Friday, January 17, 2020

Eric Wallich's statement did not address the 2018 rape case involving the JV football team

ABC7: Damascus HS head football coach resigns 15 months after alleged locker room sexual assault

Eric Wallich, the Head Varsity Football Coach at Damascus High School, has resigned from his post.
Wallich made the surprise announcement in a lengthy, written letter, which surfaced Friday afternoon. Wallich, who spent the last 12 years at Damascus, explained he was making the change for personal reasons.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

MCPS studies how 2-ply toilet paper will affect its bottom line

There’s a lot to Montgomery County Public Schools’ proposed operating budget of $2.8 billion for fiscal year 2021. But one topic that got a lot of attention at Monday night’s public hearing on the budget was the quality of school toilet paper.
“It feels rough as sandpaper and very thin, which has led to many uncomfortable circumstances for students,” said Sekayi Fraser, student body president at Cabin John Middle School. “On top of that, the toilet paper dispensers are extremely inefficient and only allow for two to three squares to be broken off at a time.”..

Opinion: "address and change the culture within Montgomery County Public Schools"

The writer of the opinion piece below is repeating what has been said for decades by families of students needing special education services. The families that were bullied, stalked, harassed and sued. 

The writer is repeating what the families of children who have been victims of sexual abuse by MCPS staff IN schools have said in courtrooms at sentencing hearings when it has been revealed that MCPS kept KNOWN sexual abusers IN classrooms for DECADES. The writer is another voice speaking to the culture of MCPS that does not value children.


...The first incident happened in eighth grade where we had to take the Measures of Academic Progress-Reading, or MAP-R, test. MAP-R was used to determine one’s reading level.
The first time I took it, my score came back saying that my reading level was the equivalent of a senior in high school. That should’ve been the end of it. However, two weeks later I was called into the office and in there were my folks, the principal, my English teacher and someone from the school system. They had called me in there not to congratulate but to accuse me of cheating on the test.
Mind you, my English teacher had told them that I was very well-read, and my folks always took me to libraries and bookstores so it wasn’t a shock to see that I could read.
The person from the school system said, “There’s no way that this kid, from this side of the county could’ve scored that well. He had to have cheated.”
Needless to say, I was forced to take the test again in a room with a teacher, a security guard and two police officers. Each time I looked up those officers would leer at me like a wolf at its prey. I finished, and this time my score showed my reading level was the equivalent of a college freshman.
In other words, I scored higher, and I went off on everybody in the room. I told the officers that while they were busy looking at a nerd, they could’ve been chasing real criminals. I told the security officer that this time I did nothing wrong, and I pointed out that the teacher had just wasted time...

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

"On top of that, the toilet paper dispensers are extremely inefficient and only allow for 2 to 3 squares to be broken off at a time. I have over 100 signatures on a petition advocating for better toilet paper from Cabin John’s 8th Grade alone."

The second topic is purchasing more buses. MCPS has too many students and too few buses. I’ve seen the crisis going on right now when it comes to bus space and overcrowding. I have personally witnessed the horrible seating, students (including me) sitting on the floor, squeezing 5 people in a three seater and witnessing an actual fistfight over who could be the third person in a three seater. I’ve talked to hundreds of students who feel the same way.

Maryland & France

A French author wrote for years about his sexual relations with children and continued to win acclaim. Now one of them has spoken out.

PARIS — The French writer Gabriel Matzneff never hid the fact that he engaged in sex with girls and boys in their early teens or even younger. He wrote countless books detailing his insatiable pursuits and appeared on television boasting about them. “Under 16 Years Old,” was the title of an early book that left no ambiguity.
Still, he never spent a day in jail for his actions or suffered any repercussion. Instead, he won acclaim again and again. Much of France’s literary and journalism elite celebrated him and his work for decades. Now 83, Mr. Matzneff was awarded a major literary prize in 2013 and, just two months ago, one of France’s most prestigious publishing houses published his latest work.
But the publication, on Thursday, of an account by one of his victims, Vanessa Springora, has suddenly fueled an intense debate in France over its historically lax attitude toward sex with people who are underage. It has also shone a particularly harsh light on a period during which some of France’s leading literary figures and newspapers — names as big as Foucault, Sartre, Libération and Le Monde — aggressively promoted the practice as a form of human liberation, or at least defended it...

