A mother’s appeal to the Frederick County Board of Education on whether her children should be mandated to take state exams will be held in a public forum.
Cindy Rose is challenging superintendent Terry Alban’s 2014 decision that the school system must test Rose’s children if they attend school during the state’s testing period.
Rose must prove that Alban’s decision was arbitrary, unreasonable or illegal. Rose, in an interview Monday, said that the outcome of her case would have statewide, even national, implications.
“If our board … codifies that we have the right to refuse, then maybe a person in Howard County … could take a piece of paper to their board and say ‘look, this board says they have the right to refuse,’” Rose said.
In March 2014, Rose filed an emergency injunction in Frederick County Circuit Court that requested her daughter be able to return to school without taking the Maryland School Assessment. Rose had been in contact with local and state school officials since February 2014 requesting that her daughter not be subject to the MSA. She had also questioned the language of state and federal education laws that she said did not state that her children must participate in the test.
Her son, 10-year-old Ben, is severely disabled and Rose said she wants to be able to opt out on his behalf.
In January, Judge William R. Nicklas Jr. issued a written opinion dismissing the case without prejudice, which stated Rose had not followed the proper hierarchy in appealing the superintendent’s decision, and kicked the decision back down to the Board of Education. If her appeal to the Frederick Board of Education fails, Rose said she will take her fight to the state Board of Education.
The hearing with the board is scheduled for Aug. 26 at 2 p.m., the same day as its regular twice-monthly meeting, at the central office building in downtown Frederick. Each side, the superintendent and Rose, will present a 15-minute argument, which the board will consider. Board of Education President Brad Young said he is unsure if a decision will be made that day.
In a June 18 letter to Young, Alban, via an attorney for Frederick County Public Schools, objected to opening the hearing to the public. Rose’s attorney had requested an open hearing.
“With media attention and members of the public in the hearing room, it is highly probable that the discussion and deliberations could be revealed on social media sites and the local newspaper before the Board has an opportunity to deliberate and issue a final decision, which we argue is counter-productive to a fair hearing on the merits as the public could weigh in or attempt to influence the outcome,” the letter states.
In an interview, Young said the hearing was closed because the board would discuss confidential student information. Once Rose waived her children’s rights, the board felt the issue under consideration was a matter for public consumption.
“It’s better to be open to the public and that they be able to hear it,” he said.
Rose has long been an educational activist in Frederick County, and has attempted to rally parents against state-mandated exams. Of particular distaste to Rose was the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams, which are aligned with the Common Core Standards. In September 2014, Rose sponsored a forum attempting to sway parents.
Rose said that she does not want to guess whether the board will side with her, though she lauded some of the efforts the board has undertaken to ensure more local control, in particular a policy that recently passed that would cut back on the amount of testing.
She encourages parents to attend the hearing and be visible in their advocacy.
“If we take the tiny things back in the community, then we can move on to the curriculum and the Common Core, and won’t have other people telling us how to teach our students in Frederick County Public Schools,” she said.
This story has been updated to correct the first reference to Maryland School Assessment.)