Parents Rally Against Anne Arundel Board Of Education Restrictions


On November 15, Kerry Gillespie spoke about “parental choice” at the Anne Arundel County Board of Education public session. Other than eye-rolls, she said she has received no feedback from the board members in attendance.

“The public pleas, phone calls and emails from school parents to Superintendent George Arlotto and the Board of Education have been ridiculed, belittled and admonished for months,” said Gillespie, a mother of four, including a daughter at Magothy River Middle School.

Dana Schallheim, who represents District 5, disagreed with that assessment.

“I take constituent services very seriously,” Schallheim said. “I often spend my nights and weekends talking to parents and teachers, and my family can attest to this. It sometimes gets in the way of family, so I find that comment unwarranted.”

With acrimony spilling into the public square, it’s clear that effective communication between parents and the Anne Arundel County school board has hit an all-time low. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), anxiety among teens is on the rise.

"More children have been hurt by self-harm than COVID," said Severna Park resident Chris Acton, whose son is a senior. “The social restrictions, policy flip-flops and administrative inconsistencies have placed a terrible burden of anxiety on our children."

With homecoming dances postponed, classes disrupted and asymptomatic students quarantined, many parents believe the Anne Arundel County Board of Education is hiding behind propriety and procedures to prevent public discussion.

“The school board picks who speaks,” added Lisa Smith of Severna Park. “They determine the subject matter. They cut people off when they don’t like the direction of the conversation.

“By silencing parent and student voices, they are practicing a form of bullying,” she continued. “Many parents and children are afraid to speak.”

The Board of Education hears testimony from up to 10 speakers (combination of virtual and in-person) per agenda item during a single public comment section in the early portion of the meeting. Speakers are chosen by a randomized, computerized lottery.

Some parents claim they have been blocked on social media.

“We have a right to comment about what’s happening in our schools,” Smith said. “Proper decisions can’t be made when you’re only hearing comments that you agree with. Blocking parents from social media is censorship. I have a child in the system, and I have a right for my voice to be heard.”

In Anne Arundel County, only 9.4% of students 19 years of age and younger have been vaccinated according to According to, 268 out of 82,777 total AACPS students have tested positive for COVID as of November 17. The state website reports zero Anne Arundel County student mortalities associated with COVID.

“The lives of our children have been turned upside down,” Gillespie said. “Healthy teenagers are being treated like senior citizens with multiple comorbidities. Our schools are getting into testing, policing and segregating students, while publicly touting ‘unity days’ and inclusion.”

Starting on November 22, a new flurry of COVID testing was introduced for employees and student-athletes through a partnership with Capital Diagnostics.

“Medical privacy for student-athletes is out the window as they are asked to take COVID tests twice-per-week at school, disrupting their normal academic and athletic routines,” Smith said. “This public display of vaccine status intensifies isolation, anxiety and bullying.”

According to the CDC, an uptick in substance abuse, eating disorders and emergency room visits for attempted self-harm is being experienced across the country.

“The relationship between the school board and parents is completely dysfunctional,” Acton summarized. “The lack of transparency on how decisions are made, the confusion about priorities, and the silencing of parent voices are inconsistent with an elected body supposedly established to represent the citizens of their district. This has a direct impact on the physical and mental health of our children.”

Schallheim said she and her fellow board members are doing their best in a tough environment created by the pandemic.

“Every member of this board takes their job seriously, with students as the focus of our decisions,” Schallheim said. “I understand people are unhappy with the restrictions, some of which are mandated by the state, but all we’re trying to do is serve our students.”


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  • MomRN62

    Thank you for this article. You’ve voiced many shared concerns. It inspired me to write the following to our BOE, MSDE, Health Dept and Governor.

