The following is the text of the letter I received in the mail Friday, April, 24, 2009. As far as possible I have confirmed that the events outlined have occurred and have been reported to the HCPSS, the Superintendent and The BOE.
I cannot understand why Dr. Cousin did not take firm and swift steps to address this abuse of position. It is my hope that the Board of Education will take their responsibility to the teachers, students and taxpayers of this county seriously and make it clear that the HCPSS Central Office is not the personal throne of any individual, and cannot be used for personal gain by removing the offender.
To Whom It May Concern:
Several weeks ago an incident took place that should cause great concern
among the taxpayers of Howard County and all those who value the integrity of
public education in the State of Maryland. A high ranking member of
Superintendent Sydney Cousin’s personal staff used the power of his position to
make a grade change happen for a member of his own family. The family
member, a student at Marriotts Ridge High School, had been academically
ineligible to participate in spring sports but was made eligible by the grade
change. The grade change was done over the objection of the teacher involved
and was done solely to make the student eligible for spring sports.
The conduct of the staff member, incredibly the Superintendent’s Legal Council
Mark Blom, violated every concept of civility that Howard County government
has embraced and sworn to uphold. Upon learning of a grade his family member
received that was unacceptable, Mr. Blom stormed off to Marriotts Ridge and
demanded to meet with the teacher. The teacher was pulled out of the
classroom during the school day, without notice or an appointment, and she was
harassed and intimidated by Mr. Blom to the point of being in fear for her job.
The teacher objected to the grade change so Mr. Blom conspired with the
principal at Marriotts Ridge, Patrick Sanderson, to get the grade changed
without the teacher’s approval. The principal, rather than supporting his own
teacher, agreed to the grade change and put the change into effect. This is not
the first time this principal has changed a grade for a member of the Howard
County government over the objection of the teacher. In the most recent case,
the family member of Mr. Blom is a chronic truant yet the principal has taken no
disciplinary action whatsoever against the student. There are two standards at
Marriotts Ridge, one for the high ranking government officials that the principal
wants to appease, and a second for everyone else. This leaves the staff in the
position of knowing that grades or disciplinary policies, no matter how deserving,
will not be supported by the principal if they are less than what certain “important”
parents feel are appropriate. This must not be allowed to continue.
Six years ago similar situations at Centennial and Oakland Mills High Schools
resulted in the discipline and dismissal of several school system employees.
Those unfortunate times should have taught everyone a lesson about what will
and will not be tolerated in our public schools. This situation is far worse as it
involves a member of the Superintendent’s own staff intimidating an employee.
Mr. Blom is supposed to be advising the Superintendent on the legality of policy
matters but he doesn’t feel those same policies apply to him. Please use the
power of the internet to inform the citizens of Howard County what their school
system is up to and do not let Mr. Blom to continue to act in this manner.
Howard County Teachers United For Civility