The chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party criticized yesterday the scool board's handling of a meeting last Monday in which the conservative majority of the board tried to pass a resolution eliminating a requirement that all school employes take a black culture course.
Stanton Gildenhorn stressed that his criticism was not meant to address the issue of the black culture course, but expressed his concern over what he called a "gross ignoring of fundamental fairness" by the board in its handling of the heated meeting.
He said his criticism was prompted to press accounts stating that board president Marian Greenblatt, part of a conservative board majority, refused to allow black parents and black community leaders to participate in discussion on the issue and at one point threatened to "clear" the board room.
Gildenhorn also criticized the fact that board member Eleanor Zappone introduced a resolution that night to make the mandatory black studies course voluntary, without first informing the school board members that she intended to introduce this resolution.
Gildenhorn said Zappone's move constitued "a procedural denial of due process." He added that he felt the school board's actions violated the traditions of Montgomery County government that stressed "open and careful decision-making . . . with maximum input from our citizens."
Gildenhorn's statement constitutes the first time a party leader in the country has publicly criticized the school board. He said he had discussed his statement with about nine members of the Democratic Central Committee and "seven or eight" elected officials who essentially agreed with his position.