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Resignation of Harford school board member Tamera Rush creates vacancy in District D

Harford County Board of Education member Tamera Rush announced Monday she would be resigning from her post because she was moving out of her elected district.

Rush, who was elected in the northern Harford County Councilmanic District D in 2018, said she is moving to Havre de Grace after finding her dream home.

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“While this wasn’t a planned move when I took office, the timing with our boys, the house we dreamed over, everything else fell into place,” said Rush, who has been living in Forest Hill with her husband and three children.

The Harford County Council will be tasked with naming Rush’s replacement. It will be the second time in a little over a year that the council will have to replace an elected member to the school board, after having never done so before.

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Board member Kathryn “Kathy” Carmello died in December 2019, necessitating a replacement was named. The council appointed retired Harford Community College teacher Carol Mueller to Carmello’s District C seat in February 2020.

Legislation approved more than 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.

Individuals interested in the seat must be a registered voter of Harford County for at least three years prior to beginning the term of office, and live in Councilmanic District D, according to Maryland law.

District D is the county’s largest, geographically, and includes the communities of Jarrettsville, Norrisville, Whiteford, Street, Dublin, Darlington, Level and Forest Hill, among others.

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Council President Patrick Vincenti, District D Councilman Chad Shrodes and Councilman Curtis Beulah, the council’s liaison to the Board of Education, will interview applicants who meet the criteria once letters of interest have been collected. Vincenti said he was made aware of the issue about two weeks ago, and convened the committee Thursday to bring all involved up to speed.

The committee will forward two or three candidates for the appointment to the county council for approval to finish out Rush’s term. The appointment will only be temporary, Vincenti noted.

“There are probably going to be a lot of people that feel that it is their calling, especially now,” he said. “We look forward to that.”

Vincenti said the opening will be advertised on the Board of Education, council and county websites. Interested parties will have three weeks to submit a letter of intent and a resume to the council administrator Mylia Dixon, which the committee will review. The end date for applications will be Feb. 26, and Vincenti hopes to move candidates to the county council by the end of March or in early April.

Board member Sonja Karwacki said Rush would be sorely missed by her community and her fellow school board members.

“You have demonstrated amazing leadership qualities, it’s no wonder you’re such a proficient and amazing business woman on top of it all,” Karwacki said.

Rush is the president and chief executive officer of government contractor TENAX Technologies, which she founded in 2014. She defeated incumbent Alfred “Al” Williamson, 61% to 38%, to represent northern Harford in the 2018 election and was seated, along with six other new board members, in July 2019. On Monday, she thanked those who elected her to office.

“I hope I served you well in my tenure,” she said.

Rush said she wanted to leave her board colleagues with two thoughts — the first, asking them to continue addressing equity issues in schools and the second regarding working to bring students back to the classroom more than once per week.

“Continue to pressure and push Harford County Public Schools to remove the inherit biases within our schools, there is so much work to do,” Rush said. “This is hard work It will take a long time, and it’s a long-term commitment. I understand it’s a pandemic and there [are] many other issues to work with, but please don’t lose sight of the much needed social justice in our system.”

Shortly before Monday’s meeting when Rush announced her resignation, Superintendent Sean Bulson and HCPS staff released a plan to start bringing students back to school once a week for hybrid learning beginning in March.

“One day a week is not enough, please work with our superintendent to find a way beyond this initial plan,” Rush said. “We need to find a way for those families whose children need to be in school, and my child is one of them.”

Reporter James Whitlow contributed to this article.

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