Harford County Board of Education Rejects Aberdeen High Scoreboard Project Over Naming of Stadium in Exchange for Donation from Henderson Family; “Living In a Contemporary World” Now Elective

From Harford County Public Schools:

The Board of Education of Harford County met in an open business meeting on Monday, November 14, 2011, in the Board Room of the HCPS/A.A. Roberty Building and took the following the actions or received the following presentations:

Approved the Consent Agenda, with the exception of Consent Agenda item number three (Decision on School/Organization Sponsored Project – Aberdeen High School Electronic Scoreboard):
- Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards
- Minutes of Previous Meetings: October 24, 2011

· After being removed from the Consent Agenda to allow for discussion of the school system’s advertising policy, the Consent Agenda item requested to approve the electronic scoreboard installation/naming rights of the Aberdeen High School athletic facility. Decision on School/Organization Sponsored Project – Aberdeen High School Electronic Scoreboard.

· Approved the Superintendent’s recommendation to redefine the status of the course entitled “Living in a Contemporary World (LICW)” from a required course for ninth graders to an elective course for all high school students. The Superintendent’s recommendation came after an extensive review process which included seeking input from various constituencies.

· Tabled the motion to vote on the 2012 Legislative Platform until the next Board meeting on Monday, November 21. The Legislative Platform for 2012 is an integral component of an overall strategy on issues significant to public education in Harford County. The perspective in the Legislative Platform reflects this focus and is intended to assist our elected representatives during the 2012 Maryland General Assembly Session.

· Received a presentation regarding the work of the Office of Community Engagement, Equity and Cultural Proficiency.

· Received a presentation regarding an update to the Board policy (NO. 24-0006-000) entitled “Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment or Intimidation of Students.” The Board’s policy prohibiting bullying, harassment or intimidation was reviewed and revised to conform to the model policy developed by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). Our current policy prohibits harassment, intimidation, and bullying using electronic devices; insertion of the term “cyberbullying” provides additional clarity. This proposed policy change will be posted to the school system website under “Hot Topics” and will be held over for 30-days to allow for public input.

· Received the Superintendent’s Report which announced the following:

- Project Lead the Way, which is anon-profit organization and the nation’s leading provider of innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics curriculum for schools,recently named Bel Air High School one of just 16 schools in the nation as a “Model School” for their leadership in STEM education. Bel Air High School’s Biomedical Sciences Program provides arigorous, hands-on STEM curriculum that engages students and inspires them to reach their potential. As with all HCPS magnet programs, Biomedical Sciences is focused on preparing our high school students for the competitive, 21st Century global marketplace. Dr. Tomback extended his congratulations to Bel Air High and the students and teachers involved in this program.

- Five young women form the Bel Air High School Biomedical Sciences Program – Nicole Lentz, Lauren Muir, RebeccaRochowiak, Kim Harrell and Amie Stephens – were accepted and will be participating in the Perry Outreach Program which will be held at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 19th, 2012, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event will feature faculty and volunteers from the University of Pennyslvania’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Department of Bioengineering as well as Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The Perry Initiative is committed to inspiring young women to be leaders in the exciting fields of Orthopaedic Surgery and Engineering. The Perry Initiative partners with medical centers, universities, and high schools to host Perry Outreach Programs for high school women. These day-long programs are held at different locations nationwide throughout the year.


  1. says

    To clarify the report above from HCPS regarding the Aberdeen scoreboard – Superintendent Tomback had recommended approval of the scoreboard project, which was to be funded by corporate donations and a $20,000 donation from the Henderson family. The board voted not to accept the superintendent’s recommendation to approve the project. The vote was split 5 to 4, with Board Members Bob Frisch, Cassandra Beverley, Nancy Reynolds, Joe Hau and Jim Thornton voting not to approve the scoreboard project.

    At issue was a prior agreement by Tomback to allow the Hendersons to name the stadium “Henderson Field” in consideration for their $20,000 donation toward the cost of the scoreboard. Rejecting the scoreboard project at this time means that the $20,000 will be returned to the Hendersons and the stadium will not carry their name.

