Parents file lawsuit against school board to unravel gridlock preventing children from returning to school
Two Howard County parents have filed a lawsuit today against the Board of Education of Howard County because a voting seat on the Board is held by a high school student, which violates Maryland’s Constitution. In the past three Board votes, the student member of the Board has cast the tying vote to gridlock the Board, preventing it from returning 58,000 Howard County students to school.
The Howard County Board of Education has seven members elected by legal, registered, adult voters, and one student member, who is elected by children in grades 6 through 11. The student member has binding voting rights on nearly every decision made by the Board.
The Board has recently reached a gridlock on several decisions regarding returning children to in person instruction. Traci Spiegel and Kimberly Ford, both of whom have children in virtual learning in Howard County, have filed suit to enjoin the student member vote and declare the provisions allowing the student member to have a vote in violation of Maryland’s Constitution.
The Maryland Constitution entitles only those citizens who are 18 years of age and older to a vote in local elections and forbids anyone who is not a registered voter from holding an elected office. Student members of the Board are high school juniors or seniors who are afforded nearly the same amount of power as their elected adult counterparts, and the existence of such a position violates both of these mandates.
Traci Spiegel, a parent of two Howard County students, explained her reason for filing this lawsuit: “These are complicated times, but this is a simple issue. The Howard County Board of Education is gridlocked. When I started watching the meetings and saw every key vote ending in 4-4 ties with no progress, I was in complete shock. When I found out one of the members was a senior in high school, casting stalemate votes as a minor, grinding our school system to a halt, I knew I had to do something.” Ms. Spiegel further explains her frustration with “stalemate votes of 4-4 and making motions to throw out previously approved metrics and to not revisit metrics 5 and 7 months out is irresponsible. We are filing this suit because their failure to use metrics and common sense is suffocating our children.”
Kim Ford, parent of two Howard County students, explains her reason for joining the case: “I manage over 100 people in my job. I’m expected to produce results. Why isn’t the Board of Education expected to produce a plan? My children, along with 58,000 other children, are waiting for a plan by our school system, a plan that provides a choice for virtual and in-person education. I want a plan and I want a choice. The dysfunction of the Board is not acceptable anymore.”
Ms. Spiegel and Ms. Ford are represented by Anthony Conti, a local attorney and parent of four Howard County public school students.
See the full details of the press release and lawsuit here: CLICK HERE