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The Future of Voting Rights for the SMOB: MC 9-12 Passes the Montgomery County Senate and House Delegation

Full voting rights for Montgomery County’s Student Member of the Board of Education is closer than ever to becoming a reality. For 35 years, the student who occupies the eighth seat at the Board table has been left without a vote on such critical matters as the budget, collective bargaining, school openings/closings, issues of redistricting/boundaries, and negative personnel. MC 9-12, a bill that reverses this original certitude now has a renewed chance to become reality this year.

The Student Member serves as one of eight on a board that deals with a myriad of issues that impact every single one of Montgomery County’s 972,000 residents.

On Thursday March 22nd, in a 5/2 vote, the Montgomery County Delegation of the Maryland State Senate firmly voted to support MC 9-12 with amendments. For the past 4 years, organizations from the Montgomery County Education Association and the National Youth Association to the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association have pushed for these much needed changes.

In a spontaneous series of events during Thursday night’s Senate work session, Brian Frosh (D-16) proposed an amendment that would add back a vote on negative personnel to the repertoire of the Student Member’s powers. Negative personnel was the only power not granted to the Student Member in the originally proposed bill. Frosh stated that he believed that the addition of negative personnel made the bill ideologically coherent even if he would not support the bill himself. The amendment passed 4/3.

The following day in an early morning House work session, MC 9-12 with amendments re-entered debate. After a short discussion, MC 9-12 was unanimously supported by the members present in the House Delegation.

Anne Kaiser and Tom Hucker, sponsors of MC 9-12, have been instrumental in working with the broad network of constituents and legislators to work toward success this year.

MC 9-12 must now go through the House Ways and Means committee and the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee as part of its unprecedented trip through Annapolis.

Article by John Mannes, Student Member-elect of the Board of Education

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