Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Why did the Board of Education Spend $9,773 at the BWI Hilton in 1 Week Last Summer?

The Parents' Coalition has obtained Board of Education expense account records for calendar year 2017 through March 15, 2018.

Included in the documents we received are copies of the Board of Education's JP Morgan Chase credit card bills.

The July 31, 2017, Board of Education credit card bill shows three charges under the category of Travel activity from "Hilton Baltimore BWI" on three days in July with arrival dates of July 4, July 9 and July 11.   The total for these three transactions is $9,773.19.

What were these credit card transactions for? 

CNN Spotlights MCPS Personal Body Safety Lesson that Brought About Arrest of MCPS Teacher

Judge denies Salisbury’s motion to dismiss public information lawsuit

...Wicomico County Circuit Judge W. Newton Jackson III rejected the city’s argument that it never prepared or possessed documents about the settlement, sought by the ACLU of Maryland and the Real News Network, because the litigation was handled by Local Government Insurance Trust. LGIT is an agent of the city, Jackson ruled.
“Were this Court to accept Defendants’ argument, then any government entity could shield public records from the public’s sight by transacting through their insurer or attorney,” he wrote in a May 31 opinion...

Monday, June 18, 2018

BOE Candidates with a Focus on the Health and Safety of Public School Students in MCPS

There are only two Board of Education races on the Primary Ballot.

At Large:  Stephen Sugg

District 3:  Laura Simon

MYMCMEDIA Board of Education At Large

MYMCMEDIA Board of Education District 3

League of Women Voters' Guide
Primary Election Tuesday June 26, 2018
Polls Open 7 AM to 8 PM

Bethesda Beat Voters' Guide Board of Education At Large Race

Bethesda Beat Voters' Guide Board of Education Distrct 3

~Janis Sartucci

Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the Border

From Ginger Thompson at ProPublica.  For the whole story go here.

The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening. Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.

Has your family been separated at the U.S.–Mexico border? Are you a worker at a detention center or do you aid families who have been affected? Tell ProPublica more at border@propublica.org or 347-244-2134.

MCPS Special Education Legal Fees Rocket Upwards...Again

Special education legal expenses in March 2018 totaled $59,838.

The year-to-date total
of $250,251 is $150,105 (149.9 percent) more than the same period in the previous year.

The Carney Kelehan bill for March 2018 totaled $32,811.
The Miles and Stockbridge bill for March 2018 totaled $16,774.
The PK Law bill for March 2018 totaled $10,253.

To see the Legal Fees Report submitted to the Board of Education, click HERE.

Do you think any of the current BOE members, particularly the ones who are running for higher office, will think to inquire about these exponentially increasing costs incurred fighting families seeking appropriate special education services for their children? Fat Chance.

Elite DC-area private schools drop Advanced Placement classes

WASHINGTON — Advanced Placement courses will soon be a thing of the past in eight D.C.-area independent high schools.

AP courses have long been considered the most rigorous a high school student could put on his or her schedule, but these schools say AP isn’t what it used to be.
Georgetown Day, Holton-Arms, Landon, Maret, National Cathedral, Potomac, St. Albans and Sidwell Friends announced a shared commitment to eliminate Advanced Placement courses from their curricula by 2022. Maret does not offer AP courses but supported the move.
“We have been assured by [college] admissions officers that this change will have no adverse impact on our students. The real question for colleges is not whether applicants have taken AP courses, but whether they have availed themselves of their high schools’ most demanding classes,” the heads of school said in a joint statement...

Several well-known private schools in the D.C. area are scrapping Advanced Placement classes

...Seven prominent private schools in the D.C. area plan to eliminate Advanced Placement classes over the next four years, asserting in an unusual joint statement Monday that the program has “diminished utility,” is not necessary for college-bound students and puts too much emphasis on speedy assimilation of course material and memorization.
With their move, the schools drew attention to a quiet pushback against AP in certain quarters of the education world even as the program has gained enormous influence in American high schools as a nationally recognized credential for motivated students and a stepping-stone to college. These critics decry what they perceive as the regimentation of the AP schedule and course content, with classes pointed toward high-stakes tests in May.
“Too much minutiae. Too much emphasis on test preparation,” said Patty Carver, a veteran teacher at Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md., one of the seven that is dropping AP. Carver said she is excited about retooling the AP Environmental Science course that she had taught for nine years. She will rename it Advanced Global Applications in Environmental Science.
The other schools dropping AP are Sidwell Friends, Georgetown Day, National Cathedral and St. Albans in the District of Columbia, as well as Landon in Bethesda and Potomac in McLean, Va. Maret School in the District, which has never offered AP classes, joined in the anti-AP statement. Students at the seven schools will still be able to take AP tests, but the schools are phasing out their affiliation with the brand...

