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Board of Education president denies having any detective bills

May 15, 2001

Board of Education president denies having any detective bills



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Education does not have any bills on file from the private detective hired to investigate the school system, according to a May 11 letter from School Board President J. Herbert Hardin.

Hardin was responding to an April 19 request from The Herald-Mail under the Maryland Public Information Act seeking all costs related to the investigation.

"No such documents exist among the records of the Washington County Board of Education," Hardin wrote. "It is unknown whether such documents exist at the private law firm of Reese & Carney, LLP."

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"If such a document exists, it is presumed by us that such document would be subject to attorney-client privilege or otherwise be confidential as an attorney work-product."

Reese & Carney, of Columbia, Md., is the board's law firm.

On April 18, private investigator Peter A. Peltier of Security Analysis Associates Inc. in Gaithersburg, Md., confirmed he was investigating the school system but would not provide additional information.

He referred all questions to the School Board's attorney.

Three days before he resigned, Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett said that he was not aware the board had hired an investigator.

On April 19, the day Bartlett announced his resignation, he said he thought the investigation had concluded.

He said he did not know the scope of the investigation.

Bartlett's last day with the school system is June 30.

The Herald-Mail also requested all checks paid by the School Board or its law firm to the detective but was told "no such documents exist" in the board's files.

In addition, the newspaper requested the contract for services between the board, the law firm and the detective agency; bids or proposals seeking investigative services; and a copy of a report by the detective but was told "no such documents exist" in the board's files.

The School Board did not provide any information related to executive function meetings, as requested by The Herald-Mail under the Public Information Act.

An executive function is the administration of a state, county or local law, or a rule, regulation or bylaw of a public body, according to the Maryland Open Meetings Act.

Hardin on April 17 said the board had held several executive function meetings recently. An executive function does not require a public body to advertise the meeting or take minutes.

Since April 17, The Herald-Mail has made four requests to the School Board under the Public Information Act .

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