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WCBOE Information Officer Surveils Parents to Supply Photos and Info to the Media

On September 14, 2021, many frustrated parents showed up to the monthly WCBOE board meeting to make public comments or just to attend the meeting. Parents faced much resistance, including orders to wear a mask and that only one parent could attend the meeting at a time by escort. Once parents informed faculty that this was a violation of the Maryland Open Meetings Act, administration tried to compromise by allowing 3, then 4, and last a maximum of 5 persons into the meeting room at a time. This was still a violation of the Maryland Open Meetings Act to not allow full access to citizens. This was unfortunate, as administration lines the meeting room by receiving preference over citizens. They are consuming seats, when administration is really not supposed to be there as it's a board meeting.


Administration stated that the board meeting would have to be conducted on their terms, and that the WCBOE would postpone the meeting if parents did not comply with the limitation of persons to enter the meeting and their masking requirements. According to the tax records, 101 Long Avenue does not belong to WCPS. It is an old building that is entrusted to the WCBOE by Wicomico County. Our Board is elected by the people, and therefore it's the people's building. The tax records also indicate that the building is classified as "Office Building" (not a school or school facility). All of this was challenged by parents. Deputies were instructed to ignore the law and defend the school system that hired them to be there.


Since the WCBOE was wrong on numerous levels, there was a campaign to go after parents and paint them as radical extremists terrorizing the school system. As you can see in the picture below, parents had no pitchforks, torches, buffalo helmets, or Antifa riot gear - just plain, ordinary citizens that seek quality education for their children.


WBOC obtained this picture. However WBOC was not present at that angle, as officers blocked that area off to protect administrators and entry to the meeting room.


Upon investigation, we discovered it was WCBOE's Information Officer that took this picture (among other pictures) and sent to the media from his phone along with text updates on the "extremists." For those of you who do not know, WCBOE's information officer was an ex-news anchor for WBOC. His job is now to take pictures and video for the school system's archive and act as a PR spokesperson for WCBOE. He was present in the foyer in the back corner of the room as pictured below.


The WCBOE Information Officer holding his smartphone used to take the photo(s).


The photo below shows the POV of the photographer.

Parents monitored while the Assistant Superintendent (in yellow) appears to upset a citizen.


The Delmarva Parent Teacher Coalition reached out to Councilwoman Nicole Acle (who was in the first picture), and she shared her experience with us. WBOC reached out to the Councilwoman, who is wearing black and standing next to the deputy in the picture. According to Acle, the WBOC reporter questioned her association and involvement with the so-called "radical anti-maskers group" (referring to the crowd) that must be there to protest masks. "I told the reporter that I was not with any group or acting as an official, but simply here to make a public comment as a citizen. My comment has nothing to do with masks, but education as indicated on the public comment registration form that I filled out in the lobby," said Acle.


The reporter then stated: "WBOC received a picture that was given to us by the school system's communication office that shows you were not wearing a mask." Acle then asked the reporter if he could send the picture in question to her, and the reporter did. "I was compliant, and I had a mask with me," said Acle. When we asked her about this, Acle explained to the Coalition exactly what she said to the WBOC reporter, explaining that that there were no signs on the glass doors or in the lobby to indicate a mask requirement. The reporter asked if the Wicomico County Council required masks for their meetings. Acle stated that the County did not have a masking requirement, as we were not under a Maryland state of emergency.


The Councilwoman was later seen in the lobby wearing a mask, when she requested to go back into the meeting room. However, she was not allowed to enter because administration was cancelling the meeting based on responses from other individuals who did not desire to wear a mask. Strangely, it was observed that administration allowed some non-staff members from special interest groups to slip into the meeting room after administration announced that the meeting was cancelled.


We interviewed Darren Lombardo, a concerned citizen from the photograph who was also there to make a public comment on academic performance. "The way that WCBOE and it's administration behaved and treated parents that evening was beyond disturbing. The fact that the Information Officer leaked photos to his prior employer was highly unethical, and a violation of school policy and procedure. This is not negligence, but willful misconduct. Here he is, a WCBOE employee on the payroll, and exploiting and labeling the citizens for political gain, and to punish them for being there," said Lombardo who has been retaliated against several times by the school system.


It is obvious that these loaded questions by the media were derived from the photograph, with the intention to drive a malicious narrative. After the Delmarva Parent Teacher Coalition reached out for interviews and photographs, we investigated the origins of the photo and compared it with the photos we took that evening as pictured above. We have also determined that the following policies and procedures were ignored and violated by the WCBOE Information Officer through his misconduct:


1. Acceptable Use of Technology Procedure

2. Media Relations Policy

3. Media Relations and Communications Procedure


WCBOE's Information Officer clearly had malicious intent to run interference for the school system and to go after the citizens that were there to redress their grievances with their government. He did this by attempting to carry out a retaliatory campaign against citizens to label them as anti-masking extremists, and to paint the Councilwoman as being associated as a defiant, radical extremist that must be tied to a group. This continued abuse by the school system is unacceptable. We call for WCBOE to terminate their Information Officer immediately for violating school policy and procedures. The citizens will not be abused. Please contact the board members and let them know how you feel of their use of your tax dollars to weaponize a media campaign against the citizens of Wicomico County.


WCBOE Board Members

Donald Fitzgerald - dfitzger@wcboe.org

Gene Malone - gmalone@wcboe.org

Allen Brown - abrown@wcboe.org

John Palmer - jpalmer@wcboe.org

Tonya Lewis - tlewis@wcboe.org

Michael Murray - mmurray@wcboe.org

Ann Suthowski - asuthowsk@wcboe.org


Fellows & Editors September 20, 2021. DelmarvaPTC.org. Please consider joining the Delmarva Parent Teacher Coalition for FREE, and follow us on FaceBook to stay informed of what's really happening with education in our schools. Any copyright © information provided at no charge and strictly for educational purposes.

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