Thursday, April 24, 2014

WPost: Teen charged for having sex in school hallway in Montgomery County

Churchill HS to Get Artificial Turf, Gaithersburg HS and Richard Montgomery HS fields Turned Over to Private Entities

At the April 29, 2014, Board of Education meeting:

9.9 Artificial Turf Field Use Agreements - Gaithersburg HS and Richard Montgomery HS

9.10 Artificial Turf Field Installation - Winston Churchill HS

Note these items are on the Consent Agenda.  The Board of Education won't discuss them, they will just vote them through.  No worries if the deals are bad for MCPS or cost the budget millions of dollars.  MCPS has money to burn and needn't sweat the details.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Does MCPS Separate Alleged Perpetrators from Victims in School Sex Assaults? Richard Montgomery HS Sex Assault Charges

The Parents' Coalition has obtained a copy of a Montgomery County District Court charging document that details the March 18, 2014, arrest of an 18 year old Richard Montgomery High School student for a 4th degree sexual offense that is alleged to have taken place at the school on February 27, 2014.  The victim is a 14 year old student at the school.  The incident is alleged to have taken place in the school at 10 AM while school was in session.

The charging document was forwarded to the Parents' Coalition by a source that wishes to remain anonymous. Our source tells us that when the family of the victim contacted the school they were told to not tell anyone about this incident.

At 1 PM today we contacted the Montgomery County State's Attorneys' office for a comment on this charge as it had, as yet, not been covered in the media.

By 4:34 PM this afternoon the Richard Montgomery High School principal sent out a notice to parents informing them of this incident.  The Gazette reported on the incident by 8:30 PM this evening.

Unfortunately, Montgomery County does not redact the names of minors in charging documents, so we will not be making the actual document public.  We have seen this in other Montgomery County sexual assault cases and it is very disturbing.  Other counties in Maryland do redact the names of minors.

We were told by our source that the alleged perpetrator is still a student at Richard Montgomery High School.  The victim is also still attending Richard Montgomery High School.

Is this how MCPS deals with students when a sexual assault has been alleged and an arrest has been made? 
The victim and alleged perpetrator are left in the same school? 
Is there any concern that the alleged victim would be bullied or harassed?

The letter sent to Richard Montgomery parents and guardians this afternoon is very vague.  We have reprinted it below.  The Gazette article says:
...Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Dana Tofig said the school has taken steps to reduce the number of places that students can hide from security. The measures include using mirrors and additional surveillance, according to Tofig.
Now remember that MCPS installed 70-80 state of the art security cameras at each high school.  The cameras are everywhere.  Did MCPS security cameras record this sexual assault?  We know the security cameras are not monitored, but did anyone review the tapes from this alleged February 27th incident?

MCPS is now saying security cameras are not sufficient and "mirrors" must be installed?  How many "mirrors" will each school get?
Remember that the security cameras are better than hiring additional security staff. That's the MCPS motto!

So what happened in this incident at Richard Montgomery High School? From the District Court charging document: 
(victim) agreed to skip class with (alleged perpetrator) and to meet with him in the hallway by the vending machine beside the attendance office. 
[sexual activity described] (victim) informed (officer) that this sexual act continued for approximately 20 minutes

Here's what Richard Montgomery High School parents and guardians were told today:

From: Richard Montgomery High School
Date: Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 4:34 PM
Subject: School Update 
Dear Richard Montgomery High School Community,

In late March, our school was contacted by the family of a female student about a possible sexual assault that occurred during the school day which involved a male student.  Given the seriousness of the allegations,  we immediately involved the police. The administration and security staff of Richard Montgomery High School worked closely with the City of Rockville Police Department and the Montgomery County Police Department as they investigated this incident. An arrest has been made in this case.

As a result of this event, we are reexamining our security protocols and building supervision by the school administration, security, and staff.  As always, safety is our top priority at Richard Montgomery High School.   Together we will continue to provide a safe, secure environment for our students to learn and grow.

If you have additional questions, please contact Mrs. Afie Mirshah.  Thank you for your continued support.


Nelson McLeod, PhD
Principal, Richard Montgomery High School
250 Richard Montgomery Drive
Rockville, Maryland  20852

The Graduation Math - BOE Refuses to Fully Fund Graduation Venue Rental - Slush Funds Abound

When a MCPS high school collects a fee from every senior, what is the total amount of cash collected by the principal? 

For 2014 Graduations based on current senior enrollment the approximate cash collected, not counting late fees, could be:

Blair HS at $30                          $19,560                        
Walter Johnson HS at $60          $32,280
Richard Montgomery HS            $23,175
Northwest HS                             $22,100
Quince Orchard HS at $70         $32,060
Seneca Valley HS at $65            $16,900
Watkins Mill HS at $45              $15,795
Wheaton HS at $55                     $13,750

Based on our past research, the cost to rent DAR Constitution Hall is $5,700. 

MCPS paid $76,500 in FY 2013 to DAR for 21 high schools to graduate.   