Call to End Statute of Limitations on Sex Abuse Cases in Pennsylvania

At a Capitol rally, state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, invited victims, survivors and relatives of victims of child sex abuse to call on lawmakers and influential power brokers to get behind legislation on ending the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases. June 12, 2018...
...Teresa Lancaster speaks at the rally. Lancaster is one of the subjects of Netflix's "The Keepers." At a Capitol rally, state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, invited victims, survivors and relatives of victims of child sex abuse to call on lawmakers and influential power brokers to get behind legislation on ending the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases...


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Drinking water exceeds lead limits at 63 Montgomery Co. schools

From WTOP, reporter Megan Cloherty. Full story here.

WASHINGTON — Summer break is now in full swing for students in Montgomery County, but county drinking water testing reports show kids who attended more than 60 schools in the system could have been exposed to dangers levels of lead.

In updating the results of its ongoing Drinking Water Testing Program, Montgomery County schools say drinking outlets at 150 schools in its system have been tested for lead. Many have already been fixed.

While the county says on its website only 97 of the 9,748 outlets tested are accessible to students, a closer look at the individual school reports finds that a majority of the offending outlets are in elementary schools’ classrooms.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets a threshold of 20 parts per billion for the lead in drinking water before the fixture needs to be replaced. Nearby school systems like D.C. won’t let lead exceed 5 parts per billion.In Prince George’s County Schools, it’s 10 parts per billion, or ppb.

Of the 94 Montgomery County elementary schools tested, 46 have at least one drinking outlet that tested above the EPA threshold. Four others come within 1 part of the 20 ppb threshold. See the county’s testing reports by school here.

Some faucets and bubblers, or drinking fountains, tested at a few schools far exceeded 20 ppb, according to county data:
  • A classroom bubbler at Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland, tested 356ppb.
  • A faucet in an ESOL classroom in Farmland Elementary School in Rockville, Maryland, tested at 564 ppb.
  • A faucet in computer lab inside Fields Road Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, tested at 259 ppb.
  • A bubbler in Gaithersburg Elementary tested at 253 ppb.
  • A faucet tested at 310 ppb in a Maryvale Elementary School classroom in Rockville, Maryland.
  • A classroom faucet at South Lake Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, tested at 431 ppb.
  • At Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, Maryland, a classroom faucet tested 115 ppb.
  • In Kensington, Maryland, a kitchen faucet at Einstein High School tested at 700 ppb.
  • At Wooton High School in Rockville, Maryland, a faucet inside a computer lab room tested at 112 ppb.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Jill Ortman-Fouse Expenses Charged to MCPS Operating Budget = $10,895 .@Jill4allMoCo

For FY 2017 and FY 2018 through March, Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse charged $10,895.25 in expenses to the MCPS Operating Budget.

The Parents' Coalition has obtained Board of Education expense account records for calendar year 2017 through March 15, 2018.

From the documents we obtained we believe the documents show that Ms. Ortman-Fouse traveled out of town on the following dates.

March 2017 - 5 Days in Denver Colorado  [Hyatt Hotel]

August 18 2017 - Possible Ocean City stay, but BOE members are not listed on the hotel bill

September 21, 2017 - Possible Ocean City stay, but BOE members are not listed on the hotel bill.

September 27-30, 2017 - Cube Conference in New Orleans, LA [Waldorf Roosevelt Hotel]

October 3-6, 2017 - 4 days at MABE Conference in Ocean City, MD

April 5, 2018 - Airfare purchased for unknown trip

Below are the records that we obtained.  Please note that Board of Education members no longer possess personal credit cards.  That practice ended in 2014 when the Parents' Coalition exposed how Board of Education members and their staff were using their personal MCPS credit cards.

However, Board of Education staff still have a MCPS credit card for Board member purchases.

The first document below shows Jill Ortman-Fouse's requests for expenses/reimbursements and the second document shows the bills for Board members paid from the Board office credit card.  The one Board of Education office credit card is in the name of staff member Rebecca Gibson.

Per Diem, Airport Transportation:

Airline tickets, hotels, conference fees:

Friday, June 15, 2018

1 death reported in Md. linked to synthetic marijuana

A person has died in connection with the use of synthetic marijuana, according to the Maryland Poison Center.
The center received information Wednesday that there have been 30 cases, including one death, linked to an outbreak that was first reported on April 3.
Maryland Poison Center representative Bruce Anderson said the death happened a few weeks ago. He said all signs point to synthetic cannabinoid laced with rat poison...


Discovery Moves to NYC, Leaves Education Dept. Behind

...Discovery also will continue to maintain a Maryland network hub that will house other functions, such as government relations and its Discovery Education Division.


