When Georgia H. Baublitz received a call from the governor's office this week informing her that she had been chosen as the newest member of the Baltimore County School Board, she was warned to expect some raised eyebrows.
"I hope it's not going to get too hot out there," the caller told Baublitz, she recounted.
Baublitz's appointment cast her in the middle of a political dust-up. It meant the dismissal of Gwendolyn B. Tisdale, a well-respected at-large member of the board who had been favored for a second term by the county's School Board Nominating Convention.
The appointment left many school officials and convention delegates stumped for an explanation. Tisdale herself said she was "stunned by the decision . . . when you come out with the kind of vote I came out with, and I know that many, many letters of support went to the governor. My state senator [Thomas L. Bromwell, D-Balto. Co.] supported me."
Even Baublitz, who lost to current school board President Rosalie Hillman last year, admitted that her appointment came as a surprise.
"I sort of put it aside after the convention," said the former teacher, who received 11 votes at the convention of local civic groups to 58 for Tisdale. "But I was told, it's not over till it's over."
Tisdale's experience in education includes her current position as chair of the Baltimore County Child Care Advisory Committee and co-chair of the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Committee. She previously headed the Carney Elementary School PTA and the PTA Council of Baltimore County.
Baublitz, who formerly taught social studies and history in Baltimore County schools for 26 years, was quick to point out that Schaefer has previously appointed a second choice of the convention.
Two years ago, Robert Hawkins, who represented Catonsville on the school board, was denied a second term and was replaced by Paul Cunningham, now halfway through a five-year term.
Schaefer spokesman Welford McLellan said he can't understand why anyone is surprised by the decision to appoint Baublitz since she and Tisdale both were recommended by the convention. He stressed that the convention forwarded both names to the governor, even if one was ranked higher than the other.
"The appointments are [the governor's] to make," he said. "We would have more of an explanation if this was something unusual, but this isn't even unusual. Her name came down on a list of acceptable people. It's almost like, what's the problem?"
McLellan pointed to a May 16 letter from Anne L. Banta, president of the nominating convention, that requested the governor to choose from the convention list and didn't specify that he select Tisdale. Banta's letter did note that Tisdale scored higher than Baublitz among convention delegates considering the board's at-large seat.
Rosalie Hellman, president of the Baltimore County School Board, said that, while she is disappointed that the board will lose Tisdale, she is pleased that Schaefer at least appointed someone who went through the convention process.
"There are people who have come to work on the board who have not gone through the process," she said. And the appointment of the convention's second choice "has happened in the past," she noted.
While Baublitz said she sympathizes with Tisdale's disappointment, she defended her own nomination.
"I've come from a long line of educating-people. I'm a third-generation teacher. It's just part of my blood. I will work hard, and I will do my homework and I will try to be fair," she said.
Tisdale joked that she plans to clean out her office during the free time she will have. But it's evident that Schaefer's decision has affected her.
"You must understand, there are lots of people who are saying you can't leave this," she said. "But for a little while, I'm just going to back off and just make some decisions."
Of Baublitz, Tisdale said, "I made a statement at the convention and I'll make it again now: Whoever is appointed has my full support, because I care that much about education and children."