Public can't participate unless BOE has a set meeting policy


The Hagerstown City Council meets in work session the first three Tuesdays of each month at 4 p.m. and holds its regular business meeting on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

The Washington County Commissioners meet every Tuesday, usually beginning at 9 am.

Virtually every school board in the State of Maryland has a policy stating the number of business meetings per month, the day of the week and the starting time.

The public expects these governmental bodies to hold regular meetings on a set schedule, but understands that meetings sometimes must be changed because of holidays, inclement weather, emergencies, etc.

However, the Washington County School Board, or at least the members of the Policy Committee, have been attempting to strip the current policy on school board meetings established in 1972 of specific numbers, days, times and locations of "regular" business meetings.


The Policy Committee's latest version of the policy simply states that the public and staff will be provided with notice of the time and place of regular business meetings.

Ironically, the title of this policy is "School Board Meetings: Time, Place, and Notification of Meetings," yet the policy sets neither time, place, frequency or location.

How can "regular business meetings" be regular without at least a set frequency? The only justification given for eliminating such information is that occasionally, the School Board has had to alter the time or day or number of meetings per month. As stated above, the public understands the need for occasional changes. However, the public, as well as school system staff, has a right and a need for a reliable meeting schedule.

In addition, this School Board has refused to commit to learning Robert's Rules of Order, the standard method of conducting governmental meetings. This is so despite their current policy, which states that "Robert's Rules of Order shall be observed by the Board in all sessions."

The policies in question, BE (former BDAA) and BEDD (former BDDE), are available for viewing through the BoardDocs link at the school system's web site, under the Board of Ed category.

These policies are tentatively slated to be presented at the board's July 15 business meeting, but you'll need to watch the paper for a time and location!

Creating a world-class school system requires that all school system goals be met or exceeded. How do these policy proposals promote the school system's Goal III of "Customer and Stakeholder Involvement and Satisfaction"?

Clear Spring resident Jacqueline Fischer is a candidate for the Washington County Board of Education.

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