Week In Review

April 23, 2006

The following are Anne Arundel County news items that appeared in other sections of The Sun during the past week:

Missteps blamed for unraveling case

Despite acknowledging he had drunk six beers and registered a blood-alcohol level that was more than twice the legal limit, Del. Terry R. Gilleland Jr. was acquitted of five charges, including drunken driving, in a July 2005 crash.

A key factor in the Anne Arundel County judge's finding on April 5 was that prosecutors had been unable to find the officers who first encountered the Glen Burnie Republican after the accident.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors say that unwitnessed crashes involving allegedly intoxicated drivers are sometimes hard to win - even in cases that appear to be clear-cut.

But the attorneys said a series of missteps led to the unraveling of the case against Gilleland, 29. They include: the state trooper not understanding that Gilleland had left the scene of the crash and had been brought back; the trooper failing to take down the county officers' names or badge numbers; and prosecutors going forward with the case without the officers to explain why Gilleland had been detained.

In the aftermath of the case, State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, a Democrat, is reviewing policy to ensure that the names of all relevant officers are included in reports for future investigations involving more than one jurisdiction.

Maryland section, Tuesday

3 finalists selected for schools chief

The three finalists for Anne Arundel County schools superintendent include a former interim CEO of Baltimore schools whose last two leadership posts ended in controversy; the chief of a 5,500-student school district in Pennsylvania; and a midlevel Montgomery County administrator. From a field of 20 applicants, the school board selected last week Robert E. Schiller, retired state schools superintendent of Illinois; Dana Bedden, superintendent of William Penn District, Pa.; and Kevin Maxwell, community superintendent of Montgomery County public schools.

Each will spend a day in the county this week, meeting with selected parents and community members and interviewing with the board.

The board hired the Maryland Association of Boards of Education for $27,000 to conduct a search to replace Eric J. Smith, who departed in November. Nancy M. Mann is serving as interim superintendent of the 74,000- student system until her contract ends in July.

Maryland section, Thursday

New charter school proves challenging

Some observers say recent stumbles at the fledgling Chesapeake Science Point illustrate the pitfalls of starting a charter school from scratch and might point to the need for changes in state law and more scrutiny of applications.

Anne Arundel County school officials recently removed the top two administrators, reassigned three teachers and completed an investigation of its management and operating procedures. That audit uncovered errors in financial reporting and projected that the charter would end its first year in the red. The school's founders dispute the audit's findings and expect to have a surplus of more than $30,000.

Charter school advocates also said the situation shows the need for greater autonomy, public funding of building needs and more guidance for those starting charters.

Maryland section, Friday

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