ANNAPOLIS, MD (July 2, 2009) – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced the appointment of Donald R. Osman to the Harford County Board of Education.
“I am proud to appoint Donald R. Osman to the Harford County Board of Education,” said Governor O’Malley. “I am confident that Mr. Osman possesses the skill and the leadership necessary to ensure every child in Harford County receives the quality public education they deserve.”
Donald R. Osman is a Teacher Mentor at Elkton High School, Perryville High School, Perryville Middle School and Rising Sun Middle School. Prior to that, Mr. Osman was an English teacher at Havre de Grace High School where he taught for 32 years. He was also an English teacher at Havre de Grace Middle School from 1967 to 1973, and prior to that was a teacher at Oakington Elementary School. Mr. Osman is the coordinator of the S.M.I.L.E.S (Service Makes an Individual’s Life Extra Special) program, which teaches its participants to give back to the community.
Mr. Osman also serves on several community groups in Harford County, including the Susquehannah Museum Board of Directors, the Steppingstone Museum Board of Directors, the Harford County Community Service Day Committee, the Harford County Language Arts Parent Advisory Committee, the Havre de Grace Arts Commission, and the James R. Harris Stadium Board of Directors, among others. He is also a recipient of a number of awards and recognitions, including Harford County Public Schools Service Learning Star for the years 2004 through 2008, and the Harford Council of Community Services Unsung Hero Award in 2000. The Mayor and City Council of Havre de Grace declared the week of June 1 through June 7 “Don Osman Week.”
Mr. Osman received his Bachelor of Arts in English from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1965 and received his Masters of Education from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a resident of Havre de Grace.
UPDATE (July 3):
Osman will replace Board Member Lee Merrell, who had sought a reappointment. Merrell told The Dagger he was disappointed because he wanted to continue on the school board and thought he could contribute in a second term.
But Merrell, who is a Republican, said “It is what it is. It’s a political environment and it’s up to the Governor and he’s not going to appoint a Republican.”
Voting records indicate that Osman is a registered Democrat.
So I guess there is nothing political about appointments. Maybe the big Baltimore media can do a story about how candidates are vetted in Harford County. Who got the say on this one anyway – the usual suspects?? Glad to see a teacher but wondering how he can still be teaching full time and be available to serve on the Board. A retired principal wasn’t good enough last year and apparently a retired Civil Engineer who committed a lot of time to the job had the wrong Letter behind his name.
Sorry to see Lee Merrill go because he was one of the few Board members who asked questions and spoke up for teachers and parents. I hope he will consider running when the people of this county actually get to vote.
Lew Jr. says
Best wishes to Mr. Osman. Lets hope he can parlay his teaching and community service experience into a successful stint on the Harford County BOE. That being said, I want to echo Kate’s comments. Who vetted this guy? Who brought his name to the Governor as a candidate? It just makes me laugh when I think about the argument presented against an elected school board; that of it bringing politics into the equation. How much more political can you get than this? A republican appointee who was one of the few BOE members with any common sense being replaced by a Democratic appointee. Man, I can wait for the opportunity to vote the remaining clowns out!!
Lew party is not part of this. The apointee was going to be a democrat apointee no matter what because the Governor of this state is a democrat. Maybe Merrill didn’t want to continue? Being that we pay board members crap in this county to expect that they do not have a full time job is unreasonable.
CDEV what are you drinking (or smoking)? You say “party is not part of this .. the apointee was going to be a democrat apointee no matter what because the Governor of this state is a democrat.” If that isn’t politics than what is it?? Mr. Merrill did want to continue but was rejected not on job performance but because of political affiliation. Mr. Merrill is retired and devoted a lot of time to the job because he could. I was trying to make the point that he had a lot more time than someone working as a full time teacher. How can they attend graduations or school sponsored events? Some Board members have full time jobs but get a lot of time of off work so maybe he will be one of them.
Lew Jr says
CDEV…my point exactly!!!!!! Of course a democratic governor is going to appoint a democrat. That’s politics and thats why the appointed system has got to go!!!! In fact, I submit we will be better off when it is gone completely.
Dr. James says
For the sake of clarity, anyone can actually apply to a board position in Harford County all you have to do is heed the call. However, it is important to demonstrate a commitment to the particular board that you are running for by demonstrating at least a primitive understanding of what goes into the responsibilities of the job. As one of the individuals who actually submitted materials to be considered for the open board seat, I can honestly say that I felt the selection process was fair an absolutely unrelated to party affiliation. In fact, I was never asked what party I represented at all. What I was asked is how I thought I could serve the children and families in Harford County— and isn’t that what we want of our board members anyway? I hope this gives some of you some insight into the process that I went through in an attempted, but albeit unsuccessful, shot at being a public servant.
