Tense exchange at Baltimore County school board meeting
In an unusually sharp exchange, school board members disagreed at Tuesday night's public board meeting over data that apparently showed high numbers of suspensions at some county high schools. Board member Ramona Johnson had requested in advance of the meeting that school administrators provide the board with data on suspension rates broken down by high school. The data was not made available to the public during the meeting, although a public spokeswoman said she would provide it later.
Board member Cornelia Bright Gordon then asked a series of questions that tried to pick apart the meaning of the suspension data and asked for additional numbers from Barbara Walker, who is in charge of county high schools.
But another member, Michael Collins, said he was not concerned with the suspension data and wanted to make the staff and principals in the room aware that "you have one on the board" that supports their decision to suspend students. He said high school students are given a handbook with the rules and that if they break the rules, they should be suspended. "I am not the least bit worried about suspensions," he said, adding "keep doing it."
Bright Gordon said she felt attacked and found his remarks "demeaning and inappropriate." She said she had the right to ask questions.
Collins shot back: "I am not attacking you or any other member. I have a distinctly different point of view." Finally, he added, "I am not attacking you one bit and get over it."