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The Harford County Council has an unprecedented task in front of them: replacing a sitting member of the Board of Education.

The vacancy on the school board was created by the untimely death of sitting board member Kathryn “Kathy” Carmello last month, and the council is charged with appointing her successor.

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“The council has never had to replace a sitting board member before,” said Patrick Vincenti, president of the Harford County Council.

Legislation approved over a decade ago changed the make-up of the Harford County Board of Education from a nine-member board appointed entirely by the governor to a hybrid board consisting of six elected members representing a specific geographic district and three appointed members.

Included in that legislation was a provision that charged the County Council with filling vacancies on the school board.

Vincenti said the council is working with the school system as well as local PTAs to get the word out about the vacancy and legal advertisements for the position will appear in The Aegis and The Baltimore Sun.

Anyone interested in the position must provide a letter of interest by Jan. 28.

Interested parties must be a registered voter of Harford County for at least three years prior to beginning the term of office, according to Maryland law.

They must also be a resident of councilmanic District C. The district is made up of parts of Bel Air and Forest Hill.

Once the letters of interest have been collected, a group consisting of Vincenti, Councilmen Tony Giangiordano and Curtis Beulah will set up interviews with every applicant who meets those two requirements.

Giangiordano is the councilman for District C and Beulah is the County Council’s liaison to the Board of Education.

“We are developing a line of questions so that we can ask each individual the same question and have them evaluated on that,” Vincenti said.

Vincenti said the council’s attorney, administrator and his legislative aide will also likely be part of the initial process.

Board of Education President Jansen Robinson and the school board’s attorney, Patrick Spicer, were part of an initial meeting Tuesday at the council chambers to discuss the process, but Vincenti said because choosing a new board member is “a council charge,” those two likely won’t be part of the initial interviewing process.

That first group will then narrow the pool to “three or four” individuals, Vincenti said, then bring those people before the full council, so it has an opportunity to meet and interview each of them.

"We want to try to find someone that has the same interest and passion for the children and for education as a whole in Harford County that Kathy Carmello had," he said.

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It is unclear whether those interviews before the council will be open to the public.

“I don’t know that we’ve decided that yet,” Vincenti said. "In order for us to have the entire council sit before the public, it’s got to be advertised, and we would have to have a special session for that.

"I have to talk to the council attorney to see how the final interview would be done."

He hopes for the process to be completed by the council’s Feb. 18 meeting, possibly the week before that, but said “it depends on the amount of applicants we receive.”

Individuals interested in the vacancy must send a letter of intent by 5 p.m. Jan. 28. The letter may be emailed as an attachment to mdixon@harfordcountycouncil.com or mailed to: Mylia A. Dixon, Council Administrator, 212 S. Bond St., Bel Air, MD 21014.

Carmello died Dec. 23 due to complications during heart surgery. She began her term on the Harford County Public Schools Board of Education in July.

Prior to being elected to the school board, Carmello had worked for the school system for 15 years, having served as its governmental relations liaison, prior to her 2017 retirement.

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