Monday, January 13, 2020

TODAY 9 AM - 4 PM: County Council to Meet Off Camera, No Video But Public Can Show Up and Record Meeting #CouncilRetreat

Monday, January 13, 2020
4 th Floor Capital Crescent Trail Room

A. Welcome
B. Administrative Items:
1. Council Calendar 2020 
2. 2020 Council and Executive appointments and representation 
3. Town Hall meetings and community engagement 
4. Review of Council processes 5. Update Equity Policy

C. Open Floor for Councilmembers’ comments

D. PROPOSED CLOSED SESSION to discuss appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction, pursuant to Maryland Code, State Government Article, §3-305(b)(1)(i). Topic is personnel matter concerning one or more specific employees.(Michaelson)

Montgomery County Parents Weigh In on Boundary Issue

Friday, January 10, 2020

Garcia’s lawyer, John Sharifi, said in court that his client had debilitating epilepsy and claimed that he had been sexually abused by a teacher in middle school, in a bid to encourage Boynton to set a lighter sentence

The fourth man convicted of killing two Germantown, Maryland, boys the night before they were supposed to graduate from high school in 2017 was sentenced to 100 years in prison on Friday.
Roger Garcia was convicted of second-degree murder and gun charges last month in the deaths of Shadi Adi Najjar, 17, and Artem Ziberov, 18, who were found in a running Honda Civic on Gallery Court in Montgomery Village in June 2017.
Garcia was given the maximum sentence on all counts: 30 years for each murder charge and 20 years for each handgun count...

...Garcia’s lawyer, John Sharifi, said in court that his client had debilitating epilepsy and claimed that he had been sexually abused by a teacher in middle school, in a bid to encourage Boynton to set a lighter sentence...

@Fox5Wagner New- The 2 and a 1/2 year saga of 4 men convicted of ambushing 2 Montgomery County high school students has now come to an end

Germantown man sentenced to 100 years in prison for killing two Northwest High students

...The June 5, 2017, meeting was supposed to be for Najjar and Ziberov to sell extra tickets to their high school graduation...

A Germantown man convicted last month for his role in the 2017 killing of two Northwest High School students was sentenced Friday to 100 years in prison.
Roger Garcia, 22, was convicted Dec. 16 of two counts of second-degree murder. Police say he and three others killed Shadi Ali Najjar, 17, and Artem Ziberov, 18, in June 2017, the night before their graduation...

Anne Arundel offers to find alternatives to disputed cell tower site at Shady Side Elementary

Anne Arundel County has offered to look for alternatives sites for a cell phone tower proposed at Shady Side Elementary School that has divided the community and angered school board members.
County Executive Steuart Pittman said his administration would look for other locations that would both address the need for better cell service on the isolated Shady Side peninsula while addressing parents’ concerns about a cell tower on the school property, said Michelle Corkadel, president of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education...

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Clearing up confusion over boundaries study in Montgomery County Public Schools

Board of Ed Now Paying $90,000 to Hold @mcps Graduations at UMBC #BlairHighSchool #NorthwestHS #PaintBranchHS #WalterJohnsonHS

From today's Board of Education agenda:

What happened to using the University of Maryland in College Park facility?

How many MCPS high schools will have to transport their students and families to Baltimore for their high school graduation ceremony?

MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith Has A Secret #ArtificialTurf #plasticpollution

On Thursday, January 9, 2020, the Board of Education will be presented with a Resolution for the replacement of the defective, failed Walter Johnson High School artificial turf football field.  The Resolution (shown below) mentions that there is a detailed recycling plan for the old artificial turf and infill when it is removed.  But, Superintendent Smith doesn't actually tell the Board of Education or the public about that detailed recycling plan. 

The Board of Education will vote on the removal of this plastic field without knowing what will happen to all that plastic and the 120 tons of ground up tires. 

RMHS artificial turf in dumpster (2018)
Recall that when the Richard Montgomery High School artificial turf football field was replaced the old field littered the ground, polluted storm drains, spilled on the street, and was ultimately dumped by a river in Baltimore County.

Superintendent Jack R. Smith and MCPS COO Andrew Zuckerman didn't want to discuss the massive pollution that resulted from the removal of that artificial turf field. They considered questions about the pollution a distraction from their "core mission of teaching and learning."

     The statement read in part:
...It is unfortunate that there is a small group of individuals attempting to mislead and misinform our community about this issue. This behavior distracts from our core mission of teaching and learning. I am particularly troubled by the fact that in this case we are fielding questions about a paintball facility’s reuse of artificial turf in White Marsh, Maryland when here in Montgomery County locally we are focused on creating opportunities for all students to learn and achieve at high levels...

Superintendent Smith even said what happens to the removed plastic and ground up tires was "beyond the control of MCPS."

