School Boards React to Letter of Advice on School Start Date Order

As reported in Governing and other news outlets, Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General has released a letter positing that a reviewing court may find Governor Larry Hogan has exceeded his authority when he issued an executive order this month requiring all public schools to start after Labor Day and finish by June 15.

As reported in Maryland AG Questions Governor’s Authority on School Start Time from Governing,

“I cannot say unequivocally that the Labor Day executive order exceeds the governor’s authority, but I believe it is likely that a reviewing court, if presented with the issue, would conclude that it does,” wrote Adam D. Snyder, a lawyer in the office of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh.

Read the Attorney General’s letter on Labor Day order, posted by the Baltimore Sun.

The Maryland Association of Boards of Education met Monday to look at the legal arguments that supported the right of local school boards to decide their school calendars, according to Governing.

As reported,

The attorney general’s advice is likely to throw into disarray the process for deciding next year’s school calendar. That planning is taking place this month and next in most of the state’s 24 school districts. In addition, the letter opens up the possibility of a court challenge by a local school board or parent.

“Clearly this opinion will inform the work of local school systems and school boards, which may want to take a wait-and-see approach to the legality of the order and what the legislature may do,” Woolums said.

John Woolums, Legislative Director of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) and author of the Maryland School Law Deskbook will address MACo’s legislative Committee on Wednesday on this topic.

An editorial in the Carroll County Times this morning asks the Carroll County School Board to approve a post-Labor day start date for next year’s school year despite legal options.

While not a formal opinion from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, a 24-page letter penned by Adam Snyder, the AG’s chief counsel of opinions and advice, in response to legislators’ questions about Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order for all public schools to start after Labor Day opens the door for a legal challenge to be filed. The letter also makes clear the order could be overturned by the General Assembly during next year’s session.

Our guess is this means the issue may not be decided until spring at best, leaving school calendars for the following year potentially undecided until then. However, school boards still have local control and, if like Carroll County, there is a post-Labor Day option that works, they should move to approve it.

Read more of the Carroll County Times Editorial: BOE should approve post-Labor Day start calendar, regardless of challenges to Hogan’s order.

For more information on MABE’s position, see Opponents: School Start Date Order Overrides Local Decision-making