Your editorial of Sept. 15 concerning the Board of Education meeting of the previous Thursday was deeply disturbing. During the meeting, one member at great length and in acrimonious detail berated a legal firm whose services had been recommended. In addition, the member in strong language berated a staff person with whose recommendation he disagreed.
In both instances, he refused to desist when the chairperson so directed, making it impossible for board business to resume. You criticized the chairperson for recessing the meeting. She took this action to seek an opinion as to whether such pejorative language, if allowed to continue, might place the board as a whole at risk of legal action.
The behavior of the offending member was glossed over. Your posture was that the chair and the remaining board members were at fault. This unfortunately paints a false picture and misleads the public.
In addition, you recommended that the State Board of Education intervene to provide "a functioning overseer for the board." This implies a greater degree of malfunctioning than actually exists. With a single exception, the board operates in a collegial and cooperative environment. This again presents a false picture of the actual situation to the public.
In both instances, you have given a strongly inaccurate impression to the public. The remaining members of the board are not at fault, as you have stated. The board is not disorganized and non-functioning. As a matter of fact, they have functioned extraordinarily well considering the disruptive behavior of one member. In implying otherwise, you have failed in your responsibility as professional journalists to present a clear picture of the situation to the Howard County community at large.
Patricia S. Gordon
Patricia S. Gordon is a former member of the Howard County Board of Education.