dyer said that the intent of his lawsuits is to clarify what he believes are subjective rules surrounding transparency in the statute that created the school board.

“If you step back from the court and look at the next level … I am trying to improve the operation of the board,” he said. “The board doesn’t win when a question is not answered.”

Dyer said the debate over the lawsuits, which has led some to describe the board as “dysfunctional,” has been an “excellent discussion.”  

Janet Siddiqui, chairwoman of the Howard County School Board, disagreed.

“I don’t see any benefits at all,” Siddiqui said of the suits filed by Dyer. “It continues to strain relationships between board members. The distraction continues to be a thorn in our side.”

According to county school system attorney Mark Blom, the board has spent more than $439,000 on legal costs since 2001, when Dyer filed his first suit alleging the board violated laws requiring meetings be open to the public. An initial 2001 lawsuit is responsible for a majority of that money, costing the board about $372,755. At the time, Dyer was not a member of the board. 

Michael Berla June 10, 2011 at 03:26 PM
What school system attorney Mark Blom fails to state is that these suits would never have been filed if school system attorney Mark Blom had simply advised the board to follow the law. His failure to do that cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars which, conveniently, went into school system attorney Mark Blom's pocket! Further, Mr. Dyer didn't "lose" his cases. Rather, he was denied the right ("standing") to sue to require the board to obey the law. It is unclear who does have standing to compel a public body to obey the state's open meetings law. In other words, it is unclear that the law has any meaning, absent a mechanism for enforcing it.
Ed Kator June 10, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Michael - Mark Blom does not represent the BOE in its defense of Mr. Dyer's lawsuits.
Cynthia Wick June 11, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Whatever we may think of Mr. Dyer's actions, the situation now is that the majority of our elected school board is asking the state board to *remove* a democratically-elected member of our local school board. Presumably he would be replaced by an appointee. Do we really want to subvert the democratic process in this way? I think people should write with their opinions on this matter directly to the MD State BOE: Contact Information Charlene L. Necessary, Administrative Officer Maryland State Board of Education 200 West Baltimore Street Baltimore, MD 21201 Phone: 410-767-0467 TTY/TDD: 410-333-6033 Fax: 410-333-2226 Email: stateboard@msde.state.md.us
Frank in Elkridge June 13, 2011 at 05:28 PM
As a parent of children attending Howard County schools, I am infuriated by the way Mr. Dyers is wasting the BOE's time and money. At a time when the schools of northeast Howard County are becoming more and more overcrowded with no relief in sight, Dyer is proving to be serious drain on the resources of the BOE and our community. I commend the BOE for taking a tough stand against the bully. True, Dyer, was democratically elected, but so are all the other board members and they deserve equal respect. Dyer is not battling a bureaucratic monolith. Rather he is battling all the other elected representatives of Howard county's citizens.
Kristine June 15, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Anyone who has followed Howard County public education issues can recall Sandra French being part of this process in 2000: 1) French, as board president, denied rumors that the board held unannounced, secretive meetings on a regular basis. 2) When the meetings were finally uncovered in a way she couldn't deny (because Allen alone asked the state to investigate), she confirmed the meetings but insisted no votes were taken. 3) Then the public found out that not only were votes taken, but the board had voted to give cars to members of the HCPSS administration. I am sending a huge thank you to Allen Dyer for uncovering that issue. Because of his hard work, the board stopped that practice, although it seems Sandra French takes every opportunity she can to operate behind closed doors. No doubt the real expense is public officials who operate in secrecy. Thank you to Allen for taking a stand. He has been fighting public corruption for us, and I appreciate that. The battle for our rights here in this country was won only because people put forth the time, energy, and expense necessary to achieve them. Allen is part of that. It's immature how Allen's naysayers name call out of a lack of support for their opinion.

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