Thursday, May 26, 2016

MCPS web site shut down due to "technical difficulties"

Due to unspecified "technical difficulties", the public MCPS web site has been almost entirely shut down since Thursday evening.   An estimated time for reactivation has not been announced.  

   

Council's Education Comm. will Take Up State Audit of MCPS while You are on Vacation

According to a message posted on Facebook today by Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich, the Council's Education Committee will be discussing the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Audits report on Montgomery County Public Schools sometime in August.  No date has been set yet for this discussion.

August is traditionally a time when many Montgomery County families take vacations.  Obviously, the Council wants to make sure you are out of town when the 2016 MCPS Audit is discussed.
The Council does not want you to see any news reports about the Audits findings or hear MCPS' response that the State auditors are wrong in their findings.

So let the Council know when your family will be out of town this summer so they can safely schedule a discussion of the 2016 State audit of MCPS when the least number of County residents will be in the County.   

County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov


Balt. Co. Auditors want Answers on School Spending on Laptops

Baltimore County auditors are pressing the public school system for answers on its laptop-per-student program, as well as the schools’ overall spending and other priorities for next school year — including whether parents could be given “an ‘opt-out’ alternative to digital learning environments” for their children.
In a May 16 memo from the Office of the County Auditor to Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance, auditors asked BCPS about the schools’ technology initiative, with planned “total costs” of $285 million in the first several years...

http://towsonflyer.com/2016/05/18/county-auditors-seek-answers-bcps-budget-tech-initiative/

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

approximately 300 routes were below 50 percent of MCPS’ bus capacity

From the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS:


The account and password controls over network authentication and the student information and financial management system applications and databases did not meet certain minimum thresholds

From the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS

Finding 10 Network, application, and database account and password controls were not sufficient to properly protect critical resources, as they did not meet minimum thresholds in accordance with recognized best practices. Analysis
Network, application, and database account and password controls were not sufficient to properly protect critical resources. The account and password controls over network authentication and the student information and financial management system applications and databases did not meet certain minimum thresholds, as identified in best practices prescribed by the State of Maryland
Information Security Policy.
For example, network authentication password controls were deficient with respect to password length, complexity, maximum age, and history. A similar condition related to network authentication and application password controls was commented upon in our preceding audit report.

MCPS Core Firewalls Not Configured to Properly Secure MCPS Network

This section of the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS speaks for itself.


Audit: "MCPS paid the vendors approximately $1.3 million more than the contract amounts approved by the Board."

Whatever...clearly MCPS administrators do not care or pay any attention to Board of Education votes.  

This section of the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS speaks for itself.

Montgomery County taxpayers, you pay for this. 


Parents, these dollars represent LESS teachers in classrooms.  Money spent without Board of Education approval steals money from classrooms and increases class size. 



Breaking: State Audit Flags Special Education Lawyer's Contract with Board of Education

MCPS "management" thinks not knowing what you are paying for is good money management.

This section of the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS speaks for itself.  

Montgomery County taxpayers, you pay for this. 



Breaking: State Releases MCPS Audit Day Before Final Council Vote on Budget. No Bid Contracts Flagged!

Here's just a sample from the 6 year Maryland State Office of Legislative Audits report on Montgomery County Public Schools.   The 6 year audit is being released a week after the Montgomery Council already voted to raise Montgomery County citizens' taxes to support the alleged need of Montgomery County Public Schools for more money. 
 
Remember the Gallup Poll?

MCPS awarded a three-year $900,000 contract with payments totaling
$300,000 in fiscal year 2014 to survey employees without using a
competitive procurement process or preparing a sole-source justification
even though this service (conducting
surveys) is available from multiple firms.

 

Mont. Co. School Resourse Officer - Excessive Force at Prom - Assigned to SRO Job after Prior DUI #Sherwood



- A Montgomery County police officer is facing allegations of excessive force at a high school prom. FOX 5 has learned Officer Mauricio Veiga has been removed from his assignment as a school resource officer at Sherwood High School following the outcome of an investigation.
Montgomery County police are looking into the allegations and reviewing surveillance video from the prom held at a local hotel two weeks ago, which allegedly shows an altercation between the officer and a female senior student.

 Teachers at the high school who were present at prom filed the complaint against Officer Veiga, a 12-year veteran with the department, claiming he placed a female student in a headlock, tackled her to the ground and then holding her arms behind her back as if he was going to arrest her following a verbal altercation between the teenager and a fellow student...

