Parents, community members voice concerns about school system, board of education at town hall

ABC2 Report,
By Amy Aubert

HOWARD COUNTY, MD – Two Delegates organized an Education Town Hall after they say the number of concerns that they were hearing about the school system and board of education had gone up.

In the meeting on Tuesday night, the concerns rolled in.

 “I, on average, would have a really bad case of bronchitis and asthma to the point where I would see stars when I was coughing and almost cough myself unconscious,” Nancy Barker, a retired teacher, said.

“I’m being bullied at school,” a second grade girl said, leaning into the microphone set up on the side of the room.

“In spite of the tireless efforts of our overworked teachers and staff, we are going backwards in terms of overcrowding, special education, transparency, accountability, and public input,” a Howard County parent testified.

The issue of mold in some Howard County schools came up several times.

“A teacher, afraid to reach out publicly, reached out to two parents and asked for help wanting to get the word out about a years long mold issue that had been kept from parents,” said Howard County parent, Vicky Cutroneo, of learning about mold in one of the schools earlier this summer.

Many parents spoke about special education not getting the attention and resources needed.

“You’ve already heard some of the horror stories of what it’s like for our children to be students here with a diagnosis of autism,” said a Howard County father.

“The county claims this is in the name of inclusion but it isn’t inclusion to put my child in the back of the classroom with inappropriate materials and having little to no interaction with other children,” a parent told the delegation.

The town hall was organized by Delegates Frank Turner and Warren Miller. Miller told the group he’s heard countless stories of problems with the board of education and school system.

Concerns of teachers being afraid to speak out, the board of education seeming to not listen to parents, budget priorities, and class size all came up.

“I’m disturbed at what I am hearing from parents and what I hear my colleagues and what I have experienced,” a Howard County resident said.
The crowd agreed that students should be the number one priority, saying Tuesday’s meeting was, perhaps, the first step forward.
“Lack of transparency, teacher silence, principals being lap dogs to their boss, Board of Ed members too cozy with the Superintendent, just all smells. And that smell is not mold,” a Howard County parent said.
The Howard County Public School System told the In Focus team on Monday, “We welcome the community’s feedback.” On Wednesday, they said, “Several school system staff members were in attendance to listen and consider the community members’ comments.”
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