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Sandra H. French

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Sandra H. French
Sandra H. French.jpg
Board member, Howard County Board of Education, At-large
Term ends
November 2018
Years in position 9
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 2006
Next general2018
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Howard County Board of Education
1992 - 2004
Bachelor'sMuhlenberg College
Master'sMaryland State Department of Education
Office website
Campaign website
Sandra H. French campaign logo
Sandra "Sandie" H. French is an at-large member of the Howard County Board of Education in Maryland. She previously served on the board from 1992 to 2004 and rejoined the board in 2006.[1] French advanced from a primary election on June 24, 2014, to face seven other candidates for four seats in the general election on November 4, 2014. Sandra H. French won the general election on November 4, 2014.


French earned her bachelor's degree from Muhlenberg College and a graduate equivalent degree from the Maryland State Department of Education. She worked for 12 years as a teacher in Anne Arundel County Public Schools as well as Howard County schools. French and her husband have two children who graduated from district schools.[2]



See also: Howard County Public Schools elections (2014)


The June 24, 2014, primary ballot included incumbents Sandra H. French and Cynthia L. Vaillancourt as well as challengers Bess I. Altwerger, Corey Andrews, Tom Baek, Zaneb K. Beams, Olga Butler, Allen Dyer, Maureen Evans Arthurs, Dan Furman, Leslie Kornreich, Christine O'Connor and Mike Smith. French, Vaillancourt, Altwerger, Beams, Dyer, Furman, O'Connor and Smith faced off in the general election on November 4, 2014.


Howard County Public Schools, At-Large General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCynthia L. Vaillancourt Incumbent 15.9% 44,142
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSandra H. French Incumbent 15.4% 42,810
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBess I. Altwerger 13.6% 37,774
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngChristine O'Connor 13.5% 37,561
     Nonpartisan Dan Furman 11.9% 33,114
     Nonpartisan Zaneb K. Beams 10.6% 29,548
     Nonpartisan Allen Dyer 9.9% 27,663
     Nonpartisan Mike Smith 8.8% 24,449
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.4% 1,152
Total Votes 278,213
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections, "Official 2014 Gubernatorial General Election Results for Howard County," December 2, 2014
Howard County Public Schools, At-Large Primary Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCynthia L. Vaillancourt Incumbent 13.5% 15,851
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSandra H. French Incumbent 12.5% 14,688
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBess I. Altwerger 10.9% 12,733
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDan Furman 10.1% 11,880
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngZaneb K. Beams 8.6% 10,042
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngChristine O'Connor 7.2% 8,477
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngAllen Dyer 6.6% 7,724
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMike Smith 5.7% 6,730
     Nonpartisan Leslie Kornreich 5.4% 6,388
     Nonpartisan Olga Butler 5% 5,849
     Nonpartisan Maureen Evans Arthurs 4.9% 5,752
     Nonpartisan Corey Andrews 4.9% 5,744
     Nonpartisan Tom Baek 4.7% 5,482
Total Votes 117,340
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections, "Official 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Election results for Howard County," accessed October 18, 2014


French began the race with an existing account balance of $1,545.09 from her previous campaigns. She reported $625.00 in contributions and $522.60 in expenditures to the Maryland State Board of Elections, which left her campaign with $1,647.49 on hand as of August 19, 2014.[3]


French was endorsed by The Baltimore Sun, Parents Choice of Maryland and the Howard County Administrators Association.[4][5][6][7]


Howard County Public Schools, At-large General Election, 4-year term, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngFrank Aquino Incumbent 17.7% 49,207
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSandra H. French Incumbent 17.3% 48,202
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBrian Meshkin 11.4% 31,707
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCynthia L. Vaillancourt 11.1% 30,990
     Nonpartisan David E. Proudfoot 11% 30,597
     Nonpartisan Robert D. Ballinger, II 10.7% 29,627
     Nonpartisan Leslie Kornreich 10.6% 29,375
     Nonpartisan Larry Walker 9.9% 27,546
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.3% 877
Total Votes 278,128
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections, "Official 2010 Gubernatorial General Election results for Howard County," accessed June 4, 2014

Campaign themes


French provided the following statement on her campaign website:

Sandie stands for high expectations and accountability from all —
Students, Educators, Parents, Community — and the School Board!
  • Keep ALL children FIRST – in our hearts and our decisions.
  • Retain Maryland’s premier school system status and become World-Class.
  • Ensure that all students succeed in Vision 2018 strategic plan.
  • Prepare our graduates to be both college and high-wage career ready.
  • Eliminate access to opportunity and achievement gaps.
  • Provide competitive employee salaries.
  • Nurture all students in a bully-free learning forum.
  • Diversify and increase Gifted and Talented opportunities.
  • Initiate a pilot for K-2 instrumental music instruction.
  • Increase STEAM and Athletic opportunities (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math).
  • Shrink HCPSS carbon footprint.
  • Improve transportation with After School Activity buses.
  • Support school food pantries for needy students.
  • Adopt zero-based budgets that are both responsive to parents and responsible to Howard county taxpayers.
  • Seek community engagement and parental expertise through transparent public policy decision-making.[8]

—Sandra H. French's campaign website, (2014)[9]

What was at stake?

