Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pesky Policy on Public Budget Process? Just Delete it.

On Tuesday, March 10th words were exchanged between Superintendent Weast and members of the Board of Education. This March 10th exchange is the aftermath of an August 29, 2007, decision of the Maryland State Board of Education that found that the Montgomery County Board of Education had violated their Policy DBA - Budget Preparation and Procedures.

In that decision, the State Board wrote:
Having found a violation of DBA, we look to the consequences of that action...
...While we recognize that the local board's violation of its own policy did not rise to a level of prejudice that would warrant this Board overturning the local board's decision, the local board's actions here in no way meet the spirit or intent of DBA. DBA's existence is rooted in concepts of full disclosure and opportunity for meaningful participation by the public. The compression of time that occurred in this instance is precisely what the DBA was intended to protect against. Although there was opportunity for public comment on the phasing out of the SLCs (Secondary Learning Centers), that compression of time resulted in a diminishment of the opportunity to comment, albeit insufficient to prejudice the Appellants. We believe that the local board should have respected the time frames established by the DBA, especially where the underlying matters at issue are of such a serious nature. We caution the local board to respect the procedural safeguards it has established to avoid future challenges of this nature. (emphasis added)
In response to this decision from the Maryland State Board of Education, the MCPS Board of Education has moved to rescind Policy DBA. No one need worry about any future violations of this Policy, as it is being eliminated.

On March 10, 2009, Board of Education members attempted to preserve some of the procedural safeguards of Policy DBA by moving them to another Policy, but Superintendent Weast advised them not to put procedural safeguards in any Policy, as "this will do damage to children".

The MCPS Board of Education will meet on April 14, 2009, to decide the fate of these "procedural safeguards".

UPDATE: May 12, 2009 - Policy DBA DELETED by unanimous Board action.

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