It would appear, therefore, that the Board of Education is refusing to pay the full rental cost of this graduation venue. 
According to the numbers on the MCPS Funding Accountability and Transparency webpage, the BOE is only funding $3,642 per school graduation. 
That would leave $2,058 per high school for the graduation venue fee.  

Now, take a look at how much cash the above high schools are collecting from seniors in the name of graduation venue costs!  

Again, if graduation/senior fees were legal they would be authorized by the Board of Education and there would be a public accounting for the fees collected in the MCPS budget. 

Only $9 will get a senior through graduation at BCC and no mandatory bus fee!

...Students can wear an older brother or sister’s gown if they wish as long as it is Royal Blue. However, they will still need to order a tassel from Jostens. The tassel can be purchased for $ 9 at the senior breakfast...

$10 to Graduate from Blair HS, But Seniors Must Ride Mandatory $20 Bus

What's going on at Blair High School?  A senior at Blair can graduate for as little as $10! Well, almost!
Seniors are "required" to ride a $20 bus to graduation! 

What's going on at the other MCPS schools that are charging mandatory fees of up to $75 to graduate without any bus transportation to graduation?  What is all that money for?

Life long learners might ask for an accounting of these fees at MCPS high schools.  Be warned, MCPS doesn't really promote life long learning and doesn't appreciate questions about illegal fees! 

Taken With Webpage Screenshot

$65 + $10 Late Fee at Seneca Valley HS Graduation - Other Events Required

When it comes time to graduate from a Montgomery County Public High School the only event that signifies graduation is the actual walking across the stage at the graduation venue. Yet, at Seneca Valley High School seniors are required to pay for additional events as part of graduation. 

What if a senior doesn't want to go on the senior "activity", doesn't go to the Senior awards night, and doesn't want to eat breakfast with the rest of the graduates on graduation day? Too bad. 

Seneca Valley HS seniors have to pay for ALL of those events in order to get their cap and gown! As a reminder on these fees: MCPS high schools call these fees "obligations" and will then attempt to withhold documents (transcripts/diplomas) from the student if these fees are not paid. Do these MCPS high schools have any legal right to do that?  The answer is no.  But, call your local Apple Ballot Board of Education member, State Senator or State Delegate and ask them for yourself.  We'd love to hear what you get as an answer.

Taken With Webpage Screenshot

$55 Graduation Fee + $5 Late Fee at Wheaton High School

Notice how these fees vary from MCPS high school to MCPS high school? If the Board of Education had authorized a graduation or senior fee the fee would have been set by the Board of Education, just as they set the student parking fee. Local principals are not permitted to change BOE set fees.
The Board of Education and the Maryland legislature have never authorized that these fees be charged as part of a free public education.  These are fees being set and charged by the local principals without BOE or legislative authorization. 

As an example of the variation in these illegal fees, see this post for when Northwood High School was charging seniors $110 to graduate! 

Taken With Webpage Screenshot

$60 at Walter Johnson HS to graduate

Plus a handling fee!

senior dues $60 + 3.75% non-refundable handling fee

$10 Late Fee on $50 Graduation Fee at Northwest High School

Here's a $10 late fee on a $50 charge!  That's quite a late fee!  Where has this steep late fee been authorized by the Board of Education or the Maryland legislature?  Oh, it hasn't.  
It's just a made up fee by a local principal.  There are no rules when the fees are illegal! 

Taken With Webpage Screenshot

$5 late fee on $45 Senior Fee at Richard Montgomery High School

Here's a twist on the illegal senior fee at MCPS high schools, RMHS charges a late fee if you don't get your fee in on time!  What's the fee pay for? Who authorized a late charge? (Hint: Not the Board of Education.)

$45 to graduate at Watkins Mill HS. Cheaper graduation ceremony?

How is it that graduation from Quince Orchard High School costs a mandatory $70, but over at Watkins Mill High School the graduation fee is only $45?  Both schools graduate from the same venue.  Note: this is what you see when fees are ILLEGAL!  There is no graduation fee set by the Board of Education, and so, principals can charge students whatever they feel like charging them!

$70 to Graduate from Quince Orchard HS. When did BOE approve fees for graduation? Never!

4/25/14Senior Fee’s are due by 4/25/14. This one-time fee covers everything related to graduation day (including cap & gown, programs, the ceremony, etc). The fee is $70. Checks must be made out to QOHS, and the student’s name and ID number must be on check. Turn in the money to Ms. Etzwiler in Room 332, or checks may be mailed to school. Do not leave money in the school mailbox. Students who have not submitted a senior fee by May 2nd, will receive an obligation notice. Obligation notices must be cleared with Mrs. Yee in the financial office. ALL obligations must be cleared before graduation rehearsal. No checks from seniors or their families will be accepted after 4/25/14. After that date, only cash and money orders will be accepted.

The Board of Education has never approved the charging of fees for students to graduate from MCPS high schools.  The funds collected by principals never show up in the MCPS budget and are not accounted for in any public budget document.

In the past, the Parents' Coalition has documented how these fees are used by principals to create slush funds for purchases unrelated to the graduation of students.  Pay if you want, but know that graduation fees are not an "obligation", they are optional.

