Baltimore County school board President Earnest A. Hines is… (Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore…)
Baltimore County school board President Earnest A. Hines said Tuesday that he is contesting a decision by Gov. Martin O'Malley to remove him from the board June 30, a year before he believes his term is ending.
O'Malley's staff informed two Baltimore County school board members, including Hines, that they will not be reappointed to the board in July. "That was what I was informed of [Monday]. It was the first I heard of it," Hines said.
Hines had believed, however, that even if he wasn't given another five-year term that he would remain on the board for the next year, a crucial time because school Superintendent Joe A. Hairston's contract expires in a year. The next board would vote on whether to give Hairston another contract, if he decides to seek one, or choose a new superintendent.
Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for the governor, said Hines was originally appointed in 2007, one year into a five-year term on the board. The previous board member whom Hines was replacing had stayed nearly a year beyond when the term expired because the position wasn't filled for 10 months.
But Hines said the letter he received when he was appointed stated that the term ended in 2012 and not in 2011. "Understandably, there is confusion. That was an error, and when it was discovered last year, the board was notified," Adamec said.
Hines said he has asked the school board's attorney to look at whether he has any recourse because he would like to stay for another year. "I said that I would have our counsel talk with them to get to the root of it. It seemed very bizarre and unusual to me," Hines said.
Board members are unpaid volunteers.
The second board member, Meg O'Hare, said she also was told Monday that she would not be reappointed to the board, although she had sought another five-year term. O'Malley's decision was first reported on Patch.com.
"I do think it is unfair to Earnie. I think it is political tampering. I think it is making things be the way they want to," said O'Hare. The "long-term game," she said, is that County Executive Kevin Kamenetz wants people who are sympathetic to his view appointed because Hairston's contract will be up in a year.
While the governor appoints school board members, he generally consults with the county executive.
"We will work closely with the county executive [on the new appointments]. … The process for replacement is under way," Adamec said.
Hines and O'Hare have generally supported Hairston's initiatives. O'Hare said she would hope if a new superintendent is chosen that a national search is done. "You would like to see a superintendent chosen who is actually going to focus on the kids and ensuring that children achieve," she said.
O'Hare said she doesn't know who will be appointed to the board next month. "I guess my main concern is that they will politicize the school system," she said.
The school board has come under increasing criticism in the past year as the public has complained that it has not been responsive to concerns on a number of issues, from school overcrowding to the cuts of 196 teaching positions.