The Sun's article about the redistricting committee's recommendation on how to split up enrollment zones for Rodgers Forge Elementary and the new West Towson Elementary ("Rodgers Forge critics relieved by school districting plan," Jan. 21) failed to mention that the decision-making process was tainted by a secret meeting and leaked information.
After four meetings between October and December -- all of which were announced in advance and open to the public -- the committee settled on three options to present to the public: A-1, I and E-1. The committee members were instructed not to discuss potential scenarios until they were presented at a public forum.
Then, two days before Christmas, committee member Stuart Sirota called an emergency meeting of the Committee to reopen the issue of adding Scenario G, which had previously been voted down because its boundary lines appeared to be gerrymandered. (The lines are drawn in such a way that the apartment complexes neighboring Rodgers Forge Elementary School would be redistricted out of that school's territory.) Unlike previous meetings of the committee, this one was not publicized and was not open to the public. Only three members attended -- the rest voted via e-mail. G was added as an option.
Despite the instruction given to the committee, the inclusion of G as an option was leaked to the Rodgers Forge Community Association. On January 5, a blog entry was posted and flyers distributed encouraging Forge residents to attend a public forum on January 6 and show their support for Scenario G. After they were given this strategic advantage, Scenario G obtained the most votes at the public forum.
When presented with these circumstances on Wednesday night, the school system representative told the committee not to worry about the secret meeting because her lawyers said the committee technically wasn't in violation of Maryland's Open Meetings Act and then explained away the leaking of information as regrettable.
The Baltimore County School System has an established procedure for redistricting. The procedure was violated. The Sun and the public should be demanding answers.
Melissa Chalmers Broome, Baltimore
The writer is the President of the Gaywood Community Association.
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