Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Remove a Member of the Montgomery County Board of Education

We've got some interesting times here in Montgomery County.

As this blog has reported, we now have several Board of Education members who have misused credit cards.  Recap - at a minimum, we have Barclay, Smondrowski, and Durso with numerous irregularities.  And the others?  We won't know until someone gives their expense reports a similar review. 

So, what happens next?  Are these legal?  Even if the expenses complied with existing policies, are the underlying policies legal?  

The Board of Education can have its members do some self-policing - a.k.a. the Ad Hoc Committee Meeting for Review of Board Processes and Guidelines on Board Expenditures, but really - that committee can't decide whether its subject to the Open Meeting Act, so they are going to do some self-reflection?  This group has convened one meeting out of the public eye - was the May 6 2014 meeting of the Ad Hoc committee a public meeting?  Its not on the calendar of BOE meetings

And, do the members of that Ad Hoc group come to the table with clean hands?  Not Mr. Durso, who already admitted to using his official credit card to pay for his spouse, because it is "easier" to do so.  

It's time for some serious action.

Where is the County Council and why haven't they stepped up to the plate?  We have a process in MoCo.

Under the Maryland Code, the following is the process for removing a Montgomery County Board of Education Member:

(g) Removal. --
   (1) The Montgomery County Council may remove a member of the county board for:
      (i) Immorality;
      (ii) Misconduct in office;
      (iii) Incompetency; or
      (iv) Willful neglect of duty.
   (2) Before removing a member, the County Council shall provide the member a copy of the charges against him and give him an opportunity within 10 days to request a hearing.
   (3) If the member requests a hearing within the 10-day period:
      (i) The County Council promptly shall hold a hearing, but a hearing may not be set within 10 days after the County Council sends the member a notice of the hearing; and
      (ii) The member shall have an opportunity to be heard publicly before the County Council in the member's own defense, in person or by counsel.
   (4) A member removed under this subsection has the right to a de novo review of the removal by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.

Md. EDUCATION Code Ann. § 3-901(g). 

Will this happen?  Unlikely.  Remember that Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice, and Cherrie Branson, three of our esteemed members of the County Council, stand behind their endorsement of Chris Barclay.  So does former council member Valerie Ervin, who still thinks she is a thought leader in the county.  We don't know where they stand on Ms. Smondrowski, but chances are, you can tell who her friends are by looking through her expense reports too. 

But - even if the County Council declines to take action, shouldn't the Board of Education members who are identified as taking public funds for their own benefit resign?  Why put the citizens (and voters) in the county through this process?

Those who have been found with their hand in the public coffers need to resign and restore dignity and faith in our public officials.  Our first class county deserves first class leadership.


  1. Thank you for the road map.

  2. At a cursory look it appears slam dunk, but there are always the loopholes, the burden of proof and the fact that this is Maryland.

  3. Truly unfortunate that the appointed caretaker of District 5 is acting like and wielding power as if she is an elected official. It does not appear that she is in touch with actual voters and constituents in Council District 5. She is heavily influenced by various power brokers and is woefully inexperience for the job at hand. As to Navarro and Rice, they are just trying to fill out their dance card for the next Council. If a new District 5 Council member is beholding to these two, they are hoping to set future agendas.

  4. Board of Education members can agree to resign - which may be the most gracious way to end this sad chapter.

    1. Ha. Yes, they can agree to resign -- and get recycled either to the University of Maryland, or the Montgomery County Planning Department. Both are full of recycled political hacks from the County. Those agencies are where old pols go to die. Or at least to hang on to their salaries and health and pension benefits. Who says Montgomery County doesn't recycle?

    2. That makes the above mentioned institutions political landfills.


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