Thursday, September 3, 2015

.@mocoboe Plans to Spend $625,000 Fighting Families of Kids w/Disabilities

In an unsurprising move on August 20, 2015, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted to allocate $625,000 for upcoming special education legal fees to be paid to their outside counsel.

Despite the fact that MCPS employs multiple lawyers on staff, apparently they don't consider any of them qualified enough to undertake the distasteful work of fighting families who are seeking services for their children with disabilities.

Parents or guardians of students with disabilities should be aware that the latest tactic by MCPS outside counsel is to subpoena the student themselves to the due process hearing.

Not satisfied with the allocation of over a half million dollars to fight families, instead of actually providing needed services to children, the Board of Education then received the "Legal Fees Report" showing FY2015 year-to-date special education legal expenses of $244,000. Despite dissembling by Acting Superintendent Larry Bowers upon questioning by a board member, the facts remain that the year-to-date total of $244,624 is $49,364 (25.3 percent) more than the same period in the previous year.

Should $625,000 be spent on a lawyer that bills the taxpayers $6,000 a day? or should that money be allocated to provide direct special education services to children that need them?

Contact the chairman of the County Council Education Committee, Craig Rice, at and let him know what YOU think.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fourteen million absences — or one-third of all missed school days — are due to asthma

Report: Chronic school absenteeism is contributing to academic gaps

County Owes MCPS $1.4 Million. MSDE Finds Error in Budget Calculations

State Superintendent warns Montgomery County that local income tax revenue will be intercepted to enforce law

Does your local school need another teacher? 

Well, good news! On July 1, 2015, the Maryland State Superintendent wrote to County Executive Ike Leggett and notified him of an error that had been made in the MCPS budget calculations.  Discovery of this error means that MCPS is entitled to an additional $1.4 million under Maryland State law.

The Parents' Coalition has obtained a copy of the letter and is making it public.  See the document below.

If County Executive Ike Leggett got this letter a month ago, why hasn't he made it public?  What about the Board of Education, why haven't they discussed this additional funding that is coming to MCPS?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Breaking News: MCPS finally has an EMPLOYEE Code of Conduct.

Finally, after years of arrests and disciplinary actions, MCPS has a Code of Conduct for EMPLOYEES.  Students have had a Rights and Responsibilities document for decades, but MCPS staff have not had a Code of Conduct.  That meant that what was acceptable behavior by staff varied from school to school and from staff person to staff person.

Here are some examples of what is contained in the brand new MCPS EMPLOYEE Code of Conduct.  Note that many of these activities have occurred in the past and the staff member involved was allowed to retain their job.  In fact, some of these activities were not considered to be a problem at all by MCPS or the Board of Education.  Look at what MCPS is now stating is prohibited behavior in the following excerpts from the brand new MCPS EMPLOYEE Code of Conduct. The complete Employee Code of Conduct is available below these screen shots.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Free public education costs in Montgomery County High Schools

Isn't high school supposed to be free for public school students in Maryland?  Taxpayer dollars cover the costs for all students to attend - right?

We know that, and you know that it's in the Maryland Constitution.

But unfortunately, our Board of Education seems to think that the Maryland Constitution doesn't apply.

Our MCPS students get charged for classes and materials that should be free.

Our middle schools list is only eight pages - but the high school list is 23 pages long!


One day, our Board of Education will get it right.  Or maybe never.

Here is the 2015 list of fees for high school students.  Read my previous post to see what happens in middle schools.  

I wonder what the ghosts haunting the State House in Annapolis think of what Pat O'Neill has done to their prize constitution.

How MABE Introduces No Bid Vendors to Boards of Education and Local School Systems .@MABE_News

MABE is the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.

MABE is a taxpayer funded private club for Board of Education members across the State of Maryland.  Taxpayers fund the club and get absolutely no information on how funds are used.  The funds paid to MABE each year are Maintenance of Effort public school education dollars.

In Montgomery County, our Board of Education spent over $70,000 on MABE last year.  That's about one less teacher for our classrooms. Apparently, this private club is more important to our Board of Education than teachers.

But, the $1.2 million +/- that MABE gets in dues and fees from Boards of Education is not enough to keep this private club going.  MABE's president, Frances H. Glendening, apparently needs more than what taxpayers fork over for this club.  So MABE has "partnered" with vendors looking for their own slice of the education pie (scroll down the right side of the MABE home page to see the partners).  MABE allows these vendors to have exclusive, behind closed doors access to Board of Education members all over the state.  Some of those vendors end up getting no bid contracts with public school systems. 

