The president of the Howard County Education Association plans to read a letter at the county school board next week suggesting that the board seek outside assistance to resolve chronic in-fighting that hinders the board from addressing school system business.
The teachers' organization is not alone. The PTA Council of Howard County has passed a resolution expressing concern about the board's internal bickering and is collaborating on the language of the HCEA's letter to the board, HCEA president Paul Lemle said.
"Our best-case scenario will be that our Board of Education drops its insistence with fighting with each other and instead focuses on the job at hand," Lemle said Wednesday. "The worst-case scenario is that they will just ignore their problems and carry on as they are — they are remarkably unfocused on the task at hand and that's unacceptable."
Lemle will be reading the letter at the direction of HCEA representatives.
School Board President Sandra French told Patch earlier this week that the board will seek legal advice regarding the question of allowing members to participate in meetings and votes via an electronic device, which was a specific issue that caused disagreement among board members recently. But French disagreed with Lemle's broader assessment that the board is dysfunctional and no longer able to govern.
Since she assumed the chairmanship of the board in December, French said it has been her goal to run more efficient meetings that more closely follow Robert's Rules of Order and parliamentary procedures.
Improvement has been made in the running of school board meetings, according to French, who added that there is still room for improvement.
Lemle believes a more proactive approach is needed.
Both the Howard Community College Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center and the Maryland Association of Boards of Education have offered professional services that would be available to the school board for free, Lemle said.
The HCC center offers mediation, while MABE offers a variety of training in parliamentary procedures and other technical assistance, he said.