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Division On Baltimore County School Board Now Includes The Leadership


A divided Baltimore County School board split the difference Tuesday night when picking its leadership for the coming year.

Makeda Scott, who is in her first term on the board, was selected the new chairwoman. She defeated Julie Henn, the vice chair, by a 7-5 vote.

The vote for vice chair followed, and was a 6-6 split between Henn and board member Cheryl Pasteur. That means Henn will remain in that position.

Dr. Erin Hager, the newest member of the board, proved to be a key vote. She supported Scott for chair and then backed Henn for vice chair.

Scott and Henn represent different factions on the school board, which sets up a possible divide among the leadership. They will have to see the board through the ramifications of the November 24 cyberattack as well as virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott is the board's first Black chairwoman. She told the board she is honored to be the chair for the next year.

“I feel that it was imperative to run as chair because I believe you should be the change that you wish to see,” Scott told the board. “I look forward to working with board members. I look forward to working with the community.”

Kathleen Causey had been chair for the past two years but did not run again. Instead, she nominated Henn, an ally on the board, for chair.

Causey congratulated Scott on the win, and said that she is available to help with the transition.

“And I know Ms. Henn will be a very valuable source for you in terms of anything that you will need,” Causey told Scott.

Last year’s vote for chairman was a messy affair in which no one got enough support to win the election outright. Causey got fewer votes than her opponent, Pasteur. But Causey remained in charge this past year as the “de facto chair” because neither she nor Pasteur got the 7 votes needed to win on the 12 member board. There was a vacancy on the board at the time.

The student member of the school board, Joshua Muhumuza, nominated Scott to be chair.
In an interview before the vote, Muhumuza said Henn and Causey failed to reach out to the board members who voted against them last year.

“All that energy, bitterness, divide has continued this year,” Muhumuza said. “It keeps besmirching our work.”

Scott, the new chairwoman, is serving her first term on the school board. She was elected to the board in 2018. She chairs the recently formed equity committee on the board, which is taking a deep dive into gaps in student achievement.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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