The Council is expected to look at the nominating process in the future
Frederick, Md (KM). In a 5-2 vote on Tuesday, the Frederick County Council approved the nomination of Lois Jarman to the Board of Education. She replaces Ken Kerr who resigned after being elected to the House of Delegates from District 3B.
But her nomination was not without some controversy. Council Vice President Michael Blue voted no. “I’m a little bit more concerned with the process that this candidate, this nominee did not participate in, which is to run for the Board of Education in this past election,” he said.
Councilman Kai Hagan said there is no requirement that a person being nominated for the School Board have been a candidate for that office. “Many of the vacancies that have been filled for state delegate seats, county commissioners, other things, is often been the case that people appointed did not run before,” he says.
The other Councilman who voted in opposition was Phil Dacey, who said the process was not transparent. “We only learned the name last week. And the process, in my view, was unnecessarily secret. It was rushed and it was irregular. I can’t see any compelling reason why we can’t be more transparent.,” he said.
Council Steve McKay said the process could use some improvement in the future. But he says he likes Jarman’s positions on several issues. “Focusing in on greater autonomy for teachers in the classroom; trying to educate students where they best need to be made in terms of being educated; and less emphasis on standardized tests. All of those things resonated with me,” he said.
In her comments, Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer noted that it’s the job of the County Executive to appoint a candidate for the Board of Education, while the Council votes on that person up or down. But she acknowledged that not everyone was happy with the current process. “I think we have all agreed that for an elected office, possibly the process that was used could be improved upon,” she said. “I have made a commitment to the board that we will bring this back, and we will come up with a different process.”
Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater, whose also a teacher in Frederick County Public Schools, says she likes the classroom experience that Jarman brings to the Board of Education. “She has not just middle and high school teaching experience, but also the higher education component that she brings to the table which Dr. Kerr had that in his resume and experience as well,” says Fitzwater. “I think that’s a great asset to our board.”
Fitzwater and Councilman Jerry Donald, whose also a teacher, had asked the Ethics Commission for an opinion on whether they should vote to fill the vacant Board of Ed because of their employment status. The Ethics Commission said the two are not precluded from voting for a School Board nominee.
By Kevin McManus