A group of Montgomery County parents is still challenging one provision of a new senior high policy scheduled to go into effect in September.
Sixty-four parents have sued the county Board of Education over a measure that introduces uniform final examinations in Montgomery's 22 high schools.
Under Maryland law, citizens can petition the State Board of Education for a hearing on a local policy or on the methods used to adopt it. The state board must then decide whether it wants to overrule a local decision.
At a recent meeting in Baltimore Ruth Harris, who represented the ad hoc group of 64 parents, asked the state panel to hold a full public hearing as soon as possible.
"All we seek is a fair chance to have our views heard before action that may permanently affect our children is irretrievably set in motion," she said.
According to Harris, the county school board voted tentatively last Aug. 20 to approve the exams, against the recommendations of a task force made up of educators and parents. The board then scheduled a public hearing for the end of October, she said.
"The school board actually passed the senior high policy before it held a public hearing," said Harris. "We consider the county board actions as contrary to the principles of free speech and due process."
The senior high policy calls for a basic core of academic courses and a more stringent attendance policy, in addition to the exam provision, and was formally approved by the county school board last February.
Under the new policy, exams to test a student's general knowledge in English and math would be the first developed and administered over a three-year trial period. Exams in other subjects may follow.
"The state school board gives the local boards the right to set policy," said Charles A. Reese, general counsel for the Montgomery County Board of Education, arguing against a state hearing.
"The criteria for a hearing should be if the county violated the Constitution, a statute or a by-law. The mere allegation of different judgements does not constitute a basis of an appeal," he said. "What we have here is a group of parents whose judgements differ from the board's."
The state board will rule on the hearing request at its July 25 meeting.