Educators to School Board: Fix Internal Conflicts
Howard County Education President Paul Lemle to read into the meeting record a letter requesting the school board to seek external help to work out its problems.
At tonight's Board of Education meeting, Howard County Education Association President Paul Lemle plans to ask board members to seek external help to fix what he thinks are incapacitating personality conflicts.
Last week, HCEA representatives passed a resolution directing Lemle to write a letter to the board, suggesting they solicit the services of either the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center at Howard County Community College or the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.
Both organizations offer mediation services or professional training that would be available free of cost to the school board, Lemle said. Lemle has said he believes conflicts among school board members are getting in the way of governing.
School board President Sandra French disagreed with that assessment, saying the board does need to seek legal advice on the particular issue of allowing board members to participate in meetings from remote locations.
Earlier this month, French told Patch that it has been a priority of hers to run meetings according to Robert's Rules of Parliamentary Procedure, and to have more efficient and civil meetings.
"Do I think we have improved? Yes," she said. "Do we have room for more improvement? Yes, we do."
However, if the school board were to seek outside mediation assistance, the Howard County Community College center stands ready.
Kathy Rockefeller, director of the mediation center, said its services are available to anyone with a connection to Howard County.
A group of nearly 140 trained volunteers offer mediation and group facilitation to people and organizations requesting the center's help, she said.
The school board would likely utilize group facilitation, should members seek assistance from the center, Rockefeller said.
There are three tenants to mediation and group facilitation, according to Rockefeller.
"All parties must volunteer to participate, the process must remain confidential and the center remains neutral," Rockefeller said.
With a group as large as the school board, Rockefeler said two to three sessions would likely be necessary to work through the issues.
If more sessions would be needed, the board would likely be referred to an organization that charges for its services.
"We are a volunteer organization, and we don't want to burden our volunteers and we want them to be available for other groups and individuals that might need them," Rockefeller said.
7:30 p.m., Howard County Public School System headquarters, 10910 Rt. 108, Ellicott City