Friday, March 6, 2015

Roger Berliner's Saturday Farce

On Saturday, March 7th at a location we won't mention, Councilmember Roger Berliner is holding a PR event.  The claim is that the event is to "engage" community members on school planning issues.

The "engagement" for this event requires that if you have a question, you must submit it in advance!  Your question can then be screened and the "appropriate" questions will be selected for presentation at the PR event.

The event takes up an entire Saturday. Parents, you have an entire Saturday to spend sitting in a room waiting to see if your question is deemed appropriate for this panel, right?

Here's what the sign up form for this PR event states: 
Do you have a question about schools and transportation? We want to hear it. Add it to our list of questions from Forum registrants. At the Forum we will draw from this list, answering as many questions as time permits.

Thanks Councilmember Roger Berliner for providing a concrete example of what is wrong with the public school planning process in Montgomery County!  Parent voices are not being heard! Parent voices are screened, silenced and muted!

The PUBLIC is no longer a part of the PROCESS! Click here to read about the Lost School Planning Process.

MCPS Still failing special education students

Michael J. Petrilli gets partial credit for his review of Montgomery County’s “dysfunctional school board” [“Defining schools’ core mission,” Local Opinions, March 1].
Unfortunately, he ignored a key constituency in that fading school system: the thousands of students with special needs. Routinely denied the support and services they need, nearly one in three of Montgomery County Public Schools’ special-ed students do not obtain diplomas. With such a record, who dares utter the word achievement?
The board could make an important gesture by ordering all schools to end the practice of writing special-education plans — individualized education plans, in the schools’ jargon — with limited input of parents or students. No more should school officials, during mandatory annual reviews of students’ progress, keep parents waiting in the lobby while they run a “pre-meeting” behind closed doors.
Bill Myers, Washington

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cell Towers on MCPS Playgrounds Owe $111,738 in Back Taxes

Daly Elem. Darnestown, MD
Who cares?
No one in Montgomery County.
No one in the State of Maryland.
But, if you are curious here are the details.

Where are the cell towers that owe back Maryland State Property Taxes?

Kennedy High School
Springbrook High School
Tilden Middle School
Wheaton High School (Yes, MCPS is building an entire school around this cell tower.)

Woodswards Road Elementary School site (this site has been completely leased out to cell tower vendors and Comcast and is unavailable for use as a public school)

Who are the cell tower vendors that owe back taxes?

Clear Wireless (a subsidiary of Sprint)
Tower Company

How much do they owe?  $111,738.81

Want proof? Check the Montgomery County Real Estate Property Tax records.  That's the source of our information.

See why cell towers on public school land are such a great deal?

Breaking News: Campaign Contributions Do The Trick! Up Goes the Cell Towers in PG #milestone #rushernbaker #campaigncontributions

Who said our kids weren't for sale? 

This is Maryland.  Here's how we roll.

Charles Herbert Flowers High School
Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) partner gives $5,000 to Prince George's Referendum supported by County Executive Rushern Baker and UP goes the cell towers.
"Milestone Tower Limited Partnership, a company owned by Leonard Forkas, who is working on plans to install cellphone towers on county school buildings, donated $5,000."

Parents at this school and neighbors of this property were OPPOSED to a cell tower on the football field at this school, but who cares about parents and neighbors?  

There are 140 MCPS Staff Positions Paid out of the Capital Budget

Did you think that the MCPS Capital Budget was just for school construction and maintenance costs? Think again. There are 140 MCPS staff positions hiding in the Capital Budget. 

Total budget for these 140 positions? 
Unknown, but if you can find out the cost of these 140 positions, please post in the comments section below.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Not so fast, Len!* Cell Tower Sign Will Violate Zoning Ordinance

Broken Heart
Oh, dear! 

How sad is this? We just showed the public how excited the Anne Arundel Board of Education was with a plan to put a 105' cell tower in front of a school and use it as the billboard for the school sign and logo.

But, it looks as if the party is already over. 

Anne Arundel County actually has a zoning ordinance that limits the height and size of signs.  A 105' cell tower billboard school sign is actually not permitted in Anne Arundel County.

It looks like there is "no joy in mudville" tonight. 

Anne Arundel County Zoning Ordinance
18-3-307.  Signs in residential districts and for certain dwellings in commercial districts.

(e)   Nonresidential and institutional use signs. Except as otherwise provided in this section, each nonresidential or institutional use located in a residential district may have one freestanding sign, one identification sign on not more than two facades, and directional signs as necessary. A freestanding sign may not exceed an area of 64 square feet or a height of 10 feet. The total square footage of all identification signs may not exceed 400 square feet. Each directional sign may not exceed 20 square feet in area or a height of seven feet. 

