Job applicant quits city school board

Stone hopes resignation allays ethics concerns

October 16, 2004|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

City school board member David J. Stone resigned from the board yesterday, saying he wanted to put to rest ethical concerns raised when he applied for a job in the school system.

Stone is hoping to be hired to oversee the city's charter schools, a high-level administrative position that requires a vote by the school board to fill.

Ethics experts interviewed by The Sun this week were divided on whether it was appropriate for Stone to remain on the board while submitting his name for the job. Although he had planned to recuse himself from the board's vote on the matter, he still was in the unusual position of seeking a recommendation for the job from the very people who answered to him as a board member.

Two experts said his actions seemed improper and that he should first have stepped down from the board. Two others said they felt Stone had done nothing wrong.

Earlier this week, Stone said he did not make his application known to the public because he did not want to influence the hiring process. He changed his mind, he said, because he wanted to ensure a fair process and avoid controversy.

"The board's had a particularly difficult year, and I do not want to put the board in a difficult position," Stone said. "If potentially I were to be a finalist for this position, I think it only fair that they would vote on me not as a colleague but only as an applicant."

Several board members did not return calls seeking comment.

Stone said he was interviewed for the job Thursday. The board is scheduled to vote at its Oct. 26 meeting on whomever schools chief Bonnie S. Copeland recommends for the job, Stone said he was told.

Stone was appointed to the school board in September 2002 by Mayor Martin O'Malley and then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Stone's departure means the board soon might be composed of more newcomers than experienced members. Four of the nine seats are held by members who were appointed in August.

The mayor and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will jointly appoint someone to the vacant position after they get a list of candidates from the state Board of Education, a state official said.

"I think it's a terrible loss for the board," Kalman "Buzzy" Hettleman, a special-education advocate, said of Stone's resignation.

Stone, 41, said he has enjoyed his time on the board, but he thinks he can make a difference in the growing area of charters. Several groups have applied to start charter schools in Baltimore next year, and the state school board this week lifted a locally imposed cap on the number of charter schools in the city.

The new job of director of new initiative and charter schools will help establish future charter schools and oversee about 10 charterlike schools formed under the New Schools Initiative. The position pays between $65,000 and $112,000 a year.

Stone, a certified school administrator and special-education teacher, works at the Kennedy Krieger Institute overseeing a partnership with three publicly funded city elementary schools operated by Edison Schools Inc., a private operator of schools nationwide.

"If I get this job, I would like to stay with Baltimore schools for a long time," said Stone.

Kevin Slayton, president of the board's Parent and Community Advisory Board, said he worries some people might think Stone has an unfair advantage in the hiring process. But Slayton said he thinks Stone would be good for the job.

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