A Failure of Leadership
It is with mixed emotions I have decided not to appeal the Frederick County Board of Education’s decision to affirm the policy of Superintendent Theresa Alban to deny parents the right to exempt their children from state testing requirements.
While some of the reasoning in this decision is financial, the majority of my decision is based on what I believe would be the outcome.
Based on the fact the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) conveyed to Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) on multiple occasions that it was up to local school districts to decide how to handle the refusal by parents to allow their children to take state uniform tests. I have no evidence to support the idea that the Maryland State Board of Education would reverse or clarify that statement. I fully believe they would affirm the Frederick Board of Education’s decision. I could spend tens of thousands of dollars to wind up exactly where we are. It’s what bureaucracies do, obfuscate and wear you down until you walk away either exasperated or insane. I believe it’s in their handbook.
If FCPS wants clarification of the items it set forth in its decision, it will have to expend its resources doing it. I won’t do it for our school system. Perhaps it should have sought clarification “before” rendering its decision.
With this out in the open, based on comments made to me by Board President Brad Young, I believe he will begin to weave excuses as to why FCPS cannot create a local policy without MSDE guidance. He will begin the weaving with: “the law prevents,” and end with “no state guidance.”
Obviously the law does not prevent a policy change, because we’ve already done it. If our Board of Education is afraid to stand up for severely disabled, vulnerable special needs children, who exactly will it stand up for? Other than the superintendent, we already get that school board members will fall on a flaming hot poker to rescue Dr. Alban from a bad decision.
This is what local control looks like: us “locally” controlling. Not looking sheepishly to the state.
Parents deserve to have their civil rights affirmed in a Board of Education policy. Enough with the stress-filled uncertainty that permeated the air in Frederick last year during testing season. Create a policy and implement it district-wide so children will no longer be bullied and embarrassed into participating in an assessment test that does nothing for them, and everything for the policy maker$.
Without such a policy, my son Ben, and vulnerable children like Ben, are in danger of having no one able to speak for them. Waffling on the creation of a parent/student refusal policy is sending a message to the Frederick community that our Board of Education members are not concerned with the rights of the parents and student in our schools and aren’t capable of leading under “local” control.
History has shown that bureaucrats like to finger point and hide behind “it was them.” The Board of Education is a bureaucratic body. No one wants to put something on paper they may be held accountable for later. Without a paper trail, they can always deny. This is where the ballot box meets the results.
Dr. Alban doesn’t want a parent refusal policy – that is clear by her actions. She allowed students to be treated differently from school to school and instead of putting her foot down, she continued the inequity and horror even after a lawsuit was filed. Tyrannical?
I have two arrows left in my quiver to fight for parent rights. The first will stay hidden, the remaining arrow is you.
Board members Brad Young, Elizabeth Barrett, April Miller and Colleen Cusimano have all communicated to me that a “local policy” is what we need and what they want. I have my doubts. I’ve no doubt that April Miller wants one because she proved that by dissenting from the decision in my case. The others need to be hounded daily until such time as there “is” a local refusal policy that recognizes that parents have a right to refuse.
They’ve already admitted it in word and deed; remember 22 students did refuse. One was my daughter and I refused for her; she did not refuse on her own. For reasons still lost on me, my disabled son was forced to take a test I had refused for him.
I assure you, if you do not put pressure on this Board of Education both publicly, and in writing, every chance you get, there will be no parent/student refusal policy codifying our right to refuse. They will do the predictable foot dragging until interested individuals start dropping like flies in a Raid cloud.
Who is for you and who is against you? Who among them has it in them to lead?