MABE places a high priority on maintaining a positive and productive relationship with the Maryland State Board of Education. The State Board plays a major role in developing the state’s educational policies, adopting state regulations, and issuing legal opinions. Therefore, MABE staff and members of the MABE Board of Directors regularly attend the monthly meetings of the State Board, and MABE is engaged throughout the year in informing the State Board of the association’s positions on priority issues through testimony, correspondence, and meetings.
For additional information, contact John R. Woolums, Esq., MABE’s Director of Governmental Relations.
The Monitor is the newsletter penned by MABE staff to provide all boards with a comprehensive summary of each State Board meeting.
Maryland Register (published, proposed, and final state regulations)
COMAR (searchable database of all adopted state regulations) – MSDE/State Board regulations are contained in Title 13A
State Board Priority Issues
MABE staff monitors and engages in correspondence and other advocacy actions on priority issues before the State Board of Education. Issues often arise in advance of or in response to proposed regulations or policies as well as in response to legal decisions impacting all school systems.
MABE Comments on Alternative Student Transportation Regulations
On December 20, 2021, MABE submitted comments supporting with amendment the proposed regulations under COMAR 13A.06.07 to implement legislation enacted in 2021 to provided reasonable flexibility for local school systems to expand the types of vehicles used for student transportation (SB 448, Ch. 198, 2021 Laws of Maryland).
The requested amendment addresses a technical but meaningful distinction between school-owned and contractor-owned school vehicles, including any alternative school vehicles authorized under the new law and proposed regulations. The proposed regulations describe the insurance requirements for alternative school vehicles as “the same as for other school system-owned Class A and Class M vehicles” (COMAR 13A.06.07.12.D(f)). This reference is incomplete and requires an amendment to reference not only insurance coverage requirements for “school system-owned vehicles” but also “contractor-owned vehicles.”
COVID-19 Issues Before the State Board
Mask Mandate Regulations
On December 7, 2021, the State Board of Education discussed and approved new regulations to allow local waivers of mask mandates in schools based on certain county and school-based health conditions.
Board President Clarence Crawford introduced Superintendent Choudhury and the presentation and discussion of the department’s proposed regulations to repeal and replace immediately the emergency regulations now in effect which mandate masks in public schools, and emergency regulations in effect for 180 days which expire February 25, 2022.
The newly proposed regulations would extend the protection masks provide against COVID-19 and its variants by extending the mandated use of face coverings in schools beyond the February 25, 2022 deadline, as needed. The proposed regulation would also implement procedures to end face coverings in schools based upon vaccination status within the school facility or county, or county transmission rates.
Superintendent Choudhury began by emphasizing that Maryland’s approach to safely returning to in-person learning is working, as evidenced by the fact that Maryland has had only one school close and for only two days, as contrasted with other states, which have not mandated masks, and which have seen many schools close for much longer periods of time.
Mr. Choudhury reviewed the two pathways available under the proposed regulations.
Pathway 1 would allow for the lifting of the mandated use of masks in schools based on individual school level data. A local school system verifying that 80% of students and staff at a school are vaccinated would be allowed to lift the mandate within that school. He noted that this is the model adopted in Massachusetts as its only pathway, with a provision requiring non-vaccinated students and staff to remain masked. He highlighted that Maryland’s proposed regulations would not require masking of unvaccinated students and staff in approved schools. He described Pathway 2 as applying in a county (or Baltimore City) if the jurisdiction is at 80% or above of its residents being fully vaccinated. In that case, the local board of education may vote to remove the mask mandate for the entire school system.
The proposed regulations amend COMAR 13A.01.07.01-.07 by adding a section on “Lifting Face Covering Requirements.” This section includes provisions allowing for the lifting of the mask mandates based on the following:
1. If at least 80 percent of the county population in the county where the schools are located is fully vaccinated, as reported by MDH, a county board or the governing authority of a public school that is not in a local school system may lift the face covering requirements by passing a motion or resolution in a public meeting.
2. The local superintendent may lift the face covering requirement for a school facility or facilities after a principal or designated school official verifies that 80 percent of the school staff and students in the school facility have been fully vaccinated. The principal or designated school official submits a signed Department-approved attestation form to the local
superintendent, and the local superintendent then signs and submits the attestation form affirming the 80 percent vaccination rate to the State Superintendent of Schools.
