So the meeting at Glenwood Middle to discuss mold in the school building took place Wednesday evening. Amanda Yeager did a write up for the Howard County Times and Amy Aubert of ABC2 News also provided coverage. Parents present at the meeting have been giving feedback on their group's Facebook page.
One piece of information leapt out at me. Three uniformed police officers were present at the meeting. Why? The parents certainly didn't invite them. They can only have been there at the behest of the school system staff. In a time of budget austerity where we have to cut back on classroom positions, why would we need to pay three police officers for an evening of work?
Is there any evidence of parents at this school behaving in a violent or uncontrolled manner? No. Is there any evidence of Howard County parents in any school behaving in a way that would warrant police presence? No. Parents are sometimes disgruntled. They occasionally raise their voices and have been known to speak out of turn in a heated moment. And for this we need three police officers?
This looks more like an attempt at intimidation to me. And this isn't the first example of hcpss using "security" at public meetings in the past year. In fact, it seems to be getting more frequent. And from feedback I am getting from parents, I think it is likely that hcpss brought several members of their own security staff to the meeting, in addition to the police. Does this come from fearfulness? Is the Board afraid of the community? Is it another tool in attempting to control the message?
I do not know. I do know that Glenwood parents were offended by it. At the very moment when the school system should have been coming to make peace, they brought the police. It was a clear and powerful message to the members of the Glenwood community, and not a good one.