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Protect our parklandFrom: James MartinPresidentSevern River AssociationSince...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Protect our parkland

From: James Martin

President

Severn River Association

Since 1989, the Severn River Association has followed with keen interest the disposition of excessed land at Fort Meade in western Anne Arundel County.

The Fort Meade Coordinating Council, appointed by the Anne Arundel county executive, after carefully reviewing all proposals, including one for a 500-acre county park from the Anne Arundel county chairman, recommended in 1990 transferring all 9,000 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Refuge.

After an initial 7,600 acres was approved by Congress for transfer, County Executive [Robert R.] Neall appeared in 1991 before the Coordinating Council to request that some 500 acres of the remaining 1,400 acres be taken by Anne Arundel County for development as a recreational park.

The Coordinating Council again rejected this concept because of the environmental sensitivity of the parcel west of Bald Eagle Drive, and reiterated its recommendation to transfer this additional acreage to U.S. Fish and Wildlife. This was subsequently approved by Congress and is to be completed this summer.

More recently, a West County Park Committee was established on recommendation of the Coordinating Council, composed of citizens, environmental and civic leaders, and members of the Anne Arundel County Recreation Advisory Board, to investigate all potential sites for recreational and park needs of this growing part of our county.

Last month, their report was released, recommending no development of any U.S. Fish and Wildlife acreage. They pointed to an excess of 1,000 acres, both privately and publicly owned, in Western County that would be more appropriate for such use.

In particular, the committee cited a 150-acre parcel in the eastern end of the remaining excessed Fort Meade land (Area C) which might well serve as appropriate site for a county recreational site. It is important that our county executive understand that time is of the essence with respect to this remaining Fort Meade land, and that the committee recommended "prompt action prior to September 1992."

On behalf of our 107 constituent civic organizations, the Severn River Association voted at its July 21, 1992, meeting to call on County Executive Neall to:

1. Stop wasting time and money on any ill-advised effort to develop any acreage of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Patuxent Wildlife Refuge and Research Center.

2. Immediately initiate negotiations with the Army (Gerald F. Bresee, Supervisor Realty Specialty, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, P.O. Box 175, Baltimore, Md. 21203; 410-962-3550) to assess availability and appropriateness of any of the remaining 900 acres of excessed Fort Meade land for transfer to Anne Arundel County for use as a county park.

3. Actively pursue all other recommendations of the West County Parks Committee from their report of June 1992.

4. Take appropriate steps to amend the County Adequate Facilities ordinance to require developers to set aside sufficient land for both preservation and passive use, as well as active recreational use by new residents.

It is our firm conviction that the 8,100 acres of Fort Meade land that has been transferred to U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Patuxent Wildlife Refuge is the closest thing our county has to a national park and should be rigorously protected from any attempt at development, be it private or public.

Another parent's view

From: Steve Segraves

Crownsville

I am a member of that small group of unethical parents with their own agenda to which the author of "In defense of principal" refers in her letter to you of July 22, 1992. A response to that letter would be appropriate.

1. I have not heard a single parent call for the termination, punishment, or even the transfer of Mr. Shubert. That very point was made at the July 7 meeting referred to in "In defense."

The decision to transfer Mr. Shubert was made by the Board of Education, possibly at his request. If a "small group of parents with their own agenda" caused the BOE to transfer a principal, that does not speak well of the process. One of the issues that concerned parents from Millersville, Brock Bridge, and other communities are addressing is the transfer/assignment of school administrators without adequate input from the entire community.

2. The July 7 meeting was not a general PTA meeting, but a meeting for concerned members of the community to exchange information and discuss issues of concern for our school that had arisen over the past few weeks, to include the unexpected transfer of Mr. Shubert.

All this was explained at the beginning of this public meeting (no one was turned away, including a reporter for the Sun). One would think a "small group of parents with their own agenda" would have been better served having their meeting at a parent's home.

Seven teachers from Millersville (a small group of teachers with their own agenda) did attend this public meeting. They were given ample opportunity to air their views and concerns. A number of parents and teachers had very positive things to say )) about Mr. Shubert and the parents from Brock Bridge were grateful for this input.

Of greater concern to many parents, and I would hope at least some of the teachers, was a difficult situation that our fourth grade had endured during the past school year. A question that arose from this discussion was how such a situation could have continued over such a period of time with no one in a position of authority aware of or responding to the problem. A teacher contended that Mr. Shubert was aware of the problem and had attempted to deal with it but had received no support from his superiors.

3. If a principal or teacher is transferring into a new school, it would seem natural that the rest of the faculty would ask if anyone knew the transferee and if anyone did, it would seem natural to ask about the transferee -- habits, competence, etc. No one would characterize this as unethical behavior.

And if negative comments were made about the transferee during this discussion, no one would be accused of slander. For instance, it is not slanderous to relate that this past year at Millersville a student who had just returned from a suspension broke a window in the Music Room and many parents, and some teachers were disappointed with the principal's response to this act.

Speaking for children

From: Donna Linkins

Crownsville

In respect to all the parents involved, this letter is in response to the letter, "In defense of principal," July 22, 1992. Several pieces of information were misrepresented. I feel it is time that we get our facts straight.

The July 7 meeting at Crofton Library was in no way a PTA-sponsored meeting. It was a meeting of parents to express our concerns and discuss personnel changes at Millersville School for 1992-1993 school year.

