4 named to school board

August 13, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Gov. William Donald Schaefer reappointed two members of the Baltimore County school board yesterday and named two new members, including one recommended by the county's school board nominating convention.

The only surprise was the selection of attorney Robert Fulton Dashiell, 45, of Villa Nova, whose appointment doubles the African-American presence on a 12-member board that oversees system with a 22 percent black enrollment.

A spokesman said the governor agreed with critics in the county's black communities, who argued that minorities were underrepresented on the board.

Mr. Dashiell, whose city-based law practice specializes in minority business issues, is virtually unknown in school circles and said he applied for the position only a month ago.

The action ended weeks of speculation that the governor might take advantage of four appointments to make major changes in the board, which has come under criticism for heavy-handedness during the two-year tenure of Superintendent Stuart Berger.

In the past, the governor has often chosen members who weren't recommended by the county's informal nominating process, but this time he stuck with the nominating convention in all cases but one.

He reappointed Paul S. Cunningham, a Catonsville Community College professor who was elected president last month even though his term had expired. He also reappointed Dunbar Brooks of Turner's Station, who was the board's only black member. Both were recommended by the convention for reappointment from their districts.

For two new at-large seats created by the General Assembly this year, the governor chose Mr. Dashiell and Phyllis Ettinger, who was the nominating commission's top choice.

"I'm delighted. I'm honored," said Mrs. Ettinger, a 20-year school activist and advocate for gifted and talented programs. She lives in Timonium.

Over the years, Mrs. Ettinger has developed a reputation as an activist and school board watchdog. At a candidates' forum in early June, she was critical of the superintendent's office for not providing budget information quickly enough, and for the way it handled the controversial transfer of special education students to neighborhood schools.

Norman MacNeal, president of the nominating convention, said he is happy about the first three choices, but is "kind of disappointed he didn't pick both people [for the new positions] from our list," he said.

The nominating convention is a group of 112 civic, community, church and school organizations whose representatives evaluate and recommend school board nominees to the governor. He is not bound by their recommendations.

The governor also appointed Matthew Adams, a senior at Catonsville High, to a one-year term as student board member. Student members have a vote on policy matters but not on personnel issues.

Mr. Cunningham said he was relieved by his reappointment to a five-year term.

"It's been an interesting time waiting to see if I'd be an interim board president," he said. "I think he [Mr. Schaefer] made some good choices."

Board member Alan Lieberknight, who relinquished the presidency in June, said, "I'm very happy that Paul and Dunbar are back in there. They're good board members."

Joseph Harrison, Governor Schaefer's press spokesman, said Mr. Dashiell's selection was partially the result of appeals by "a number of people," including the county's NAACP chapter, for an additional African-American representative on the board.

Leaders of the county's black organizations criticized the nominating convention earlier this summer for not including any blacks among its six nominees.

The governor, Mr. Harrison said, agreed that blacks were "underrepresented."

Mr. Dashiell said he has known Mr. Schaefer since the governor's days as mayor of Baltimore, and dropped him a note about a month ago after reading an article about the county selection process.

He said he heard nothing until Thursday, when the governor's appointment office interviewed him for 40 minutes by telephone.

His resume was already on file at the State House, he said, because he was recently named to the state Administrative Commission on Privatization. Mr. Dashiell has also appeared frequently before the Baltimore Board of Estimates to protest Schmoke administration policies in selecting contractors for public business.

"I'm elated," Mr. Dashiell said of his selection.

He said he has two children -- at Pikesville Middle and Milford Mill High School -- and has recently become interested in school issues such as discipline and boundary policies.

He said he is not an NAACP member and has never before

expressed interest in school board membership.

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