    Board members suggested that board policy be reconsidered or clarified. The policy on the naming of school facilities currently exempts athletic facilities. The policy on advertising in school allows the superintendent to approve advertising that is consistent with the mission of the school system.

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    • Tim Lindecamp says

      It also means Aberdeen will continue to use a 20+ year old scoreboard. Edgewood gets a new school built with a new stadium, Bel Air gets a new school built and a new stadium and gets to keep their old stadium. Aberdeen gets a new school.

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  2. was there says

    I was at the meeting…. No change in the plans…. only where the money will come from. The field will not be named Henderson Field.

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    • The Was There says

      A board member brought up the issues surrounding a Henderson family member and some of his off the field antics and the board president shut him down. I believe the school system did not want a field named after a person with issues with the criminal justice system. It maybe that it does not sit well naming a field after someone like this.

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  3. im getting real pissed says

    this is bull crap if someones going to provide the funding take it, Also EJ AND ERIN Henderson are legends in the aberdeen community, I think if the students at aberdeen looked at that, that would be motivation to succeed

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    • another view says

      There are many others that have dedicated countless hours and raised large sums of money for Aberdeen HS without asking anything in return. If the Henderson brothers want to give back to their community with a generous financial contribution terrific, but there should not be strings attached to naming rights to the athletic field and their name across the top of the score board as a condition of the donation.

      To allow naming rights to athletic fields, gymnasiums, pools, etc. based on a fee is not what the school system should be about. This isn’t private property. It is a slippery slope that the school board thought better to avoid and in this case is the right decision.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3
      • Peter says

        What slippery slope? If they did allow them to name the scoreboard/stadium for the Henderson brothers what would be the next unacceptable step in your hypothetical future? Would other successful athletes from Harford County schools would be willing to donate money in exchange for naming rights? Would that really be a bad thing?

        If that’s “not what the school system should be about”, then why is the baseball field at Aberdeen High School named Cal Ripken Sr field? The naming of which coincided with a hefty donation from Cal & Billy Ripken for renovations and equipment.

        I’m thinking this had more to do with the size of the donation than anything. Does anyone think that if it had been $200k instead of $20k they would have turned it down?

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        • Cdev says

          The next slippery step is what if Sandusky wanted to donate a million to name Fallston’s field after him?

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          • Peter says

            Given that Fallston is populated mostly by sexual deviants, I think they would at least have to consider it.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5
        • another view says

          You are completely off the mark when you insinuate that the BOE rejected the offer based on the size of the donation. If you were there or watched the meeting on the internet it was plainly obvious that this was not a factor in the debate. What you are suggesting is that the BOE would use extortion to coerce larger donations from citizens, businesses, or community groups. Such allegations destroy your credibility.

          That fact that persons, businesses, or organizations could offer large sums of money, materials, or services to the school system without a clear (or improper) policy in place to address and guide the BOE in these types of decisions IS the issue. From what I see the BOE recognized this problem and decided it best to not set a bad precedent in this case which could lead to future problems for the school system.

          If you were truly informed you would know that the Ripken family had no financial connection to the AHS baseball field renovations. In fact the Ripken family objected to the Cal Sr. field being placed at the high school, but since it was not their money they did not have the final say. They preferred a baseball field honoring Cal Sr. be placed somewhere else in the Aberdeen community.

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        • im getting real pissed says

          I agree, the Henderson brothers played on this field, and succeeded on this field. Maybe next time they will say hell with the schools we will just keep our money

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  4. Harford Co. tax payer says

    Why would Harford County Board of Ed. reject a $20,000 donation for our schools?

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    • another view says

      Because of the unacceptable conditions that the school system would have to agree to get the money. There are larger issues at play here than a 20K donation.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2
      • Here's Your Sign says

        This is so typical of our society nowadays…money is the cure for everything. Not everything has or should have a price tag.

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  5. Huh? says

    Aren’t there other athletic fields in the county named after individuals? What am I missing here?

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    • another view says

      The issue is the strings attached to the donation and the overall contribution to Harford Co. schools made by those individuals. Look at the policy criteria for naming school facilities after individuals.

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    • was there says

      That question was directly asked of C. Brown. He only knew of fields being named on behalf of booster clubs. If that information is true and the information had been revealed to the Board I think it would have swayed at least one Member.