If either of the 80 percent vaccination thresholds are achieved, the following transmission rate provisions and procedures for lifting and reinstating the face covering requirements do not apply.
3. The local superintendent may lift the face covering in schools requirements if the county has sustained 14 consecutive days of moderate or low transmission rate of COVID-19 cases, as reported by the CDC. The local superintendent is required to reinstate the face covering requirements if transmission rates of COVID-19 cases are substantial or higher for 14 consecutive days, as reported by the CDC.
On December 7, several board members asked questions and spoke in favor of the proposed approach. Superintendent Choudhury also clarified that the proposed regulations will be forwarded to the legislature’s Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) Committee as emergency regulations and as permanent regulations (with a sunset in 2023). He emphasized that in either case the AELR Committee will hold a hearing as it did for the initial regulations. Following Superintendent Choudhury’s presentation, the State Board voted to approve publication of the proposed regulations as proposed.
On August 26, 2021 the State Board held a special meeting to review and approve proposed emergency regulations mandating the use of masks by all students and staff in the 2021-2022 school year (Note: the maximum duration of emergency regulations is 180 days).
Highlights of the Regulations:
- All individuals, unless exempt under §B of this regulation, shall cover their nose and mouth with a face covering while inside a school facility.
- (1) “Face covering” means a material that covers the nose and mouth to prevent respiratory droplets from being expelled into the air and that:(a) is secured to the head, including with ties or ear loops;(b) fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face; and(c) is either manufactured or homemade and is a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.
- The State Superintendent of Schools is authorized to enforce this chapter consistent with Education Article §2-303(b). (By requiring the Comptroller to withhold funding.)
The hearing on the emergency regulations was held on September 14, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.. The hearing was conducted by the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR), and featured more than 30 witnesses, including local board members, testifying in opposition and in support of the proposed regulations. Following the hearing, the Committee voted along party lines in favor of the regulations by a vote of 10-7.
The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) issued its analysis of the regulations), highlighting:
- "These emergency regulations require all individuals, except under certain circumstances, to wear a specified face covering inside a school facility in each public school in every local school system in the State. Each local school system is required to expeditiously adopt policies and procedures to implement this requirement."
- "Section 2-205(b), (c), and (g) provides that the State board has the authority to determine and carry out the elementary and secondary educational policies of the State and is required to adopt rules and regulations for the administration of the public schools."
Reopening & Recovery Plan Advocacy
On August 31, 2020, MABE wrote to State Board President Clarence C. Crawford and State Superintendent Dr. Karen B. Salmon to request the State Board’s rejection of the proposal to adopt new requirements for local education recovery and reopening plans. MABE's letter emphasized that Maryland’s nearly 1 million public school students and their families deserve as much stability and transparency as possible at the outset of this school year, not the last-minute disruption which would be caused by adopting the newly proposed standards for virtual learning.
Nonpublic Funding Under the CARES Act
On May 14, 2020, MABE's letter to Dr. Salmon thanked her for leadership and engagement on COVID-19 related matters and requested her assistance in resolving our serious concerns raised by the nonregulatory guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education outlining its interpretation of the requirements regarding equitable services for students in nonpublic schools under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Public Law 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (Mar. 27, 2020).
Student Grading Policies
On December 20, 2019, MABE's letter to Dr. Salmon and State Board President Sumpter requested the consideration of concerns as the State Board considered regulations (COMAR 13A.03.02.08) mandating that local grading policies include strict limitations on a student’s eligibility to received course credit, and therefore to graduate, based on unexcused absences from school. This provision was included in a larger set of proposed amendments to the regulations governing graduation requirements (COMAR 13A.03.02.01-.12). In addition, MABE requested an amendment to the section of the proposed regulations (COMAR 13A.03.03.09) to implement the law passed in 2019 to ensure that students’ results on the new high school assessments to be administered in the spring of 2020 do not affect their eligibility for graduation in 2020 or in any subsequent year in which they will graduate.