Below is an example of where a MABE "partner" was able to hold court with Baltimore County Public School administrators.  The vendor was able to make a presentation and then use that presentation on their website.  Even more outrageous, the vendor was able to get an endorsement from a Baltimore County Public School administrator to use on the website.

Members of the Maryland Coalition to Halt Cell Towers at Schools discovered this endorsement and were concerned that this was a violation of the Baltimore County Public Schools ethics policy.  Inquiries were made.  The web page was immediately taken down.  If Coalition members had not spotted the endorsement of this MABE "partner" by a public school administrator it could have remained on the vendor's website indefinitely.   

If anyone can find out why MABE thinks that vendor "partners" should have exclusive access to public school Board of Education members, please let us know.  Our inquiries to MABE president Glendening have gone unanswered.

January 2015 screenshot of now removed webpage.
This January 2015 tweet is still showing up on Twitter.

MCPS buses collide on first day of school

60 percent of Montgomery County graduates require remedial math courses

...The math relearning at Montgomery College can last as long as three semesters, depending on where a student is placed. But the problem is not just math. Nearly 30 percent of Montgomery County graduates need remedial English courses, and 26 percent need remedial reading classes, the figures show...

MSDE: Final School Size Study Report : Impact of Smaller Schools

...The research team has suggested enrollment limits based on the points at which schools in Maryland start becoming both less cost efficient and less productive. These enrollment limits are set at 700 students for elementary schools, 900 students for middle schools, and 1,700 students for high schools. The study team does not recommend that schools in Maryland should be this large, but no newly constructed schools should be allowed to exceed these limits.
The second recommendation suggests that the State should develop a small schools incentive grant program. Such a program would provide financial incentives and support for replacing the State’s largest, low-performing schools or for renovating existing large school buildings. Based on the research team’s set of assumptions, up to 74 schools would be eligible for this type of grant. The estimated costs vary, but will ultimately be controlled by the fiscal decisions of state policy makers...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Are your children getting a free public education in Montgomery County?

Did you know that the Maryland Constitution guarantees a free public education for its students?

The Montgomery County Board of Education still has not read the document.  Imagine running a multi billion dollar public school system, and not knowing about state law.

Truly amazing.

As our annual tradition, below is the list of  fees "approved" by the Board of Education for middle school students.  If you cannot pay or choose not to pay, simply tell ask the school to waive your fee. Your child cannot be excluded from class for not paying a fee.

And why hit the arts classes the hardest?  How many times per semester does the school get their band uniforms dry cleaned?  And - can't they use a discount dry cleaners?  Or have the kids wear white shirts and black pants?

Remember, you are the taxpayer.  Ask questions - and if you do pay these fees, treat them as a donation to the school, not a mandatory fee, because we all know that mandatory fees are not allowed - right?

High school fees will be posted shortly.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

“Why? Is it because we are Latinos?” he asked, saying that many of the children Joynes abused are Latino.

...One victim’s father spoke before the court, describing the impact on his daughter and family. “The wound he caused us — we will never be cured, definitely,” he said, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter.
The father questioned why victims would have to bear the costs for any problems in Joynes’s childhood.
“Why? Is it because we are Latinos?” he asked, saying that many of the children Joynes abused are Latino.
Hagan also read a written statement from a victim, in which the girl said the abuse made her feel “dirty, messed up” and “not the same as other girls my age.”
Baltimore Co. mug shot
She said she has had a hard time sleeping, which results in headaches, and feels that she must protect her younger brothers and sisters from “something like this happening to them.”
She said she also has a hard time asking for help at school because she feels scared to stay alone with teachers.
“I don’t trust teachers,” she said.
The girl said that she goes to therapy and that her mother blamed herself “for putting me in that school.” She said that when her mother found out about the abuse, she was pregnant and “it made her cry a lot and she didn’t eat much.”
“I still hear her cry,” she said. “It makes everyone in my family very sad.”... 

Friday, August 28, 2015

WUSA9: Ex-music teacher gets 40 years for sex abuse

Joynes gets 40 Years for Sexual Abuse of MCPS Elem. Students

Mr. Joynes can get parole on this case after 20 years.

In court today former MCPS teacher Lawrence Joynes claimed that he had been addicted to alcohol and drugs for 40 years and only became sober after his arrest. 

Mr. Joynes worked as a MCPS music teacher for 27 years prior to his arrest.

More details on today's sentencing hearing will be provided in a later post.

Mr. Joynes has a second sentencing hearing on a different criminal matter scheduled for November of 2015.

