A parent advocate has filed for the Board of Education, seeking to bring local control to the school system.
Cindy Rose, who ran for school board in 2016, is seeking one of four seats on the board this year. Rose advanced through the primary in 2016, but finished fourth in the general election behind current board members Mike Bunitsky, Ken Kerr and Joy Schaefer. Rose also ran in 2012 but fell short in the primary.
“I just haven’t seen anything changing,” Rose said of her decision to run. “Teachers are still overburdened, and students are still over-tested.”
Rose has been deeply involved, and often critical, of Frederick County Public Schools ever since finding out her son, Ben, who has cerebral palsy, had been riding on a bus that did not have air conditioning, which can be dangerous for students like him.
Rose threatened to sue the school system, which she said made the district take action and make sure all buses transporting special education students had air conditioning.
Rose did end up suing the school in 2014 because she argued that her daughter, Grace, should not have to take the Maryland School Assessment, and that Rose should be able to refuse standardized tests on her daughter’s behalf. The case ended up being dismissed, but emails show that she worked out a deal with Brunswick High School that allows Grace to not have to take the test, but also not express refusal.
“I like the suggestion ‘Grace, it’s our understanding your parents have barred you from participating?’ To which she will answer ‘yes’ and you can take her to the designated area, or whatever procedure you have created,” an email from Brunswick High School Principal Michael Dillman in May 2017 showed.
But Rose wants to take that a step further. In her platform for the board, she is adamant about restoring local control to the board and not allowing the state to mandate what a local school system does.
“It’s going to take someone to stand up to the state and say we’re not going to tolerate this amount of testing,” Rose said. “If our school board wants to, it can tell the state we’re going to do away with testing. We can do that. But I don’t think anyone currently on the board has the will to do that.”
Rose has advocated for legislation currently in the Maryland General Assembly dubbed “Ben’s Rule,” which would allow parents to refuse on behalf of their children if that child has a disability and is nonverbal.
“Ben can’t do one plus one, but he’s taking a test that requires him to know algebra,” Rose said. “He’s just never going to know this stuff. And to require him take that test is humiliating.”
Along with eliminating testing mandates, Rose wants to increase the amount of enrichment going on in the classrooms. She said school systems need to get back to implementing classes that make students interested in going to school.
“When I talk about enrichment, I’m talking about art and band and things like that,” Rose said. “Things that make students get out of bed excited to go to school. Because let’s face it, most kids aren’t getting out of bed excited to go to school to do math and science.”
Rose also advocates for more classes such as automotive shop and carpentry. Most of those classes in FCPS are offered at the Career and Technology Center, but the school can only hold so many students, Rose said.
Thirteen candidates are vying for four seats on the board. The other candidates are Liz Barrett, Seth Eisenberg, Marie Fischer-Wyrick, Edison Hatter, Jay Mason, April Miller, Chaz Packan, Camden Raynor, Masai Troutman Kim Williams, Karen Yoho and Brad Young.
The primary election is June 26, and the general election follows on Nov. 6.