- Fellow Editors
Somerset County Residents Request SCBOE Chair Penny Nicholson to Step Down
The Somerset County Board of Education was to hold their first open meeting on September 21, 2021 following the state ordering an emergency mask mandate for all schools. At this board meeting, most of the people compliantly wore masks to simply be heard by the school board. A small number of people opted not to wear the mask and stood against the back wall quietly, far from others. Then, the SCPS Superintendents decided to move in with deputies to illegally pursue citizens with an unenforceable rule that's not actual law.
Suddenly, the room erupted as Assistant Superintendent, Tom Davis, walked in with two deputies and appeared to single out one woman out of the 5 or 6 surrounding her (people who were also not wearing a mask). Davis pointed to her and stated "I would like you to leave." Davis demanded this not once, but twice, explained Jax Benton-Ware in an interview. She and her wife became upset and Jax feeling that he was confrontational, stated "You're forcing my child to wear this sh*t... you're not forcing me." Nicki Benton then asked Davis why he was making Jax leave? Davis then points again to Jax and instructs the deputy to "remove her." Because Davis and the deputies were not applying the same conditions to the other people that were not masked, Jax and Nicki felt singled out. They were upset that the school system would use law enforcement to create a hostile environment in order to obstruct access to an open meeting.
Several times the couple can be heard telling the deputies to "Call Ronnie." They then agreed to walk into the hallway to call Sheriff Ronnie Howard. Nicki states she called the Sheriff and left a message. Within seconds, the Sheriff called one of the deputies and they were instructed to stand down and then proceeded to leave the premises per Nicki.
Prior to the open meeting, Caleb Shores, a board member was reprimanded and asked to leave for not wearing a mask. In the State of Maryland, a county Board of Education is without power to censure, reprimand, or discipline its members who are elected by the people.
Board member Caleb Shores was reprimanded and asked to leave for not wearing a mask.
At this point, Nicholson had been feverishly pounding her gavel. In doing so, she either forgot or disregarded the Robert's Rules of Order by not calling the meeting to order at the beginning of the meeting. Ms. Nicholson then stated that the State Board of Education owned the building and that masks were required and anyone not wearing one must leave. Nicholson fails to realize that the building is owned by the county and that masks cannot be legally mandated under the illegitimate orders of the State, as we are not under a Governor-ordered State of Emergency.
After Nicholson thinking that the SCBOE building is owned by the Maryland State Board of Education (MSBOE), she was challenged on the fact and became very angry. Nicholson then said that she would adjourn the meeting for another time because she is unable to get order in the meeting. A concerned parent asks the crowd of approximately 40 people to bring order to the room and everyone complied immediately - there was complete order. Under a moment of silence, Nicholson proceeded to adjourn meeting and pressured her fellow board members (Mr. Brittingham and Ms. Gale) to second her motion. Nicolson can then be heard saying: "F*CK IT!" She said this without any regard to the children present in the room with their parents or the fact that the meeting was being recorded by not only the school system, but by parents. Listen in the video clip below:
A year ago, Nicholson degraded the citizens as "lacking in common sense and deserving of her consequences" in an email that she sent to all parents by mistake:
Chairwoman Nicholson needs to immediately resign as her willful misconduct has demonstrated time and again that she is unfit to serve or make decisions for the children of Somerset County. The parents and taxpayers deserve better representation, and cannot afford to have a rogue and lawless Chair on the Somerset County Board of Education. This also goes for Nicholson's accomplices, including Superintendent Gaddis and Assistant Superintendent Davis, who should also step down. It appears neither of these Board of Education or Administration members understand their roles or how to conduct meetings under the Maryland Open Meetings Act and Robert's Rules of Order.
Including that evening, there have been numerous accounts of meeting violations by the Board as defined by the Maryland Open Meetings Act. After cancelling the meeting, a virtual board meeting was ordered by the Chair for September 28, 2021. This was done in attempt to create obstacles in order to further obstruct parents from access to an open meeting, as half the county has no access to broadband. She knows this, and has no reason for a virtual meeting other than to insulate the Board from accountability and to obstruct the citizens.
Nicholson should spare the citizens any further distress by ceasing to continue in obstructing their justice and disturbing the peace. Unlike herself, the citizens of Somerset believe in choice. Therefore, SCBOE Chairwoman Penny Nicholson will be provided with a choice.
The citizens of Somerset call on Nicholson to:
1. Immediately step down from her seat by September 28, 2021 or
2. Face the removal procedures in accordance with COMAR 13A.01.05.12(A)-(K) as she has repeatedly violated all four of the criteria necessary for removal (a-d).
Grounds for removal are those set forth by the statute governing removal of members of that local board: (a) Misconduct in office; (b) Immorality; (c) Incompetency; (d) Willful neglect of duty
The citizens say: "the choice is hers." Fellows & Editors
September 25, 2021 Copyright DelmarvaPTC.org
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