Cumberland Times-News


July 22, 2013

School board should honor the law

On Sunday, July 21, I read with interest the commentary by Tom Striplin dealing with the issue of the (Allegany County) Board of Education’s denial of the right of the ex officio member to attend all meetings of the Board of Education.

Mr. Striplin has an interest in this matter, since the BOE followed what the office of the attorney general has found to be improper, while Mr. Striplin was a BOE member and also the president of the BOE. Mr. Striplin also, during his tenure, supported the BOE’s policy of not addressing questions from the public at public meetings.

As an announced candidate for the office of county commissioner, Mr. Striplin must realize, that if elected, he will have a sworn duty to represent all citizens of Allegany County.

Representing our citizens, means honoring the right of our citizens to know what their elected officials are doing,what decisions are being made, and how those decisions are made. Transparency is too often a pledge, that is never honored, by those seeking a public office. Allegany County was recently found to be in the top 1 percent in the nation for transparency — that was not accomplished by the denial of rights to our citizens.

The state considers the Board of Education to be five elected members, an ex officio member (either the president of the board of commissioners, or another commissioner appointed by the president), and a student representative. Only the elected members have a vote, but the student representative and the ex officio are to have all other rights of the board on which they serve.

The student representative is not allowed to attend executive sessions. The office of the attorney general, however, has made it extremely clear that the ex officio has not only the right to attend all meetings, including executive session, but also a “duty, to attend all such meetings.”

Approximately two months ago, I asked Dr. (Edward) Root and BOE attorney, Gary Hanna, to meet with myself and county attorney Bill Rudd on this matter. We had a very cordial, business-like meeting. Evidently, Dr. Root and Mr Hanna agreed with the county’s position, since the next packet that I received for a BOE meeting, included new policy language that would have been quite acceptable to the county. The present policy allows the ex officio to attend executive session, only by invitation.

No such invitation has been received by the county in 2 1/2 years. The BOE, however, did not approve of the new language, allowing it to die from the lack of a motion. No motion, no vote on record. The county has once again asked the BOE to reconsider (the A.G. opinion was part of that communication). We are also asking for the minutes of all executive session meetings since Jan.1, 2011, so the ex officio will have the information that we feel has been improperly denied. If a court decision is needed, then so be it.

It is sad, that the BOE, and Mr. Striplin, appear to believe that the BOE can choose which laws they will, or will not, honor. I hope this is not the message that is being given to the students in our schools. Our country is a land of laws, and a process to change laws we find are not desirable.

If people are left to choose which laws they will follow, we will have anarchy. Hopefully the Board of Education will read the A.G’s opinion, read the laws, and honor the law by granting full board rights (minus voting rights) to the ex officio.

Allegany County

Commissioner Bill Valentine


Text Only
  • Support the March for Babies May 3 at Canal Place

    At the March of Dimes, we promise to work tirelessly toward the day when all babies are born healthy.
    The March of Dimes has worked for more than 75 years to help babies get a healthy start in life.

    April 20, 2014

  • Celebrate Earth Day every day: Reduce, reuse and recycle

    April 1 marked the beginning of April Envi- ronmental Education Month in Maryland — and with Earth Day coming up on April 22, Maryland has much to celebrate.

    April 20, 2014

  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • Which approach to the school makes sense?

    What exactly is the long-range plan, according to the Allegany County Commissioners?
    I’ve read in the Cumberland Times-News that the current County Commissioners intend to spend $9 million to construct a new high school.

    April 16, 2014

  • H.O.G. Rally coming to Cumberland in June

    Let me introduce myself. My name is Francine Kraft and I am the Maryland/Delaware State H.O.G. Rally Coordinator for 2014.
    With a team of seven others, we have put together a rally for June 19-22 to be held in Cumberland.

    April 16, 2014

  • Access to trout ponds hard for those who have trouble walking

    I took my 5-year-old grandson Easton, who lives in Cumberland, to the Evitts Creek three ponds on March 31, the day it was stocked with trout.He had the joy and excitement of catching his first trout and two more. I have a Maryland fishing license and trout stamp.

    April 16, 2014

  • Wait long enough; they will die off without being cared for

    The letter to the editor of April 14 (“Military veterans have few friends in Washington, D.C.”),  I am afraid, hit the nail on the head — sort of — about this next set of returning veterans.

    April 16, 2014

Latest news
Must Read
House Ads