*Len Forkas is the President of Milestone Communications 

Anne Arundel BOE in LOVE with Cell Towers on Public School Land

Slap a school sign and a logo on a cell tower and the Anne Arundel Board of Education falls in love!  

Watch the video below of today's discussion of the 105' cell tower that is going to go right by the tennis courts at the entrance to an Anne Arundel County middle school.  Listen to the Board members drool over this plan!

Remember that the Anne Arundel Board of Education has turned over every single public school site in their county to Milestone Communications for the placement of up to 3 cell towers per school!

Maybe this is how they repay Milestone Communications (the cell tower company) for sponsoring their annual vacation to Ocean City? Scroll down the right side of the Maryland Association of Board s of Education (MABE) website to see the list of sponsors.

So if you love cell towers on your child's playground, then the time to move to Anne Arundel County is now!  Hurry up and get your child in Anne Arundel County Public Schools before everyone finds out that every public school site will have 3 cell towers!  Pretty soon parents from all over the USA will want their child in an Anne Arundel County public school! 



Radiation Measured at Bells Mill Elementary School

Parents raise concerns that WIFI networks could pose a health risk to students and staff because of “unsafe" radiation emissions.

PRLog - Feb. 16, 2015 - POTOMAC, Md. -- Local parents, teachers and citizens have formed Safe Tech for Schools Maryland (STSM) to push for "Safe Technology" in schools.  They are raising awareness on the serious health risk that wireless radiation (also known as radio frequency radiation RF-EMF) poses to students and staff. The group advocates for an ethernet based (non-wireless) network that would have zero radiation emissions.

“Children should not be experimented on in school, period.  There are safer , faster, and greener ways to access the internet.  Our conscience and moral compass should be our guide,” stated a parent.

The coalition was founded after a Montgomery County Maryland parent requested a report on the radio frequency radiation levels at her child's school, Bells Mill Elementary.  The radiation levels at the school were high enough to be considered "unsafe" by the Los Angeles School District as well as health advocacy groups who have long argued that FCC guidelines do not protect children.

Safe Tech for Schools Maryland quotes the American Academy of Pediatrics 2013 letter to the FCC calling for stronger radiation guidelines stating that children are “more vulnerable” to wireless radiation and need to be better protected. STSM cites "credible" research showing increased cancer riskneurological damage and reproductive system damage from low level wireless exposures.

Harvard pediatric neurologist and autism expert Dr. Martha Herbert stated, “EMF/RFR from wifi and cell towers can exert a disorganizing effect on the ability to learn and remember, and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic function. This will make it harder for some children to learn, particularly those who are already having problems in the first place.” Dr. Erica Mallery-Blytheemergency room physician of the Physicians' Health Initiative for Radiation and Environment has recommended “ASAP withdraw all RF Emissions” in her November 2014 scientific presentation on children and RF.

The new group is calling on local school districts and the Maryland Department of Education to turn off the wireless routers and install safe wired routers and ethernet connected computer systems in schools.They note that parents are often surprised to learn that industrial strength routers used in schools are far more powerful than home routers because they are accommodating up to 30 devices in a room. The level of radiation is further elevated from each device emitting radiation.

Maryland school districts have previously responded to parents concerns by stating that radiation levels are “within FCC limits”. However, this group counters that  FCC radiation regulations are 18 years old, under current reassessment and “do not protect children”. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) a district with over 500,000 students has set safety thresholds at radiation levels 10,000 times lower than FCC standards because of research showing cellular damage at levels lower than the FCC regulations. The radiation levels measured by MCPS at Bells Mill Elementary school were much higher than limits LAUSD set.

Parents who have been addressing this issue in their local schools for the last few years have now connected across the state of Maryland and are taking various actions. For example, parents recently requested  WiFi radiation readings in neighboring Prince George's County but was denied by CEO Dr. Maxwell due to “fiscal constraints” .

Parents testified to the Montgomery County Board of Education on their concerns about wireless networks in schools on October 14, 2014 and February 10, 2015. They also sent MCPS Department of Health Education Supervisor Cara Grant information on safe tech for MCPS curriculum development. Parents have testified several times on the issue to Prince Georges County Public Schools and have provided safety information for PGCPS 2014 Bring Your Own Device Policy.

