From: Deborah D. Kendig
Board of Education
In the July 28 edition of the Howard County Sun, the reporter omitted several critical and important facts from the story, "School board draws fire by voting to letofficials investigate abuse," by Erik Nelson.
(1) The board adopted the Child Abuse Policy by a vote of 5-0.
(2) The adopted policywas the third version presented to the board, and it encompassed most of the changes originally sought by Dr. Campbell.
(3) Many hoursof discussion between Dr. James McGowan, associate superintendent, and the State's Attorney's Office, the Police Department and the Department of Social Services have gone into this revision. The result of these discussions is the inclusion of these agencies throughout the policy. The reason for this inclusion is to protect the child from further trauma.
(4) The only "investigation" allowed by the school system is that one done by the superintendent prior to the dismissal hearing of an employee. The Board of Education must conduct an administrative hearing before dismissing or suspending an employee. This is aconstitutional due process requirement which can be waived only by the employee. However, the language of the policy also states that thesuperintendent shall further investigate the facts "in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding with responsible law enforcement authorities and the Department of Social Services." Again, this memorandum was devised "in order to minimize the amount of trauma."
By eliminating these crucial points from his story, Mr. Nelson missed thepoint of the policy revision . . . to protect students. By ensuring a constitutional, legal avenue of employee dismissal, the board is able to fulfill its responsibilities both for and to students AND employees.
The point was also made at the beginning of the meeting thatthe Memorandum of Understanding was indeed not finalized but being scrutinized by the county's Office of Law. If your reporter presented that information to Lt. Davis of the Police Department any differently, he was mistaken. It should be noted that the Board of Education does not formally approve such documents. They are administrative actions.
WITNESS TO DESTRUCTION
From: Patricia Dabbs
Today is a very sad day for the neighborhood of Glenmar in Howard County. Part of our natural legacy was destroyed to make way for a storm drain for the development at Montgomery Meadows along Route 104. Dozens of mature trees (oaks, poplars, sycamores and maples), along with a hedgerow that was the habitat for several species of birds (sparrows, cardinals, bluebirds, wrens, etc.) and many small wild animals (rabbits, groundhogs, foxes, field mice, possums), were wantonly destroyed.
Surely, a less destructive technology for digging a trench is available to developers.
What sense does it make, financially or aesthetically, for a developer to tear down mature trees and well-established vegetation in order to make way for building expensive homes where trees and plants will become a highly desirable part of the landscaping?
In the case of Montgomery Meadows, the developers spent months moving piles of dirt around open fields that had been meadows on a horse farm.
They did not have to go to the trouble or the expense of cutting down stands of trees to make attractive sites for the hundreds of half-acre lots that now make up Montgomery Meadows.
The burning, searing question now is: why did they have to destroy the relatively small area of trees and vegetation at the margin of the development?
As a resident of Glenmar, my home is immediately adjacent to Montgomery Meadows. The destruction of that line of trees has eliminated a living visual boundary that defined Glenmar and set it apart from Montgomery Meadows.
Now, after today's brutal assaulton the natural environment, that place looks like the forces of Operation Desert Storm were at work. What was once a visual treat and a natural treasure is now reminiscent of a scorched earth strategy in warfare.
When I returned home from work this evening I was dumbstruck at the destruction that had taken place during the day! It was as if I was at the wrong place. It was as if I was lost.
What recoursedo my neighbors and I have to heal this wound on our local environment? We can plant some trees.
More importantly, we can mobilize to protect our common interests in the future. What can Howard County and the state of Maryland or environmental organizations do to encourage restoration of this natural habitat? What responsibility does the developer have for restoring what he has despoiled?
It is my earnest hope that each of these parties, especially the developer, will contribute something to replace the lost habitat that I've described here.