Monday, April 21, 2014

And, Starr protégé is outta here! MCPS boosts another resume!

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Guest Post: MCCPTA wants to shut down communication with members, again...

Years ago, the MCCPTA Yahoo listserv group was open to all Montgomery County PTA members.  
Over the years, MCCPTA has restricted who can participate in this group. Tomorrow evening the latest proposal to shut down communication will come up for a vote at the April MCCPTA meeting. If passed, this resolution will create the most restrictive group since the group began in 2003.  The minutes from the March MCCPTA meeting aren't online yet so this resolution has been forwarded to the Parents' Coalition for Montgomery County PTA members to review before the Tuesday evening vote. 

Motion on the Function and Composition of the Delegates eList
April 22, 2014
Proposed by MCCPTA eCommunications Committee
I move that the MCCPTA Delegates eList henceforth become a two-way communication and discussion vehicle open to current members of the MCCPTA Delegates Assembly.  This change would align the Delegates eList with other MCCPTA eLists (Presidents, Treasurers, etc.) already functioning in such a manner.  MCCPTA information will be available to all PTA members and the public via our MCCPTA website and open enrollment to the MCCPTA newsletter.  To accomplish this, I move to:
1.     Open the opt-in membership to this eList to MCCPTA Delegates Assembly delegates, PTA presidents, and all members of the MCCPTA Board of Directors, for the given MCCPTA fiscal year; 
2.     Instruct the eCommunications chair or eList administrator to open membership of the eList on July 1 of each year;
3.     Allow postings by all members of this eList, with the intent of spurring discussion; and
4.     Requesting all members treat the Delegates eList messages as internal discussions and not forward or repost messages or threads, unless expressly labeled otherwise (ie in the re: line if marked “PLEASE SHARE” or “FOR LOCAL CONSIDERATION”).

If approved by the MCCPTA Delegates Assembly, I move that this change be effective as of July 1, 2014. 
Deb Lang (2013-2014 eCommunications Chair)

Tuesday, April 22nd: MCPS Financial Report at Montgomery County Council Education Committee

April 22, 2014
Montgomery County Council, Maryland
Education Committee

ED 2:00 PM - 7CHR
Apr 22 (1) • MCPS Financial Report (McGuire)
 FY15 Operating Budget
 (2) • Montgomery County Public Schools (McGuire)

Rock Creek Hills School Opponents Prepared To Go To State’s Highest Court

Field-Testing of Common-Core Exams Gets Off to Shaky Start at Wootton HS

Full text of article at this Education Week link.
At Thomas S. Wootton High School, teachers and administrators seem to be in agreement that field-testing for the common-core assessments is off to a bumpy start. I spent the morning of April 2 in a computer lab at the school with 9th graders who were randomly assigned to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, tests in English/language arts. This was the group's second attempt at completing the computer-based tests, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.Last week, students at the school encountered technical difficulties—software systems that "weren't jiving," said Joseph Du Boyce, an assistant principal at Wootton High School—and eventually were sent back to their regular classrooms without taking the exam...,,,On the day I visited Wootton High, Mr. Du Boyce began by walking students through a Java update intended to help prevent software problems. He repeatedly urged the students to "be patient"—though his own actions revealed some edginess. He circled the lab with purpose and breezed through the instructions, which he later told me were "very unclear" and "poorly written.""Let's pray this works," he said to students as they clicked the sign-in box on their computer screens......As the students began the PARCC test, Mr. Du Boyce was rushed out of the room to address a technical problem in another computer lab. A few minutes later, the two remaining proctors realized that none of the students had headphones, which were supposed to have been distributed before the test began. A couple of students raised their hands when they reached items that required them to listen to a reading—though some did not and plowed on. About 10 minutes after testing had begun, a staff member entered with the headphones PARCC had provided. The proctors couldn't help but laugh as they picked apart the mess of tangled cords... 
...JeanMarie Joseph, a special education teacher at the school who has taught for 28 years, said she's seen the evolution of states tests and understands there are often "rough spots to iron out" with new assessments. However, having experienced the computer difficulties while administering the test to a student with special needs, she said, with PARCC, "I've been underwhelmed so far."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

WPost Letter: Successful schools do not engage in the obfuscation that Montgomery County has undertaken to keep people from understanding what is going on in them.

Tonight: Guests on the Pat McDonough Radio Show to Discuss Supt. Dance's Antics

Announcement from State Delegate Pat McDonough of Harford County and Baltimore County

Hereford High School parents will be guests on the Pat McDonough Show on WCBM, 680 am this Saturday night, April 19th, from 8 to 10 pm. It will also be on

The show will discuss the outrage by parents regarding Dr. Dance and his policies related to Hereford High School.
Delegate McDonough and others will review the problems created by Dr. Dance in the Baltimore County School System, including McDonough's "conflict of interest" charges against the Superintendent.

Click here to listen live

Montgomery County Executive Candidates Forum at Rockville Library on April 16th

Open Data Policy called step forward for Md. transparency

Open Data Policy called step forward for Md. transparency