Saturday, January 07, 2006

It's working! Citizen action groups end school board impunity

The Montgomery County Board of Education can no longer act with the imperial impunity it once enjoyed, thanks to citizen-based advocacy groups that have placed the board under unprecedented scrutiny.

The trend is expected to continue, the Gazette reports.

Mark Adelman of the Montgomery County Civic Federation expects pressure from citizen groups to deepen divisions on the eight-person elected board.

Over the past year or so, the school board has suffered several defeats to what some call secretive and deceptive policies:

1. A federal judge ordered the board to withdraw a sexually explicit video curriculum that included an attractive young woman inserting a condom on a banana;

2. Citizens in the Seven Locks area put up a scrappy and, for the moment, apparently successful fight to prevent Superintendent Weast and the board from turning a thriving elementary school into a high-density housing complex, and

3. The new Montgomery County Inspector General began an investigation into allegations of official corruption in school demolition and construction.

"It’s going to be interesting because the whole board is subject to a lot more scrutiny than it has been in a number of years," Adelman told the Gazette.