Howard Co. parents hopeful of bills passage

Posted at 11:36 AM, Mar 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 11:36:45-04

One of the worst feelings for a parent is to be denied information that directly impacts their children. Several parents in Howard County are taking their fight to the legislature, pushing for the school system to be more open with information.

The communication concerns -- brought to the surface by complaints about mold and unsafe air quality at a number of Howard County schools -- have been followed by ABC2's investigative team for months.

Vicky Cutroneo and Barb Krupiarz traveled  to Annapolis to testify that they had each been denied access to records under the states Public Information Act.

The bill's passage is crucial for a group of parents, legislators, and even a member of the Howard County School Board who testified. House Bill 1105, as it's known, is more than legislation, it's vindication.

"They quoted me close to $6,000 for 78 hours of work," Cutroneo, a mother of three daughters said in an interview before her testimony.

Krupiarz has two boys, one of whom she said was diagnosed with ADHD. When Krupiarz filed a public information request asking to see an audit of the district's special education program, she said it was denied; eventually leading her to file a lawsuit, ultimately a futile effort.

She requested the information after learning of complaints about mold at her daughters' schools, as reported by ABC2, but was told it would cost thousands of dollars to fulfill.

"The next step is legislation and I think it's embarrassing that we're even here doing this," Cutroneo said.

"Our delegation, when we heard this story, thought something's a little fishy here," said Del. Warren Miller, a Harford County Democrat.

But the school district, through a spokesman  Thursday, said that just isn't true, that they've responded to Krupiarz request, and that they've answers the communication concerns brought by parents.

Miller said his bill remedies the situation by requiring the district to be subject to oversight by a state official, known as an ombudsman.

If passed by the senate committee, the bill will be given a vote in front of the entire senate before heading to Gov. Larry Hogan for approval. It would be retroactive to 2012.

Miller said he was confident of the bill's chances of passing.

"This is just to make sure that for all those requests that were denied, they get a fair hearing now," Miller said.