Student Transfer Regulations to Allow Expanded Intra-District Transfers
On September 30, 2019 MABE's letter to Dr. Karen B. Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, and Warner I. Sumpter, Brig. Gen. (Ret.), State Board President, requested consideration of comments on regulations governing local board policies and decisions regarding intra-district student transfers within local school systems. MABE strongly opposed the regulations preliminarily approved by the State Board on August 27, 2019, and published in the Maryland Register on September 27, 2019.
At the same time, MABE's letter of September 30, 2019 to the House and Senate Co-Chairs of the AELR Committee to voice strong opposition to the proposed regulations governing intra-district student transfers within
local school systems.
On May 16, 2019, MABE's letter to Dr. Karen B. Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, and Dr. Justin M. Hartings, President of the State Board, requested the consideration of several major concerns and objections as the State Board considered modifications to regulations governing intra-district student transfers within local school systems.
State Accountability System
On April 17, 2019, MABE wrote to Dr. Karen B. Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, and Dr. Justin M. Hartings, President of the State Board, to provide input as the State Board of Education considered modifications for the 2019 accountability system. Specifically, MABE’s comments addressed the potential single-year adjustment of Maryland’s current Star Rating System. MABE's letter raised several concerns about modifying the system at that time.
The Monitor and selected meeting materials are uploaded to the MABE website following each Maryland State Board of Education meeting to provide local boards with timely access to the issues pending before the State Board.
April 2022 Issue - State Board public comments; Recognition of Math and Science Teacher Presidential Award Winners; Achieving Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys; COVID Transmission Rates and School Logistics; Blueprint Deep Dive: Early Childhood Education; State Board Resolution: Committing to Transformative Action to Create a World-Class Education System in Maryland; 2022 Legislative Session Update; School Calendar Waivers; Board Opinions
March 2022 Issue - State Board public comments; Maryland State Education Association Leadership Presentation; Districts that Succeed: Breaking the Correlation Between Race, Poverty, and Achievement; State Board Strategic Plan Discussion; COVID Transmission Rates and School Logistics; Local School System Virtual Programs Update; COVID Learning Loss Updates; 2022 Legislative Session: Overview of Selected Education Bills; Regulations; Board Opinions
February 2022 Issue - State Board public comments, COVID Transmission Rates and School Logistics, Blueprint Deep Dive: Mental Health in Schools, 2022 Legislative Session, Regulations, Board Opinions
January 2022 Issue - Superintendents' Association Engagement, COVID Transmission Rates and School Logistics, Enrollment and Attendance, Local Virtual Programs, Blueprint Deep Dives (College and Career Readiness, Nationally Board Certified Teachers and Low Performing Schools, Maryland Public Schools Strategic Plan: Engagement and Process), 2022 Legislative Session, Regulations, Board Opinions
December 2021 Issue - Local Virtual Programs, Teacher of the Year Recognition, Reopening Logistics and COVID Transmission Rates in Schools, New Regulations for Local Waivers of Mask Mandates, Blueprint: English Learner Workgroup Update, Students Experiencing Homelessness, Fall 2021 Student Assessment Results, Bullying and Harassment Policy Update, Regulations: Interscholastic Athletics, and School Food and Nutrition
October 2021 Issue - MABE Presentation on Ongoing Efforts and Supporting State Board, Reopening Logistics and COVID Transmission Rates in Schools, Local Virtual Program Enrollment, Community Schools and Concentration of Poverty Grants, Spotlight of Students with Disabilities, Financial Reporting Requirements, Partial Waiver of 9/30 Student Enrollment Count Regulation, Student Suicide Regulations, Special Education Regulations, Achieving Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys Advisory Council Update
September 2021 Issue - Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board (PSTEB) Overview, Local School System Virtual Learning Program Update, School Reopening Logistics and COVID Transmission Rates in Schools, Spotlight on Economically Disadvantaged Students, Blueprint Deep Dive: Neighborhood Indicators of Poverty, Childcare Regulations, State Board Priorities for 2021-2022
August 2021 Issue - Special Board Meeting on In-School Mask Mandate, Virtual Learning Program Monitoring and Evaluation, Blueprint Expert Review Team Program, Learning Loss Recovery, Mask Mandate Discussion, English Learners, School Mental Health Response Teams, Mobile Response and Stabilization System, Regulations Update
