Category Archives: CASE Comments to the Board

CASE Comments to the Board Mar 14, 2023

Dear Chairwoman Mrs. Lichter, Vice Chair Mrs. Harvey, Superintendent Dr. Williams, and Members of the Board,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of CASE.

I’d like to speak to you tonight about two issues.

The first issue is the STAR ratings. It is important that we as educators are accountable for student learning, but I am concerned that the STAR system of ranking schools creates a confusing and misleading picture of what is happening in schools. Rating systems like STAR assume everyone comes to the table with the same resources and opportunities. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Variability is the norm. Students are different, and the challenges they face happen at the community, school, and family level.

It is important to remember that the STAR ratings are a snapshot in time. The rankings don’t explain where schools started and how schools and students have grown. And most importantly the STAR ratings don’t provide a corrective action plan for moving forward based on the individual and real challenges student, schools, and communities face. I’m not against accountability, but rating systems like STAR mislead the public into believing that one school is good, and one school is bad based on the ratings. As you visit schools, you will see excellence in schools with a one-star rating and you will see room for improvement in schools with a 5 star rating.

The second issue I’d like to bring to your attention is changes to COMAR when disciplining students with IEPs that have exhibited dangerous behavior like weapons possession and fighting. The law limits and prohibits the suspension and expulsion of students that exhibit dangerous behaviors if those behaviors are a manifestation of the student’s disabilities. The law limits the use of virtual learning for these students. What the law doesn’t do is provide direction and support as well as resources to schools and school districts in providing appropriate placements and supports for these students. Teachers and administrators feel unheard and under resourced when asking for support in providing an appropriate education for theses students. The current law makes students and staff feel unsafe.

I often hear board members say to staff, “How can we help?” This is how you can help. Lobby at the state and national levels for the resources and guidance needed to provide appropriate educational supports to students struggling with behavioral challenges. Ask for processes that are rigorous and funded, but streamlined to get students the supports they need quickly. It would be an important step in making schools safer. Just ask your child’s teacher. Just ask your children.

Thank you for your time.

—Billy Burke, Executive Director

CASE Comments to the Board Feb 14, 2023

Good evening, Chairwoman Mrs. Lichter, Vice Chairwoman Mrs. Harvey, Superintendent Dr. Williams, and members of the board,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of CASE.

Dr. Williams, CASE would like to thank you for your service to Baltimore County, and we wish you nothing but success as you finish your work here and plan your next chapter.

I have two items I would like to discuss this evening. The first item is a call for stability as we prepare for change. I understand there may be a need to transfer administrators, but please consider leaving people where they are unless they’ve made requests or there is an urgent need. And as we begin to hire assistant principals and principals and central office leaders, please consider BCPS employees first. It will be important to maintain historical knowledge as we move forward.

The second item has to do with principal and administrator safety and protection. CASE members understand that when they take on leadership positions they are subject to public criticism. But as their union representation I am not seeing public criticism. What I see is people using social media to speculate, spread false information, and even lie about school administrators. CASE believes that parents and the community should be strong advocates for students and hold administrators accountable, but they too should be held accountable when they make false and slanderous accusations. There is a way to communicate truth without exposing students or violating their rights. BCPS leadership and the board must speak out against this abuse.

This week, I had to support an administrative team whose lives have been threatened by a parent. Not one threat but multiple threats. There have been “no trespass” letters issued and peace orders acquired by the administrators from the courthouse. The peace order should have been acquired by the system. Having the administrator acquire the order actually puts the system at risk. The parent response to the “no trespass” letter was, “You have to leave the building at some point, I’ll just get you then.” More needs to be done. We can’t wait until something horrible happens. We can have courage and act and still maintain people’s rights. We can have courage and act and still maintain a relationship with parents and the community. We need you to help. We need you to protect. We need you to lead.

—Billy Burke, Executive Director

CASE Comments to the Board Jan 10, 2023

Good evening, Chairwoman Mrs. Lichter, Vice-chair Mrs. Harvey, Superintendent Dr. Williams, and Members of the Board,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on behalf of the members of CASE.

In its simplest terms your role as school board members is to ensure that the students of Baltimore County Public Schools are prepared to live, work, and compete in a global world. You do that in 3 important ways: You hire the superintendent; you provide governance for policies aligned to the vision and mission of the school system and community members; and you provide governance for the budget by approving the proposed budget and monitoring expenditures through the contract process.

I still believe the process for creating and approving the budget with you and the county executive and county council is convoluted, but that speech is for another night.

Tonight, you will hear the superintendent’s proposed budget. Not everything can be accomplished in one budget year. It’s important to have a clear, phased approach that allows you to react to new state and federal mandates and includes improving buildings and infrastructure, as well as the implementation of new curriculum.

The goal of the budget is to improve academic performance for all students. The goal of the budget is to remove predictable barriers that impact students because of their race, poverty level, ability to speak English, and participation in special education services. There are many priorities that compete for the budget. It will be important for you to understand short-term and long-term plans for implementing those priorities.

The budget priorities for CASE remain constant:

  1. Fair compensation and benefits, while maintaining work–life balance.
  2. Professional development based on research and evidence-based practices that improve leadership, instruction, and student behavior.
  3. Processes that are communicated, efficient, and transparent for managing human resources, payroll, and employee and retiree services.
  4. A plan for addressing the staffing crisis that includes recruitment, retention, and operating within available resources and innovating new ways of providing access.
  5. Prioritizing staffing for students receiving special education services and historically underserved and underperforming communities.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of CASE.

Billy Burke, Executive Director