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A curious advertisement ran in The Sun last week, seeking candidates for the Baltimore school board. Three terms on the nine-member board are up this summer, and all three of the incumbents -- Anirban Basu, Bob Heck and Buzzy Hettleman -- want to be reappointed.

Yet the ad sought applicants for only one position, that occupied by Hettleman. While it didn't mention him by name, it said candidates "must possess knowledge or experience in the education of children with disabilities." The 1997 legisltion creating the nine-member city school board requires various interest groups to be represented, and Hettleman occupies the seat representing special education students.

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The board is jointly appointed by the mayor and the governor, with applicants vetted by the Maryland State Department of Education. But I'm hearing from multiple sources that Gov. O'Malley is essentially leaving the decisions to Mayor Dixon this year, and Dixon wants to look at candidates to replace Hettleman. A spokesman for the mayor has not responded to my requests for comment.

Hettleman has been an outspoken youth advocate in the city for decades, and he's ruffled plenty of feathers along the way. But what the issue is with him in this case, I don't know. Along with chairman Brian Morris, Hettleman, Basu and Heck are seen as Dr. Alonso's strongest supporters on the board. If the mayor had a problem with the CEO and the reforms he's bringing to Baltimore, it would make sense that she'd want to look at replacements for all three open board seats, not just one.

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