Harford County Board of Education to Appoint Interim Superintendent by June, Will Serve 1-Year Term While Board Searches for Tomback’s Permanent Replacement

From Harford County Public Schools:

The Board of Education of Harford County met for an open business meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, February 25, 2013 in the Board Room of the HCPS/A.A. Roberty Building and took the following actions or received the following presentations:

Recognized the following:

- Hall of Fame Educator – Dr. Dennis L. Kirkwood

- Hickory Elementary School, Maryland Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education School Award

- Ms. Jessica Hoover, Outstanding Educator in Gifted and Talented Education

- 2012 National Board Certified Teachers

Board President Rick Grambo read the following statement regarding the superintendent search process:

“As you are aware, on Monday, February 4, Superintendent Robert M. Tomback announced that at the conclusion of his term in June he would be moving on to pursue other opportunities. As he moves forward, we wish Dr. Tomback well on his future endeavors and are grateful for his service to our students, staff and community over the last four years.

Upon receiving this information, my Board colleagues and I immediately began working to create a timeline and process for selecting Dr. Tomback’s successor. While we, as a community, have the critical task of selecting the next Superintendent to lead our school system, we must ensure that this process does not interfere with our mission and responsibility of instructing our students and preparing them for a successful life beyond Harford County Public Schools. In order to allow more time to sufficiently gather feedback and input from the parents, students, staff and community regarding desired criteria for our next Superintendent, we have decided that it would be prudent to appoint an interim superintendent to serve a one-year term.

We are currently working to select an Interim Superintendent and hope to make an announcement by June 10 of this school year. The Interim Superintendent will be allowed to apply for the permanent position.

This Board feels it is vital that it seek input from all of our stakeholders before making the decision to appoint the next Superintendent.

The search for the permanent Superintendent will commence in the fall and will begin with the critical task of developing the criteria for the selection of the next Superintendent of Harford County Public Schools. We are committed to communicating with you regularly throughout the search process. A communication plan and search process timeline will be developed over the summer and made promptly available to the public. We encourage you to become involved in the search process for the permanent Superintendent as this decision is one that affects all of us.”

Approved the Consent Agenda:
- Minutes of Previous Board Meeting: February 11, 2013
- Monthly Report on Personnel
- Resolutions:

- Gifted and Talented Education Month

- National Music in Our Schools and Youth Art Month

- Maryland Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day

- Decision on School/Organization Sponsored Project: Norrisville Elementary School Bioretention and Rain Garden Facilities

- Decision on School/Organization Sponsored Project: Patterson Mill Middle/High School Riparian Forest Buffer Planting

Approved the appointment of Ms. Jennifer R. Myers to the position of Pupil Personnel Worker (PPW). Ms. Myers currently serves as a school counselor at the Alternative Education Program at the Center for Educational Opportunity in Aberdeen.

Received a presentation on the following HCPS Board Policies:

- Advertising (Policy No. 06-0024-000)

- Memorials on School Grounds (Policy No. 06-0025-000)

- Naming of Public School Buildings or Facilities (Policy No. 20-0024-000)

Received a presentation on the Strategic Plan Update #4 which reviews data from the Student and Parent Satisfaction Survey. Presenters were Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications; Leeann Schubert, coordinator of school improvement; and, Phil Snyder, supervisor of accountability.

Received a presentation regarding the Legislative Update by Kathy Carmello, coordinator of government relations. Voted to accept section one of the Legislative Update as presented.

During the Superintendent’s Report:

- Announced that several students at Havre de Grace High School will be participating in the Verizon Wireless Educational Empowerment Program. This program will provide an opportunity to help further the collegiate studies and enhance the career development for these students. It is also Verizon’s goal through this program to enhance the teaching and learning environment by introducing students and teachers to wireless technology, products and services.

The Havre de Grace High School administration will be the facilitators of this program, and the students who participate will be provided with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, wireless service to access the use of the Android application, and an online social learning tool for education entitled, Edmodo. Bi-weekly workshops conducted by Verizon Wireless employees will inspire and empower students to pursue higher education and assist them in career planning. The presentation will take place on Thursday, February 28, 2013, at Havre de Grace High School at 12:45 p.m. in the Havre de Grace High School auditorium.

- Regarding our academic calendar for this school year, the last day of school, as of today, will be Friday, June 14 for kindergarten through 11th grade students and Wednesday, June 12 for our pre-K students. As communicated through the Parent-Student Handbook Calendar distributed to all students at the beginning of the school year, parents were asked to plan on Monday, June 17th as the last day of school with eight inclement weather make-up days used. We have used four of those inclement weather make-up days resulting in the last day of school being Friday, June 14. In addition, Tuesday, April 30th will now be a regular school day.