Today: Lawrence Joynes Sentencing for Sexual Abuse of MCPS Elem. Students

Court System: Circuit Court for Montgomery County - Criminal System
Case Number: 124485C                           
Event Date: 08/28/2015 Event Time: 01:30 PM Judge: QUIRK, JOSEPH M
Location: 50 Maryland Avenue North Tower Courtroom 9b Courtroom: 9B
Description: SENTENCING  

For information on this MCPS teacher's arrest start at the link below and then follow the Lawrence Joynes posts:

Breaking: Who will Gov. Hogan's State Board Members Pick to Run MD State Dept of Education (MSDE)?

Maryland state superintendent resigns for new job

Surveillance Society: Students easy targets for data miners

What kid wouldn’t want to be able to create an electronic science fair poster, with photos and embedded video, using their smartphone — all on the morning bus ride on the day it’s due?
Glogster EDU lets kids do that and, according to its website, it’s setting up “2,000 new teacher accounts daily,” each with, presumably, a classroom full of kids attached.

According to its public statements, though, the Czech Republic-based firm may be assembling more than photos of vinegar-and-baking-soda volcanoes.
The company’s privacy policy said it may collect a user’s “name, address, email ... date of birth, gender, country,” as well as “interests, hobbies, lifestyle choices, groups with whom they are affiliated (schools, companies), videos and/or pictures, private messages, bulletins or personal statements.”
It may share information about users with “consumer products, telecom, financial, military, market research, entertainment, and educational services companies,” according to its website...

School System Finds Money to Revive Part of Google Chromebook Rollout #miracle

MCPS had originally said the rest of the program would be delayed because of budget constraints

...MCPS found money for more Chromebooks...


Franchot flips out over standardized testing contract #pearson

"I think there's a bigger issue about our state's relationship with this company," said Franchot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ABC7: MCPS Special Ed Bus Attendant arrested for sexually assaulting wife with a curling iron

It is important to note that in the past MCPS did not consider arrests of MCPS staff that do not involve students to be their concern.  
That is, a case like this would have been ignored by MCPS and the Board of Education. The staff member could have been left in contact with children, even after this arrest.  

Thanks to ABC7's Kevin Lewis for reporting that the individual arrested works for MCPS!  Let's see how the Board of Education handles this arrest now that ABC7 has exposed that MCPS is this person's employer and that this person has daily contact with vulnerable public school children. This arrest was August 17, 2015.  The MCPS website still lists this individual.

MCPS staff directory as of 8/25/2015

Task force members also say child pornography and exploitation are exploding along with the number of computers, mobile devices and other new technologies.

Team that raided Jared's home used mobile laboratory
...The custom-built lab allows investigators to feed real-time questions to interviewers based on what they find or what is missing. It also lets them preview data before computers or devices are shut off or erased. It helps identify other devices to look for inside the home. And it saves days, weeks or months of time compared with the old method of copying their contents.
Indianapolis police detective Darin Odier said it's imperative that authorities develop new tools to keep up with changing technology, like the way that some people are using streaming video to show sexual abuse rather than storing the footage....

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Welcome Back to School

Its hard to believe that summer is almost over and MCPS starts school next week.

Teachers are already heading back to classrooms across the county to prepare for the first day of school

And parents - don't forget those checkbooks.

On this blog, we've posted many time about how school is supposed to be free in Maryland.

But what happens when public funding doesn't cover everything?

Westbrook ES has the answer. Since 1999, the Friends of Westbrook School Foundation, a 501(c)(3) entity, raises funds for school improvement that are not funded by MCPS or otherwise fall within the PTA guidelines.  From the website:
Past projects include a security system upgrade, technology equipment like computer lab, Promethean Boards and ELMO projectors, full suite of playground equipment, and overall grounds and drainage enhancement.
These folks seems to have so much fun.  Look at what they planned just in the last few months of school last year (names of hosts are deleted):

Yoga for Parents [-]4$25.00
Come join us on Sunday, March 29th from 2:50-4:30 pm at Simon Says Yoga located at 4611 Sangamore Road, Bethesda, MD 20816. This is the first of two events to help you get into the "ZEN ZONE" before Spring Break. Co-sponsors . . .  will be leading us in an hour of yoga at nearby Simon Says Yoga, followed by refreshing and healthful tea and light snacks. A big thank you to Simon Says Yoga for donating use of their studio:
Manicures and Mojitos [-]3$30.00
Join us on Tuesday, March 31st from 5:30-8:00 pm at AquaNails located in the Shops at Sumner Place at 4701 Sangamore Road, Bethesda, MD 20816. This always-popular event could not come at a better time. Get your nails done while also enjoying some delicious mojitos and snacks with friends before Spring Break. 
ZENGO Spinning Party [-]4$40.00
Join us on Saturday, April 18th at 2:00 PM at ZENGO Cycle located at 4866 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814. This energy-fueled and inspirational event is always a blast. We will cycle hard for an hour and then enjoy some healthy snacks. If you have never tried spinning before, what better way to try than in a room filled with supportive friends? There is no shame and no judgment in the spinning studio! It is just like dancing until dawn in some awesome college bar. You will get hot and sweaty and listen to great tunes with your friends. Except you will feel so much better in the morning! Ticket price includes shoe rental. . Big thanks to ZENGO Cycle in Bethesda for donating use of their studio. Check out their class schedule at:

