By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun
9:10 PM EST, December 6, 2012
An administrative law judge on Wednesday ruled that former Howard County school board member Allen Dyer committed "misconduct in office," and upheld the county school board's request to remove him from the panel, even though Dyer's term ended Monday.
The county school board voted in June 2011 to ask the state Board of Education to remove Dyer, accusing him of breaching confidentiality requirements and bullying. The state board sent the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings, which ultimately was to make a recommendation.
Judge Douglas Koteen, who presided over the hearing, issued a 100-page report that summarized that the county board's request to remove Dyer be upheld, concluding that Dyer "is responsible for repeated substantial incidents of misconduct in office."
"I conclude that [Dyer's] refusal to comply with Board rules and policies, his refusal to comply with positions adopted by the Board, and his insistence on acting without authority, including with disregard of confidentiality requirements, have rendered [Dyer] unfit to serve as a member of the board," Koteen said in the report. "I also conclude that [Dyer] demonstrated a pattern of repeated incidents of misconduct in office, after being warned, involving multiple violations of Board policies and rules, and confidentiality provisions."
Dyer said he has 15 days to file exceptions with Koteen's ruling, and said he intends to do so. Should the state comply with Koteen's ruling, he said, he will appeal all the way to the state's highest court, even though the ruling affects only a term that has already expired.
"It has absolutely no affect on my term but a tremendous affect on my reputation," Dyer said. "I have a right to clear my name. Basically, it was a proposed decision that I was guilty of misconduct in office. That's serious stuff.
"It's disappointing, because I feel that administrative law Judge Koteen had sufficient evidence and legal memoranda presented to him to make clear that this was not a proper situation for even conducting an impeachment proceeding, much less recommending an impeachment be upheld."
Said Howard school board chair Frank Aquino: "From the start, this has been an issue related to whether or not the board could govern and have the authority to govern itself. It's nice that the administrative law judge agreed that no single board member can act in contravention of the authority of the entire board."
Aquino said the decision is still key despite the fact that Dyer is no longer on the board.
"It would have been nice if the process could have moved faster, but for a variety of reasons, it didn't," Aquino said. "There were delays in scheduling. I think the state board should still take up the issue and either affirm or in other ways modify the [Koteen's] decision."
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