A common misconception exists regarding waivers at the state level. Regardless as to whether the Governor declares a State of Emergency during an inclement weather event, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) would still need to approve any days to be waived. MSDE expects a reasonable effort to be made to make-up lost school days to ensure 180 days of instruction before waivers are submitted. Therefore, waivers are not reviewed by MSDE until after the inclement weather season concludes. Information regarding inclement weather make-up days has been posted on the homepage of the school system website and will be updated as we move through the remainder of the inclement weather season.

- The top five finalists for the 2013 Harford County Teacher of the Year award were released today. The judging panel had a difficult and unenviable task again this year with many outstanding teachers nominated for the award. Just to have been deemed worthy by a student, parent, administrator or community member to be Harford County’s Teacher of the Year from among the more than 3,200 teachers in the system is remarkable. Our five finalists are as follows in alphabetical order:

- Tara N. Buecker, Jarrettsville Elementary School Physical Education/Health Teacher

- J. Laura Childs, Edgewood High School English Teacher

- Kimberly A. Harner, Southampton Middle School Special Educator

- Kristine E. M. Jurgs, Southampton Middle School Special Educator

- Kristin M. Schaub, Havre de Grace Elementary School Fifth Grade Teacher

After this year’s Teacher of the Year Judging Committee reviewed and scored all nomination packets, the points were tallied resulting in a group of ten candidates that participated in an interview with a panel of eight judges. The judges narrowed the pool to the top five finalists, one of which will be crowned the 2013 Harford County Teacher of the Year.

A surprise announcement of the winner will take place at the annual Harford County Teacher of the Year banquet to be held on Wednesday, March 27, at the Bayou Restaurant in Havre de Grace. Again this year, the banquet is being provided by HARCO Federal Credit Union with numerous outstanding Harford County businesses donating gifts to our finalists.

The next Board of Education business meeting will be held on Monday, March 11th at 6:30 p.m. All Board meetings are held at the A.A. Roberty Building in Bel Air. To access all future Board meeting dates, log onto the school system website at www.hcps.org.


  1. Rumor Has It says

    So does Joe Licata get the nod? Or does his downtown dalliance with a former superintendent knock him out of the running?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2
    • Kotter says

      Why should it keep him out of the running? It has gotten him promoted over and over. It pays to know where the skeletons are buried in our county. If he had been a teacher at the time he would have been fired. Shame on HCPS.

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  2. Big Man says

    My money is on Barbara Canavan. She’s an outstanding administrator who knows what is best for schools. In addition, she knows where all the skeletons are in the system.

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    • Former HPS employee says

      Barbara Canavan would be an AWESOME supervisor! She would clean up this dysfunctional school system and have it back on track!!! Wonderful suggestion!

      Well-loved. Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
  3. WOW! says

    I am a little confused on the Canavan thing. Maybe she was awesome at one time but I am less than impressed. She has not done anything for middle schools, or at least not the one I work in. I am hoping she will bounce back since Tomback is leaving.

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    • agreed says

      I think you have stated the obvious, things will be different when Tomback, Lawrence and a few others are gone.

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  4. army vet says

    Mrs. Canavan is able to be strict and set high expectations, while maintaining kindness and integrity to others. We have lacked the kindness elements too long in HCPS. She certainly has my nod of approval. She can right this broken ship and set the school system on a better track.

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    • Kharn says

      We do not need kindness this year, we need an iron fist in a velvet glove. The new superintendent should:
      -Stop allowing athletes free reign or waivers (even if it means losing a regional or state title)
      -Stop graduating people who do not deserve a diploma (Getting to the bus stop 180 days a year for 13 years is not deserving of a diploma)
      -Make suspensions hurt (it should be an unexcused absence, not a free vacation with the ability to turn in work upon return)
      -Fire non-performing teachers
      -Stand up to parents that say “If you don’t go my way, I’ll get a lawyer!” instead of giving in.

      Once the schools are running properly and all students are performing at grade level, then kindness could be considered.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9
      • Harford Resident says

        “Stop allowing athletes free reign or waivers”

        I’m not clear on the issue here. can you elaborate? I’m not a big fan of sports in the schools either, so I think I support your position – just looking for some depth. Thx.

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        • Michael DORN says

          The reference is to the fact that in many cases when these athletes get failing grades,which makes them uneligible to play,they and/ or their parents petition HCPS for a waiver, and in past ,in many cases, they are granted the waiver and allowed to continue playing the sport. Now as i understand it, one ‘E’ makes ineligible to play.Regardless, I believe kharn’s point is that there is no backbone in the administation when it comes to backing the rank and file, and getting behind our teachers so they can do their job . The BOE needs to take the lead in holding students,and parents to a standard of responsibillty for themselves, and make them accountable for their failures. not the teachers.

