Former Howard County school board member Allen Dyer was turned back Wednesday in his latest attempt to reverse a Maryland State Board of Education decision removing him from office — even though that decision came after his elected term was already over.
Dyer, an Ellicott City attorney who lost his bid for re-election in the 2012 primary, has argued that the state board had no authority to adjudicate the case, but Circuit Judge Louis A. Becker disagreed.
The decision was the latest in a matter dating to June 2011, when the county school board asked the state body to remove Dyer, alleging such transgressions as "bullying" board members and staff, undermining board functions and breaching confidentiality requirements. Dyer denied the allegations.
The state sent the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings, and in December, Judge Douglas Koteen recommended that the board's request to remove Dyer be upheld, citing misconduct in office.
In May, the state board officially removed Dyer, even though he had already failed in his re-election bid and his term had expired. At the time, state board officials said the incident marked the first time an elected school board member had been ousted from a panel.
In June, the Court of Special Appeals turned back Dyer's challenge to the state board's authority to adjudicate the matter and determined that it was moot because Dyer's term on the board had expired.
On Wednesday, Dyer was in Circuit Court seeking a judgment again, contending that the state board didn't have jurisdiction.
Dyer said even though he lost his re-election bid, the state's action "is out there on my record. I am the only person in the history of Maryland, the only elected official that the Board of Education has removed for misconduct in office."
A judgment that the state board didn't have authority in the matter, he said, "clears my name."
But Becker said such a judgment requires the case to be a current matter between two parties — and the fact that Dyer is out of office renders it moot.
"I understand why Mr. Dyer wants to clear his name and use this as a vehicle to do so, and I respect that. But it's moot, and that means it's not an actual judicial controversy. It's been nailed down legislatively by the voters, and it's been nailed down by the Court of Appeals," Becker said.
The judge said that he would reserve a final decision for a written memorandum — there was no timetable set for that ruling — but he told Dyer he could find no relief in the matter, and in fact, said, "I'm very comfortable, having listened to arguments, to say that the state board has the right to adjudicate."
Asked about the judge's interpretation, Howard County school board attorney Judith Bresler said, "We think that those positions are correct."
Dyer said that while he disagrees with the judge, it was "really nice to be in a real courtroom again, compared to the circus that went on at the Office of Administrative Hearing. It's a real pleasure to see the judiciary in action."
He said if Becker's final ruling goes against him, however, he will likely appeal.