MCPS dumped RMHS plastic field by Bird River.
Now, here we are in 2020 and another MCPS artificial turf field is about to be torn up and thrown away.  But where will the old plastic field and 120 tons of ground up tires go?  

Will it once again be dumped by a river?

Will it once again go to a landfill in Southern Virginia?

Superintendent Jack Smith isn't telling.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Police: 12-year-old boy stabbed on soccer fields beside Newport Mill Middle School

Montgomery County 2020 Presidential Primary Election Local Candidates List

Last updated: 01/08/2020 04:02:37 PM

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Board of Education At Large

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Board of Education
Board of Education District 002
Rebecca K. Smondrowski

Jurisdiction Montgomery County
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/08/2020

Facebook Smondrowski
Twitter @RebeccaOnBoard

Contact Information
313 Tannery Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20878-
(301) 325-6246

Board of Education District 004

MCPS Did Not Get $30,000 to Pay Down School Lunch Debt. A Private Foundation with a Paid Director & Expenses Got $$.

Multiple media outlets have reported that "Montgomery County Schools just got $30,000 of school lunch debt paid off" but that is not what just happened.

Money was donated to a private foundation that has a director that is paid $103,002 for 32 hours of work per week.  

The MCPS Foundation has a Director and expenses. That means that any donation to this private foundation will not go directly to student lunch accounts.  The Foundation will take a cut and how the funds will be used will never actually be known.

The MCPS Foundation does not provide any transparency or accountability for the expenditure of funds beyond what is shown on the 990 filed with the IRS.  The MCPS Foundation is not subject to any public audit or public accountability.

From the most recent 990 filed with Guidestar we learn that the MCPS Foundation has about $5.9 Million in investments.  Apparently those funds will not be used to pay off any lunch debt.

We also learn that one of the major Foundation projects is to throw a big breakfast "confab" for administrators and elected officials with a few students included.  The Foundation is paying for food, but not just for children who need lunch.

$635,806 of Foundation dollars goes to the big "confab" breakfast and to grants to administrators.  That's over half a million dollars that doesn't appear to go to classrooms, lunchrooms, or children.  If the Foundation would like to provide details on these expenses, we would be happy to post their detailed financial information.

2018  - IRS 990

2017 - IRS 990

Monday, January 6, 2020

Hundreds of Public Comments About Montgomery County’s School Boundary Review Released

Hundreds of parents, homeowners and students have submitted comments to Montgomery County Public Schools about the district’s controversial review of school boundaries. The assessment was ordered amid growing concern about overcrowding in some buildings and a push to diversify the county’s schools.  
Montgomery County Public Schools has scheduled a Tuesday evening public meeting at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda to hear comments and feedback about the boundary assessment. In a public records request, News4 has obtained hundreds of comments submitted electronically by the public...

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Germantown Suspect Arrested for Sexual Solicitation of a Minor; Possibility of Additional Victims a Concern

Detectives from the Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID) – Child Exploitation Unit have charged Miguel Angel De Jesus Navarro, age 61, of the 12500 block of Great Park Circle in Germantown, with sexual solicitation of a minor, attempted sex trafficking of a minor, and the solicitation of a minor for child pornography.
In November 2019, SVID detectives received information of this possible sexual solicitation of a minor.  Through investigation, detectives learned that in March or April 2019, the 14-year-old female victim and her mother were exiting the Salvation Army located at 18705 N Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg.  A vehicle approached them and the driver, later identified through investigation as Navarro, offered them a ride to their home.  Navarro spoke to them in Spanish but appeared to be fluent in Spanish and English.  The mother accepted the offer and when Navarro arrived at the home, he asked the victim how old she was to which she replied that she was 14 years old.  Navarro obtained the victim’s phone number before he left.
That evening, the victim received a phone call from Navarro.  Navarro offered to give the victim money in exchange for engaging in sexual intercourse.  The victim told Navarro that she was 14 and to leave her alone.  Navarro continued to text the victim messages through November 2019 that included asking the victim to send him inappropriate photographs of herself and soliciting sexual acts.
Navarro was arrested on December 30 in Germantown on the strength of a Montgomery County criminal warrant.  He was transported to the Central Processing Unit and is being held without bond.
Anyone who believes that she/he was victimized by Navarro is asked to call investigators at: 240-773-5400.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Report: Montgomery Co. efforts to close student achievement gaps ineffective

While more than half of Montgomery County, Maryland, students are black and Latino, many attend schools that lack in resources, according to a report released in December by the Office of Legislative Oversight.
The report also shows that many of those schools have a high percentage of students from impoverished families. The report states that the consensus among researchers is that higher-poverty schools tend to yield lower-levels of academic performance, especially among students of color and low-income students.
The findings highlight ineffective efforts to close achievement gaps since the last report was released in 2015...

