The Maryland State Board of Education has decided to uphold an administrative law judge's conclusion that former Howard County Board of Education member Allen Dyer did commit misconduct in office, which is grounds for removal from his seat.
The state board's opinion was issued Tuesday, May 21, nearly two years after the Howard board voted to ask the state remove Dyer from his seat, and more than a year after Dyer fell short in the 2012 primary, losing his bid for re-election and rendering any removal decision moot.
Over the course of 10 days, spread over three months in summer 2012, Dyer argued his case to Administrative Law Judge Douglas Koteen. In December 2012, Koteen ultimately decided Dyer's behavior did constitute the misconduct the Howard board alleged. The state board can remove a member of a county board for immorality, misconduct in office, incompetency or willful neglect of duty.
In its opinion, the state board acknowledged that since Dyer lost his bid for re-election during the process, the "occurrence raises a question concerning our jurisdiction to hear and decide this case, as well as the question of mootness," however "the fact that we could not order removal from office, in our view, does not deprive us of jurisdiction to decide the misconduct issue."
The state board agreed with Koteen that Dyer's behavior did constitute misconduct, including his releasing of confidential information regarding a student appeal and attorney-client privileged advice, and surreptitiously taping public and private discussions among Howard board members, among other charges.
"Mr. Dyer's failure to respect rules and laws and his refusal to comply with positions adopted by the board with which he disagreed undermined the ability of the county board members to work with and rely on him," the state board said in its opinion.
During the proceedings at the administrative law office, Dyer also initiated a case in county Circuit Court against the state board to halt the proceedings, which was dismissed. Dyer appealed that decision to the Court of Special appeals. A hearing in that case is set for next month.
Dyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Howard Board Chairman Frank Aquino said that while he has not yet read the entire decision, he was pleased the state board agreed with Koteen, and the Howard board, in finding Dyer's actions constituted misconduct.
"From the start, this case has been about following the law, and a local board's right and ability to govern itself," Aquino said. "The state board decision today confirmed that right and I am pleased with the result. It has been a long journey."