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    • was there says

      That question was directly asked of C. Brown. He only knew of fields being named on behalf of booster clubs. If that information is true and the information had been told to the Board I think it would have swayed at least one Member.

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  6. The Was There says

    Phil Dirt, I did not know that. Terrible if true…A convicted felon after induction or before induction??? If after, take his name off whatever plaque(s) have his/her name engraved….

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    • Phil Dirt says

      It happened after induction. I’d rather not bring the person’s name up and hijack this discussion, but the situation was well publicized at the time.

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  7. Michael says

    I say we take the money and open it up across the board to corporate sponsers for everything at the schools and lower taxes across the board….We could have the Abingdon Elementary Wegmans cafeteria…..We could have the Bel Air Bakery Boys Locker Room…..the Joppatowne High WAWA tennis courts….and the Thompson Toyota Edgwood Middle teacher of the month parking spot……right the check and we will slap your ad up its the American way come on people

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  8. one more former student says

    As budgets get tighter, costs go up and funds are increasingly earmarked for updating and maintaining classroom facilities, it will soon be a choice to either sell naming rights and advertising on the athletic fields or make all sports self supporting. The hard decisions are coming for the board of ed. And before anyone whines about teacher/admin pay or benefits, those are a non-starter. Even newer schools will need updates to keep current, older schools will need even more. Add in the ocsts of teaching material, lab material and general maintenance and there will be little funds left over for athletics. Parks and Rec already has to do a lot of the work. It’s time for a hard look at splitting all the athletic facilities off from the schools, place them with P&R and look into some marketing/advertising and capitalism to get those facilities to cover all their costs. Aberdeen started the discussion, now it’s time to really work on it.

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    • DA says

      I remember during the vote to approve the current budget the idea to charge students a nominal fee to offset expenses for school athletic programs, like some other counties are doing, was supported by some board members. That idea was shot down by a majority of the board. Maybe the board will be ready to rethink that idea if like you say the budget continues to tighten.

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  9. Randy Conlon says

    Agree with former student. Long ago I coached a travel rec program and played adjacent to Bel Air High School. I was envious as the County had just cut and lined the field. Not blaming Bel Air, but wondered why Aberdeen did not seed thier fields to the county and let them bear the expense of maintaining them.

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  10. george e. martin sr. says

    I didn’t attend Aberdeen High School, but I know from experience that football, baseball fields and basketball courts around the nation are routinely named for outstanding school athletes and coaches and yes, booster clubs. The Board of Education is wrong now and was wrong last year when they denied Fallston High Schools attempt to name their football field after a fallen soldier and school alumni. By the way, never ask a lawyer who works for the BOE for an opinion. He danced around the policy issue and admitted it does not specifically include athletic facilities, then deferred to their policy on advertising (read commercial, for profit). For heavens sake, what in the world could the Henderson’s possibly be selling, other than school pride in athletics? Maybe the BOE needs to clarify their stupid policy so that athletic facilities can be named for outstanding athletes or coaches.

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  11. Cdev says

    I am of the opinion that if something is going to be named for you either a) the people of the community come forward and request the honor thus bestowing it to you or b) if their is a cost the raise money in your honor to again bestow it on you. You should not be buying your name on something.

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  12. Westside Resident says

    The Baltimore Sun is reporting that neither Henderson requested that their name went on the sign. Maybe the Dagger could’ve done some further investigation before printing this article and causing such an outpouring of discontent towards the Hendersons. Also, the Dagger could have made light of the fact that the high school babseball field was named after Cal Ripken Sr who most certainly was not a faculity member of the Harford County Public School System. But again, would the Dagger be interested in the WHOLE story?

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    • Concerned Teacher says

      In regards to the baseball field being named after Cal Ripken, Sr…

      A) Mr. Ripken is deceased.
      B) The Ripken family had no financial involvement whatsoever in the upgrading of the facilities.
      C) The Ripken family did not ask for the field to be named after him. In fact, one report was that the family specifically asked for it NOT to be named after him, and the school/BOE did it anyway.