Mr. Shubert's personality is not the question of this situation. The questions are: Did he report abuse charges in a timely manner? Where was Mr. Shubert when many parents were questioning the educational qualities of this fourth grade teacher?

My question to all teachers present is: Where were you when my child was not getting the proper education to prepare him for this September? Where were you when students were being called dumb, stupid and other names that could not possibly be printed?

These teachers were aware of what was going on because at the July 7 meeting, I recall one faculty member saying, "He [Mr. Shubert] inherited this problem and now he is being punished for it."

I would like these teachers to understand that I only want the best education for my and other children. I believe that as a parent I am entitled to that right.

Am I unethical because I saw something not right and reported it to the proper people? Am I unethical because I care about my children? If any teacher can answer "yes" to these questions, then I admit that I am unethical.

Because Mr. Shubert stayed at a chorus function at a mall on a school night that ran late and then carried home 50 folders -- does that justify a good administrator? What about all the families who attended with their children and got home late and had to prepare their child for the next day of school? That is expected of us because they are our children -- but we are not considered wonderful!

The fact that Mr. Shubert got the art teacher new stools and tables -- does that make him a good administrator? What about the $43,000 raised by the PTA during the past two years to buy many items, including the two new high-speed copiers that the faculty had to have?

But since only four faculty belong to our PTA, I guess this is exactly what is expected of our school community. We have a wonderful volunteer program that put forth a terrific effort to help each and every faculty member in this school.

I do not apologize for the changes in Millersville School as a result of meeting on June 9 with several members of the Board of Education. Obviously, someone down on Riva Road felt that changes were due. I wish that the teachers questioning these changes were at the meeting to hear the horror stories I heard, all the things that happened to 9- and 10-year-old children who had no choice but to experience it.

As a parent, I feel someone had to answer for what has been done to my child.

Closing ranks?

From: Dianne Osborn

Crownsville

I would like to set forth the following facts to correct information contained in Ms. Hudak's letter of this week ["In defense of principal," July 22, 1992, Anne Arundel County Sun.]

I am one of the small group of unethical parents with my own agenda referred to in her letter.

The July 7 meeting at the Crofton Library was not a PTA function. A good thing, too, inasmuch as only five of our faculty members are members of our PTA.

As parent and PTA board member, I would be elated to see such interest displayed by our faculty for any evening event, fund-raiser participation, science fair, etc. Our children lack faculty support in all of these areas.

The "agenda" was an exchange of information and discussion of issues pertinent to the pending Board of Education and criminal investigation of fourth-grade teacher and Mr. Shubert's removal to Brock Bridge School. Brock Bridge parents, upon their request, attended to glean information.

It is interesting that it is bothersome to Millersville faculty and other higher-ups at the BOE that communication is taking place among school communities and that we are gathering information with which to form our own opinions -- taking the initiative and not having those opinions of BOE shoved down our throats.

The issue, and only issue, at hand presently is the alleged abusive situation that existed in our fourth grade during the 1991-92 school year.

At a June 9 meeting with Dr. Wilhoyte and Mrs. Collinson, parents left, sickened at the stories told by some 10 to 15 parents of incidents of verbal and physical abuse by a fourth-grade teacher.

These incidents, with specific times and dates set forth, allegedly took place over the majority of the school year. Can you imagine! Although written complaints to Shubert in March went unheeded, police were finally called to the school on June 10 -- less than 24 hours after the saga unfolded to Dr. Wilhoyte. Investigations by county police have resulted in three charges of assault and battery against this fourth-grade teacher.

R. Neil Turner offered what I consider a meager defense of Mr. Shubert, saying that "he inherited a bad situation and now he is being punished for it." Pray tell Mr. Shubert would try to remedy this situation! (Mr. Turner was allowed to rearrange third-grade curriculum seven weeks into the school year, thus causing great upheaval.)

Another teacher, Shirley Miller, announced that she had great support for Mr. Shubert: "He leaves me alone and lets me run things the way I want." Are these the practices the mark of a good administrator? Could it be that some faculty would have to change their ways or be put on task with a new boss -- and that is where the source of their dismay really lies?

Ms. Hudak, the fact that Shubert carried your chorus folders and provided sticks of furniture for our art teacher doesn't a good administrator make. Nor does it provide a safe and healthy environment for my child.

Most distressing is the fact that a number of these faculty members who rose to Shubert's defense at the Crofton and Brock Bridge meetings have made disparaging remarks about Shubert to myself and other parent volunteers during the course of the school year. Teachers have confided to myself and others that Mrs. Snyder hasn't belonged in a classroom for years. Ah, professional loyalty!

My question remains: Did administrators and faculty, out of professional loyalty, turn their heads to the situation at )( Millersville? After the revelations of the June 9 meeting, are they turning their heads now -- defending an administrator who allegedly knew of these offenses and did nothing?

This "swarm" of professional loyalty, the closing of ranks, makes it even more clear that I must advocate for my child. It is apparent that no one else will. Board employees at all levels should get comfortable with parental presence in all arenas to ensure proper instruction for our children, as well as their physical and emotional safety.

To BOE officials who think parents and children have no rights and who find it incredulous that we question your judgment -- get used to it!

You will be hearing from us.

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