...Officer Veiga has been charged with harassment in the past and was also arrested back in 2012 for DUI. Those charges were adjudicated...

 http://www.fox5dc.com/news/local-news/144250107-story

Video: Students Sing Protest of Installation of Cell Tower Next to Their School

Published on May 11, 2016
Parents of children attending Monkstown Educate Together National School (METNS), Co. Dublin and local residents are challenging Vodafone plans to install a mobile phone mast on the roof of IADT College, located directly beside the primary school. They are also calling on the new government to strengthen existing legislation, which is in place since 2012 - a relaxed version of the previous guidelines put in place in 1996.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Board Member attempt to bully other Board Members for Asking Questions

Towson: 
...“It is the moral and legal obligation of every member of the board to provide oversight of our superintendent and the school system.  That is actually the “board’s work.”  Board members don’t make implementation happen.  We authorize it by our votes.  So, to say that oversight is getting in the way of the work of the board is a display of a lack of understanding of the proper role of the board,” Miller said in an email.
“Not only is oversight our responsibility, but reporting issues of suspected abuse or ethical violations is required by board policy of all employees.”

http://towsonflyer.com/2016/05/12/accusations-hate-lies-retaliation-bcps-school-board/

Monday, May 23, 2016

Agreement to reduce class size does not exist



Click on image to enlarge
The Council received your request under the Maryland Public Information Act (Md. Code, General Provisions (GP) §§ 4-101 to 4-601) for an agreement between the County and the Board of Education "that specifies that the Board of Education will use the FY2017 funding toward reducing class size". The Council does not have any such document. Though not specifically requested, I have attached 2 letters from Board President Durso that are relevant to this issue. 
SG §4-362 specifies the remedies for a person who believes that he or she has been unlawfully denied inspection of a public record.  You should consult §4-362 if you believe you have been unlawfully denied inspection of a public record.  
Sincerely,
Amanda Mihill
Legislative Attorney

Long Term Substitute Problems

Almost all students have had a long-term sub at some point or another. They are an interruption to the pattern of learning that students have become accustomed to. Each sub and teacher have different teaching styles, policies and even expectations. It is unfair that students are expected to transition over to a stranger teaching them without hesitation.
“Going from your teacher to a long term sub is difficult,” sophomore Jasiel Portillo said. “I don’t feel like I’m learning to the full extent and when the teacher returns to our class, we have to play catch up.”
When a teacher plans to leave for a period of time, they are able to find a substitute to fit their preferences and teaching styles, making sure that their students are left in good hands. They are have the option to make lesson plans, leave assignments and assign projects so that students can get straight to work when the sub is implemented.
“It took a while. It’s harder to find long-term subs than you would think …. There really is no protocol. MCPS doesn’t have a ‘go here to find people’ thing,” social studies teacher Caitlin Ulmer said. “Some teachers have sub recommendations, but many of them are on their own when making the decision.”...

http://www.rockvillerampage.com/opinion/long-term-substitute-problems/

Friday, May 20, 2016

Stop McTeacher's Nights

Can you believe that McDonald’s enlists teachers to sell junk food to their students? On “McTeacher’s Nights” across the country, teachers “work” behind the counter selling burgers, fries, and soda to their students and their students’ families. It’s a marketing ploy disguised as a school fundraiser. McDonald’s is exploiting the hard-earned trust, respect, and popularity of teachers to sell junk food to kids and create brand loyalty.
It’s shameful that McDonald’s is using the tragic underfunding of our public schools as a marketing opportunity. Teachers should never have to sacrifice their students’ health in order to earn a few extra resources for their classrooms.
Please tell McDonald’s CEO Easterbrook: No More McTeacher’s Nights!
To learn more, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/action/stop-mcteachers-nights.

Petition:

 http://org.salsalabs.com/o/621/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18562

MCPS Students Love Seeing Their Teachers Behind the Counter at McDonald's

MCPS 2016:


Remember this from 2008?

Restaurant Fundraiser A McShock For Official


By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 3, 2008

Call it the Big Mac Moment.
It happened Thursday, about a half-hour into a routine Montgomery County Council committee meeting on food marketing in the school system. Ameena Batada, co-author of a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was briefing council members.
"And at the McTeacher's Night, teachers actually go and work behind the register," she said. "So students can see their teachers behind the cash registers at McDonald's."
Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) interrupted her, disbelief in his voice.
"Teachers are enlisted by McDonald's to work behind the cash register at McDonald's, and students are recruited to go to McDonald's that night to see their teacher dishing out the Big Macs?" he asked with horror. "I never heard of that."
About 20 minutes later, Leventhal spoke up again. "The McDonald's thing really bothers me a lot," he said, his sentiment partly fueled by a concern about childhood obesity. "I mean, I don't know if we'd have a fundraiser at the local cigarette store."...

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020201966.html

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Set for ‘Incredibly Complex’ Addition Project

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Set for ‘Incredibly Complex’ Addition Project:
The $30 million project will add 24 classrooms, four science labs, a dance studio that could also be used as a black box theater, new art class spaces and other rooms for staff that will bump up the school’s capacity to 2,398 students. Almost 2,000 students attend the school now and classes will continue at the school during construction.
The project also includes raising the existing six tennis courts 20 feet above ground to allow for more student parking spaces underneath and a total renovation of the school’s football field and track that won’t be completed until 2019.

