In a document dated March 26, 2020 the State of Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board finds that “On the basis of the submissions, we find that the County Board violated the Act when two of its members exchanged electronic messages, during a public meeting, on the business that the County Board was considering at the time. We find that the members’ mere receipt of messages from non-members did not violate the Act, but we encourage the members of public bodies, when in a public meeting, to avoid reading such input on the matter at hand or responding to it. We also encourage public bodies to consider how to guard against the appearance that their members are either receiving instructions from outside individuals, or secretly deliberating among themselves, on the public business under consideration. This opinion is subject to the acknowledgment and announcement requirements set forth in § 3-211. ”

The complaint alleged that the Howard County Board of Education (“County Board”) violated the Open Meetings Act during its November 18, 2019 public meeting when three members variously received and transmitted text messages concerning the public business that the County Board was then discussing.

Here are the 4 pages of the documents from the State of Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board:

If I am reading this correctly this violation is specific to text messages between Howard County Board of Education members Sabina Taj and Jen Mallo.

Here are the original text messages acquired from a HCPSS MPIA request ( https://mpia.hcpss.org/requests/2020-217 )

You can find additional images and commentary in this POST on Facebook in the Howard County Neighbors United group.

This would be the second “Open Meetings Act” violation noted about the Howard County Board of Education. Here is information on the first finding: The Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board concluded that the Howard County Board of Education violated the Open Meetings Act

Scott E

2 COMMENTS

  1. And unfortunately the Maryland Open Meetings Act Compliance Board can only issue advisory opinions. They do not have authority to issue orders or impose penalties. The only way to actually hold the BOE accountable for their illegal actions is through the Circuit Court case filed by Lorraine Whittaker’s team. Please continue to support the effort to hold the BOE accountable. https://www.gofundme.com/f/hoco-fighting-redistricting-legal-fund

  2. I have never understood how BoE members have been allowed to be using their phones and laptops to be communicating with ANYONE during meetings. During discussions regarding funding of the cable television channel, Chao Wu received an email from a citizen who said they were watching it on cable and wanted cable accessibility to remain. I thought that inappropriate at the time. All discussions should be out in the open with those who are present. They can take emails and letters into consideration that have been sent to them, but outside of the meeting.

    It would be great if this issue was brought up when surveying and questioning the BOE candidates.

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