McCabe pulls bill to limit schools chief's power over transfers

March 03, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

Sen. Christopher J. McCabe withdrew his bill yesterday that would have restricted the county school superintendent's power to transfer principals and vice principals, saying that county educators appear to be addressing his concerns.

Mr. McCabe, R-14th, introduced the bill in response to parents and students who were angered by the transfers of Mount Hebron High School's principal and vice principals last June.

The legislation would have prohibited the superintendent from transferring a school's entire administrative staff and established notification requirements and a public hearing process for certain transfers.

"These things should be administered at the local level. I agree with that in principle," Mr. McCabe said at a meeting of the county's General Assembly delegation yesterday. "But there are times our role should be to put modest pressure on [county school officials]. This was one of those times."

Susan J. Cook, vice chairwoman of the Howard County Board of Education, which opposed the bill, said she was relieved that Mr. McCabe had withdrawn it.

In response to protests from students and parents in several communities, the school board had assembled a task force to examine transfer procedures before Mr. McCabe introduced his bill, Ms. Cook said.

She denied that Mr. McCabe's legislation increased pressure on the board to come up with its own policy on involuntary transfers.

The delegation tabled the bill several times to allow time for Mr. McCabe to meet with Superintendent Michael E. Hickey and the school board task force. The panel includes teachers and administrators who have been transferred involuntarily and parents whose children have been affected by transfers.

"The goal is to be more humane about notification. I think that's what everybody wanted," Ms. Cook said, adding that the superintendent's authority will remain intact.

The task force has acknowledged that the wholesale transfer of an administrative staff "should be avoided except in the most extreme circumstances," Mr. Hickey wrote to Howard lawmakers.

The task force also determined that the superintendent should notify an administrator confidentially that a transfer is being considered long before announcing it and should explain to the school board in closed session if "extreme circumstances" compel the transfer of an entire staff, he wrote.

The McCabe bill would not have addressed the transfer of teachers -- dozens of whom were involuntarily reassigned last year -- but the task force is tackling that issue.

In other action yesterday, General Assembly delegation members let die an amendment offered by Del. Virginia M. Thomas, D-13A, that would have split revenue from the county's excise tax on new construction between road improvements and repairs and additions to older schools. Revenue from the tax, which is projected to yield $5.3 million in its first two years, now is targeted entirely for road improvements to accommodate growth.

Sen. Thomas M. Yeager, D-13th, contended that the amendment was offered late in the delegation's public process and that elected county officials should consider measures to address the needs of aging schools.

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