School board picks draw local criticism

May 26, 2007|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,sun reporter

Gov. Martin O'Malley's school board appointments drew swift criticism yesterday from Baltimore County civic and educational organizations that pointed to the lack of community involvement.

New school board members also were appointed yesterday in Anne Arundel, Carroll and Harford counties.

The governor's appointments in Baltimore County drew the most immediate reaction from advocacy groups, including the county chapter of the NAACP and the Baltimore County Education Coalition. The groups accused local elected officials - specifically County Executive James T. Smith Jr. - of shutting them out of the selection process.

"I am very disappointed in Jim Smith," Pat Ferguson, president of the county's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said last night. "He knows we've been fighting for years to get parity and some kind of equity on the school board. This is a slap in the face to the community leaders."

In Baltimore County, O'Malley appointed Donna Flynn, a former English teacher and a principal in the school system. She is coordinator of assessment and accreditation at Towson University's College of Education. The second appointee, Earnest E. Hines, is president and chief executive officer of Diversity Management Group Inc. and a former manager in the insurance industry. Both are appointed to five-year terms.

Donald I. Mohler III, a county spokesman, declined to respond.

"It would be inappropriate for us to comment because these are the governor's appointments," Mohler said.

An O'Malley spokesman said last night that the governor is confident of the appointees' qualifications.

Maggie Kennedy, president of the Baltimore County Education Coalition, said she was upset that Smith apparently didn't reach out to local school advocates.

"Where is the public in `public schools' in this process?" she said.

Jasmine Shriver, a school advocate, said, "We thought he would ask us. We don't want a county executive ... to have this kind of influence over our school board."

Yesterday, O'Malley also made the following appointments:

Anne Arundel will add Patricia Ray Nalley, a former teacher and assistant principal who is concluding her tenure as principal of Davidsonville Elementary School.

Eugene Peterson, the current Anne Arundel school board vice president, was reappointed after serving a five-year term.

In Carroll County, the governor appointed Jeffrey L. Morse, a biology, environmental science and agricultural science teacher in the Littlestown Area School District in Pennsylvania.

Two school board members, Mark M. Wolkow and Ruth Rich, were reappointed in Harford County to their second five-year terms.

Sun reporter Sandy Alexander contributed to this article.

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