The debate over Superintendent Foose’s contract often involved a discussion of Maryland law which gives a local school board the authority to hire a superintendent while only giving the State Superintendent the authority to remove the local superintendent. Attempts in the 2017 Maryland General Assembly to pass a bill giving the authority to terminate the superintendent to either just the Howard County Board or to local boards statewide were not successful. One problem with these bills were that they would have retroactively changed the terms of existing the contracts of superintendents which were predicated on the power to remove residing with the State Superintendent.
The employment contracts tend to reference and incorporate provisions of the state Education Article. With that in mind, I crafted legislation which would apply to future contracts by giving a local school board and the prospective superintendent the ability to agree that the local board would have the authority to remove.
Article – Education §4–201.
(e) (1) The State Superintendent may remove a county superintendent for:
(ii) Misconduct in office;
(iv) Incompetency; or
(v) Willful neglect of duty.
(2) Before removing a county superintendent, the State Superintendent shall send the county superintendent a copy of the charges against the county superintendent and give the county superintendent an opportunity within 10 days to request a hearing.
(3) If the county superintendent requests a hearing within the 10–day period:
(i) The State Superintendent promptly shall hold a hearing, but a hearing may not be set within 10 days after the State Superintendent sends the county superintendent a notice of the hearing; and
(ii) The county superintendent shall have an opportunity to be heard publicly before the State Superintendent in the county superintendent’s own defense, in person or by counsel.
(f) On notification of pending criminal charges against a county superintendent as provided under § 4–206 of this subtitle, the county board may suspend the county superintendent with pay until the final disposition of the criminal charges OR MAY REMOVE THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT AS PROVIDED IN SUBSECTION (G).
(G) (1) IF THE CONTRACT BETWEEN THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT AND COUNTY BOARD EXPLICITLY PROVIDES FOR REMOVAL BY THE COUNTY BOARD, THE COUNTY BOARD MAY REMOVE A COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT BY A VOTE OF TWO-THIRDS OF THE TOTAL MEMBERS AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO VOTE FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF A COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT FOR:
(II) MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE;
(V) WILLFUL NEGLECT OF DUTY;
(VI) MATERIAL BREACH OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE CONTRACT;
(VII) PENDING CRIMINAL CHARGES; OR
(VIII) PERMANENT DISABILITY OF THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT WHICH RESULTS IN THEIR INABILITY TO SUBSTANTIALLY PERFORM THE ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS OF HIS POSITION WITH OR WITHOUT REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS BECAUSE OF ILLNESS OR INCAPACITY FOR A CONTINUOUS PERIOD LASTING LONGER THAN TWO CONSECUTIVE MONTHS;
(2) BEFORE REMOVING A COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT, THE COUNTY BOARD SHALL SEND THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT A COPY OF THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT AND GIVE THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT AN OPPORTUNITY WITHIN 5 BUSINESS DAYS TO REQUEST A HEARING.
(3) IF THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT REQUESTS A HEARING WITHIN THE 5 BUSINESS DAY PERIOD:
(I) THE COUNTY BOARD PROMPTLY SHALL HOLD A HEARING, BUT A HEARING MAY NOT BE SET WITHIN 5 BUSINESS DAYS AFTER THE COUNTY BOARD SENDS THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT A NOTICE OF THE HEARING; AND
(II) THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT SHALL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD PUBLICLY BEFORE THE COUNTY BOARD IN THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT’S OWN DEFENSE, IN PERSON OR BY COUNSEL.