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School board primaries in Maryland and Utah reveal tensions over ethics, Common Core

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June 17, 2014

By Nick Katers

School Board badge.png

Former Howard County school board member Allen Dyer is aiming for a comeback in the district's primary election on June 24, 2014, despite efforts by fellow board members to remove him from office in 2011. He was targeted for impeachment over accusations of misconduct and bullying, although appeals allowed him to remain in office long enough to lose his re-election bid in 2012.[1] Dyer's situation is not an isolated incident in the district, since the same board members who sought his removal voted to admonish a current board member, Cynthia L. Vaillancourt, for ethics violations in May 2014. The board majority who attempted to remove Dyer and who criticized Vaillancourt includes Sandra H. French, who is running for re-election.[2] A total of 13 candidates are hoping to advance from the primary election in Howard County, which will narrow the field to eight candidates for four at-large seats in the general election on November 4, 2014.

Howard County joins 16 other school districts in Maryland and Utah among the nation's largest school districts in holding primaries on June 24, 2014. These elections have highlighted concerns over fiscal responsibility by board members in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland and a difficult relationship between Canyons School District and Jordan School District in Utah. The election year spotlight expanded to Montgomery County school board members Christopher Barclay and Rebecca Smondrowski, who are not on the ballot. Barclay and Smondrowski face scrutiny for charging more than 100 lunches and a few local hotel stays to district credit cards.[3]

Residents of Jordan School District and Canyons School District are concerned about how the split of the original Jordan School District into two separate school districts in 2009 impacted per-pupil spending and educational quality. Total per-pupil spending in Jordan School District was $1,522 before the split, and a gulf developed between Canyons School District ($2,087) and Jordan School District ($1,136) in the year following the separation.[4]

There are 27 incumbents and 118 challengers running in the June 24, 2014, primaries for 45 seats in these districts. A total of 73 seats will be on the general election ballot on November 4, 2014, with 27 seats advancing without primary races.

Spotlight: Alpine School District

Alpine School District logo.jpg

Alpine School District's primary election has been overshadowed by an unusual lawsuit filed against the district regarding its use of the Common Core State Standards. The parents of an 11-year old student in Alpine School District filed suit in February 2014, claiming that the district refused to create an individual education plan (IEP) for the student. This lawsuit also suggested that the district ignored frequent requests for help, acted callously in district emails and engaged in unethical behavior. The parents further allege that the district engaged in retaliatory behavior because they sought assistance from a source who advocated against Common Core.[5][6]

Two out of the four seats up for election in Alpine School District feature competitive primaries. Incumbent Wendy K. Hart faces a primary challenge in District 2 from newcomers Lynne Brockbank Mower, Caroldean Neves and Annette Kindt. The crowded District 5 primary pits Board Vice President JoDee C. Sundberg against six challengers. Districts 1 and 3 will have competitive races in the general election but did not have enough candidates by the filing deadline to force primary elections.


Note: An (i) next to a candidate's name indicates incumbent status.


Calvert County Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Dawn C. Balinski (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Pamela L. Cousins
UncheckedBox.jpg Eugene "Gene" Karol (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg William J. "Bill" Phalen
UncheckedBox.jpg Billy Saunders

Carroll County Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Gary W. Desper
UncheckedBox.jpg George E. Harmening
UncheckedBox.jpg Virginia R. Harrison (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Mary Kowalski
UncheckedBox.jpg Bob Lord
UncheckedBox.jpg Charles "Bud" Nason
UncheckedBox.jpg Jim Roenick
UncheckedBox.jpg Devon Rothschild

Charles County Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Jennifer S. Abell (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Carl Blumenstein
UncheckedBox.jpg Mark Crawford
UncheckedBox.jpg Jocelyn Mann Denyer
UncheckedBox.jpg Betsy Marie Eubanks
UncheckedBox.jpg Lorina Harris
UncheckedBox.jpg Jason Henry Sr.
UncheckedBox.jpg Victoria Talley Kelly
UncheckedBox.jpg Karla M. Kornegay
UncheckedBox.jpg Michael Lukas (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Margaret T. Marshall
UncheckedBox.jpg Virginia McGraw
UncheckedBox.jpg Barbara Palko
UncheckedBox.jpg Melissa Pascarella
UncheckedBox.jpg Robert Michael Pitts
UncheckedBox.jpg Derrick Terry
UncheckedBox.jpg Marcus Tillman
UncheckedBox.jpg Richard Wallace
UncheckedBox.jpg Michael A. Wilson
UncheckedBox.jpg Stephen Ziegler

Frederick County Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Liz Barrett
UncheckedBox.jpg Jonathan C. Carothers
UncheckedBox.jpg Colleen E. Cusimano (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Mike Ferrell
UncheckedBox.jpg Millicent Hall
UncheckedBox.jpg Kenneth Kerr
UncheckedBox.jpg April Fleming Miller (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Richard S. Vallaster III
UncheckedBox.jpg Brad W. Young (i)

Harford County Public Schools
District B
UncheckedBox.jpg Robert "Bob" Frisch (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Greg Johnson
UncheckedBox.jpg Laura Runyeon

District C
UncheckedBox.jpg John Anker
UncheckedBox.jpg Alysson L. Krchnavy (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Joseph L. Voskuhl

