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News Maryland Howard County Ellicott City

Howard BOE accuses member Vaillancourt of confidentiality breach

Howard County Board of Education member Cindy Vaillancourt has been put on notice by her colleagues.

The Board of Education voted 6-2 Thursday to approve a resolution that accuses Vaillancourt of twice breaching the confidentiality of closed sessions within the past year.

According to the resolution, Vaillancourt disclosed "the substance of the Board's deliberations to third parties and by interfering with the conduct of an ongoing Ethics Panel investigation by improperly inserting herself into the Panel's confidential processes."

In a statement following the introduction of the resolution, Vaillancourt called the allegations "nasty politics" 45 days before the primary election, where she is seeking re-election.

"My colleagues know that I have not violated any actual rules, and would likely be moving to have me removed if I had, which makes this public effort to use the assumed credibility of the Board of Education to attempt to defame me, a candidate for the Board of Education, 45 days before the election, an abuse of their office of the worse kind," she said.

After the meeting, Vaillancourt claimed that she had been left out of email communication regarding one ethics panel case, which led her to contact the panel directly for documents relating to the case.

The five-member ethics panel, comprised of county residents, handles ethics complaints involving board members and school system employees or contractors.

Vaillancourt denied any accused wrongdoing, saying the resolution implies that she is the subject of an ethics investigation.

"To imply that I am the subject of some kind of investigation is both outrageous and untrue, and can only be intended to serve base motives," she said.

Vaillancourt and Brian Meshkin voted against passing the resolution.

Meshkin condemned the board's resolution, saying it is an "awful idea" that hurts the integrity of the school board.

Board chairwoman Ellen Flynn Giles called the action a notification that the board is disappointed in Vaillancourt's actions, which she has not ceased, despite prior communication from the board indicating it may take these steps.

Giles acknowledged that she could not comment on the ethics panel case referenced in the resolution since all ethics panel recommendations and discussions are private.

The resolution threatens additional actions if there are further incidents, and Giles said this could include censure or asking the state Board of Education to impeach Vaillancourt.

Giles and fellow school board members Janet SIddiqui, Sandra French and Frank Aquino all served on the board that asked the state board of education to impeach Allen Dyer in 2011 and voted in favor of the action.

Vaillancourt is one of the four candidates this year recommended for the Board of Education by the Howard County Education Association.

Despite the passage of Thursday's resolution, Vaillancourt said it will not impact the way she acts on the board.

"The pressure has been unrelenting, since I came on this board, to conform with their philosophy," she said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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