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baltimoresun.com

Dyer's fate in hands of state education board

State board official: 'This is unusual'

By Sara Toth, stoth@patuxent.com

June 16, 2011

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County Board of Education members might want member Allen Dyer removed from their ranks, but that decision rests with a higher authority.

The local board must formally request the Maryland State Board of Education to remove Dyer from his seat, and following the 5-2 vote on June 9 to oust him, a request is being prepared by the board's counsel, board Chairwoman Janet Siddiqui said. She did not exactly when that request would be made.

After the state board gets the request, they then meet to discuss and vote on it. There is no timeline for their decision.

If the board votes to remove Dyer, the state code requires that the charges be sent to him before he is removed. Dyer then has 10 days to request a hearing before the state board.

Dyer said he would request a hearing should the board decide to remove him.

"That's not even a question," he said. "This is a situation where the majority of the elected board has decided to try to drive off another elected board member. The first thing that flies in your face is, 'What makes you think you have more insight than the voters?' To try to overrule the decision of the votes is inexcusable."

If Dyer is removed from his position, he has the right to appeal the Howard County Circuit Court for a review of the removal.

As of earlier this week, the state board had not received an official request from the Howard board to remove Dyer, said Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the state board. However, a letter from the Howard board to State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick June 10 stated a request would be prepared "in the near future."

County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty, a former county school board member, said that in her experience, the state board can work "speedily, and also slowly."

Several elected officials in the county — including Dyer — said that to their knowledge, nothing like this had ever happened in the county. Requests to remove members from local boards of education are rare from anywhere the entire state, as well.

"This is unusual," said Reinhard, adding that the board has not received such a request in his six years. "The board does not receive many of these requests."

If Dyer is removed, his seat would be filled by County Executive Ken Ulman, and such appointments have happened in the past. Most recently, Ulman appointed Siddiqui to her seat in 2007, after Sigaty won a seat on the County Council.

Ulman said he would take the responsibility of selecting Dyer's replacement, if the state board decides to remove him, very seriously.

"I continue to believe education is the driving force behind the quality of life in this community," Ulman said.

Ulman said he had not given any thought yet to who he would appoint if the state board created a vacancy. His recommendation would have to be approved by the County Council.