Prince George’s school referendum petition effort nearing deadline -- Gazette.Net


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Organizers of a signature petition drive to prevent a new Prince George’s County school system leadership law from taking effect are short of the 8,000 signatures needed by midnight today in order to prevent the law from going into effect Saturday.

If successful, the petition drive would, at least temporarily, prevent House Bill 1107, which provides county government more authority over the school system.

Janis Hagey, co-chairwoman of Citizens for an Elected Board, said about 5,500 signatures had been collected as of 1:30 p.m. today.

Hagey said the signatures need to be turned in to the Secretary of State’s Office in Annapolis by midnight today to prevent the law from taking effect.

“We are still collecting signatures,” Hagey said.

Co-chairman David Cahn said earlier that if organizers failed to gain the required number of signatures, they would continue to be active in monitoring school system governance.

“If it does not work out, we will continue working as we did for all those years when we had an appointed board [from 2002 to 2006],” Cahn said. “We will continue working to change the legislation.”

Cahn said his organization would also continue to work to improve the school system “regardless of the governance structure of our school system.”

Hagey said if they fail to meet the 8,000 signature threshold, the group would continue to make the public aware of the challenges of county schools, “as well as urging the public to be fact-checkers, to keep a close eye on how the many provisions of the law are implemented, and not to be swayed by group-think.”

Organizers had approximately three weeks to collect the 8,000 signatures and if that threshold is reached, the law would not go into effect and they would have one month to collect at least 16,000 more signatures to force the bill to referendum, Cahn said.

janfenson-comeau@gazette.net