When was the first signed contract for the Pugh Law Firm sent to the BOE Chair and the Vice-Chair?
Tonya Wingfield: As a citizen that followed this issue, I believe we are pass asking questions. State’s Attorney needs to get involved to protect the position of the taxpayers. This type of egregious violation of the law cannot go unchallenged.
Is the PGCPS BOE, in your opinion, able to govern the 2nd largest school district in Maryland effectively?
Tonya Wingfield: The dysfunction on the board existed before the appointment of the current Chair and Vice Chair and the actions of the elected board members to try to gaslight the public is insulting. The recent OMBC violation relating to a December 16, 2020, held by a board committee demonstrates a disturbing pattern of certain board members. I have done my own independent follow-up on what the elected board members and the Chairs have shared with the public. Quite honestly, I do not understand why some elected board members have not been censured or removed.
What are five (5) positive actions "this" BOE has accomplished since January 1, 2021?
Tonya Wingfield: This question is indicative of the dysfunction of the board. I took the time to read about the Equity Hubs, Science of Reading Workgroup, School to Prison Pipeline Workgroup, and development and amendments to board policies. In each they raise an important issue; however, there is a disturbing pattern with each. In the case of the Equity Hubs, and Reading and Pipeline workgroups, the public has not heard from the CEO if the current curriculum addresses these issues. In the case of policy amendments and development, the public has no information from CEO relating to the legal ramifications or operational impact – all which will impact the budget. The public would have been better served if board members, especially those elected for the first time, had taken time to attend training to learn their role and read board policies so they know how to present these ideas to the CEO within the boundaries of Board bylaws and policies.
Was there a vote on the current legal counsel for the PGCPS?
Tonya Wingfield: At this point, I think the Board Chair needs to refer this issue to the State’s Attorney. The taxpayer should not have to waste any more time watching a stalemate at a board meeting.
What is your view of the reorganization of the Board office?
Tonya Wingfield: Board policies and bylaws clearly show the reorganization committee that was formed in violation to board policy is a demonstration of a power grab by board members determined to defy state law and put an illegal organization in place to undermine the authority of the incoming Board Chair. The reorganization information still has not been shared with the public as required by law. I have the information because I pressed my board member. The December 16, 2020, committee meeting was found by OMBC to violate the Opens Meeting Action. The public still has not been advised of the actions of the committee and the costs to taxpayers.
Do you think state oversight is needed?
Tonya Wingfield: Yes – state oversight is needed. When I see Board, members elected in December participating in policy changes and writing programs for the CEO to implement before they have attended one training class – that is a serious problem and is indicative of the dysfunction we see playing out at each board meeting.
What is your view of the CEO performance?
Tonya Wingfield: First, it is public knowledge of my differences with the current CEO prior to her appointment. I have taken the time to view her recent budget and the actions she took to address the $110M budget deficit. I must admit this is one of the best school budgets I have seen since Dr. Deasy and her response to the deficit was excellent. I am concerned with how members of her Administration are contributing to the dysfunction of the board by allowing board members to deal directly with her staff and bypass the Board officers. I have never seen that with any administration and hope this issue is addressed. Considering the evident dysfunction within the school board that predates the current Chair and Vice Chair, she is doing good.
Tonya founded Nehemiah's Vision, Inc. in 2005 after seeing a need for training and advocacy services that support the roles parents and community leaders play in a child's education.Her passion for education led her to serve on the PTA where she held the positions of Legislative Chair, Education Chair, Vice President and President. She held the first "Meet the Candidates" forum at her local elementary school and "Feeder Night" which gave 6th parents the opportunity to visit their child's middle school and learn about their programs and meet the staff prior to the beginning of the school year. Ms. Wingfield assisted parents by acting as a non-legal advocate in IEP and 504 meetings for students that require special accommodations in order to access the school curriculum. She has worked closely with members of the Board of Education where she developed and conducted parent workshops centered around parental involvement as well as sitting on several committees to include School Accountability and Testing, Master Plan and Special Education from 1994-2017.