Anne Arundel Board of Education's lead lawyer retires after 35 years

Rachael Pacella
Contact Reporterrpacella@capgaznews.com

After more than three decades serving as lead counsel for the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County, attorney P. Tyson Bennett is retiring.

Bennett was recognized by the board as well as by former members Wednesday. His wisdom and calm demeanor will be missed, they said. Bennett served on the board from 1975 to 1977. He became the board’s attorney in 1983.

He said the firm he is retiring from, Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennett & Scherr, will still serve the board with Darren Burns stepping in for him.

“I will tell you from my heart that if this were my decision alone we wouldn’t be having this event today, because I would be staying on and on and on, as long as the board would keep me,” he said.

His firm has a policy that requires retirement at 70, a milestone he hit in November.

The board’s caucus room will be named the P. Tyson Bennett Board of Education Caucus Room in his honor. They showed him the blue sign with white print at the meeting.

“His historical knowledge, his calm demeanor, his great wisdom has been so valuable to this board for decades,” President Julie Hummer said.

She called Bennett a “quiet force” working behind the scenes, a sentiment repeated by former board member Teresa Birge.

“He sets board members straight and set us all straight a lot,” she said. “He always reminded us if we were going a little out of bounds and would bring us back in, but never was too forceful about it.”

Bennett received accolades from the Maryland General Assembly, County Executive Steve Schuh and the county council at the meeting.

Del. Edward Carey said during his eight years on the board, “how do we do this, Tyson?” would often be asked. The answer was always calm, direct and right on target, he said.

Former board member Amalie Brandenburg, Schuh’s education officer, said Tyson always offered “unwavering and fantastic” advice that kept them out of trouble.

Councilman Andrew Pruski, also a former board member, said he could always count on Bennett to be available to answer a question.

Bennett plans on opening a law office of his own.

“And I won’t take any cases against the Board of Education, I can assure you of that,” he said.

At Wednesday’s meeting the board also approved changes to its agreement with the union that represents assistant principals and principals, the Association of Educational Leaders. The agreement would provide a step increase for employees and a two percent cost-of-living adjustment. It is contingent on funding in the fiscal 2019 budget.

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