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After election, Mavis Ellis remains chair of Howard school board, Vicky Cutroneo is vice chair

Over the course of two meetings and four tied votes to elect new Howard County Board of Education leadership, Chairwoman Mavis Ellis is remaining in her role as chair, despite not receiving the requisite five votes.

Board member Vicky Cutroneo was elected as the new vice chairwoman after previously being nominated for chairwoman. Cutroneo withdrew her name from being considered for chair after Tuesday’s two tied votes. She thanked her fellow board members for their support.

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After Cutroneo withdrew her nomination and with no additional board members being nominated, schools Superintendent Michael Martirano declared Ellis as chair.

“Since there’s only one person nominated [for chair], I cast a ballot for the group and declare Mavis Ellis duly elected to be the chair of Board of Education for Howard County,” Martirano said.

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During the Dec. 5 school board meeting, the eight board members, including student member Allison Alston, attempted to vote for a chair to hold leadership for the next year until December 2020.

However, after voting twice, the board was locked in a standstill between Ellis and Cutroneo, each receiving four votes.

The same scenario occurred Tuesday, with two tied votes coming in for Ellis and Cutroneo each as chair.

Ellis was nominated by board member Sabina Taj, and former Vice Chairwoman Kirsten Coombs nominated Cutroneo. Taj and Coombs nominated Ellis and Cutroneo, respectively, again Tuesday.

OnDec. 5, several board members expressed their support in having a chair who is not running in the upcoming 2020 election. Ellis’ seat is up in November, while Cutroneo is on the board until 2022. Cutroneo has publicly said numerous times she will not seek reelection in 2022.

Ellis announced before the second tied vote Thursday that she is not seeking reelection in 2020. She has been on the school board since 2016.

After Tuesday’s vote, Ellis said she will work with all her board members despite not being chosen unanimously.

Board member Jennifer Mallo nominated Cutroneo for the vice chair position Tuesday.

The Baltimore County school board ran into its own issues electing new leadership earlier this month. A special session, held two days after the board failed to elect new leadership, did not produce new results. In the end, Kathleen Causey remained chairwoman and Julia Henn as vice chairwoman.

Despite neither receiving the required seven votes under board policy, they remained in their positions. The board’s counsel cited Maryland common law as the reasoning.

Baltimore Sun Media reporter Cody Boteler contributed to this article.

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