School board may be near decision on ombudsman post BALTIMORE COUNTY

The Baltimore County school board said last night that it may decide next week on an independent task force recommendation to establish an ombudsman position.

President Alan Leberknight told teachers union officials that the ombudsman is one of three task force suggestions the board still is considering.


"I am hopeful that by the next school board meeting [8 p.m. Tuesday], we'll have more to say on the ombudsman," he said at a meeting with the board of directors of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County (TABCO).

He said the board also will consider the two other suggestions at that time:


* Adding at least six more members to the citizens' advisory committee on special education.

* Increasing training for administrators who evaluate other school employees.

The two boards came together quietly to discuss many of the issues that have divided them for the past six months: task force recommendations, inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms, personnel evaluations and internal communications. It was the first of four such meetings scheduled this year, said TABCO President Ray Suarez, who conducted the meeting; last year, the boards met once.

The two groups did perhaps avert one communication problem when they discussed a recent memo on evaluations. TABCO members understood the directive calling for annual feedback for all tenured teachers to signal a policy change. Those teachers now are evaluated in writing every other year.

However, Superintendent Stuart Berger said it looked like another failure to communicate -- something for which he and his administration have been criticized repeatedly. Dr. Berger said he was not calling for formal annual evaluations, but for regular feedback for all teachers.

"I think we're on the same page on this one," Dr. Berger said. "My position is that everybody is entitled to feedback every year."