Kids Movie Night [-]SOLD OUT$20.00
It will be the kids turn on Friday, April 24th from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Westbrook All-Purpose Room. Kids are invited to hit the "Red Carpet" and enjoy a screening of BIG HERO 6 (popcorn included). Moviegoers will get some hands-on inventing time in our mini "Pop-up" maker space before and after the movie. Sponsored by the Friends of Westbrook Board and 

Don't miss Pig Pong on Saturday, May 16th at 6:00 pm at . . .  We are back…Pig Pong 2.0 but with more hosts and inviting more of you: 75 people at $75 person to celebrate Westbrook’s 75th year. We will once again serve up a delicious 80lb pig smoked on site all day long, in addition to smoked chicken, smoked brisket, grilled veggies, baked beans, homemade coleslaw and watermelon. Drinks menu includes kegs, wine, prosecco, tequila and whiskey and water. Along with live music from Timi Ryalls from Charlottesville and Harry Faulkner from D. C., there will be a Ping-Pong tournament. With 24 competitors last year, ending in an intense championship duel between our two finalists, we can only hope our defending champion will be back to defend his title. We will have a 4th table this year for warm-ups between matches! More prizes, more tables, more pong...what's not to love! .
Dads Pub Crawl [-]7$60.00
The tradition continues on Friday, May 29th. Detailed coordinates for the Dads Pub Crawl will be emailed to ticket holders ahead of the event. This is the event that started it all! The last weekend in May, we will be taking to the streets! On Friday night, Dads are invited to sample refreshing and delicious beer and snacks at three different stops throughout the neighborhood. 
Moms Unwined [-]25$60.00
It will be time of mom to unwind and "unwhine" at Moms Unwined on Saturday, 5/30. Detailed coordinates will be emailed to ticket holders ahead of the event. These are the events that started it all! The last weekend in May, we will be taking to the streets! On Saturday night, it will be Mom’s turn to “unwine” at three different spots for wine, hors d’oeuvres and desserts. 
Westbrook's Sweetheart Dance [-]18$20.00
The lovely tradition continues on Sunday, June 7th from 4:00-5:30 pm. Girls and their favorite sweethearts, whether they are dads, granddads, uncles or friends, are invited to a lovely Sunday afternoon dance. Delicious punch and desserts will be served. Please remember to purchase a ticket for each attendee. 

  Smoked pig, mojitos, and Moms and Dads taking to the streets!

We can't wait to see what FOWS come up with this year!

Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has officially banned drones

WASHINGTON– Will D.C.-area school sports fans see drones overhead this fall? Not likely, it seems, amid new recommendations and rules from local sports rule-makers.
Virginia high school sports coaches and school administrators are being advised not to allow drones around sporting events or other Virginia High School League activities. Drones have been banned entirely this fall from Maryland public school state tournament contests.
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has officially added the ban to its state tournament policies for the upcoming season...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Superintendent Blames Tone Deaf Administrators...

This is the guy that said no to the Montgomery County Board of Education.  Instead, Robert Avossa took the job of superintendent in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Listen to the video below as Palm Beach Superintendent Avossa speaks about a recent disaster with the Palm Beach County school bus routing.  He actually puts blame on administrators and says parents and bus drivers should have been consulted!  Not only that, he is actually speaking about a problem himself.  He isn't hiding behind a public relations bully who will call your boss if you print that!

Can you imagine if the MCPS Board of Education had been able to hire Robert Avossa and he was the superintendent here?

 School bus crisis: Superintendent has some answers

Teachers seek to take down cell tower

Some teachers concerned about radio frequency emissions want the school district to encourage a community conversation and adopt a policy on towers ....

...“There’s absolutely no educational benefit having that tower on top of Deering. Let’s take it down. Let’s do the right thing,” said Gus Goodwin, Wilson’s husband and a technology teacher at King Middle School. Goodwin has been a leading advocate for removing the tower....