Friday, March 24, 2006

Council Member Praisner has a good point about parameters. Here's how to set them.

Some County Council members understand the Kendale issue, but are concerned about setting a precedent that would override the impositions of the separately-elected Board of Education, or trample the rights of local communities.

"What you are suggesting that we do - by voting on Mr. Denis' resolution - is not to just reject the Board's recommendation, but to impose, maybe what the community wants, but impose it from the County level," Council Vice President Marilyn Praisner , pictured, told Seven Locks-area witnesses at a March 21 hearing.

According to the Sentinel, Council President George Leventhal also expressed unease at setting such a precedent. (As did fellow councilmember Michael Subin, who goes further by saying that even the Inspector General has no right to review the school system.)

"There may be significant rationale for why this is an extraordinary situation," Praisner continued. "But the question becomes how does one draw the parameters such that you protect some other community that might come inside here and say, 'County council, do not impose your view.'"

Fair enough.

Let's work together and draw the parameters to protect the communities from county imposition.

Here's an opening suggestion:

1. When a community feels that the school board and MCPS are imposing their will irrespective of the community's opposition,

2. When the administrative, political and legal structure of the county deprives the community of the ability to act on its own in defense against the imposition,

3. When serious and credible allegations of official school board/MCPS misconduct are involved in the course of imposing on the community,

4. When MCPS repeatedly used false pretenses to mislead the County Council that levies the taxes and appropriates the MCPS budget from which the imposition is funded,

5. When scores of witnesses in two sets of hearings unanimously oppose the MCPS imposition and ask the County Council for relief, and

6. When the community's elected representative on the Council introduces a compromise amendment to resolve the issue quickly and fairly,

The Council can defend the community at the community's request from the county school board's imposition.

The Council can thus impose the Denis Amendment compromise: build a large, consolidated school that MCPS wanted but the Seven Locks PTA did not request, but build it on the site that the Seven Locks PTA wanted but MCPS did not (even though it originally did).

The Council - which holds the power of the purse on such matters - therefore is neither imposing on the community or other communities, nor is it encroaching on the Board of Education's decision to build a much larger, consolidated school.

To the contrary. It's supporting the board's decision to build the school, while supporting the affected community.