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Partially-Elected School Board Bill Defeated in Delegation

Sen. Ed Kasemeyer casts deciding vote against after supporting the bill last year.

UPDATED (1:00 p.m.)—A bill that would have created a partially-elected school board in Baltimore County was voted down by members of the county's Senate Delegation.

The eight senators from the county voted 4-4 to approve the bill, one vote short of what was needed for approval.

The deciding vote was Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, a Democrat who represents Catonsville and part of Howard County, who voted in favor of the bill last year. Howard County has an elected school board.

Kasemeyer's dissenting vote came after he voted for amendments to change the bill to a and a second amendment that staggered the elections of the seven board members.

The vote disappointed supporters who believed the bill would finally pass this year after six previous attempts.

"We're deeply disappointed," said Yara Cheikh, a member of the League of Women Voters Baltimore County and the parent of three children at Hampton Elementary School. "This is a vote down for democracy, accountability and transparency."

The League of Women Voters along with the Baltimore Count Parent Teacher Association supported the transition to a partially-elected school board.

Supporters including Cheikh, parents from Hillcrest Elementary School in Catonsville and members of the group Citizens for an Accountable Baltimore County School Board went to Annapolis Monday night for a last minute push. The group focused on Kasemeyer after rumors surfaced over the weekend that his support had waned.

Kasemeyer did not discuss his reasons for voting against the bill when the vote was taken Tuesday morning.

"We were hoping that listening to constituents would help Sen. Kasemeyer keep the same vote he made last year," Cheikh said, adding that in conversations, the senator told parents he was swayed by concerns voiced by Sen. Delores Kelley.

Kelley, a Randallstown Democrat, has been a vocal opponent of the bill for seven years.

Kasemeyer, in an interview Tuesday afternoon, acknowledged speaking with supporters of the bill and said Kelley's name came up but had no recollection of citing her reasons as his own for opposing the bill.

"I had mixed feelings about the bill," Kasemeyer said. "In the long-term I do support an elected school board bill."

Kasemeyer said he believes that county residents and education advocates are getting along better with new Superintendent S. Dallas Dance and the current board than with former Superintendent Joe Hairston and the previous board.

"I don't want to put [Dance] under the gun while they're just starting out," Kasemeyer said.

Dance took no position on the school board bill and in the past has noted that he's worked with both elected and appointed boards.

"It was really a matter of timing for me," Kasemeyer said. "Maybe next year or the year after, I'd be open to supporting an elected or partially elected school board."

The vote in the Senate effectively kills the bill and its cross-filed version in the House of Delegates.

Sen. Bobby Zirkin, an Owings Mills Democrat and lead sponsor of the Senate bill, said he was disappointed at the outcome.

"It's not disappointing for me personally," Zirkin said. "It's disappointing for me for the citizens. Once again they are being denied a fundamental right most of the rest of the state enjoys.

Zirkin vowed to bring the bill back for an eighth attempt next year.

"We'll be back at it," Zirkin said. "We'll keep trying. It's something that I think is important. It's a principal that I feel strongly that we need to keep pushing for."

Roll Call Vote on Baltimore County School Board Bill

Senator District/Party Yes No Joseph Getty 5, Republican X Norman Stone 6, Democrat X J.B. Jennings 7, Republican X Kathy Klausmeier 8, Democrat X Delores Kelley 10, Democrat X Bobby Zirkin 11, Democrat X Ed Kasemeyer 12, Democrat X Jim Brochin 42, Democrat X
Buck Harmon February 21, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Yea...Good old Haven Shoemaker,(Commissioner Shoemaker)..then Mayor Shoemaker actually staked his career on the immediate need for Manchester Valley High School....goes to show you how it really happens when society has been apathetically dumbed...
Buzz Beeler February 21, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Buck, accountability; there is none. In NY the students are allowed to curse at the teachers while in class and they will not take any action claiming it will disrupt the child's learning experience. I have several friends that are county teachers and the experiences they tell are almost beyond comprehension. Talk to any business CEO or manager and they will tell you what's out there. Our college grads are ill prepared for the business world and this was reflected in our police department years ago. A shift sergeant once told me he gave up on reading reports because the grammar was so bad he couldn't understand it. Now they want to do away with cursive when kid's can't even read or write as complete sentence.
Cal Oren February 21, 2013 at 02:56 PM
If your reasoning is valid, it would certainly be even more relevant at all levels of government. Wouldn't it be nice if ALL of our legislators were "above politics" and would never use their positions as "stepping stones to further their political careers?" We tried that once - King George III was appointing the officials at the time. Politics can be messy and contradictory and non-progressive, but taxation without representation is still tyranny!
Buzz Beeler February 21, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Karl, I know one gentleman who lost his race for council based on that formula. Sounds crazy to run county wide when most people in their home district don't know the name of their own councilman or woman. Too run county wide would be like flipping a coin
astheworldturns March 06, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Thanks Senator Brochin for your vote. We will keep re-electing you.

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