Category Archives: CASE Comments to the Board

Comments to the Board Oct 2023

October 24, 2023

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

Thank you for letting me speak on behalf of CASE.

Rights of Transgender Students and Employees

I’d like to speak to you tonight about the rights of transgender students and employees. The federal government, the Maryland state government, and the Baltimore County government all recognize transgender people as a protected class. An announcement from the pentagon stated the Defense Department proudly recognizes transgender and gender non-conforming people and their continued struggle for equality, security and dignity. “There is no place for violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.”

The American Medical Association Journal of Ethics states:
Transgender rights stem from human rights, i.e., those fundamental rights belonging to every person. Persons with either cisgender (in which assigned and experienced gender are the same) or transgender identities deserve to live and flourish in their communities—with freedom to learn, work, love, and play—and build lives connected with others at home, in the workplace, and in public settings without fear for their safety and survival. These deeply personal decisions are and should be the prerogative of the individual and deserve the law’s protection.

Research also shows that transgender children are put at higher risk of attempted suicide or mental health challenges when they face bullying, rejection, or denial of health care.

In previous BCPS board meetings there have been uninformed conversations about bathrooms and locker rooms. I suspect those arguments happen because the topic is easily distorted to become salacious by using outrageous examples that aren’t real and are designed to cause fear. The solutions to those questions have some simple and commonplace answers. Most public businesses have gender neutral bathroom options. BCPS schools and offices can easily do the same.

If the idea of transgender students and staff makes you uncomfortable, I encourage you to do some research and reading. No one is asking you to give up your beliefs and rights. What you are being asked to do is support the rights of others as a public official and leader.

I say all of this because I need you to know that your conversations and decisions in these board meetings matter. Your public comments can inspire the community to show compassion and understanding or they can inspire the community to continue the legacy of hate and discrimination. Your comments can inspire a child that feels alone and unsupported or your comments can reinforce their fear and isolation.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

—Billy Burke, Executive Director

Comments to the Board Sep 2023

September 26, 2023

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

Thank you for letting me speak on behalf of CASE.

Contract Negotiations

This month BCPS and CASE began contract negotiations and budget conversations.

CASE’s priorities for negotiations remain firm. We ask for fair pay that addresses experience and inflation and general increases in what it costs to have appropriate food and housing. Experience is recognized through step increases. Combating inflation and the increases in basic consumer costs happens through a Cost-of-Living Adjustment.

Last week as part of the monthly union update meeting with Dr. Rogers and her staff, I asked for greater communication and transparency with the board, the county executive, and county council. Dr. Rogers spoke of regular, open communication with Baltimore County government, and I am encouraged by that.

You’ve heard me speak about this before. It is disappointing at best when the unions spend a year negotiating the terms of the contract and making suggestions for the budget only to find out that the county executive and the county council were not supportive of the ask. We need feedback and information on the state of the budget during the development of both the contracts and the budget. That would mean the unions need quarterly meetings with BCPS staff, the board, and Baltimore County government.


CASE’s priorities for the budget also remain firm. The staffing shortage remains the greatest stressor for teachers and administrators and staff. Please focus your budget discussions on strategies that address the staffing shortage. Strategies that address the staffing shortage naturally address hiring, retention, culture, and morale.

In the past I’ve spoken about the need for more resources in special education. We need to continue to try and staff elementary schools with IEP facilitators. The work-life balance of most assistant principals is non-existent. Assistant principals should be focused on instruction and student performance so there is a pipeline of people ready to lead schools. But assistant principals spend much of their time addressing student behavior, transportation, testing, and after school activities.

We need staffing strategies that support administrators with tasks not related to instruction so they can concentrate on being instructional leaders. Research tells us that teachers stay when they feel supported. We need to make sure administrators have the time and expertise to support.

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

—Billy Burke, Executive Director

Comments to the Board Jun 2023

June 13, 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 to you on behalf of CASE.

I’d like to take a moment and celebrate the members of CASE. You have led schools, families, and students through another challenging and successful year. It is time to rest, rejuvenate, and find what inspires you. Summer school and the start of the new school year will be here before you know it.

Dr. Williams, on behalf of CASE, thank you for your service to Baltimore County.

Dr. Yarbrough, congratulations on your appointment. CASE looks forward to continuing meaningful collaboration.

As we move forward I would like to make the following recommendations.


As MOUs are created with each of the 5 bargaining units, each bargaining unit should review the MOU for impact to its members. MOUs should remain in draft form until a collaboratively designed implementation plan is in place that focuses on the unit that must implement the decision. A work group of end users must provide feedback on the decision before the MOU goes into effect. This process would ensure balance when attempting to improve working conditions.

Budget Process

My second recommendation is aligned to the budget process. This year to balance the budget a number of positions needed to be eliminated. CASE would recommend that the actual positions be listed and the people in the positions be notified as the budget is introduced. This would give the employees time to be placed in parallel positions when available as indicated in the Master Agreements or change their declarations of intent and/or look for another position within BCPS during the priority transfer process. It is hard to tell staff their position is eliminated. I get it. We hope that things will change, and they can stay. But we need to avoid delaying telling people their position is eliminated to give them maximum opportunity.

Leadership Programs

Finally, CASE is recommending that BCPS continue to improve its grow-your-own leadership programs. There is so much talent, years of experience, and dedication to BCPS within the organization. Let’s capitalize on that commitment.

I’d like to end by thanking the board and BCPS leadership for securing the step increase and COLA during negotiations. It is greatly appreciated.

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

—Billy Burke, Executive Director

Comments to the Board Mar 2023

March 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

Comments to the Board Feb 2023

February 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

Comments to the Board Jan 2023

January 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