Coverage of Venable’s Amicus Brief Opposing Attempt to Strip Howard County Board of Education Student Member of Voting Rights

2 min

Emily J. Wilson, Mitchell Y. Mirviss, and Elizabeth A. Sines prepared and submitted an amicus brief on behalf of more than 125 past student members of Maryland boards of education challenging two Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) parents’ attempt to strip the Howard County Board of Education’s student member of his statutory voting rights on issues before the board. The brief was covered by the Baltimore Post-Examiner on February 9, 2021; the Baltimore SunCapital Gazette, and Scott E.’s Blog on February 10; and WMAR on March 15.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit after members of the Board voted in December to continue virtual learning through mid-April because of the coronavirus pandemic. They argue that the student member’s statutory right to vote as a full-fledged board member violates Maryland’s constitution because he was selected by students in grades 6 through 11, who are not of sufficient age to vote for elected officials. A further problem, the plaintiffs allege, is that student members are not adults when they take office, and the state constitution requires that all elected officials be 18 or older. The amicus brief argues that the student member is an appointed member of the board, not an elected member subject to the age requirements for elections and elected officials in Maryland’s constitution.

“If the plaintiff's theory here is to be believed, and if the voting rights of the Howard County member are ruled to be unconstitutional, that will disrupt a legal framework by which voting rights have existed for student members in the state of Maryland for over 50 years," Wilson told WMAR.