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Wilson v. Board of Education of Montgomery County

Decided: May 5, 1964.

WILSON ET AL.
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY ET AL. (TWO APPEALS IN ONE RECORD.)



Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County; Shure, J.

The cause was argued on April 2, 1964, before Brune, C. J., and Hammond, Horney, Marbury and Sybert, JJ.; and reargued, on April 6, 1964, before the entire Court. Henderson, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

Henderson

The State Board of Education, certain individual teachers,

and a taxpayer, appeal from an order of the Circuit Court dismissing a suit to restrain the Montgomery County Board of Education (the County Board) from delivering the fingerprint records of its employees to the local police. On May 27, 1963, the County Board by a 4 to 3 vote passed a resolution requiring that all fingerprint cards of all current employees of the County School system be sent to the local police for review, and all cards of future applicants be processed in the same manner. Prior to that date all teachers and other persons employed were fingerprinted and the cards sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington for processing and report. The cards and information received were placed in each individual employee's personal record, but thereafter kept private and confidential. Certain individual teachers and a taxpayer brought suit for an injunction, contesting the authority of the County Board to adopt or implement such a resolution. In the meantime, the matter was brought to the attention of the State Board. On July 3, 1963, after a public hearing the State Board passed an order setting aside the resolution and prohibiting any County Board in the State from adopting such a procedure. On a rehearing requested by the County Board the State Board affirmed the order but undertook to clarify its meaning or intent. The individual appellants amended their complaint, seeking relief in reliance upon the State Board's order, and the State Board intervened as a party plaintiff. From an adverse ruling by the Chancellor the appeal comes here.

The Maryland Constitution, Art. VIII, sec. 1, directs the General Assembly to "establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools." In Code (1957), Art. 77, sec. 2, it is provided that "educational matters affecting the State and the general care and supervision of public education shall be entrusted to a State Department of Education, at the head of which shall be a State Board of Education." Important powers are delegated to this Board by secs. 21 and 22:

"21. The State Board of Education shall, to the best of their ability, cause the provisions of this article to be carried into effect. They shall determine the educational

policies of the State; they shall enact bylaws for the administration of the public school system, which when enacted and published shall have the force of law. For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this article, and the enacted and published bylaws of the Board, the State Board of Education shall, if necessary, institute legal proceedings. The State Board of Education shall explain the true intent and meaning of the law, and they shall decide, without expense to the parties concerned, all controversies and disputes that arise under it, and their decision shall be final; * * *."

"22. The State Board of Education shall exercise, through the State Superintendent of Schools and his professional assistants, general control and supervision over the public schools and educational interest of the State; they shall consult with and advise, through their executive officer and his professional assistants, county boards of education * * * and shall seek in every way to direct and develop public sentiment in support of public education."

The authority granted to the county boards of education is set out in secs. 3 and 54. Sec. 3 provides:

"3. Educational matters affecting a county shall be under the control of a ...


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