Baltimore Teachers Union, American Federation of Teachers, Local 340, AFL-CIO v. Maryland State Board of Education

840 A.2d 728 (2004)

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Baltimore Teachers Union, American Federation of Teachers, Local 340, AFL-CIO v. Maryland State Board of Education

Maryland Court of Appeals
840 A.2d 728 (2004)

EL

Facts

The Maryland General Assembly charged the Maryland State Board of Education (the state board) (defendant) with the general supervision of Maryland public schools. The legislature authorized the state board to adopt regulations necessary for administering state education law. In 1993 the state board promulgated regulations setting forth public school performance standards and codified these regulations in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). COMAR required a school to meet certain performance standards or become subject to local reconstitution, whereby the local school board would manage the school. If the school’s performance did not improve under local reconstitution, the school would next be subject to state reconstitution, allowing the state board to control the school’s programs through various processes, including the option to contract out the school’s management to a third-party vendor. In 1997, 1999, and 2000, the state legislature enacted several laws reflecting the COMAR reconstitution framework, including the recognition of contracts with private vendors to run failing schools. Three Baltimore elementary schools consistently failed to meet COMAR performance standards. The schools underwent local reconstitution for three years without any improvement. The state board then reconstituted the schools, contracting out the schools’ staffing, management, curriculum, and services to Edison Schools, a private company. The Baltimore Teachers Union, American Federation of Teachers, Local 340, AFL-CIO (the teachers union) (plaintiff) sued the state board in state court, claiming that COMAR exceeded the statutory authority granted to the state board by the legislature. The teachers union argued that no statute authorized the state board to place a public school under the control of a private business at the time the state board promulgated COMAR in 1993. The state board countered that it acted within its statutory authority in reconstituting the underperforming schools. The circuit court found in favor of the state board, holding COMAR was within the state board’s statutory authority and that private contracts were statutorily authorized. The teachers union appealed to the state appellate court. Before the state appellate court heard arguments on all the issues in the case, the teachers union filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to Maryland’s highest court on the issue of whether the state legislature had authorized COMAR and the resulting private contract with Edison Schools.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Eldridge, J.)

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