Parents met with then Governor Martin O'Malley on the issue in October and the State Superintendent of Education Lillian Lowery's Chief of Staff over the summer. In a letter to a parent dated April 23, 2014, Maryland Secretary of Health Joshua Sharfstein M.D. stated that The Department's Environmental Health Bureau reviewed recent scientific reviews. Dr. Sharfstein concluded that, “It is fair to say there are legitimate long term health implications of microwave radiation.”

PTAs and Teacher Unions are calling for removal of WiFi networks because of the radiation.

The coalition made up of parents and citizens from all over the state, started a blog at

The coalition plans on coordinating local and state efforts to raise awareness to expedite the installation of hard wired (non wireless) technology in schools. 

MCPS Says Parents Have No Need To Worry About Classroom Chromebook Privacy

Parents at the meeting last week also expressed concern about Pearson Education, the company that has its hands in a number of educational products, including the upcoming Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC tests.
Unlike Google, Pearson has not signed the pledge against using student information for advertising purposes. This year, MCPS rolled out myMCPS, a new online class registration system for middle and high schoolers that uses Pearson technology.

Newest Thing in School Signs: 105' Cell Tower!

This is not an article in The Onion.
This is an actual proposal for a cell tower at an Anne Arundel County middle school.  The cell tower will be placed right on the street and will become the sign for the school.  Of course, the name of the school will be 100' off the ground.

 Here's what the cell tower is going to look like. The large red tower on the left of this picture is where the cell tower will be located.

See the current school sign on the right side of the picture?  Who needs that when you can have a 105' sign!

Below on the left is the cell tower company's mock up of the tower, and on the right is the overview of where the cell tower will be located at the school (cell tower location is shown in red, next to the tennis courts at the entrance).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MCPS Outside Consultant for Child Abuse Issues

The following company was mentioned at today's Board of Education Policy Committee meeting.

Watch Live Mtg Today: BOE will Not Discuss 26 Years Out of Date Child Abuse Policy

Today, March 3, 2015, the Montgomery County Board of Education's Policy Committee is meeting to discuss Child Abuse and Neglect

But, they won't be discussing the Board of Education's 26 years out of date Policy JHC-RA.  This document is used to train teachers and administrators in the requirements of Maryland State Law and it hasn't been updated since 1989.  Maryland Child Abuse laws have changed many, many times since 1989, but the Board of Education apparently doesn't want MCPS teachers and staff to know current law. 

Note that the Child Abuse Task Force/Work Group no longer exists. That group has been dissolved, so they will not be providing any further input into the review of Child Abuse and Neglect issues involving MCPS.

Thanks to years of advocacy work by the Parents' Coalition, today's Board of Education Policy Committee meeting will be live streamed on the MCPS website.  Tune in at 1 PM to watch the Committee's discussion.

Stamford High School investigation will miss deadline

Monday, March 2, 2015

Graduation Rip Off Continues as More MoCo Schools Shake Down Students for Money

Did you know that the Maryland State Constitution guarantees a free public education?

We've been telling you that for years.

Here is a list of fees for graduation. Its not a red zone/green zone thing - students across the county get ripped off.

Shame on Paint Branch HS - for years you were one of the schools with a smart administrator who followed the rules.  New principal?  Not so smart.

If your child attends one of the schools that charges a fee, ask your principal why you are getting charged when other schools seem to be able to hold the ceremony without taxing the students.

Better yet - ask for a refund.

Advice to the class of 2016 - Do not pay this fee.  You can't be charged to graduate from a MCPS public school.  Its illegal, plain and simple.

 Unfortunately, MCPS administrators think the rules don't apply to them.  What does this say about the example our school leadership sets for the next generation?

Boston’s final candidates for superintendent (Same search firm MCPS Board of Education is using.)

After a week of interviews with the School Committee, Boston has 4 choices for superintendent, Dana Bedden, Tommy Chang, Guadalupe Guerrero, and Pedro Martinez.

Friday, February 27, 2015

WUSA9: Family says MD teacher sexually abused special needs child

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) -- WUSA9's Andrea McCarren learned more about a special needs student who shot video of the teacher's aide with whom he was having a sexual relationship at his school in Rockville. Andrea McCarren has been reporting all week on inappropriate, and criminal behavior by teachers.

Critical Area Commission will review cell tower for sensitive area land on public school playground

On March 4th, 2015, the Maryland Critical Area Commission will review the cell tower proposal for a middle school in Anne Arundel County.  This is the cell tower proposal that suddenly included a fabricated cell tower construction curriculum when this application was submitted to the Critical Area Commission.  

