School official: Candidate probably should not have held press conference at school

October 25, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said Tuesday that a political candidate probably should not have been allowed to hold a press conference at an area elementary school.

She said Paul Muldowney, a Republican candidate for the Subdistrict 2C race, should have been asked to set up along the road or on a public sidewalk.

"In retrospect, that would have been the better choice," Mowen said.

Instead, he spoke with the press about 20 feet from the Pangborn Elementary School building, with a backdrop of portable classrooms.

Mowen said the school system does not endorse political candidates and would allow Muldowney's opponent, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, to hold a press conference at a public school if he made a similar request.


"We do our best to meet the requests of the public, including politicians," Mowen said. "It was perhaps a difficult position for us to be put in."

The decision to allow Muldowney to hold a press conference at the school, in which he launched political attacks against Donoghue, was a joint decision between Mowen and Pangborn Principal Richard Gehrman, she said.

Mowen called Muldowney Tuesday after learning he planned to hold the press conference at the elementary school. She said she talked with him about not disrupting school operations and advised him to get permission from Gehrman.

Mowen said she believes Muldowney spoke with Gehrman shortly before holding the press conference at 1 p.m.

"This was a quick timeline," she said.

Mowen said there is no process for these type of requests, and this was the first time this year she could recall a political candidate holding a news conference at a public school.

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