The Unusual Case of Allen Dyer
If successful, this would be the first time in Maryland that an elected official is removed from the school board.
If the State Board of Education accepts the Howard County School Board’s request to have Allen Dyer removed from his seat on the board;
And if, after a hearing, which Dyer has said he will request, the State Board finds it appropriate to remove him from his seat;
And if, after a review of the State Board’s decision, the Circuit Court of Howard County agrees;
Then, according to lawyers and state officials, the Howard County School Board would be the first in Maryland to remove an elected school board official from his or her seat.
“I think that the idea of having the state board, which is an appointed board, removing a member of a board that is elected makes for a difficult situation,” Dyer said in an interview with Patch.
Last week, the school board passed a resolution asking for the State Board of Education to remove Dyer from his seat. Once the request is officially filed, according to the Maryland State Code, Dyer will receive a copy of the charges against him and will have 10 days to request a hearing.
Legally, the State Board can remove a sitting board member for immorality; misconduct in office; incompetency; or willful neglect of duty.
Dyer has made what some call a career of suing the board over what he sees is an important cause—the need for more openness by the board in its discussions and votes. The board has called Dyer's litigation a distraction that has impeded the board's ability to do its job. A formal complaint to the ethics committee that he misused his power was dismissed last month and the board followed suit, taking no action.
But board members say they are being impeded by Dyer's litigation, and recent actions have driven the board to take this most unusual step.
"The tipping point was the revelation of confidential information," board member Ellen Flynn Giles said. Dyer was accused of leaking confidential information when he posted a copy of the ethics complaint against him and again when he released information regarding the decision of the ethics committee.
"It is extremely wearing," Giles said. "It makes it impossible… to trust, I suppose. And that’s difficult."
In the resolution passed by the School Board, Dyer was said to have “repeatedly breached confidentiality provisions that he is obligated, either legally or ethically, to preserve as a member of the Board of Education;” “acted in ways that undermined the functioning of the Board of Education;” and “used his position in ways designed to further his personal litigation against the Board of Education,” among other items.
It is not clear, however, precisely what actions the accusations are pointing to, something about which Dyer has expressed concerns.
“The thing that seems particularly unusual here is that the charges, if you want to call them charges, the resolution is nothing but conclusory language,” he said. “What are the charges?”
Janet Bresler, counsel for the School Board, said that she and School Board Chairwoman Janet Siddiqui are working together on the official document, which will be sent to the State Board of Education.
“[I] anticipate that the request to the state board will have some examples” of specific actions that the board believes merit Dyer being unseated, Bresler said.
“At some point [the charges] will be public information.”
Although the rules are laid out in the State Code, the process is unfamiliar to everyone from the county level up to the state; “unusual but not unprecedented” is the phrase repeated often.
In fact, there has been just one similar case cited by Bresler, but it had some important differences. In Calvert County, an appointed school board member–not an elected one—was removed from the board. In that case, the governor, not the State Board of Education, officially removed the board member.
“There are many unknowns,” Siddiqui said. “This whole process is going to take some time in terms of going to the Board [of Education].”
The official request may be sent to the state sometime next week, Bresler said, but no firm date has been set.