Governor names former lawyer for teachers union to state school board; Levin, 68, spent 10 years as MSTA representative


Gov. Parris N. Glendening has appointed a longtime lawyer for the Maryland State Teachers Association to the state school board.

The appointment -- as well as the reappointment of two current school board members and a new student member -- was included in the governor's "green bag" sent to the Senate last week for its approval.

The lawyer, Walter S. Levin, 68, of Randallstown, was appointed to join the board July 1, the day after state board president Edward Andrews is scheduled to leave. Andrews has served two four-year terms and is not eligible to be reappointed.

Levin retired in July after more than a decade as the in-house lawyer for the state's largest teachers union -- a group that is one of the governor's closest political allies. Before being hired by the MSTA, Levin said he worked in various Baltimore law firms, specializing in education law.

Levin said he does not anticipate that his prior position will cause any conflict, adding that the union's advocacy positions were separate from the legal work he performed and it is unlikely any appeals he worked on would come before the board.

"If there was such an issue that would pose a conflict, I would, of course, recuse myself," Levin said.

The student appointed to a one-year term by the governor is Aaron Merki, 16, a junior at Maurice J. McDonough High School in Charles County. He will join the board in July, replacing David M. Iseminger of Washington County.

The two board members reappointed by the governor are Philip S. Benzil of Westminster and John Wisthoff of Pasadena. Their terms were to expire June 30.

Also yesterday, Benzil was elected board vice president -- but only after members deadlocked in two secret ballots for the position. Neither Benzil nor board member Raymond V. "Buzz" Bartlett was able to secure seven votes from the 11 board members present at yesterday's meeting, and Bartlett withdrew after the second deadlocked vote.

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