Parents meet with governor and Grasmick 2 officials will look into schools storm

October 26, 1993|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Staff Writer

The governor and state school superintendent agreed to look into complaints about Baltimore County public schools after a private meeting with concerned parents yesterday.

They did not make any promises about what action they would take, parent Mike McIntyre said after the hourlong session in Annapolis.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick heard from a dozen detractors and supporters of the county school board and Superintendent Stuart Berger. Later, as he was departing for Chicago at Martin State Airport, Mr. Schaefer said he would visit some Baltimore County schools, although he did not elaborate.

Top school board officers could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. McIntyre, the parent of a special education student, said that he asked for the removal of Superintendent Berger and school board members, while another parent asked for an audit of the school budget.

On the other side, representatives of various local groups told the governor that they support the board and the superintendent.

Dr. Grasmick said afterward that she has confidence in the board and superintendent although some changes may be necessary.

"I believe they're working in the best interest of children. [But] I think what needs to be examined is how they're communicating their intentions to the public at large," she said.

"I'm going to be working in concert with the governor when he returns from Chicago to define the activities that we would believe are appropriate and to proceed with them in some organized way," she said.

Although the governor appoints the Baltimore County school board, Mr. Schaefer does not usually get involved in local school matters, said Page W. Boinest, the governor's press secretary. But he will consider these complaints.

"He's limited in what he can do because it is primarily a local issue, but he's not going to let it go" unaddressed, Ms. Boinest said.

The board and Dr. Berger came under considerable fire last spring and summer from parents and teachers upset with changes in the schools and what they considered a lack of communication.

They were especially angry about the transfer and demotion of longtime administrators and the transfer of hundreds of disabled children from five special education centers into neighborhood schools.

The board appointed an independent task force to investigate the two complaints, but it did not adopt several of the panel's key recommendations.

Dr. Grasmick said yesterday that she hoped that board members would take a second look at the recommendations it rejected.

One of the recommendations the board did finally adopt -- but only after many elected officials began calling for an elected school board -- was the appointment of a "liaison" to handle complaints from parents and teachers. The board is expected to disclose the identity of that liaison at its regular meeting tonight.

Several of those who attended the meeting praised the governor and Dr. Grasmick for their concern.

"We were able to share our ideas and all of us were under the impression they were being taken very seriously," said Ella White Campbell, a member of the Baltimore County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Stevenswood Improvement Association.

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