After ‘child marriage’ ban fails in Md., Del. and NJ pass legislation

Maryland may have failed again to pass legislation eliminating so-called “child marriage,” but nearby Delaware did last month and New Jersey may soon follow if Gov. Phil Murphy signs it into law.
Delaware became the first state to require an individual to be 18 to get married when Gov. John Carney signed the bill in May.
New Jersey’s legislature passed a similar bill this week. Former Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill last year because it didn’t “comport with the sensibilities and, in some cases, the religious customs, of the people of this state.”
Advocates have pushed for Maryland, which has a minimum marriage age of 18 with exceptions requiring pregnancy or parental permission for 16- and 17-year-olds and both for 15-year-olds, to eliminate those exceptions. Bills have gained traction in the General Assembly in recent years but have not passed...

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Montgomery Co police say Elijah Nyamekye of Silver Spring has been charged with bringing a loaded revolver into Paint Branch High School yesterday. Officer Rick Goodale says the 17 yr old is not a student, the gun was stolen and he’s been released on bond. #News4 #Working4You

Charge No:001Description:POSS OF FIREARM MINOR
Statute:PS.5.133.(d)Description:POSS OF FIREARM MINOR
Amended Date:CJIS Code:1 5285MO/PLL:Probable Cause:X
Incident Date From:06/12/2018To:06/12/2018Victim Age:

Charge No:002Description:HANDGUN ON PERSON
Statute:CR.4.203Description:HANDGUN ON PERSON
Amended Date:CJIS Code:1 5212MO/PLL:Probable Cause:X
Incident Date From:06/12/2018To:06/12/2018Victim Age:

Charge No:003Description:REG FIREARM:STOLEN/SELL ETC
Statute:PS.5.138Description:REG FIREARM:STOLEN/SELL ETC
Amended Date:CJIS Code:1 2801MO/PLL:Probable Cause:X
Incident Date From:06/12/2018To:06/12/2018Victim Age:

Amended Date:CJIS Code:7A5707MO/PLL:Probable Cause:X
Incident Date From:06/12/2018To:06/12/2018Victim Age:

Amended Date:CJIS Code:1A0070MO/PLL:Probable Cause:
Incident Date From:06/12/2018To:06/12/2018Victim Age:

School Administrator's MD License Revoked, But Hired by Morgan State University as Student Services Coordinator

From the Marylanld State Department of Education:  Freddie Dean Smith had his Maryland school administrator license revoked on October 7, 2016. 


Morgan State Honors College Hires Convicted Felon

NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Convicted felon, sex offender, serial liar and fraudster, Freddie Dean Smith is alive and well and currently working as the Student Services Coordinator for the Clara I. Adams Honors College at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.
Morgan State, a state-owned HBCU, ranks among the Top 20 Historically Black College and Universities in the United States.
Smith serves as the Morgan State advisor for the National Honor Society Phi Eta Sigma, a national honor society for first-year college students. He is a member of the steering committee for the 5K Study Abroad Fund, administered by the Morgan State University Foundation.
Smith is scheduled to represent Morgan State at the annual conference of the National Association of African-American Honors Program in November in North Carolina. The NAAAHP website lists Smith as “Dr. Freddie Smith Parliamentarian”.  Smith’s doctorate was revoked in 2009 following a plagiarism investigation by the University of Virginia Curry School of Education.
Morgan State officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment on how Smith was hired despite requirements for an employment and criminal background check for school administrators...

MCEA Rally: Staff at Kemp Mill ES have been dismayed to see a bullying and ineffective principal turn their school into a place with one of the worst school climates in the county.

MCEA Rally Announcement:

Join parents, community members, and the Montgomery County Education Association at a rally at the MCPS Central Office to demand justice for the students and families at Kemp Mill Elementary School.

Kemp Mill has one of the highest percentages of children from low-income families in Montgomery County. It needs and deserves strong leadership. But for the past three years, educators there have been dismayed to see a bullying and ineffective principal turn their school into a place with one of the worst school climates in the county. 

The dedicated educators, paraeducators, and building service staff at Kemp Mill work every day to provide their underserved student population with the quality school community they deserve. After numerous attempts to raise these urgent concerns with the school district, we still have had no adequate response from MCPS. The Montgomery County educators' union will not stand idly by as MCPS does a terrible disservice to one of our high needs schools.

School’s out, but we’re just getting started! An injury to one is an injury to all, and only by coming together can we hold MCPS accountable to students, parents, and fellow educators. 

Superintendent Jack Smith continually says that “all means all,” but he needs to put action behind his words. Our most vulnerable students are suffering from his neglect. We must stand together to demand equity now. Join us at the rally to fight for the change that’s needed at Kemp Mill ES to improve the lives of our kids and our colleagues!

.@MCPS asks for prior parent consent before students fill out PSAT/SAT personal surveyw/answers sold by @collegeboard; is parental consent required elsewhere in MD or in US?

Superintendent Met with County Executive about Bus Depot

That's all we can tell you. 

