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Hairston Gets Breakfast and List of Questions

Klausmeier, Olszewski said the Baltimore County schools superintendent agreed to provide delegation with answers in a public forum in one month.

UPDATED (5:16 p.m.)—Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston came to Annapolis for breakfast on Friday and left with a list of questions two legislative leaders said need answering.

Sen. Kathy Klausmeier and Del. John A. Olszewski Jr., who chair Baltimore County's Senate and House delegations, met with Hairston over breakfast at the Annapolis Marriott. During the meeting the pair presented the superintendent with a list of more than a dozen questions.

"We were very clear on our expectations and what we expect to happen," Olszewski said in a meeting with reporters held after the breakfast and a second meeting with four delegates and senators.

Klausmeier described the meeting as cordial and an attempt to increase communications with the school system.

"I got exactly what I thought I'd get," she said, adding that what they didn't get from Hairston was answers to most of their questions.

Hairston has agreed to meet again in a month with the entire House and Senate delegations. The meeting would be open to the public and press, Klausmeier and Olszewski said.

Issues on the list ranged from use of schools facilities, school overcrowding, the salary of a newly hired deputy superintendent and how the school system has handled , a as well as the purchase of new furniture for Hairston.

Hairston did not attend the meeting with reporters. The legislators hesitated to discuss Hairston's response saying they didn't "want to put words in his mouth."

Charles Herndon, a schools spokesman, said Hairston "found the meeting very positive and thought it went very well."

The meeting didn't please everyone.

Del. Steve Lafferty, vice chairman of the delegation questioned the delay in getting answers.

"I don't know much about the meeting other than (Klausmeier) said she asked questions and didn't get any answers," Lafferty said.

When asked if he was satisfied with the outcome Lafferty responed: "We shouldn't have to wait a month."

Klausmeier and Olszewski asked Hairston for the meeting last month after learning of the hiring of Renee Foose to be the new deputy superintendent.

Hairston responded by requesting a private meeting with Klausmeier and Olszewski rather than with the entire delegation in a public forum.

"He didn't want to be under attack and answer these kinds of questions," Klausmeier said. "That's just my interpretation of it."

The legislators questioned Foose's salary, reported to be about $214,000, at the same time that the system is proposing the elimination of nearly 200 teaching positions.

More than a dozen legislators signed a letter asking Kamenetz to .

The county executive said he would need nearly $16 million to restore the positions—a task made difficult because of overall reductions made in state aid to the county by the General Assembly. Additionally, Kamenetz, in a letter Thursday, told legislators the county also had to come up with an additional .

One situation that appears to have some resolution is the controversial issue of the public's , a school system policy known as Rule 1300.

Klausmeier said Hairston told them the school system "worked it out" and would allow the public to use the facilities for events such as community meetings and craft shows.

Last month the school board voted to review the rule in a committee and make changes that would bring school system policy in line with state law that requires school systems to encourage community use of the public facilities.

"He said they pretty well worked that out," said Klausemeier, adding that Hairston told her "if anyone has any problems they could contact his office."

Klausmeier said Hairston did not offer specifics on what had been "worked out."

Klausmeier also said she wanted Hairston to address concerns brought to her that the school system spent as much as $500,000 on new furniture for the superintendent.

The senator said Hairston confirmed that new furniture had been purchased but could not confirm how much has been spent.

Klausmeier and Olszewski also questioned how the school system has handled the release of information related to Foose's salary. The Baltimore Sun reported that they were able to obtain the salary information one month after filing a written request.

Patch, which asked for the salary information 29 days ago, was told the figure even though the state Attorney General and courts have ruled that government employee salaries are public information. Most state and county agencies routinely release salary information immediately without a written request.

