Digest

November 01, 2007

N.M. firing of schools official Diaz is upheld

The firing of a Baltimore County public schools official from her previous job as superintendent of a New Mexico school system has been upheld.

The Las Cruces, N.M., school board was justified in dismissing Sonia Diaz in November 2006, four months into her tenure as superintendent of that state's second-largest school system, a retired judge acting as an arbitration hearing officer found.

Diaz, who said she was informed of the decision Tuesday, declined to comment yesterday on the ruling.

Hearings in the independent arbitration were held in August, Diaz said. The ruling is considered binding but can be appealed in New Mexico's courts, beginning at the local district court level.

Diaz declined to comment on whether her attorney plans to file an appeal.

In Las Cruces, where Diaz was the fifth superintendent in five years, the school board placed her on administrative leave in November 2006 while it investigated complaints that employee morale was suffering under her management, Sharon Wooden, then president of the school board, said this year.

Diaz, who was given a two-year contract with an annual base salary of $160,000, was officially fired in January, she confirmed.

She was hired this year as associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Baltimore County schools. Her job title was changed to chief academic officer soon after she joined the school system in March.

After announcing the hiring, Baltimore County Superintendent Joe A. Hairston said he wasn't troubled by Diaz's work history because she has the right priorities.

Gina Davis and the Associated Press

Countywide

70 volunteers, groups honored

Nearly 70 individuals and groups were honored yesterday for their volunteer efforts at Baltimore County's 12th annual Good Neighbor Week Awards.

Those honored included Rhoda Dorsey, who was chairwoman of Towson's Urban Design Assistance Team. Dorsey, who came to Baltimore County in 1954 as an instructor at Goucher College, was one of three winners of Bridge Builder Awards for promoting understanding among diverse groups in the county.

Another winner of Bridge Builder Award was the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel, a partnership between Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and the Baltimore Jewish Council that provides youngsters in the 7th Congressional District a chance to develop multiethnic relationships and offers a four-week trip to Israel and the two-year Jerold C. Hoffberger Leadership Enhancement Program.

The third Bridge Builder Award went to Living Hope Ministries, whose efforts to engage Cockeysville-area apartment complexes and local businesses have brought together diverse ethnic, racial and religious groups, county officials said.

Other awards went to:

Maryland You Are Beautiful honoree: The Preston Mitchum Jr. Foundation, for its service to schools and youth and its giveback campaign.

Volunteer Service Awards for work in the community: Yarb Ballard, various organizations; Kathy Filar, Holly Neck; Lee Fleishman, service organizations; Martha Hunt, Turners Station; Robyn Mantell, good neighbor; Dennis B. Mather, Towson; Jackie Nickel (posthumous), Middle River and Essex; Keith Orem, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital; Dr. Annie Umbricht, Shepherds Clinic for the Uninsured; June Bernice West, Woodlawn; New Antioch Baptish Church of Randallstown, student tutorial and enrichment programs; Trinity Episcopal Church, Walkable Towson Charette.

School Awards: Chatsworth, Harford Hills and Milbrook elementary schools; Ridge Ruxton School; and Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Community High School, for community service projects.

Schools

Two math teachers recognized

The Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics recently included two Baltimore County educators among its Teachers of the Year, county school officials announced yesterday.

A statewide committee of the group chose Nina Riggs, math department chairwoman at Overlea High School - one of two high school teachers selected - and Sharon Brown, a special-education teacher who works with first- and second-grade students at Oliver Beach Elementary School in Middle River.

Riggs was recognized for her leadership and for creating lessons that make math fun for students. Brown was recognized for conducting workshops for other teachers, writing curriculum, supervising student teachers and leading the after-school Math and Munchies Club at her school.

The council's annual award is based on applications, nomination letters and classroom visits or unedited videos of classroom lessons.

Formed in 1933, the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics is a local chapter of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and represents 1,200 educators from preschool to college, according to its Web site.

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