The Wicomico County Board of Education (WCBOE) violated § 3-303(a) of the Maryland Open Meetings Act when it convened a public meeting on November 9, 2021, but restricted access to the meeting room without providing an alternative means of observing the meeting and failed to accommodate the public with reasonable, equal, equitable, and unified access for all to attend and observe (not just those who desired to make a public comment). Citizens were locked outside the building where the meeting was held at 101 Long Ave in Salisbury, Maryland.
There were some citizens that slipped in when the door was periodically opened by faculty to call for select registrants. Those who attempted to enter the lobby of the building uninvited were warned by Wicomico County Sheriff's Department deputies that the WCBOE would charge citizens with trespassing if they did not leave (while the meeting was in session). WCBOE faculty such as their Director of Communications and the Director of Transportation took it upon themselves to man security of the foyer between the front door and the lobby as deputies stood by. Seen below, the Assistant Superintendent, addresses the crowd attempting to explain why they can't come in and disregards the Maryland Open Meetings Act.
The WCBOE proceeded to ignore the citizens' request to postpone the meeting and to hold it at a larger venue (as the last evening board meeting), which was held in the Wicomico High School auditorium. Prior to this meeting, parents sent emails to the Board requesting a larger venue. All requests were ignored and the meeting continued.
Despite the lack of decency, ethics, and knowing the code of the Maryland Open Meetings Act, they willfully and arrogantly proceeded with the meeting and simply ignored the citizens. Board member Ann Suthowski rebuked citizens despite the fact that citizens were being locked outside and obstructed by staff.
We encourage you to contact the WCBOE to let them know how you feel about their bullying and obstructive tactics by preventing the citizens from attending their board meetings and their attempt to shame, rebuke, and strong-arm citizens who simply want to attend and observe the public meeting. The board cannot discriminate between those who are commenting and those not commenting as justification to permit or block access to citizens. This is a clear violation of the Maryland Open Meetings Act. This is not how elected officials should be treating citizens. As a community, we all sink or swim together. The real shame is on our elected board members.
WCBOE Board Members
Donald Fitzgerald - email@example.com
Gene Malone - firstname.lastname@example.org
Allen Brown - email@example.com
John Palmer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tonya Lewis - email@example.com
Michael Murray - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Suthowski - email@example.com
Fellows & Editors
November 16, 2021 Copyright DelmarvaPTC.org