Karl Pfrommer April 08, 2011 at 06:38 PM
Half a million dollars for furniture? I think I'd have known if the department spent that much on my office. The truth is the whole truth, not just part of it. We're being lied to...again.
Ann April 08, 2011 at 06:54 PM
No surprise he didn't answer questions. He's the doctor of spin and is really the example of the Emperor Has No clothes. Why do we continue to play this cat and mouse game with him? Why doesn't the Board of Education make him answer to anyone? Why does everyone allow him to be immune to questions from elected officials, the attorney general, the Board of Education, parents, stakeholders, and more. He's got to go!
Bryan P. Sears April 08, 2011 at 08:44 PM
A comment left by user "Mack" has been removed because it violates Patch's terms of use regarding defamatory posts and misleading posts. You can review the terms of use here: http://towson.patch.com/terms
John April 08, 2011 at 09:27 PM
I hope that the legislators put Mr. Hairston on notice that they are listening to the public even if he chooses not to and that they will be holding him accountable for irresponsible decision making. It seems that Mr. Hairston will not leave and will serve out the last year of his contract, so it is imperative that lawmakers exert the influence necessary to get a new board in place....begin with June's appointment. Select a responsible, ethical, wise, and collaborative individual to replace what has been a rubber stamp for the superintendent. I hope that the legislators call for an audit of financial records including the contracts to friends of the superintendent.
Terri Smith April 09, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Regarding Rule 1300, the statement "He said they pretty well worked that out," said Klausemeier, adding that Hairston told her "if anyone has any problems they could contact his office."" ...my concern is that his office seems to do everything in terms of months, not days or even weeks. 30 days for the Baltimore Sun to get a response regarding Foose's salary and now a month before he responds to the legislators questions?
Karl Pfrommer April 09, 2011 at 01:15 AM
Hey John, We had to give $300,000 to Superintendent Stuart Berger when County Executive Roger Hayden got rid of him 1993. Superintendent Joe Hairston already has four or five strikes against him and he’s still not out. We need a relief pitcher. Kevin Kamenetz should step up on the mound and finish Hairston off. $500,000 would be a bargain price to keep Hairston from buying more fancy office furniture and secretly hiring more sycophant cronies at $214,000 annually. Kevin should follow the money.
Buzz Beeler April 10, 2011 at 12:39 AM
It is tough to get through to members of a monarchy. Power breeds greed and arrogance which fits Hariston to a tee. He also does not manage our tax dollars very well.
carroll reid jr. April 10, 2011 at 04:03 AM
any body with concerns can go to the work meetings once a month and sign up to address the board . i have several times and gotten answers from them some i didn't like some i did . next meeting is in may. check bcps.org for date time is usually7 00 thanks
Buzz Beeler April 10, 2011 at 05:54 PM
1:53pm on Sunday, April 10, 2011 Carroll a great comment with some very informative information. I have been out there in the past. If we could transplant the number of people on this site into the meeting chambers, I would think that they would have to take note of the sentiments of the community. In California we saw how the taxpayers brought down the entire government with their protest and many are now facing criminal charges.
Baltimore County Parent April 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM
I am curious about how Carroll got answers from the BOE at their work meetings? After attending MANY work sessions and hearing TONS of speakers address the board over the past four years, I have NEVER ONCE heard them respond to a SINGLE SPEAKER! They certainly do not respond during the work session but neither have I known them to respond with any follow-up in a letter. This is the LEAST RESPONSIVE and LEAST ACCOUNTABLE BOE I have ever known.
Tara April 11, 2011 at 02:56 PM
I met Kamenetz on election day and even made the paper with him smiling with my baby. I told him he had my vote and wished him luck. If I knew then what I know now...I would have suggested that instead of posing for pictures with children and acting like you care, how about some action-starting with getting rid of this joke of superintendent.
Buzz Beeler April 11, 2011 at 05:08 PM
Tara, politics is a learning experience. Politicians have one agenda and that is to stay in power or achieve a higher rung in their climb to the top. Few of them would be in office if they were really honest with the voters. Your comment reflects that you are informed as a member of the voting public and you should be proud to express yourself as such.
K Blue May 04, 2011 at 12:26 AM
We are coming up on a month. Has the date for the meeting/ forum been set or publicized yet?

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