Group collects 3,800 signatures in protest of 4 school officials


A Carroll County-based advocacy group has collected 3,800 signatures - less than half of its goal - on petitions demanding the removal of two top school administrators and two school board members.

Upset with what they called the arrogance and improper oversight in the school system, members of the Group for Accountability in Government and Industry circulated two petitions: one for the removal of Superintendent William H. Hyde and Assistant Superintendent Vernon F. Smith Jr.; the other for the ouster of school board President C. Scott Stone and member Gary W. Bauer, who served as board president last year.

"It is time for the commissioners to take action ... and fire them with haste ...," said Marcel J. van Rossum, a South Carroll resident who led the petition drive. "It's time to clean house, and with our petitions, we give the commissioners the backing of its citizens to do just that."

The county commissioners, however, have no authority to fire school employees or elected school board members.

Van Rossum said his group also will alert state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and state education officials to the petitions, which represent about 2 percent of Carroll's 150,000 residents. Their endorsements included 622 national members of the advocacy group.

The group had hoped to collect 10,000 signatures.

"It's still a pretty good number for a lethargic county, and something that was a completely grass-roots effort," van Rossum said.

He said many residents were unaware of problems in Carroll's school construction department that have embroiled the school system in lawsuits and a grand jury investigation for the past year.

School officials have declined to comment on the petitions. Bauer said there's no recall provision in Maryland law to remove elected school board members.

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