Report: Montgomery County’s attempt to narrow student performance gap is ‘largely ineffective’

Despite attempts by Maryland’s largest school system to close achievement gaps between black and Latino children and their white and Asian peers, those differences have barely budged in recent years, a new report finds.
Montgomery County is one of the state’s most diverse districts, with more than half of its students identifying as black or Latino and nearly 30,000 children who are learning English. But those same students are concentrated in schools with large populations of children from impoverished families, according to the report from the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight, which monitors local government-funded activities.
The school district has made scant progress since 2015 — the last time the oversight office published a study on achievement gaps — in ensuring equitable access to resources, officials say...
...However, the oversight office’s report called the county’s efforts “largely ineffective.” On several measures of academic performance, disparities between white and Asian students and black and Latino children remain unchanged. In several cases — particularly regarding SAT scores, English language arts and graduation rates — the performance gaps between Latinos and their white and Asian peers grew wider.
“These findings echo findings from prior [Office of Legislative Oversight] reports documenting persistent performance gaps by race and ethnicity in 2007, 2008, 2013 and 2014,” the report reads...

Monday, December 30, 2019

Pay would more than double for Montgomery County, Md., school board members under proposal

A commission formed to explore a pay increase for school board members in Montgomery County — Maryland's largest school system — is recommending their pay more than double.
The Board of Education Compensation Commission urged this month that the pay for elected school board members be raised to $60,000 annually and that the president of the board get a boost to $70,000.

Currently, board members receive $25,000, and the president earns $29,000.
The commission also recommended that the board’s student representative receive a scholarship that is either 80 percent of the board members’ salary or a $40,000 scholarship, whichever is greater. The student would also receive a 20 percent stipend. Currently, the student representative receives a $5,000 scholarship.
“The commission believes that the current salary level is not reflective of the time and effort needed for a board member to fulfill their duties and responsibilities, nor of the type of work that the board is called on to perform,” Jaye Espy, chairwoman of the commission, said in testimony Dec. 9 before the Montgomery County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly. The pay increase requires the General Assembly’s approval...
...“We have not supported increasing the stipend because we don’t see the effort on their part to participate in the administration of the school system,” said Janis Sartucci of the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County, an advocacy organization focused on transparency and performance of Montgomery County’s public schools. “The board members do not do the hard work of running the school system. They are more figureheads.”
Sartucci said board members are not involved in writing the nuts and bolts of the operating budget or the capital budget and said her group is opposed to money being diverted from schools.
“Until our classrooms are getting all the education dollars they need, we do not see the urgency to increase the board member stipend,” she said...

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Superintendent in Maryland school system seeks contract renewal

The superintendent of Maryland’s largest school system said Friday he would be seeking another four-year contract, a move that appears to all but assure his continued leadership in suburban Montgomery County.
Jack R. Smith, 62, in his fourth year as schools chief in the fast-growing system of more than 165,000 students, said in a letter to employees on the eve of their holiday break that he would request another contract from the Montgomery County Board of Education.
“We have made significant progress on behalf of students, but there is still more work to be done,” Smith wrote. “I am deeply committed to continuing this progress toward our shared vision for equity and student achievement.”
Six of the board’s eight members contacted Friday and Saturday by The Washington Post indicated they favored another term for Smith. Two members could not immediately be reached for comment...

Montgomery County Public Schools Boundary Analysis project scope revisions as of December 19, 2019

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Howard County special education teachers warn they and the system are reaching a breaking point

Howard County special education teachers warn they and the system are reaching a breaking point

At a Howard County Board of Education meeting Nov. 7, four special education staff members sounded an alarm, warning that special educators in public schools are reaching a breaking point because of understaffing and underfunding by the county.
At times with tears in their eyes, the special education staff members gave accounts of what they face each day, saying they spend most of their time running from one student crisis to the next.
“I’m a crisis interventionist all day; that’s really all I do. The days I actually just teach are far and in between,” said Lauren Williams, a fourth-year special education teacher at Guilford Elementary School in Columbia, in a December interview.
“I started tracking the amount of [special education] service hours missed when a crisis happens and just today I counted 163 minutes missed.”..

