This Spring I visited a meeting of the PTA Council of Howard County to share concerns I had about cuts to instructional time for Art and Music as a part of the Model Schools Initiative. It was an extremely positive experience. The group was warm and supportive to all present. The president, Christina Delmont-Small, ran the meeting in a professional and extremely effective manner. By the end of the evening I had decided to apply for the delegate position from Oakland Mills Middle School that I knew would be opening up at the end of the school year. (And you know I hate meetings, so that says a lot.)
The PTA Council of Howard County (PTACHC) states as its mission:
The PTA Council of Howard County (PTACHC) serves the 73 PTAs and its 25,000+ members in Howard County, MD who through advocacy support the mission of PTA, which is to be--
- A powerful voice for all children,
- A relevant resource for families and communities
- A strong advocate for the education and well-being of every child.
The meeting I attended clearly showed that PTACHC takes its mission seriously, respects all parties in the education process, and strives to support parents so they may make the best choices for their children.
Therefore I was deeply disturbed to learn that Board of Education member Ann DeLacy sent the following letter to Maryland PTA President Ray Leone. The Board of PTACHC met to discuss the implications of this letter and to formulate an appropriate response. As a part of their official response they released Ms. DeLacy's letter to delegates, in order to give a compete picture of what had occurred.
After a good deal of thought I am sharing that letter here because I feel strongly that actions like these should be brought out in the open. As my mother always said, don't put anything in a letter that you don't want to see in the newspaper.
From: "Ann DeLacy"
Date: Jul 8, 2014 5:21 PM
Subject: Concerns About the Howard County PTA Council
To: " firstname.lastname@example.org"
My name is Ann De Lacy. I was elected to the Howard County Board of Education with the assistance of my then friend, PTA Council President, Christina Delmont-Small, on November 6, 2013. Since that time, I have served as a Board of Education liaison to the PTA Council. While I found last year's meetings to be positive and worthwhile, I have strong concerns with the current leadership of the Council.
Mrs. Delmont-Small has expressed openly negative opinions about the Affordable Health-Care Act but I have been extremely shocked about her open and organized opposition to the Common Core Standards. When I asked her, during a meeting, why she did not post the National PTA's endorsement of the Common-Core Standards, she stated that their position was one-sided.
Mrs. Delmont-Small has actively inserted the PTAC into a very contentious negotiations process with our local NEA Affiliate (I am the past President). She has allowed Howard County Education Associations (HCEA) PTAC Reps (new this year) to solicit information from Council Representatives and discuss collective bargaining during Council meetings. When I ask why this was allowed when bargaining was not open and the discussion was illegal, Mrs. Delmont-Small stated that parents had as much right to hear from the Teacher Reps as they did from the Board of Education Reps.
In April of this year, Mrs. Delmont-Small was supposed to email all of the PTA Presidents for a Community Meeting with the Superintendent and the BOE. Not one President attend. After going directly to some local PTA Presidents, I found that they had not received information from PTAC. When I presented the information as part of my BOE report to PTAC, Mrs. Delmont-Small stated that this was an election year and she thought PTA members should focus on the BOE without the Superintendent and staff being present.
I have met with several local PTA Executive Officers this year. None have expressed extreme concerns about the Common-Core Standards nor in the Collective Bargaining process.
You will be receiving emails that will fill-in gaps and catch you up with the goings on in Howard County. I no longer attend PTAC meetings and our Superintendent has learned to circumvent the PTAC leadership by going directly to the local PTA Presidents. Please look into my concerns.
Ann De Lacy
Howard County Board of Education, Member
This letter contains factual errors, downright untruths, odd criticisms (Affordable Care Act?) and what is worse, evidence that Ms. DeLacy speaks also for Superintendent Foose when she says,
"I no longer attend PTAC meetings and our Superintendent has learned to circumvent the PTAC leadership by going directly to the local PTA Presidents."
This behavior is outrageous. As an individual action by Ms. DeLacy alone it truly represents a betrayal of her responsibility to be an advocate for parents and children in our school system. And it strongly suggests a systemic mindset that PTACHC should be "cut off" from participation in school system meetings.
This is not how to run a school system. And this is certainly not how to Choose Civility. The Board of PTACHC has formulated a response to this, and will continue to act as an advocacy organization to support the mission of the PTA. But we, as the larger community, must also formulate a response.
Is this how School Board members should behave? Is this how the school system should treat parents? We pay taxes to support our schools, we have elections and use our votes to choose Board of Education members to direct the Superintendent's work in educating the most important asset we have: our children.
We have a voice. You have a voice. Use it.