6 school board hopefuls would have backed Cook

April 21, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Six of seven school board candidates said last night that they would have reinstated Northeast High School teacher Laurie S. Cook, who was acquitted of a charge of having sex with a student.

Ms. Cook was dismissed from the school system this week, despite a hearing examiner's opinion that misconduct allegations against her were unfounded.

The candidates' comments came during a forum sponsored by the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Convention Committee.

Each year, delegates from community groups attend the convention, ask candidates questions, then vote. The winner's name is submitted to the governor, who makes the appointment.

The three challengers to incumbent Thomas Twombly for the District 31 school board seat -- Janet Bury, Pamela A. Napier and Nancy Shrum -- said they would have reinstated Ms. Cook if they had been school board members.

Mr. Twombly excused himself from voting in all of the sex cases involving Northeast teachers because his district includes the Pasadena school. But he said that if he had voted, it would have been to reinstate Ms. Cook.

Two of three candidates for the District 29A/30 seat, Francis A. "Paco" DeBartolomeo and David H. Ready, also said they would have supported Ms. Cook. The third, Michael J. McNelly, a retired county police lieutenant who once investigated child abuse cases, would not say how he would have voted.

The three are seeking the seat being vacated by two-term board member Dorothy Chaney.

In response to a question about an arbitrator's recent recommendation that teachers receive a 2 percent cost-of-living raise, five candidates -- Mr. Twombly, Mrs. Shrum, Mrs. Napier, Mr. Ready and Mr. McNelly -- said they opposed it.

"I think you have to balance the need to increase the cost of living against the need to increase planning time," Mr. McNelly said. "At this time, I think an increase in planning time is more important."

Ms. Bury said she would favor giving teachers an across-the-board raise if class sizes increase to 40 students.

"If the money could be found, I think teachers deserve a cost of living raise," Mr. DeBartolomeo said. "If we want quality teachers who like what they do, and are willing to do it, and are willing to buy their supplies, I don't think asking for 2 percent is too much."

The choice of school board members is entirely the governor's. But for more than 25 years, the committee has been working to ensure that the public has some say in the selection process.

Delegates from community groups question candidates at three forums sponsored by the committee and then vote. Seven times 12 years, however, their top candidate has been rejected by the governor.

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