District D
UncheckedBox.jpg Nancy Reynolds (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Chris Scholz
UncheckedBox.jpg Mike Simon
UncheckedBox.jpg Tishan D. Weerasooriya

District E
UncheckedBox.jpg Rachel Gauthier
UncheckedBox.jpg Arthur Kaff (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Stephen Eric Macko
UncheckedBox.jpg Barney Michel

District F
UncheckedBox.jpg Thomas Fitzpatrick (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Joe Fleckenstein
UncheckedBox.jpg Michael R. Hitchings

Howard County Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Bess I. Altwerger
UncheckedBox.jpg Corey Andrews
UncheckedBox.jpg Tom Baek
UncheckedBox.jpg Zaneb K. Beams
UncheckedBox.jpg Olga Butler
UncheckedBox.jpg Allen Dyer
UncheckedBox.jpg Maureen Evans Arthurs
UncheckedBox.jpg Sandra H. French (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Dan Furman
UncheckedBox.jpg Leslie Kornreich
UncheckedBox.jpg Christine O'Connor
UncheckedBox.jpg Mike Smith
UncheckedBox.jpg Cynthia L. Vaillancourt (i)

Montgomery County Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Edward Amatetti
UncheckedBox.jpg Shebra Evans
UncheckedBox.jpg Merry Eisner-Heidorn
UncheckedBox.jpg Jill Ortman-Fouse

Prince George's County Public Schools
District 3
UncheckedBox.jpg Clarence Emmanuel
UncheckedBox.jpg Dinora A. Hernandez
UncheckedBox.jpg Amber Waller (i)

District 6
UncheckedBox.jpg Carolyn M. Boston (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Pat Fletcher
UncheckedBox.jpg Darin Kenley

District 9
UncheckedBox.jpg Domonique A. Flowers
UncheckedBox.jpg Johnnie R. Isaac
UncheckedBox.jpg Denise M. Joseph
UncheckedBox.jpg Sonya Williams (i)

St. Mary's County Public Schools
District 1
UncheckedBox.jpg Randy Darnowsky
UncheckedBox.jpg John Alonzo Gaskin
UncheckedBox.jpg Rita Weaver

Washington County Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Jacqueline Fischer (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Mike Guessford
UncheckedBox.jpg Karen J. Harshman (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Henry House
UncheckedBox.jpg Mindy Marsden
UncheckedBox.jpg Ryan Richard Miner
UncheckedBox.jpg Peter E. Perini Sr.
UncheckedBox.jpg Stan Stouffer


Alpine School District
District 2
UncheckedBox.jpg Lynne Brockbank Mower
UncheckedBox.jpg Caroldean Neves
UncheckedBox.jpg Wendy K. Hart (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Annette Kindt

District 5
UncheckedBox.jpg Todd Seager
UncheckedBox.jpg JoDee C. Sundberg (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Megan Keller
UncheckedBox.jpg Maynard R. Olsen
UncheckedBox.jpg Amy Garner
UncheckedBox.jpg Keri Guinn
UncheckedBox.jpg Heidi M. Bailey

Canyons School District
District 2
UncheckedBox.jpg Kim Murphy Horiuchi (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Von Hortin
UncheckedBox.jpg Amber Shill

District 4
UncheckedBox.jpg Clareen Arnold
UncheckedBox.jpg Charles Hardy
UncheckedBox.jpg Tracy Scott Cowdell (i)

Davis School District
Precinct 3
UncheckedBox.jpg Barbara Beard-White
UncheckedBox.jpg Hiram Alba
UncheckedBox.jpg David S. Nelson
UncheckedBox.jpg Peter Cannon (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Julie Tanner
UncheckedBox.jpg Walter C. Bornemeier

Precinct 6
UncheckedBox.jpg Thomas Waggoner
UncheckedBox.jpg Mona Andrus
UncheckedBox.jpg Michael Sperry

Jordan School District
Precinct 2
UncheckedBox.jpg Gary O. Hansen
UncheckedBox.jpg Ben Hunter
UncheckedBox.jpg Matthew G. Young
UncheckedBox.jpg Corbin White (i)

Precinct 3
UncheckedBox.jpg Roy Hayward
UncheckedBox.jpg Charlie Peterson
UncheckedBox.jpg Susan Pulsipher (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg R. Timothy Ellingson

Precinct 7
UncheckedBox.jpg Wendi Mott
UncheckedBox.jpg Jen Atwood
UncheckedBox.jpg Teresa Atherley

Salt Lake City School District
Precinct 6
UncheckedBox.jpg Suzanne Kirk Hawker
UncheckedBox.jpg Carol Barlow Lear
UncheckedBox.jpg Weston Clark
UncheckedBox.jpg Kevin Conway
UncheckedBox.jpg Melissa H. Ford

Washington County School District
District 5
UncheckedBox.jpg David S. Eves
UncheckedBox.jpg Eileen McKell
UncheckedBox.jpg David B. Stirland

Weber School District
District 3
UncheckedBox.jpg John W. Bradley
UncheckedBox.jpg Steven C. Elsnab
UncheckedBox.jpg Brent W. Richardson (i)

See also