Two plainclothes sheriff's deputies will be a permanent presence at county school board meetings -- in a move the sheriff's department says is no more than a courtesy to public officials.

Undersheriff Patrick Ogle said Sheriff Robert Peppersack is concerned about public safety and offered the department's services to all county agencies.

"One of the things the sheriff's department does well is provide security," he said.

He said the school board has received no threats. No incidents, he said, prompted the added security.

"Peppersack offered the service," Bill Scott said, assistant superintendent foradministration. "We felt we did not need the service, but we will have deputies at each day and night board meeting."

Ogle said a half-dozen letters were sent to county agencies offering the services andprotection of the county sheriff's department.

According to Ogle,C. Berry Carter, deputy superintendent of county schools, met with him and agreed to the plan.

Carter could not be reached for comment.

"The sheriff's department is here to help, with the police department being as busy as they are," Ogle said.

So far, the county school board has been the only group to takethe department up on its offer. County Council Chairwoman Virginia Clagett turned down the offer, Ogle said.

Peppersack said the idea came from County Executive Robert R. Neall.

"In an informal setting, Neall suggested it," he said.

Louise Hayman, Neall's spokeswoman, yesterday said Neall did not make that suggestion.

The added security presence of two plainclothes officers during yesterday's school board meeting is in addition to a paid security guard at the front entrance of the Board of Education on Riva Road in Annapolis.

Staff writer Dianne Williams Hayes contributed to this story

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