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  13. Knowledgeable says

    This is wrong. Mr. Ripken (who I hold in the Highest regard) did have a financial interest in the building of the Baseball facilities along with Major League Baseball and Project open space. He played a dedicated role in not only funding but planning and designing the facility, down to where the sun sets and which way the field should face. The difference here is the HCPS policy that is in place now was not in place then.

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  14. my2cents says

    WJZ TV did a story on this. One of the Henderson brothers said this was a slap in the face and that the scoreboard was to be the first part of a plan to rehap the entire football field, but now that is no longer in their plans. If that is true none of that information came out at the school board meeting and I have to question this. If they were willing to spend the amount of money needed to rehab the football field why wouldn’t they just pay for the entire scoreboard? This story has also made it to yahoosports where most of the comments are not very favorable to the Henderson brothers.

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  15. one more former student says

    Time for the school board to suck it up, grow a set and make a final decision. Either cough up the funds to repair, upgrade all the school athletic facilites,or let the schools market them to raise funds to do it. They can set standards and rules ,but just get it done.
    And they choose to not allow any naming or marketing, then make it a new policy that ALL HCPS facilities will no longer have any individual names, allow a grace period to let HDG come up with a new name for their field, and o-yea.. C. Milton Wright will get a new name, same as the HQ building.
    Then they can get on with some real work…

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    • Cdev says

      Paying for scoreboards and lights has been the job of the boster clubs. JHS needs a new scoreboard and is raising the money them selves for it. If the Hendersons want to just give some money for a score board fine. The problem is the naming contingency. That is not how HCPS does buisness. Naming of facilities has some polocies. I know for a fact the JHS bosters asked about naming the stadium at JHS after Mike Bauer and the answer from the BOE was something to the effect of he needs to be dead!

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  16. my2cents says

    Just some of the quotes from the comments section of yahoosports website.

    Uhh first of all…if you want your name on the board, how about donating the entire 50k…come on! What if the person who danoated the other 30k wanted only their name on the board? Aside from that, the person killed in Iraq should have ithe field named after him. The political correctness that this BOE has construed as “no advertisement means no advertisement” is absurd and tasteless. Come on folks, get a grip! You people are the ones sucking the life out of this world. If you feel that you would have a hard time justifying why you named a football field after a fallen hero, you should not be in office. That should be an easy feat for any leader. If someone does come to the plate to complaign because you named the field after a wartime hero, you tell them to go packing. I am sure you would have more backing than you obviously think. Glaring your family name for the hell of it is much different than honoring someone who gave their life for this country. I suppose you have no schools or related properties in your jurisdiction that are named after a teacher or principal?

    So, they donated 40% of what was needed. Maybe the school can put 40% of their name on the board, so it can read “Henc” (notice the half “d’)

    “It’s like a slap in the face, honestly,” Erin Henderson told WJZ”
    No, no, no, no. Erin, it’s YOU slapping your old high school in the face. Real givers contribute because they can. You clearly do it just to make sure the rest of the world knows about it. You’re just being a tool.

    The Henderson brothers should be glad to have the ability to help out and leave it at that.

    These guys do not deserve to have their name on anything. Who donates with these type of conditions. Arrogant ignorant selfish people thats who. The school should separate themselves as far as possible from these idiots.

    What I have learned over the years is that if you want to help someone, go ahead and help them. If you don’t, don’t. But never expect anything in return. Charity is not about what you get out of it. He even states it is about giving back. These brothers are coming off as extremely petty.

    Giving is not asking for something!

    Go ahead and put their name on it, in 1/4″ letters.

    If you are expecting something in return it isn’t a donation it’s a purchase……or a bribe. I’m siding with the school on this one. Another celebrity trying to glorify himself.

    Real Easy Solution here…Don’t worry about your name on a scoreboard and help the kids you claim to care about. Especially since you have already cut the check. Charity is giving without the expectation of getting anything in return. If your that concerned with people seeing your name just buy some billboard space and simply put Henderson on it.

    Good. What happened to just giving to feel good…

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  17. Mya Pinion says

    I know this discussion is about naming rights for individuals, but advertising is mentioned throughout the policy. Maybe my eyes deceived me, but when I saw this story on the news, there was a picture of the scoreboard and in the upper right hand corner there was an advertisement for either COKE or PEPSI. How does this play into matters?

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