Lew Jr says
Who asked you how you could serve the children Harford County? What is on a form? The Board of Elections has everyone’s political affiliation and it was a guarantee that no Repulican would get on this appointed Board – that is just the way it is. Dr. James you may have an opportunity to put your name in but without the right “support” you didn’t have a chance of getting the position. They didn’t need to ask you your political affiliation because the fix was already in.
Dr. James says
The form you complete asks the question and you address your specific interest through the personal statement that is submitted. Also you send your forms to the governor’s appointment office that does not ask you any questions about your political affiliation. What is considered is your future electability (since the board is going to be partially elected in the future) and your connection to the Harford County community.
While I agree you need the right support, of the pool of candidates that applied, none of us were asked our political affiliation—I can guarantee that! Even if the board of elections has all of our affiliations on record, the form that you complete would need a lot more information than what I provided to determine my actually party affiliation.
In my opinion, I think it is bigger than party–perhaps it is how connected you are IN Harford County. Check out the folks already on the board–Republican or Democrat these people have a legacy in Harford county. For me, the jury is still out on whether or not, having a legacy in the county is indeed good for the children that participate in public education in county.
Lew Jr says
Thanks for sharing your experience Dr. James especially with what has occurred in Baltimore City recently and a lack of a vetting process. No one seemed to know who did what. Curious as to who decided on your “future electability” and how that would be determined. Many people who serve on the Board don’t know a thing about the school system so at least elections are going to force those people to have some knowledge in that arena. No more “what Board do you want to be on” kind of deal. Perhaps you can also run in an upcoming Board election and let your neighbors decide instead of the Governor. (That’s a laugh anyway because he’s probably off on vacation while this selection was made and was asked to sign a paper with his name on it).
While reading through the responses, I have concluded government appointees will never be a good thing anymore.
The people, rightly so, are very suspicious of all political leaders.
I wish Donald R. Osman all the best. I pray his educational experience taught him common sense. Common sense is the missing key to the political puzzle.
The man Don Osman is replacing, Lee Merrell, has no doubts partisan politics came into play with this appointement.
Please see the update to the story above.
Delegate Dan Riley says
I did not hear Lee Merrell say it was partisan politics when he was appointed. If you had a choice between two candidates and they were equally qualified, wouldn’t you select the one that was of your political party?
Please also remember the last appointees, Leonard Wheeler, a Democrat and Alysson Krchnavy, a Republican
were very good selections as is Don Osmon, a Democrat.
Board of Education appointees serve the citizen’s most precious possesion, their children, not the governor!
So according to your logic Delegate Riley, the Board of Education serves the children and I suppose that would be the children’s guardians – the parents. If that was really the case, they would be much more responsive to parents and the community and not to the powers that be. I know MANY people (myself included) who have corresponded with the Board over the years and have never ever gotten a response; not even an acknowledgement. I guess if the Governor called or wrote them they would be equally dismissive of him too.
Mr. Merrell said it straight up which was that O’Malley wouldn’t appoint a Republican (or at least someone who was appointed by former Governor Ehrlich). Appointments are all about politics and it’s not just about party affiliation. Alysson Krchnavy was put in her seat by others in power and we can all just look at Baltimore City to see how the system really works. Not much different in this county except we are finally getting elections.
Delegate Dan Riley says
It is my hope and that of many others that the new selection process (for BOE members) produces a system more responsive to the citizen’s requests, ideas, and questions.
First where does it say this guy is a registered anything? It does not. No matter who the gov. appointed republican, democrat, libitarian, independent, green, etc….he would be a democratic apointee because he was appointed by a democratic gov. Got It! What party the man is has nothing to do with his qualification to be on the BOE! BTW I am a reg. republican but am changing party to independent since the republican party is rapidly losing touch with reality. Moany people in Harford feel this way and regardless of my party when I vote for BOE I will not care what party the person is. I will ask my self what is best for the kids!
vietnam vet says
Well at least we have one Delegate, that’s at least willing to share his view point. The Honorable Dan Riley.
I graduated from HDG High in 1993 and was fortunate to have Don Osman as my 12th grade AP English teacher. I also served in SMILES for the entire time I was in high school. He’s done a lot for HDG and Harford County and I wish him the best in this new role. It is a shame that the majority of Dagger posters can do nothing but be obsessed with his political affiliations. With all this political infighting and complaining, especially from conservatives, it’s no wonder the Harford County Republican Party is a joke, and has been for some time.
Stop beating a dead horse and why not judge him until AFTER he’s served some time on the board.
I think some of you are missing the point and this has nothing to do with political affiliation. It has to do with the fact that what matters most in deciding on who serves on the BOE is who you know and who is in charge. Now it is a Democrat but it has been the other way too. There are many great individuals who probably could have served the Board well but were never able to because they didn’t have the right connections. That is what is wrong with the appointment process and some people (myself) are very frustrated that we still have to wait several more years to even elect Board members. It should have never taken this long and I certainly don’t consider myself a conservative, but it was the Democrats in this county who fought elections. I just think it is wrong that Board members aren’t allowed to run on job performance and constituent satisfaction.
