Thursday, February 4, 2010

Should Board Members have minimum GPA's?

Currently the Montgomery County Delegation to Annapolis is considering Bill MC 12-10 Montgomery County Board of Education - Student Member Voting.  This bill would expand the voting rights of the Student Member of the MCPS Board of Education (also known as the SMOB) to include:

-Attendance at Closed Sessions where Collective Bargaining is discussed
-Voting on Collective Bargaining Agreements
-Voting on the MCPS Operating Budget
-Voting on the MCPS Capital Budget
-Voting on school closings, reopenings, and boundaries

The bill would give the Student Member of the Board of Education almost all of the attendance and voting rights of a Member of the Board of Education elected by the citizens of Montgomery County. 

The only time the SMOB would not be automatically entitled to attend a closed session or vote would be on a matter involving the suspension or dismissal of an MCPS employee.

However, while the SMOB's voting rights would be increased, the position of the SMOB would remain very different from that of the adult elected Board of Education members.
1. The Student Member of the Board of Education is supervised by a MCPS employee. This relationship creates an obvious conflict of interest as the Board of Education is the governing body for the school system.

Yet, for the SMOB, an employee that they oversee, supervises them. If MC 12-10 passes, the SMOB would be in the position of voting on the compensation of the person that supervises their position.

2. The MCPS Student Member of the Board election is run by the Montgomery County Region of the Maryland Association of student Councils (MCR). The MCR Executive Board home page states that students must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average, even though there is no requirement in the state statute of a minimum grade point average for participation as a Student Member of the Board of Education. 
The organization that governs the election and nominating convention for the SMOB is apparently only made up of students who satisfy this grade point average minimum. Do adult members of the Board of Education and the citizens that vote for them have to demonstrate a similar qualification?

3. The MCPS Student Member of the Board needs the signature of their school's principal to run for office. This requirement is not found in the Maryland law. Below is the form that a candidate for the SMOB office must fill out. (It is unclear why the form references Section 3-701 of the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as that section applies to Howard County.)

Again, the SMOB candidate is beholden to a MCPS employee. In this case the SMOB must obtain the signature of a MCPS employee in order to even "qualify" to run for this position.

Then the form below must be turned in to a MCPS employee in order for a student to be a candidate. Do adult Board members have any such similar requirement when they run for office?
4. The Nominating Convention for the Student Member of the Board of Education is overseen by MCPS staff. Note at the link that only "authorized adults" can register students to attend the Nominating Convention.

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