Bill to Allow Student Member of School Board Full Voting Rights Dies in General Assembly

SMOB Student Member of the Board of Education

FILE PHOTO | SMOB Dahlia Huh being sworn in.

Like Cinderella at the ball, time ran out for the Student Member of the Montgomery County Board of Education last night.

At the stroke of midnight the General Assembly closed up shop for another year and with it went the Montgomery County Delegation bill to allow the student representative on the county’s board of education to vote on matters relating to capital and operating budgets; school closings, reopenings, and boundaries; and collective bargaining. The bill also would have authorized the student member to attend executive sessions that relate to collective bargaining, according to a the bill’s fiscal and policy note.

But the bill was stymied by Senator Michael Hough, (R-District 4) who filibustered on the floor of the Senate last night when the bill was introduced at three minutes to midnight. Bills not voted on by midnight or Sine Die, die on the floor.

Senator Karen Montgomery (D-Dist. 14) said she “annoyed at the game playing” done to defeat this bill.

“The bill is not desired by some of the folks down here who play games with people,” Montgomery told MyMCMedia Tuesday.

Montgomery said she “knew there was going to be some shenanigans” and she said she called for the vote but was dismissed.

Current student member of the board or (SMOB) Dahlia Huh, told MyMCMedia, “It was definitely a disappointment yesterday night that our bill was filibustered on the floor.”

The bill was supported by the Montgomery County delegation. It has been introduced in years past, but Montgomery said this is the most support it has had. Anne Arundel Public Schools’  SMOB is the only other SMOB in the country to have full voting rights “that we know of,” according to a spokeswoman from the Anne Arundel school district.

Montgomery said she meets with the SMOB before each General Assembly session and said she has more “faith in young people than those who are playing these games.”

And she said, “I think many are quite as capable as the present school board members and this is not a cut on the members. I am impressed with their capacity; they do their homework and know want they are voting on,” she said.

Dahlia released the following statement to MyMCMedia about the development:

“Incredibly disappointed by the events that transpired yesterday night.
Despite our best efforts, the bill to expand student member voting rights (HB86), did not pass this year. For five minutes, our bill was filibustered on the floor while the clock ticked away. At midnight the President was compelled to call “Sine Die” – the end of legislative session. It’s frustrating that political maneuvers can hold back a bill that was poised to pass after 40 years of hard advocacy. Not to mention our bill had the unanimous support of the Montgomery County Delegation, EHEA committee, and of course the Board of Ed. Additional supporters included the County Exec, members of the County Council, and many former Board members.

For every opponent, there are dozens out there that are supporters. Firstly, thank you to my board member colleagues for standing by, not only me, but SMOBs for generations in fighting for this cause. Secondly, our Delegates in the House who sponsored the bill – especially Del. Anne Kaiser who has championed expanded voting rights for years. Thank you to our Senators for their support this year as well.
This bill meant so much to me because I truly believe that students should be fully represented in the decision making process since we are the largest stakeholders in the school system. Truly it is a sad day in Montgomery County, one of the most progressive districts in America, when our own legislators can not agree on whether or not students should be represented in the decision making process. We boast of Maryland’s progressiveness, but we see tonight that some Senators (whom this bill would not even affect) would like to stay stuck in the past. I know that next year’s SMOB will continue the work, and am looking forward to returning from college in order to see this bill passed.

Next year we are looking forward to working with the EHEA committee in order to get the bill on the agenda earlier in the year (perhaps late March or the first week of April). This way it will arrive on the floor earlier and we will be able to avoid the issue of having the clock run out on us.”

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Krista Brick

About Krista Brick

Krista Brick is a multi-media journalist with Montgomery Community Media.


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