Veteran Prince George's County School Board member Norman H. Saunders said yesterday that illness and the demands of his job have kept him from attending board meetings for almost four months.
Saunders has missed five regular meetings and seven public hearings or work sessions, the latest of them last night--more than any of the other eight board members. His absence has prompted questions from some of his constituents.
Reached at home, Saunders said he first got the flu in early November and has it again. He has not been to work in two weeks, he said. A temporary increase in the workload at his job with the National Defense University in Washington caused him to miss the two board meetings and two work sessions last October, while a combination of bronchitis and pneumonia kept him in in December, he said.
One of those to express concern at Saunders' absence was Sue V. Mills, a County Council member from Saunders' south county area.
"I've gotten calls wondering where he is and inquiring as to his health, but I haven't had any answers," she said recently.
Edna Marks of Clinton, a PTA activist, said Saunders "had the nerve to miss a public hearing on the school budget in his own back yard."
That meeting was held Monday night at the Southern Area Administrative office in Oxon Hill.
Saunders, 52, said that "since 1973 I've had a very excellent record. This is just one of those things."
He said he has kept abreast of the issues before the board, which include potentially serious budget problems, a restructuring of the high school curriculum and negotiating a new teacher contract.
He said he made no contribution to the board's decision to offer the teachers an across-the-board $382 raise.