Baltimore Co. school task force extends its deadline

July 24, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

An article in Saturday's paper about the task force investigating actions of the Baltimore County school department should have said the deadline for the submission of written comments is tomorrow. Comments may be addressed to: Baltimore County Schools Task Force, Box 4351, Lutherville 21094-4351.

The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.

The task force studying controversial decisions made by Baltimore County school administrators and the county school board will not meet its Aug. 10 deadline, but does intend to make its recommendations by the end of August.

"If we don't [meet a new deadline], it won't be for lack of trying," said Sanford Teplitzky, task force chairman. "The most important thing is . . . we're getting a shot at doing this right, and we're going to do it right. The process has to be credible all the way through."

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The original deadline was set by school board President Alan Leberknight so that the board would be able to consider the task force's recommendations before school starts Sept. 7. But Mr. Teplitzky said that would be impossible because of previous commitments by members of the task force.

The panel, appointed by Mr. Leberknight two weeks ago, has hired an attorney, a special education specialist and three law students to research the issues that Mr. Leberknight has asked it to examine.

Those include the process used for relocating hundreds of students with disabilities from special education centers to neighborhood schools and the demotion or reassignment of about 40 principals and assistants by Superintendent Stuart Berger.

The task force will look into other issues as they arise and consider whether it needs to broaden its focus. "I'm really pleased with the quality of people we've been able to get within a week," said Mr. Teplitzky, a Baltimore attorney.

Dr. Margaret Kiley of Towson State University will be working on the special education issue and Michael Foreman, a Baltimore attorney who specializes in employment discrimination, will investigate the personnel issue, Mr. Teplitzky said.

These two, plus three law students and someone to handle the clerical and administrative duties, were hired by the task force and report only to the panel, although they will be paid by the school board, he said.

Mr. Teplitzky said he has not been given a budget. "They are individual contractors and will be paid an hourly rate," he said, adding that he did not know what that rate would be and neither do the people he hired.

Mr. Leberknight was out of town and unavailable to comment on how much the task force will cost.

The panel is seeking public comment by mail and phone by the end of the business day Aug. 28. It is also contacting individuals involved in the special education and personnel controversies who might have pertinent information.

Mr. Teplitzky said that the group was "troubled greatly" by people who don't want to comment or refuse to give their names for fear of retribution. "We will consider any and all information that is given to us, but it is more difficult to give credibility to anonymous letters because we cannot verify them one way or the other," he said.

The task force has also requested information from Dr. Berger's office, from the school board and from state Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, who has received many letters from disgruntled Baltimore County citizens.

The task force had received about 60 letters as of Wednesday night, when it held its second meeting.

In other task force business:

* Mr. Teplitzky announced that former County Executive Donald Hutchinson resigned from the task force after its first meeting, saying that he did not have enough time. Mr. Teplitzky said that Mr. Hutchinson would not be replaced.

* The group set its next meeting for 8 p.m. Aug. 12 in the Old Court House in Towson.

* The task force has not decided whether it will hold public hearings. "The process, I promise you, will be open," Mr. Teplitzky told the 70 people attending Wednesday's meeting.

* The task force will take oral comments at the following numbers: (410) 484-5493 for personnel matters; (410) 484-4978 for special education concerns.

* The panel is taking written comments on any subject at the following address: Baltimore County Schools Task Force, Box 4351, Lutherville 21094-4351.

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