July 2021 Issue - Election of Officers, Public Comment, Fourth Term Performance Metrics Report, Summer School Report, Maryland Plan for the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, Learning Loss and Learning Recovery, Virtual Learning Options, Federal Waiver Request for Reporting State Assessment Results, Educator Preparation and Licensure Regulations, Prekindergarten Regulations, Opinions
June 2021 Issue - State Board 2021 Priorities, Impact of Virtual Learning Data, State Plan for ARP Emergency Relief Fund, Monitoring Local Instructional Interventions, Educator Application and Certification Hub, Early Fall Assessment Reporting, Maryland Report Card Data Release, Digital Learning Committee Update, Advisory Council on Achieving Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys
May 2021 Issue - ESSER State Set Aside, Maryland Regional Crisis Response and Clinical Support Teams, Third Term Performance Metrics, 2020-2021 School Year, Inclusion of Task Force on Achieving Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys, Digital Learning Committee
April 2021 Issue - Task Force on Achieving Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys Final Report, Resolution on In-Person Instruction in 2021-2022 School Year, Federal Funding Update, Mental Health Initiatives for Students, Prekindergarten Regulations, Special Education Student Enrollment Regulations, 2021 Session Summary, Federal Accountability Waiver, Local Educator Evaluation System Waiver
March 2021 Issue - Second Term Performance Metrics, Survey to Combat Disrupted Instruction, Update on Broadband Access and Efforts Waiver Requests of Accountability, School Identification, and Reporting Requirements, Request for Waivers Related to Graduation, Assessments, and Service Learning, 2020 Advanced Placement (AP) and SAT Results
March 4, 2021 Special Issue - The State Board met to receive an update on the administration of the 2021 State Assessments and to consider the department’s recommended approval of the adjusted schedule for administration of the modified, statewide assessments.
February 2021 Issue - Public Comment, Proclamations, State Assessments for Spring 2021, Adjusted Cohort Graduation, Dropout Rate, and Postsecondary Enrollment, Legislative Report
January 2021 Issue - New State Superintendent Search Update, COVID Dashboard and Student Performance, 2021 Session Legislative Report, High School Assessments & Graduation Requirements, Regulations
December 2020 Issue - New State Assessment System, Government High School Assessment Waiver, Graduation Task Force Recommendations, Special Education Regulations, Digital Learning Update, Maryland Department of Health COVID-19 Presentation
October 2020 Issue - October 25th special meeting about priority setting, October 26th regular meeting covering, Review of the Every Student Succeeds Act, Accountability, Report Card, and Assessments, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Update, Waiver Request for Juniors in the 2020-2021 School Year
September 2020 Issue - September 21st special meeting about priority setting, September 22nd regular meeting covering Career and Technical Education Summary, Review of Local School System Reopening Plans, and Maryland’s Recovery Plan for Education
September 1, 2020 Issue - Coverage of the special meeting of the board to approve new virtual learning standards and to require evaluations and reports on plans to reopen schools for in-person instruction
August 2020 Issue - Recovery Plan Discussion, Educator Licensure Regulations, Student Discipline Report
July 2020 Issue - Recovery Plan Updates & Local Presentations, State Report Card Data, Charter School Regulations
June 2020 Issue - Per-Pupil Expenditure Report, Education Recovery Plan, Student Suspensions and Arrest Data
May 2020 Issue - Federal CARES Act, Education Recovery Plan, Distance Learning Participation, State Regulations
April 2020 v2 Issue - Interscholastic sports cancellation, Education Recovery Plan, Teacher and Principal Evaluations, Nonpublic School Instructional Day Waiver, Teacher Certification, Grading and Reporting
April 2020 Issue - Meals/Food Distribution, Continuity of Learning, Waiver Requests, Calendar Modification Requests
March 2020 Issue - Ratifying State Superintendent’s Closing of Schools, Federal Accountability and Assessment Waiver, Social Studies Standards Regulations, Session Summary, COVID-19 Update, Superintendent Search
February 2020 Issue - Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, Advanced Placement & SAT, Assessment Graduation Performance Requirement, Change to MISA Structure, Maryland Report Card Update
January 2020 Issue - Update on Student Support Initiatives and Research on Achievement Gaps, Maryland Report Card Analysis, Change to High School MISA Structure
For archived issues of the Monitor, please contact the MABE office at 410-841-5414