Doctors Present Evidence of Wireless Radiation Impacts on Children

The nation's leading experts on wireless radiation and human health impacts participate in a live press conference prior to their panel at the Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Featuring Dr. Devra Davis, Dr. Hugh Taylor, Dr. Martha Herbert and Dr.Catherine Steiner-Adair

http://www.grassrootsinfo.org/pc50316.html


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Montgomery Co. council approves 8.7 percent tax hike

WASHINGTON — Homeowners in Montgomery County should brace themselves for a tax increase: In a vote that signals how the final operating budget will look, the County Council approved a property tax increase that will raise those taxes by 8.7 percent.
And when homes are sold, buyers and sellers will see a jump in the tax they pay. The recordation tax, as it’s known, will increase so that a home valued at $400,000 would see an increase of the recordation tax of $255.
A $600,000 home would see the same tax jump by $805, according to figures provided by the county...

 http://wtop.com/montgomery-county/2016/05/montgomery-co-council-approves-8-7-percent-tax-hike/

increase of $326 in property taxes next fiscal year for the average county homeowner

...The property tax increase, which had to be approved by all nine council members because it surpassed the county’s inflation-based charter limit, will mean an increase of $326 in property taxes next fiscal year for the average county homeowner. The average home value in the county is $464,441...

...The operating budget will fund Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) at almost $90 million above the minimum per-pupil spending amount required by the state, an amount that will require at least as much per-pupil education funding in future budgets.
Floreen proposed the recordation tax increase, which the council unanimously approved with a straw vote Wednesday, to net the county about $200 million over the next few years. Most of the money will go toward the school system’s record $1.73 billion portion of the county’s $4.6 billion capital improvements program...

...Many in the real estate industry opposed the increase, but Floreen pointed to the fact the money will be used to stave off one-year delays to addition projects at Whitman and Wootton high schools...

 http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/Web-2016/County-Council-Approves-87-Percent-Property-Tax-Increase/

BOE Successfully Withheld 2015 State Audit of MCPS through Budget Process #waste #fraud #abuse #accountabilityfail

MCPS has had the 2015 State Audit for months.  The Board of Education has even been told about the 2015 State Audit. (Click on the link below.)  But, the 2015 State Audit has not been made public as of this morning when the County Council finalized the Board of Education's budgets.

That's a big win for county "values!" 
Montgomery County "values" secrecy, waste, fraud and abuse in budgeting.  

It's "historic" as it is history repeating itself. 
We know the 2015 State Audit is going to show areas where MCPS could improve in their management of public funds, but who wants that? 

Now, which taxpayer funded credit card is going to be used to take the Council and BOE out to dinner tonight to celebrate?

Another Bad Audit for MCPS. 2015 State Audit of MCPS Shows SAME Findings as in 2009.

School district sues maker of its football field surface, says it has failed to honor warranty

Wisconsin:  The Middleton-Cross Plains School District has filed a federal lawsuit against the maker of the artificial playing surface at its football and soccer stadium, saying the maker hasn’t honored its warranty for the prematurely aging surface, despite knowing that it was made using defective material.
According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Madison, the district alleges that FieldTurf USA, a leading maker of artificial athletic playing surfaces used in high school, college and professional stadiums, has refused to replace the synthetic field on the district’s football and soccer field at Middleton’s Breitenbach Stadium, which cost the district $306,428 to install in 2007.
The district says that in 2014, FieldTurf settled a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the fiber that is used to make the playing surface for what is believed to be “tens of millions dollars,” to account for future claims of untimely wear from customers who bought the artificial turf.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Students targeted for data collection and product marketing through PARCC, Google Apps for Education

Washington Post reports that "schools have become 'soft targets' for companies trying to gather data and market to children because of the push in education to adopt new technology and in part because of the rise of computer-administered Common Core tests". The Post cites the National Education Policy Center's new annual report titled “Learning to be Watched: Surveillance Culture at School". The report expresses concerns about privacy, commercialization of student lives and companies exploiting student vulnerabilities: "Although companies that collect, sell, analyze, and buy data may not know children’s names (though they probably do), that hardly matters if they have the information and tools necessary to model everything about those children — including their interests, social networks, personalities, vulnerabilities, desires, and aspirations — and if they have personalized access to children, via their electronic devices, to shape them." The report also observes that Americans are, “to some extent being socialized to ignore and tacitly accept the collection, organization, and sale of information about us”: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/05/17/schools-are-now-soft-targets-for-companies-to-collect-data-and-market-to-kids-report/

High school attempted rape suspect tells ABC7, "I'm innocent"


Neither sound nor fair...expedited bill...recordation taxes in Mont. Co. already highest in country...