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          • Cautiously Hopeful... says

            When I worked for HCPS’s, if there was a good athlete it didn’t matter what the grades were, their teachers were told by the administration to change the grades to passing and work with them after school to make it happen. In other words, no matter what they passed. If the teachers dared to fight that they were in big trouble with administration.

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          • CDEV says

            I think you would find that varies from school to school and principal to principal. What flies in school a will not fly in school b.

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          • Kharn says

            That is why I believe that waivers should be prohibited. The principals have not shown they can handle them responsibly and fairly, so they should lose that ability. To go along with that (and to close one potential back door), I think a principal should be fired if they suggest a single teacher pencil-whip a grade.

            Students are required to exhibit academic honesty, why aren’t the teachers, coaches and administrators held to the same standard? We’re not talking UMD with millions of dollars in TV and merchandise deals to protect, these are high school athletics and students need to learn that their performance in school has a direct correlation to their ability to perform on the sports field.

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          • Cdev says

            Kharn I don’t disagree in the least. If we have a waiver system it should be handled by the county, time consuming and it would ensure equity. When they displayed stats a few years ago when it was being studied it seemed on rt 40 appeals where infrequent but in Bel Air and Fallston it was almost automatic.

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      • CDEV says

        A few other issues to point out. The points you raise are not Superintendent purogatives for the most part. The waivers are granted by the principal based on the BOE policy. That needs to be changed by the BOE. The state of MD sets the graduation requirements the BOE set the policy which allows a kid to get a B one quarter and pass the class. Again the BOE decided suspensions are excused abscences I think that may be an MSDE policy. Fire non-performing teachers is something the superintendent has alot of control over and I agree Tomback didn’t stand up to parents well, unless they also worked for the school!

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        • Kharn says

          The Superintendent can petition the BOE to make all of those changes.

          You are actually correct about suspensions being MSDE policy, because too many minority students in Baltimore City and PG County were failing due to the previous policy of unexcused absences for suspensions. The new superintendent needs to go to MSDE, explain that Baltimore’s problems are not Harford’s problems and seek exemption from their policy so that students bringing drugs, alcohol, etc, into our schools suffer a punishment worse than 10 days sitting at home playing Call of Duty and turning in all missed work upon return.

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          • Cdev says

            Correct the Superintendent can ask but the BOE has and always had the policy to change those policies. Until they are changed the Superintendent must enforce them.

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  5. CDEV says

    The question is does she have the ability to be liscenced by the state as a superintendent? While this is an interim superintendent and they make exceptions in those cases alot more readily she would have to have some of the liscence requirements done. I agree she would be great!

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  6. Reggie says

    This might make sense. But this is the Harford County Board of Education that we are talking about….when have they ever done anything that makes sense?

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    • hopefully optomistic says

      As the saying goes, “this is not your father’s Cadillac anymore.” The same can be said for this current crop of BOE members. It is obvious this group is willing to challenge the status quo, and not longer simply nod their heads in collective agreement with whatever the Superintendent says. That is refreshing and reason for hope.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  7. No place for our kids says

    We just had an iron fist with the employees but a pushover with parents… Now would be a good time for someone who supports employees

    Well-loved. Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  8. Hcps says

    I appreciate that the BOE wants to do its homework, but an entire year of uncertainty with an interim is disconcerting. The interim will not want to take significant actions to correct past issues or implement sound new practices. The interim will simply keep the ship afloat.

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    • hopefully optomistic says

      Keeping this ship afloat must be the first priority of the BOE and the interim superintendent. If they can’t do that then there will be no need to worry about new practices. It will take at least a year if not longer to fix the problems caused over the past few years. Hopefully the BOE will do a good job of choosing an interim who will then stay on for the long haul. I have more faith in the current BOE than I did in last group.

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    • TP says

      That’s the point exactly. The board and specifically the president of the board is now in charge of ALL personnel decisions. This was the problem with an elected board in the first place. We could have a system run by laymen that direct the superintendent on what to do. We could save $190 K. Why even hire a superintendent when we have Rick Gambo?

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      • hopefully optomistic says

        The BOE has always had the power to control all hires and promotions. They usually never get involved in personnel decisions except at the very top. Mr. Grambo may hold the title of President but he does not control the BOE as is evident by the many 8 – 1 votes he has lost. What distinction do you make between past members of an all appointed BOE, or the current version with six appointed members, being laymen? Elected versus appointed makes no difference. If you have a problem with Mr. Grambo’s views on education or his politics just say so.

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  9. ptb says

    Allow me to point out a phrase from Mr. Grambo’s letter that we NEVER heard from the arrogant, incompetent Mark Wolkow/Robin Rich tandem: “This Board feels it is vital that it seek input from all of our stakeholders before making the decision…..”.
    Thank you!!!! good riddens Wolkow. Hats off to our current board members!

