Board explains unannounced meeting BALTIMORE COUNTY

June 30, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

Baltimore County school board members say Monday night's unannounced meeting was unusual and really more of a "dialogue" requested by former school board presidents than a business session.

"Don Pearce asked us to meet," said board member Hilda Hillman, referring to the former board president who moderated last week's public hearing with the board and Superintendent Stuart Berger.

"Mrs. [board President Rosalie] Hellman called me and said former presidents were concerned" about what is happening in the county schools, said another board member, Ronald Jacoby.

Mr. Pearce was joined by three other past presidents, Lee Parks, Joe McGowan and T. Bayard Williams.

"Following the meeting [last] Wednesday night, the three other board presidents called and wanted to know . . . if we could just talk to

them for a few minutes," said Mr. Pearce. "The board agreed and we met for about 30 minutes.

The board did not announce the meeting, as required by law.

"I guess I was surprised at the number of people who showed up at [Wednesday's] meeting," he said of the public hearing/gripe session that lasted six hours. "I was surprised at the number of rather serious allegations against the school system because of their management style."

Those were the concerns that Mr. Pearce said he brought to the board. He now considers his job finished in calming the furor that has erupted over school system changes and Dr. Berger's style. Mr. Pearce was asked to moderate the public meeting by County Executive Roger B. Hayden, who arranged it after calls and letters critical of the school administration and board reached what he called an alarming level.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Hayden said he, too, is getting out of the fray. "He's done what he set out to do. We

are out of it. The school board is stepping in," said his spokeswoman, Anne Dandridge Hartmann.

Those board members who did talk said it is rare for them to meet in secret. It is known, however, that the group met once earlier this month in an unannounced session, reportedly to discuss personnel matters. Also, Monday night, after the past presidents and a reporter left the school system headquarters, board members continued to meet "on personnel matters," Mrs. Hellman told the reporter who returned later in the evening.

The board is to meet Tuesday night for its next regular meeting. At that time, it will elect a new president to replace Mrs. Hellman, who is completing her third term and is not interested in another. She is expected to remain on the board, however.

Mrs. Hellman and several other sources said that the new president will be Alan M. Leberknight, a Bank of Baltimore executive who has been on the board three years.

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