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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Elected School Board - Recall provisions/amendments

From: Jacob Andoh
Date: Sun Nov 28, 2004 7:01 am
Subject: Elected School Board - Recall provisions/amendments

Good morning. I do agree with you that in the future, without an effective recall system or a citizen-triggered accountability system, a non-responsive elected school board member may continue to be just that - an unresponsive elected school board member not accountable to those who elected him/her to serve.

One implicit assumption (which is not always correct) is that because many (but not all) elected officials seek to be re-elected by those persons who initially put him/her in office, and that such an elected board member would want to be responsive and attentive to his/her constituents. All of us know that this is an ideal that can sometimes not be the case.

We must act now to prevent this outcome or possibility.

I have known elected school board members such as you describe. I have also known some that were very responsive and respectful of voters and community members.

You are correct - a trigger mechanism for an effective recall system would tend to make elected board members MORE accountable to voters in their districts. Let us work to ensure maximum accountability, now, before the 2005 Maryland Legislative session begins and before we seat our next elected school board representatives in 2006.


It would be good to receive, review, discuss and submit to our County delegation several possible recall clauses to be considered by our County delegates as an amendment (addition) to Delegate Parker's bill, HB 904-05.

Proposed Amendment to Hon. Delegate Parker's bill:
  • Being cognizant of the fact that elected school board members must serve at the will and behest of voters in a single-member district, and that
  • Responsiveness and accountability of elected school board members to their communities, parents, and constituents being a very important and valued aspectof serving on an elected board, and
  • Noting that four years, or even two years, may be an inordinately and undesirably long time to wait for the chance to vote to unseat a non-responsive or respectful elected school board member;
  • Whereas a viable school board member recall system being one necessary tool that can ensure that elected board members remain responsive, committed, and attentive to their constitutents on all matters, issues and concerns,
  • It is hereby REQUIRED that each elected school board member maintain a written or computerized, auditable log of district-based citizen telephone calls, emails,faxes, letters, and visits and the board member's attempt or outcome in addressing such, and that
  • On an annual basis, the Maryland Assembly's Office of Legislative Audits must produce and widely disseminate locally, in each County, a report on the citizen responsiveness of every elected school board member that specifically notes the proportion and percentage of contacts to that school board member that were not responded to in a timely manner (between one week to one month after initiation), and that
  • Annually and locally, in each county, elected school board members must hold at least one pre-announced and widely publicized district-wide public meeting toreview, discuss and explain their citizen responsivenes report with their constitutents and answer any and all questions which may arise, and to answer to voters why there may still REMAIN UNRESOLVED MATTERS ABOUT WHICH SEVERAL (MORE THAN THREE) CITIZENS HAD PREVIOUSLY CONTACTED THE BOARD MEMBER WITH REQUEST FOR A RESPONSE, RESOLUTION, MEETING, OR SPECIFIC ACTION OR SUGGESTION, and that
  • Based on the published and disseminated statistics from the annual report by the Maryland Office of Legislative Audit for each elected school board member, mid-way through an elected board member's effective term in office, a numeric count or proportion of calls or contacts that a board member has NOT responded to WILL automatically trigger a recall provision such that
  • If a qualified voter(s) obtains a petition on which there are either - whichever is lower, (i) a minimum of 1,000 valid and proven signatures of registered district residents or (ii) valid and proven signatures from one percent or more of total number of registered voters in a district, that such a petition will automatically trigger a recall process for such a non-responsive board member.
  • The board member recall effort, if legal and successful, will trigger mechanisms for a special election of a replacement school board member in that district for which the removed board member shall not be eligible to run, and that
  • There can only be a maximum of one (1) permitted recall effort during any one election season (four years or two years or the effective term for which a board member was elected to serve) and that
  • Any elected school board member who has been recalled prior shall NOT be eligible to run for the school board seat for at least two consecutive terms (of eight years or four years, depending) unless a court of due jurisprudence rules otherwise.
==== End of proposed amendment ====

What does everyone think? Thanks in advance for your helpful suggestions and thanks again, Mrs. Sell, for raising this important concern about board member


Jacob Andoh

From: Deborah Sell
Date: Sat Nov 27, 2004 8:47 pm
Subject: Re: [pgpubliced] Re: [PG-Politics] Elected School Board Hearing and Rally

I do understand that people want to know who they can turn to on the board when they have problems with the school system. However, just because you have an elected board with single member districts doesn't mean that a particular board member will remain accessible to his or her constituents.

When you have a situation where a board member refuses to return not one but several phone calls from PTO Presidents and/or Vice Presidents on not one but several key issues -- the system is not working.

Since we don't have a viable recall system -- it's pointless to tell a person -- just wait for four years and vote the scoundrel out.

Our kids can't wait for those four years.

Deborah Sell

From: Cahn4schools@aol.com
Date: Sat Nov 27, 2004 11:26 pm
Subject: Re: [pgpubliced] Re: [PG-Politics] Elected School Board Hearing and Rally


Of course, you are right. However, unless we want to govern ourselves on a "town meeting" basis, we need to put up with the deficiencies of a representative democracy. There is a fine line between even greater accountability (2-year terms, for example) and persuading good people to run for school board and gain the experience necessary to govern effectively (4-year terms). In this trade-off, I come down on the side of the longer terms, if for no other reason that I don't want members running for reelection as soon as they are elected (as I saw when I worked on the staff of of the U.S. House of Representatives).

That being said, I agree with your implicit suggestion that we have a "viable recall system." As xofnek@aol.com suggested, we should try for this in the next legislative session--if by "next" we mean 2006. I don't want to divert the focus away from first getting the single-member districts, which are much closer to the people than any number of at-large seats. A reality check, however: I raised this with delegates and senators in 2002 and have mentioned it again this year (although not as broadly). There is a great lack of interest in the delegation, reportedly because members fear that they will be next to be subject to recall. Since they are right, I really can't contradict them!

Thanks for your interest and comments.

Dave Cahn, Co-Chairman
Citizens for an Elected Board

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