In a bitterly contested race, Randallstown parent Michael Franklin was re-elected last week as president of the Baltimore County PTA Council.
The 44-year-old printing press operator defeated Jasmine Shriver, a special-education activist from Lutherville. He will serve a second two-year term.
Franklin said the race focused partly on his critical views of Superintendent Joe A. Hairston, while Shriver generally supports the superintendent. Franklin recently pulled the PTA Council out of the Education Coalition, a countywide advocacy group that has backed Hairston's agenda. He has criticized the school board and Hairston for being secretive and questioned the system's practice of rehiring retired teachers and administrators.
But Shriver, 47, who is PTA president at Ridge-Ruxton School, said the race had nothing to do with school district leadership, adding that she has repeatedly challenged district leaders, including Hairston, on issues involving special education.
Shriver said she ran to help the divided PTA Council work more collaboratively. She also said she challenged Franklin, who was the choice of the council's nominating committee, because she and others were not satisfied by his explanations about what he termed a recent bookkeeping error. She also said Franklin has not been following the group's bylaws.
Much of the controversy stems from the council's purchase of liability insurance for its 158 school units. The council switched carriers this school year because premiums had nearly doubled as a result of allegations of embezzlement at a handful of schools, Franklin said.
According to a review by Franklin and other PTA Council officers, including the treasurer, the council paid the new insurance company $33,180 last fall to cover all schools with PTA units - not just the 115 schools that had submitted money. The council had collected $24,150 from the PTAs at those schools, and inadvertently recorded that number - instead of $33,180 - in its ledger as the amount paid to the insurance company.
"We are satisfied that there has been no misuse of funds and that all monies related to this issue are accounted for," the one-page review said.
Shriver said an independent party should have conducted the review. She and her supporters said Franklin should not have paid for the other units without approval from the council's executive committee, as the bylaws require. Franklin said he was following the council's past practice.
Franklin received 60 votes to Shriver's 46. With each school getting four votes and each executive board member getting one, a total of about 650 votes was possible.
The other contested election in the PTA Council race was for first vice president. Samuel Macer, who supported Shriver's candidacy and was the nominating committee's choice, beat challenger Rodger Janssen, who supported Franklin.