    Well-loved. Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
    • hopefully optomistic says

      There has been a significant change in the way this BOE reacts to the public. I have seen some of the more motivated BOE members out in their communities for things other than school related ceremonial exercises. This is a step in the right direction where BOE members will be more responsive to the concerns of parents and students.

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  10. Cautiously Hopeful... says

    I am so hopeful, but yet so fearful that so much damage has already been done. Certain administrators have become bullies and are taking the power given to them by Tomback and ruining lives. It will take a clean out, new direction, and time to restore this school system.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  11. Carol Webster says

    If you think this school system gives in to parents with lawyers, you should see the cost incurred by the Special Education Department. I know of a young lady at SHMS that requires two Inclusion Helpers. The child should be at John Archer School but the parent won’t allow it. I know it isn’t a ridiculous sum of money, but money is tight. It is unfortunate for the child as well.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  12. TP says

    An excellent choice would be Carl Roberts, if we could get him to come out of retirement and serve one more year. He has experience as a supt. in Cecil, is a former HCPS administrator, and can build bridges and will not back down from tough choices. Hopefully, he will apply and be considered for this vital position.

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    • hopefully optomistic says

      If the BOE is looking for someone that can possibly stay around after the interim year then Mr. Roberts does not make sense.

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  13. Reader L says

    What about some of the supervisors who were pushed out while Tomback and Lawrence have been in power? Like Lynne Owen?? She would be an awesome super!

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    • hopefully optomistic says

      It is not enough to throw out names. What are her credentials and explain why she would be a good choice for superintendent.

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      • Reader L says

        She is passionate about learning and what truly is best for students. She’s intelligent and did an excellent job as supervisor of English and Language Arts for many years (I think 12), she was a principal, an assistant, as well as a teacher. She worked hard, was diligent about curriculum and academics and always, always moral, caring, and looking for what was best for HCPS as well as students and teachers!

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5
  14. Amy Lindecamp says

    I hope and pray the appointed person is able to clean house of those within in the HCPS administration who don’t make our students well belling and best interest a priority. Unfortunately that alone is going to be a full time position.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
    • ptb says

      You’re right Amy. Unfortunately, this is a very ingrained condition starting with Volrath and company; under the arrogant, unwatchful eyes of Wolkow, Rich, Fidler, Hess, Bob Thomas and that mendacious army officer. Jackie had a pleasant bed-side manner, but she was a bully and she was NO executive. It stayed the same under Tomback, until the board saw thru him. Now we have a board that has four things that the previous boards couldn’t even spell: brains, tenacity, guts, and, for the most part, a selfless dedication to the real mission of HCPS. Let’s throw in integrity while we’re at it.
      The Board has a lot of cleaning up to do, but they’re up to it. Three cheers for an accountable, blended Board. Sorry Wolkow, you lost. Now we will continue repairing your damage.

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      • hopefully optomistic says

        ptb, I would agree with most of what you write. It is clear that some current BOE members are working very hard but others not so much. Watch for the type of questions being asked and the comments being made and you can reach your own conclusion. Still this is much better then the all appointed BOE of the past and will get even better when 6 of the 9 are elected after the next election. The current BOE does have its work cut out for them but I believe you are correct in that the BOE has enough of the qualities you state to make a positive change in the school system. The many problems the school system faces were long in making and will take time to correct. Choosing a good superintendent will be the first step in that process. Do you have views on particular BOE members?

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    • Let's Hope says

      While I agree that it is high time for some new leadership, let’s hope that whomever these leaders are don’t look to public opinion or the opinion of a handful of parents to pick and choose who they get rid of. Sounds to me like Mrs. Lindecamp has a laundry list of those she’d like to see removed. In my 18+ years of experiences with HCPS, for every one parent that finds an administrator to be unfair and inconsiderate of our students’ well being/best interest, you’ll find at least one other parent who appreciates what they’ve done for the students, families and culture of the school. We should be careful what we wish for.

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      • Something to talk about says

        I agree that change needs to happen. But, nobody with any sense would side with Amy Lindecacmp. She is a sour woman!

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8
        • Amy Lindecamp says

          Something to talk about,

          Just because I don’t allow you and your administration to bully me doesn’t make me a sour woman. I am an advocate for my child, and if that seems sour to you, then you must have done something sour to either my child or I.

          Well-loved. Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
        • Concerned Parent says

          Why the personal attacks on Amy Lindecamp? That is not going to solve any of the concerns stated above. She is commenting her concerns just like everyone else yet you only attack her. Give it a rest or say something intelligent.

          Well-loved. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0