Democrat or Republican….with a candidate like Don Osman it won’t matter. He is a spit fire and will speak his mind. And it will be for the betterment of the children and NOT for the administration. He is fiesty and there is not a child I know that has had his as a teacher or been involved in SMILES that will speak an unkind word about him. He is the type of person who makes things happen!
Delegate Dan Riley #12 comment
Let’s pray you are right.
However, Can you understand why folks are suspicious of political appointees these days?
My kids are grown and out of the public school system.
I can see both side from the fence I sit.
Why not judge AFTER you ask?
It is because time is of the essence these days and folks are sick and tired of the political games a chosen few play with our future.
Parent, Taxpayer and Businessman says
Delegate Riley: I agree strongly with your post #14.
I hear good things about Mr. Osman and ferventyly hope that he is responsive and collaborative with all the stakeholders.
But let me state what everyone knows already. The arrogance of the political insiders here is an absolute disgrace. Everyone knows that Mr. Wolkow and Delegate James, with a few others, pulled the strings here in firing Mr. Merrell (just as they were the main players in ignoring the best nominees while deciding who got the last 2 appointments). It doesn’t matter to James or Wolkow that they were made fools of, by themselves and by others, during the fight over board elections. For the time being, they have the power, thru the governor, to make these appointments, and they are wielding that power. That is why they fought so dishonestly (and, thankfully, so incompetently) to maintain that power. They lost; and their loss was education’s victory.
But this proves more strongly than ever why the political appointment process is so bad for our kids and why elections of school board members cannot come soon enough! On this Independence Day, God Bless Democracy. Thank you to our Delegates McComas, Riley, Jennings, Norman, McDonough, Impallaria and Stifler; And our Senators Glassman, Harris and Jacobs.
P.T.B. Do you have any proof or are you espousing an baseless opinion?
I hope the elected board works out but to proclaim it a victory for education is to early. It could turn out to be worse then before. Elections are every bit about connections and politics then appointments. Lynch mob mentalities could give us horrible BOE members.
Phil Dirt says
HDGReader said “Stop beating a dead horse and why not judge him until AFTER he’s served some time on the board.”
No one is judging Osman – we are judging the system that gave him the position.
No matter the system that gave Don Osman the position- there could not be a better choice. He was a heckuva school teacher for 32 years. He is dedicated to kids and community. He is NOT a power monger – if he was he could have moved up into the HCPS admin structure years and years ago. Instead he dedicated himself to being an actual educator. It is high time the wisdom and expertise of someone from the trenches of education was included on the BOE.
Hear, hear Don! You go guy! Thank you for all you have done and your willingness to do even more.
State Expert says
How will Mr. Orsman be able to vote on any contract negotiations or teacher salaries. Even if he retires, he won’t be able to vote on anything that would affect his pension or else it will be a huge conflict of interest. Sort of like Mark Walkow whose wife is a teacher and he is voting on budgets that can have a serious effect on his own personel financial standing… so I guess it is ok.
The pension systems are managed and run by the state. The BOE has no say over them. So no conflict of interest. We have had many retired school employees on the BOE it has never been a conflict before. The only people prohibited from being on the BOE are people who actually work in HCPS currently.
The Real Deal says
Mr. Osman has been retired for several years. He is still constantly at the high school as the sponsor of SMILES. He does this for free. For example he voluntarily runs the snack shack at the stadium to get money for the SMILES programs that assists various HdG citizens. If he got paid for this service he would be materially rich. Instead he has the respect and admiration of multiple generations of Havre de Grace residents for his efforts. I think there is some confusion on his working status. He is a part-time mentor in Cecil County.
Come to Havre de Grace and ask about Mr. Osman. People in town will tell you that has always done what is best for students. He is a great choice for Havre de Grace and will bring some substance to the BOE.
Not from Here says
I wish Mr. Osman the very best. I am all for having educators serve.
However, I always find generalizations about what Democrats and Republicans want and fight for offensive. As a life-long Democrat, I signed petitions, wrote letters, and spoke at meeting in favor of an elected school board. Was I not supposed to do this because I am a Democrat? Every time the governor sent a solicitation for money (after I wrote a letter about supporting the elected school board), I would respond with: “Please sign Harford County’s elected school board bill.” I did not realize that because I am a Democrat I could not support the elected school board. Many of my friends, who are also Democrats, will be surprised to learn that they should not have supported the elected school board because of their party affiliation.
And, as Del. Riley stated, the governor did appoint a Republican in the last round. At that time, I was hoping that Nancy Reynolds would be appointed because she is also a straight-shooter. However, the powers that be in Harford County only sent forward two names for two vacancies and I found that supremely arrogant on the part of those making nominations. Two names for two seats did not give the Governor choices, so he made his own.
I guess we can wait and see who the next appointee is to fill Mr. Hess’s seat.