The Superintendent gave the Board of Education a report about his meeting with the County Executive at the Closed Session Board of Education meeting on May 21, 2018

The Superintendent and Board of Education do not want the public to know anything about what was discussed by the Superintendent and County Executive Ike Leggett.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A ticking time bomb’: MS-13 threatens a middle school, warn teachers, parents, students

...Gang-related fights are now a near-daily occurrence at Wirt, where a small group of suspected MS-13 members at the overwhelmingly Hispanic school throw gang signs, sell drugs, draw gang graffiti and aggressively recruit students recently arrived from Central America, according to more than two dozen teachers, parents and students. Most of those interviewed asked not to be identified for fear of losing their jobs or being targeted by MS-13.
Although administrators deny Wirt has a gang problem, the situation inside the aging, overcrowded building has left some teachers so afraid that they refuse to be alone with their students. Many said they had repeatedly reported incidents involving suspected gang members to administrators, only to be ignored — claims supported by documents obtained by The Washington Post.
“Teachers feel threatened but aren’t backed up. Students feel threatened but aren’t protected,” one educator said. “The school is a ticking time bomb.”..

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Lockdown, lockdown, lock the door. Shut the lights off, say no more

From Harper's Magazine. A Massachusetts kindergarten teacher rewrote "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" with the lyrics "Lockdown, lockdown, lock the door. Shut the lights off, say no more" as part of a drill for school shootings. A two-year-old boy died after being shot by his 13-year-old brother in Ohio; a four-year-old boy was shot in South Carolina after playing with a gun he found under a mattress; a 10-year-old boy was shot while playing in his yard in Mississippi; a two-year-old boy was shot in the head and a nine-year-old boy was shot in the stomach while shooting targets in Tennessee; a four-year-old boy was shot at a gas station in Missouri; a five-year-old boy was shot while sitting on a porch in Louisiana; a five-year-old boy was shot in Pennsylvania; a six-year-old boy in Kentucky died when a gun he was playing with went off; a 12-year-old girl died after being shot by two teenagers in Georgia; five-year-old boy was shot by his eight-year-old brother and seven people were shot at a child's birthday party in Illinois; and a ten-year-old boy was shot in the head at a birthday party in Virginia. NRA Family, the National Rifle Association's website "for families and beginning shooters of all ages," posted a "Fun Friday Quiz" titled "Which Rifle Are You?"

Over 2,300 suspected sex offenders arrested in nationwide operation

WASHINGTON — More than 2,300 suspected online child sex offenders were arrested during a three-month nationwide operation conducted by the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The task forces identified 195 offenders who either produced child pornography or committed child sexual abuse, as well as 383 children who suffered recent, ongoing or historical sexual abuse or who were used in the production of child pornography, according to a DOJ statement.
The 61 ICAC task forces — located in all 50 states and comprising more than 4,500 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies — led the operation known as “Broken Heart” during March, April, and May.
The task forces investigated more than 25,200 complaints of technology-facilitated crimes against children and delivered more than 3,700 presentations on internet safety to over 390,000 youth and adults.
“No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “And yet, in recent years, certain forms of modern technology have facilitated the spread of child pornography and created greater incentives for its production.”..

DCW50: Concerns over artificial turf: Parents and safety advocates continue to resist adding synthetic fields

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. -- Athletes from pros to the pint-sized variety are coming across a new kind of artificial turf when they play on synthetic fields, raising concerns among some as school districts continue to embrace their use.
Artificial turf has drawn criticism from both parents and people concerned about long term health effects of kids playing contact sports...

Monday, June 11, 2018

MCPS will be Responsible for Maintaining and Replacing Two Artificial Turf Fields at JWMS. MSI will be Out After Installation. $20K Annual Maintenance on Taxpayers.

At the City of Rockville Planning Commission meeting, MCPS staff revealed that once the two artificial turf fields are installed at Julius West Middle School the ongoing maintenance and eventual replacement of those fields will be the resonsibility of Montgomery County Public Schools. 

Remember that MCPS says the annual maintenance of an artificial turf field should cost $10,000.

That means that MCPS has found an extra $20,000 a year for each year going forward to spend on the Julius West Middle School fields. 

MCPS staff told the City of Rockville Planning Commission that they currently spend $0 on maintaining elementary and middle school fields. 

The MCPS-MSI Soccer deal has MCPS giving up 1,000 of field use per year and paying $20,000 a year to maintain the two fields at one middle school.

Who made this deal and why did the Board of Education approve it?

MCPS and MSI are Planning to Blast the Intersection of 270 and Falls Road with Stadium Light. Impact on Drivers is Unknown. #Gambling @mcps @mocoboe

This is the lighting plan for the Julius West Middle School - MSI fields.

Google Maps Intersection of 270 and State 189 showing location of
where 10 stadium lights will be installed for private soccer club.