    Good morning,

    As I read this article today in the Severna Park voice,36132?fbclid=IwAR1pNh7LmIc5-X7qiW_e2kKF8883qsi0gkr4kU2SdjyRKbQVcmR4FjX9D1A I was struck again by how our county students and my children personally have continued to be penalized and miss school and singled out unnecessarily by the continued quarantining and athletic testing policies of AACPS. Please reconsider your policies.

    My 7th grade son is home on asymptomatic quarantine for the 2nd time in less than 2 weeks. He’s a straight A student and loves school. He hates to miss his Algebra class and loves his teacher. He will have missed 10 days total in the last 2 weeks for having the misfortune of being near a supposed positive student all the while wearing a mask. He is perfectly healthy. No symptoms. Again. Yet he could have easily been exposed to a positive person for longer recently at the local mall or barber shop or restaurant without a mask unknown to him. And continued going anywhere and everywhere including school. We would only test him or quarantine him if he developed symptoms. This makes no sense and is penalizing my child.

    My 11th grade daughter is upset with me that I won’t let her get vaccinated so she doesn’t have to weekly test for sports and either be late for 1st period or late for practice in the afternoon and so she can do things her friends are doing. We don’t battle over grades or curfew or smoking or alcohol, we battle over the vaccination…and she’s not being asking for it for health reasons or any kind of fear or risk of COVID. It breaks my heart.

    I am aware of vaccinated students who are testing positive and do not require weekly testing. I am also aware that the vaccinated status of student athletes in AACPS is based on the honor system; no proof of vaccination. We told that if testing days are missed dues to school closures, the prior negative test result will carry over to the following week. If there truly were a fear of COVID spread among athletes this could not possibly be effective. This testing or vaccinate policy is discriminatory and I am angry and frustrated. It is wrong and makes no sense.

    I spoke with a private school parent recently and was informed that if there is a positive case in her child’s classroom, they are notified and advised to monitor their child for symptoms. No automatic quarantine.

    I am an RN who takes care of acutely ill COVID patients and am unintentionally exposed almost daily at work. During these possible exposures of patients who later test positive I have only had on a level 1 surgical mask on at the time of the exposure (the same one our students wear…we only wear N95s for known positive patients or highly likely) I am in very close proximity to the unknown positive patient for longer than 15 minutes. I only receive a text making me aware that I took care of a positive patient and I am advised to monitor for symptoms. I am not quarantined, I continue to work.

    Historically we have never taken our healthy children to be tested or quarantined and isolated them when they have been exposed to a classmate with a virus. Ever. Strep, flu, norovirus, common cold. They continue coming to school We as parents monitor them for symptoms and keep them home when unwell. Experts have said that asymptomatic spread of COVID is low and rare. These kids have the added layer of a mask, so why is my healthy child home again missing valuable education time? He feels penalized. As if he did something wrong.

    There is no longer a state of emergency and has not been for sometime. A CDC expert has said this is no longer considered a pandemic and is now endemic…is my child going to have to continue to miss school each time a classmate has a cold virus now? I have been unable to get the data showing that these quarantine measures are effective. I would like to know how many of the asymptomatic close contact students develop symptoms or eventually test positive. Based on anecdotal data, I believe it’s very few. Public schools in our state are the only public place where these extreme unnecessary measures and policies are in place. Please reconsider your policy.


    Michele Rowley

    Northeast Cluster

    Friday, December 10, 2021 Report this

  • Boxita

    Thank you so much for publishing this. Finally someone published the sentiment of the majority of parents in Anne Arundel County, that for some reason the BOE is not willing to acknowledge.

    Friday, December 10, 2021 Report this

  • ahghaffa

    Michelle - I share your frustrations. Together with a group of other parents, we did something about it - we started a private school called Divine Mercy Academy to get our kids away from the craziness going on in the public schools. DMA actively partners with parents to educate their children, inspiring them to learn with the greatest texts of Western Civilization, nurtures their growth through a family-like atmosphere, and forms their character, setting them on a path to become saints! I invite you to check us out!

    Wednesday, December 15, 2021 Report this