To wrap up the discussion of the past few days, I have decided to share the response from the PTACHC Board to Superintendent Foose and the Board of Education. As both letters were shared openly with PTACHC Delegates, it makes sense to me that I should be willing to share both to give you a better picture of this issue.
August 8, 2014
Board of Education of Howard County
Superintendent Renee Foose
Howard County Public School System
Dear Chairman Giles, Members of the Board of Education of Howard County, and Superintendent Foose:
The PTA Council of Howard County (PTACHC) values the longstanding relationship we have with the Board of Education of Howard County (BOE) and the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). This relationship has enabled all of us to work together to help each and every child in Howard County achieve their personal best.
The overall purpose of PTA is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. One way the PTACHC accomplishes this is through informing our members, parents and community about issues impacting the students in Howard County.
We are honored that the BOE, Superintendent Foose, and the Howard County Education Association (HCEA) have liaisons who attend our monthly general meetings to provide information directly to our members and parents, hear their concerns and answer their questions. This opportunity for all three organizations to deliver information directly has been invaluable to all our organizations, the parents and the community.
We were shocked to learn that BOE Vice Chairman Ann De Lacy sent the enclosed email to Maryland PTA President Ray Leone. Considering our longstanding relationship with both the BOE and the HCPSS, we are deeply disappointed that you would not feel comfortable coming directly to us should you have concerns regarding our organization.
The PTACHC officers and members are aware that Vice Chairman De Lacy is disappointed that we have included a liaison from the HCEA at our monthly general membership meetings. At our May general meeting, Vice Chairman De Lacy expressed outrage that our organization allowed the HCEA to provide an update to our members regarding contract negotiations. The update provided by the HCEA liaison reiterated information that had already been reported in the press. Vice Chairman De Lacy expressed that not only what the PTACHC was doing was illegal, but that she would be reporting the incident to legal counsel and Superintendent Foose. We were confused and shocked at this outburst, and President Delmont-Small explained to those assembled that as an organization we felt it important that the BOE, Superintendent Foose and HCEA all have an opportunity through their liaisons to provide information and answer questions at our general meetings. When asked if we should continue to have the liaisons at our monthly general meetings, our general membership agreed that it was important to hear directly from all three organizations.
Moreover, until receiving a copy of Vice Chairman De Lacy’s email, our organization had assumed the exclusion of the PTACHC from meetings with PTA presidents, the superintendent and/or HCPSS staff was an oversight. Vice Chairman De Lacy’s statement in her email that "our Superintendent (sic) has learned to circumvent the PTAC (sic) leadership by directly going to the local PTA Presidents," seems to indicate otherwise, and we are concerned and deeply troubled. We have been hearing that individuals in the "school system" felt the PTACHC was "giving parents too much of a voice," but we had discounted those remarks since the BOE and HCPSS have always indicated that they welcome parental involvement. However, the enclosed email gives the impression that your organizations are not as welcoming of parental input as thought. As the largest parent organization in the county with over 26,000 members, we are understandably concerned that the PTACHC’s efforts and subsequent success of engaging and empowering Howard County parents to advocate for their children is not wanted in Howard County.
Maryland PTA has suggested that we ask the Maryland State Board of Education to intervene in this matter. But we have confidence that we can address this issue at the county level, and instead, we would like the Board of Education, Superintendent Foose, the PTACHC leadership, and Maryland PTA to enter into mediation to ensure that our organizations can continue to fulfill our purposes and missions and work together for the students of Howard County.
Although it is unclear whether the concerns expressed by Vice Chairman De Lacy are shared by the BOE and/or Superintendent Foose, we feel it is imperative that we discuss the unsubstantiated statements contained in the attached emails as well as our concerns as soon as possible.
Thank you for all that you do for the students of Howard County and we look forward to hearing from you shortly so that we can schedule mediation.
President, PTA Council of Howard County
Executive Vice President, PTA Council of Howard County
Vice President of Issues, PTA Council of Howard County
Vice President of Operations, PTA Council of Howard County
Secretary, PTA Council of Howard County
Treasurer, PTA Council of Howard County
So, what's next? Will the Board and/or the Superintendent distance themselves from Ms. DeLacy's actions? Will they accept the invitation from the PTACHC Board to enter into mediation? Or will there be no response at all?
And what effect will this have on Board of Education elections?
To quote local blogger Jason Booms, "Stay tuned, as more will follow."