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Andrea Chamblee: Zirkin’s conduct on gun bill showed he wasn’t a good legislator

I’m ashamed that my high school in Howard County, Glenelg High, was the place where Grace McComas was bullied until she saw no other way out than suicide. The law in her name, Grace’s law, was an important accomplishment, even it was too late for Grace.
State Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Montgomery County, splashed that accomplishment all over a Facebook page that he would later claim was not related to his public position as a state senator when he started deleting polite requests from constituents for him to explain his position on another life-saving bill that he “slow-walked” through the Senate until the clock ran out last year: the bill that would make it illegal for already disqualified people to obtain rifles and shotguns at gun shows and other transfers.

Although Gov. Larry Hogan was publicly shamed and paid a fine for the same kind of deletions just before this, the constituents who were deleted had no such option. This is because Zirkin is so petty and vengeful that we knew other important bills would be slow-walked by him again...


Zirkin has a history of deletions:  

Monday, December 23, 2019

Who’s on top? Who’s at the bottom? Who cares. Give everybody a shot in the classroom.

...Consider achievement gaps. Education researchers spend much time examining them. Big gaps between rich children and poor ones are considered bad, and small gaps are good. But there are instances when shrinking achievement gaps can be deceiving: It could mean children who were doing well have stopped doing so well.

Low-income students’ scores can drop, while high-income students’ scores drop even more. Low-income scores can remain steady, while high-income scores drop. The gap is narrowed in those cases, but to what end? The difference gets smaller, but somebody is still losing ground.

Ex-Bethesda lacrosse coach arrested in bizarre murder, kidnapping plot

A former Bethesda, Maryland, high school lacrosse coach is under arrest in connection with an attempted murder and kidnapping case so bizarre that even federal prosecutors say it reads “like the script of a bad horror movie.”..

...According to the documents, Hayes convinced a Florida couple, Frank and Jennifer Amnott, to help her and Reburn kidnap five children from two Mennonite families living in rural Dayton, Virginia. Hayes had told the couple that three of the children were actually hers and had been stolen from her, prosecutors said...


Friday, December 20, 2019

'Running out of room': How old turf fields raise potential environmental, health concerns

As fields are replaced, billions of pounds of rubber and synthetic fiber are piling up because the U.S. has no plan for disposing of this product.

Candy Woodall, York Daily Record
Updated 9:13 a.m. EST Nov. 18, 2019

The hulking wall of rubber was first discovered by a borough maintenance crew.

About 6,000 rolled pieces were neatly stacked about 10 feet high, covering more than an acre of private land, according to the mayor of Cleona, Pennsylvania.

The green blades of artificial grass peeking through the coiled logs offered the first clue.

“This is what it looks like when someone gets rid of a dozen turf fields and there’s nowhere to send them,” said Mayor Larry Minnich.

A York Daily Record/York Sunday News investigation has found an unregulated industry that is growing exponentially and dumping several hundred old athletic fields across the U.S. every year.

Artificial turf and the projected mountains of waste...

What Changes at YouTube Mean For Kids, Creators, and the Rest of Us

The biggest lesson of this settlement and its aftermath? The way we make and think about media for children needs to change.

In 2018, CCFC, the Center for Digital Democracy and a coalition of 23 advocacy groups filed a complaint urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate YouTube and Google for massive, ongoing violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. We weren’t trying to catch anyone on a technicality – we were blowing the whistle on one of the most powerful companies in the world for knowingly and illegally profiting off of kids’ personal data.
Our complaint detailed how Google was, for years, intentionally violating COPPA by pretending obviously kid-directed channels like Little Baby Bum, ChuChuTV Nursery Rhymes, and Ryan Toys Review weren’t actually for kids. This was a huge money-maker for YouTube: at the same time Google falsely said in its TOS and to the FTC that YouTube wasn’t for kids, the company was charging premium prices for ads on child-directed content and bragging to advertisers that YouTube was the new Saturday morning cartoons. We asked the FTC to investigate YouTube and Google, not the channels of individual creators, because we believe that YouTube as a platform is ultimately responsible for making sure its data and ad policies follow the law. (And even when rumors of this settlement were first swirling, we urged the FTC not to shift the burden of compliance to creators.) We also focused only on channels that were obviously child-directed, because those are the channels where the audience is overwhelmingly the kids that COPPA was intended to protect.
Now that the FTC has investigated and found that Google and YouTube were violating the law, there are big changes underway on YouTube, including restrictions on data collection and advertising on child-directed content. Advocates, lawmakers, and child development experts recognize that this is a long overdue step to enforce COPPA — which has been the law for years — and end the insidious practice of collecting personal data from kids in order to target them with manipulative behavioral ads...