Baltimore County revises process for candidates running for school board

Liz Bowie
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Just one week before the deadline for candidates to file to run for seats on the Baltimore County School Board, the district has put a revised process in place to make it easier to file.

The original process was complicated by a requirement that candidates’ financial disclosure forms be approved by the school system’s ethics panel before they could file to run.

Candidates have until 9 p.m. on Feb. 27 to file with the county Board of Elections for the first ever school board election. Currently, board members are appointed by the governor. In 2014, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law creating a hybrid board to be elected in 2018. Of the 12 positions on the board, 7 will now be elected, and 5 appointed by the governor, including one student member.

Candidates can’t complete the filing process, however, until after the ethics review panel has confirmed they have properly completed financial disclosure forms. But ethics panel meets just once a month and its last meeting before the filing deadline was Thursday, Feb. 15. This effectively made it impossible for anyone who decided to file for the election after the 15th to actually do so.

The school system has now amended the process. From now until Feb. 26 at 4:30 pm, candidates who file financial disclosure statements with the ethics panel will get a receipt letter saying they filed the form but it has not been reviewed. Candidates can then use the receipt to file with the Board of Elections.

On Monday a member of the ethics panel will review the forms of those who have filed since Feb. 15.

All candidates who file on Feb. 27 before 4:30 pm must first go to school system headquarters to fill out the ethics disclosure form and get a receipt, and then go to the Board of Elections office. After 4:30 pm when the school system closes, candidates can go to directly to the Board of Elections, where ethics panel members will be on hand call to issue receipts by email to allow candidates to file until the 9 p.m. deadline.

State Del. Stephen Lafferty, a Democrat representing Baltimore County, said he is disappointed in how the school system handled the process of getting financial disclosure reports reviewed. He said the process wasn’t open and direct and made it more difficult for candidates.

“I would like anyone who is interested to maintain their excitement and not be discouraged if they wanted to run,” he said.

He said media coverage of the confusion has not helped encourage people to run for school board. The Sun has reported the concern that people had about the rules before they were changed.

As of last week, six candidates had filed to run in six of the seven council districts that will have one elected school board member each. No one had filed to represent the third council district which is northern Baltimore County.

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