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Friedman Weighs in on Ex-Officio Inclusion

July 17th, 2013 by WCBC Radio

A dispute last week between the Allegany County Commissioners and the Board of Education has resulted in a letter from the General Assembly’s legal counsel, but that may not be enough to resolve the issue.  During its regular monthly meeting held last Tuesday, several school board members expressed concern with Commissioner Bill Valentine’s attendance at the board’s executive/or closed sessions. Valentine serves as the county’s representative on the board sitting as the ex-officio non voting member. Specifically the members felt that some of the issues pertaining to students and personnel is  sensitive information that shouldn’t be heard by the ex-officio member. Delegate Leroy Myers, following a request from WCBC’s “Dave Norman Show”, sought an opinion from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.  An opinion was received from Dan Friedman, Counsel for the Maryland General Assembly,  that stated that while the Maryland code clearly says  that the student member of the board is prohibited from attending executive sessions; there is no mention of ex-officio members. Board of Education member Mike Llewellyn was quick to point out that the opinion, while from the state, was not an official Attorney General’s opinion and doesn’t carry the same weight. He said he is perplexed as to the commissioners changing opinions on the entire subject of the ex-officio position. In February the commissioners wanted to abolish the position, saying there was not enough time for a commissioner to attend the board meetings; however six months later the commissioners now want to be able to attend every board session- including the executive ones. Llewellyn says last Tuesday Commissioner Valentine seemed fine with attending the closed sessions except in case where sensitive issues were being discussed- but two days later, he was ready to pursue legal action against the board. Ultimately Llewellyn says it appears to be a political, control issue….


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