Hearings begin on Howard school board dismissal of Dyer

An administrative hearing to determine whether Howard County school board member Allen Dyer should be removed from the panel opened Monday with Dyer questioning fellow board member Frank Aquino for about three hours.

Aquino had drafted the resolution the Howard school board approved in June asking the state school board to oust Dyer, accusing him of such violations as breaching confidentiality requirements. The state school board sent the matter to the office of administrative hearings. Administrative law judge Douglas Koteen is presiding over the hearing, which is slated to last five days.

Dyer lost in the primary in March, so he will be vacating his seat after the general election.

Dyer, an attorney representing himself at the hearing, questioned Aquino. More than a dozen witnesses are expected to testify about whether Dyer's release of documents constituted confidentially breaches, and about the school board's allegations that Dyer bullied and threatened board members and school system staff.

When questioned by Judith Bresler, attorney for the school system, Aquino said, "It got to a point where I could not put myself in a position where I could continue to condone through silence any of Mr. Dyer's continued transgressions."

Much of Monday's questioning focused on a board decision to draft a policy that would allow school staff to receive royalties for published materials while working for the system. Aquino said that during the proceedings, he requested legal advice from Howard County schools attorney Mark Blom and that Blom responded via electronic memo.

Aquino testified that after the board adopted modifications to the royalties policy, Dyer appealed to the state school board and disclosed Blom's memo in his appeal, which Aquino said violated attorney-client privilege.

Dyer, upon cross-examination of Aquino, questioned whether Dyer had violated attorney-client privilege and added that the state board's response to Dyer's appeal did not address the attorney-client privilege matter.

"The Maryland State Board of Education has already looked at this issue from this particular document and said it's not an education issue," Dyer said to Aquino. "Do you feel that if it's not an education issue for the Maryland state board, how do you justify making it an education issue in the sense of removing a board member?"

Aquino replied, "I suspect that the Maryland state board would have a different viewpoint in the context of looking at it as board member misconduct."

Bresler, who several times questioned the relevance of Dyer's queries to Aquino, called the proceedings "tedious," and added that she had hoped testimony would be "more targeted."

But Dyer, who is scheduled to continue cross-examining Aquino on Tuesday, said, "It was good to get an opportunity to ask questions."


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