It’s sponsored by Frederick County Delegate April Miller.
Delegate April Miller
Annapolis, Md (KM)( Changes to the open meetings act to cover committees and task forces formed by local school districts is before the 2023 Maryland General Assembly.
This legislation is sponsored by Frederick County Delegate April Miller. She says this follows a decision by a committee formed by the Frederick County School System to examine 35 books listed by a group of citizens which they say should not be on public school library shelves. The 59-member panel consisting of students, parents, teachers and community experts have decided to close its meetings to the public.
The current law, Miller says, doesn’t cover committees and task forces established by local school systems.
Miller, who is a former member of the Frederick County Board of Education, says citizens have a concern about this. “They need to be aware of what’s going on in the school system, and the school system needs to be very transparent and open with the parents,” she says.
But Miller says the open meetings law doesn’t necessarily mean that citizens will be allowed to offer public comment. “When I was on the Board at FCC, our meetings were open, but it’s not necessarily that you have a lot of public engagement going on there. But at least people are able to see the process and they’re able to find out what is going on at FCC, and it holds you a bit accountable,” she says.
There are times when a public body, such as the Board of Education, needs to go into close session. Miller says this bill, if it becomes law, won’t prevent that. Some of those reasons to go into closed session include personnel matters, contract negotiations and consulting with legal council.
Miller says this bill covers the entire state of Maryland, not just Frederick County. “I see it as a little bit of a flaw in the system, like a little loophole, so to speak. So I want to close that loophole and make sure that schools are open and transparent with the public as possible,” she says.
The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on this bill on Wednesday, March 8th beginning at 1:00 PM.
By Kevin McManus