Issues in the election

Ethics claims against Cynthia Vaillancourt

On May 8, 2014, the Board of Education approved a resolution by a 5-2 vote admonishing member Cynthia L. Vaillancourt for violating board confidentiality. The resolution stated that Vaillancourt disclosed information from closed sessions to outside parties and interfered with work done by the county's five-member ethics panel. Vaillancourt accused her fellow board members of inserting themselves into the 2014 election by engaging in "nasty politics" and following "base motives." She also argued that fellow board members left her out of e-mail threads about ongoing ethics investigations, which forced her to directly contact the county panel. Outgoing board member Brian Meshkin, who joined Vaillancourt in voting against the resolution, also criticized the board for damaging the board's integrity with these accusations.[10]

Board president Ellen Flynn Giles stated after the resolution that the board had previously warned Vaillancourt about her communications with outside parties regarding confidential matters. The resolution could be the first step toward future actions against Vaillancourt including official censure and impeachment. Giles and fellow board members Janet Siddiqui, Sandra H. French and Frank Aquino were involved in the attempted removal of board member Allen Dyer in 2011.[10] Dyer remained in office through the end of his term in 2012 due to legal challenges to the board's actions.[11]

Suspension, resumption of Corey Andrews's campaign

Corey Andrews suspended his campaign for a board seat on May 19, 2014, in response to an increasingly negative tone in the election. Andrews cited the board's resolution against Cynthia L. Vaillancourt and claimed that board members have abused their powers to maintain their positions on the board. Andrews sent the following e-mail to supporters on May 19, 2014, to explain his campaign's suspension:

I got into this race to make a difference for the Howard County Public School System. It is important that we protect this local treasure.

The fact is, there are forces preventing those who want to make a difference from doing so. The Howard County Board of Education exposed its corruption a few weeks ago when it abused its power and censured Cindy Vaillancourt in the attempt to smear her name before the upcoming election. Board members have had their personal emails breached by school system staff. Critical documents have been withheld from some Board members. There have even been attempts at physical intimidation by other Board members.

Several Board members, along with a select few candidates, have been coordinating an effort to control the Board and who is on it. Two candidates have resorted to extremely negative campaigning behind closed-doors.

This is not the first time I have run for this position. When I filed to run, I was prepared for a heated campaign. I was not prepared to deal with corruption and abuse of power and am not interested in serving on a Board with people who use such unethical tactics.

Therefore, I am immediately suspending by campaign for the Howard County Board of Education.

Sometimes, it feels like the "bad guys" are winning. The people of Howard County deserve better than this.


The Baltimore Sun, (2014), [12]

Andrews reconsidered his withdrawal and resumed his campaign on June 10, 2014. In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Andrews stated that he received supportive e-mails and phone calls after his withdrawal that encouraged resumption of his campaign. Andrews withdrew from the race after the deadline to remove names from the ballot so his name would have appeared on the primary ballot if his campaign remained suspended. He placed 12th in the primary election and did not advance to the general election.[13]

About the district

See also: Howard County Public Schools, Maryland
Howard County Public Schools is located in Howard County, Maryland
Howard County Public Schools is based in Ellicott City, a city located in Howard County, Maryland. Howard County is home to 304,580 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[14] Howard County Public Schools is the sixth-largest school district in Maryland, serving 51,555 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[15]


Howard County outperformed the rest of Maryland in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 59.5 percent of Howard County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 36.3 percent for Maryland as a whole. The median household income in Howard County was $107,821 compared to $72,999 for the state of Maryland. The poverty rate in Howard County was 4.4 percent compared to 9.4 percent for the entire state.[14]

Racial Demographics, 2012[14]
Race Howard County (%) Maryland (%)
White 62.3 60.8
Black or African American 18.1 30.0
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.4 0.5
Asian 15.7 6.0
Two or More Races 3.4 2.5
Hispanic or Latino 6.2 8.7

Party registration, 2014[16]
Party Number of registered voters
Democratic 93,491
Republican 56,260
Unaffiliated 42,856
Other 2,302
Libertarian 868
Green 493
Total 196,270

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[17] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.

Recent news

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See also

External links

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  1. The Baltimore Sun, "French seeks fourth term on Howard school board," August 7, 2010
  2. Howard County Public Schools, "Sandra H. French," accessed June 4, 2014
  3. Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System, "View Filed Reports," accessed October 20, 2014
  4. The Baltimore Sun, "Teachers union announces recommendations for Howard Board of Ed. race," April 24, 2014
  5. The Baltimore Sun, "Howard County Times' endorsements for school board race in the primary election," June 18, 2014
  6. Parents Choice of Maryland, "Voting Guide for Howard County," accessed October 20, 2014
  7. The Baltimore Sun, "Administrators union endorses three for Howard BOE," October 17, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  9. Return French School Board, "Issues: Excellence as Expectation," accessed October 18, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Baltimore Sun, "Howard BOE accuses member Vaillancourt of confidentiality breach," May 8, 2014
  11. The Baltimore Sun, "Administrative law judge upholds Dyer impeachment," December 6, 2012
  12. The Baltimore Sun, "Andrews suspends campaign for Howard BOE," May 20, 2014
  13. The Baltimore Sun, "Andrews says he's back in race for Howard BOE," June 11, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 United States Census Bureau, "Howard County, Maryland," accessed June 3, 2014
  15. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed June 3, 2014
  16. Maryland State Board of Elections, "Voter Registration Activity Report," March 2014
  17. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014