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Howard County school board member and Foose ally resigns

Wayne Robey, Clerk of the Court, (left) administers the Oath of Office to Howard County Board of Education member Christine O'Connor in 2014. O'Connor resigned Wednesday.
Wayne Robey, Clerk of the Court, (left) administers the Oath of Office to Howard County Board of Education member Christine O'Connor in 2014. O'Connor resigned Wednesday. (Ed Bunyan / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Christine O'Connor said she resigned from the Howard County school board Wednesday, one day after the seven-member panel brought about the departure of Superintendent Renee A. Foose.

A former board chairwoman, O'Connor often sided with Foose and found herself in a voting minority after three new members were elected to the board last year. The election shifted power on the board, and soon Foose and her supporters were locked in a contentious power struggle with the new majority.

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"I will no longer participate in the political nonsense, disruption and disturbances that are taking place with this board," O'Connor said. "My focus has always been on the children; theirs is on politics."

A career teacher, she was elected to the board in 2014 and had one year remaining in her term. She said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman will appoint someone to finish her term.

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"We don't have a candidate yet," said Andy Barth, Kittleman's spokesman.

O'Connor was among the board members who voted last year to renew Foose's four-year contract for $273,000 a year.

"I learned a lot from the job and I very much enjoyed it, while it was productive," O'Connor said. "I was never a negative person and I started to feel myself change. ... I don't like that."

The new majority took over the board in December and passed sweeping measures to assert its authority over Foose. In response, the fifth-year superintendent sued them. While the legal battle played out in court and at public school board meetings, Foose and the school board were quietly negotiating her departure.

She announced her immediate retirement Tuesday.

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