Tempers flare during MPS Board meeting

It was a simple item on the Montgomery County Board of Education agenda, but it led to a board member accusing the board chairman of overstepping her boundaries.

Superintendent Barbara Thompson called on the board attorney to clarify rules relating to how the school board members should communicate with staff members.  The board voted to adopt new procedures last May.

"You all removed yourselves from that day to day contact, that day to day operation, of staff members," said Ramadanah Jones, a staff attorney.

Mary Briers and Robert Porterfield said all board members should be sanctioned for violating the policy.  And Briers said MPS employees should be written up for doing work requested by a board member. That lead to an heated exchange between Board President Charlotte Meadows and Briers.

"I don't think it's right to put things in an employees files when a board member either asks a question or makes a comment," Meadows said.  "It's not about asking a question Mrs. Meadows, it's about giving a work order," Briers responded.  "If anyone has asked...I'm completely unaware of what you're talking about," Meadows said.

A few minutes later, Briers revealed her allegation that Meadows directed MPS staff to work on a project.

"You have asked two employees to do work at a school and that's not part of our responsibility," Briers said.  "We don't have the authority to do that."

Meadows said she was blind-sided by Briers's accusation.  Meadows said a parent at Lee High School came to her - for a second year in a row - with a complaint that computers in a classroom were not hooked up.

"When I finally called it to someone's attention, that work order got moved to the front," Meadows said angrily.  "And that must have been what the superintendent and Ms. Briers were talking about tonight.  So because I was looking out for a constituent, I got called out on the carpet."

Meadows said she didn't mean for her request to be moved up to the top of a priority list of projects at the school.  She said she would now forward all complaints to the superintendent's office.

Vote taken on surplus properties

The board also voted to get the appraised value of several surplus properties.  It's the first step in possibly putting those properties up for sale.  The system will now pick a realtor to help appraise and market the properties.  The board will have to make any final decision on a sale.

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