Monthly Commission Meeting Agenda

The agenda is posted approximately one week prior to the date of the Commission meeting. Times listed are approximate and interested parties are advised to be present at the beginning of the subcommittee meetings and the plenary meeting.
The agenda is subject to change in order to address modifications to agenda items and to accommodate scheduling conflicts of applicants and presenters. To verify that an agenda item will be discussed at a meeting and the approximate time, please contact the Commission the day before the meeting at (410) 260-3460.

Critical Area Commission
Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays
Meeting at
Maryland Department of Agriculture, Annapolis, Maryland
March 4, 2015


11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Project Review Subcommittee
Members: Setzer (Chair), Andrews, Carter, Clark, Coster, Cox, Gabel, Gardina,
Goebel, Konapelsky, S. Meehan, Moss, Russell, Sutton, Varney-Alvarado
Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA)
Memorandum of Understanding
Nick Kelly
Maryland Port Authority (Baltimore City)
Fruit Slip Filling / Redevelopment
LeeAnne Chandler
Anne Arundel County
Magothy River Middle School Cell Tower
Conditional Approval
Charlotte Shearin
11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Program Implementation Subcommittee                                           
Members: Bloxom, Clagett, Cummins, Dubow, Feinberg, Gesl,
Holloway, Lawrence, R. Meehan, Shanks, Sydnor, Trumbauer
Refinement – Town of St. Michaels
Program Amendments – Growth Allocation
Jennifer Anderson
Refinement – Anne Arundel County
Text Amendment – Structures on Piers
Charlotte Shearin
All Commission Members
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.  Lunch

Critical Area Commission
Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays
Meeting at
Maryland Department of Agriculture, Annapolis, Maryland
March 4, 2015


1:00 p.m. – 1:05 p.m. Welcome and Remarks
Approval of Minutes of December 4, 2014
Louise Lawrence
Acting Chair


1:05 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Growth Allocation Overview Ren Serey
1:30 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. VOTE: Maryland Port Authority
Fruit Slip Filling / Redevelopment (Baltimore City)
LeeAnne Chandler
1:40 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. VOTE: Anne Arundel County Magothy River Middle School Cell Tower Conditional Approval Charlotte Shearin
1:50 p.m. – 2:05 p.m. VOTE: Maryland Transportation Authority
Memorandum of Understanding
Nick Kelly
2:05 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Refinement – Town of St. Michaels
Program Amendments – Growth Allocation
Jennifer Anderson
2:15 p.m. – 2:25 p.m. Refinement – Anne Arundel County
Text Amendment – Structures on Piers
Charlotte Shearin
2:25 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. LEGAL UPDATES Rachel Eisenhauer
Mark Talty
2:30 p.m. – 2:35 p.m.
Louise Lawrence
Acting Chair

Maryland Department of Agriculture located at 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland 21401, click here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tonight at 7 PM - MCPS BUDGET REVIEW at BCC Regional Services Center

[This event will be held this evening.]

It’s a Palooza! At least it is for those who are in to reading through the Montgomery County Public Schools’ $2.4 billion budget line by line.

The Montgomery County Civic Federation, the Taxpayers League of Montgomery County, and the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County are inviting anyone interested to this year’s Budgetpalooza! It’s the third year for this budget breakdown event. This year the group plans to go over the MCPS fiscal year 2016 budget chapter by chapter.
“It’s a good opportunity to go through the budget more carefully. I think we would like to see people take a close look at how their tax dollars are being spent,” said  Paula Bienenfeld, president of the federation.
Bienenfeld said about 25 people attended the event last year, including County Executive Isiah Leggett. The results of the finding are expected to be released by the groups hosting the event, she said.
“Every year there are a few more people as a basic interest in transparent government. It’s an important process and event,” Bienenfeld said.
You can preview that budget here. You can sign up to present a chapter of the budget at the event here.
The event is scheduled for Feb. 26 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, one block from the Bethesda Metro.
According to the most recent MCPS data, the school system is expected to end this year with a budget surplus of $33 million.

WUSA9: Hundreds of Maryland teachers disciplined by the state in MCPS, it is almost impossible not to graduate.

Weak standards inflate graduation rate success

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

14 Montgomery County teachers are among the nearly 400 that have been disciplined by the State of Maryland. Tonight at 11, Andrea McCarren shows us why their licenses were revoked or suspended.

Tonight on the WUSA 9 news at 11 PM.  Part 2 of Andrea McCarren's report on the sexual abuse of students by teachers and staff.

Families of children victimized by #teachers, #school staff members or contractors, here's my dilemma. Ideas? @wusa9

Andrea McCarren      @AndreaMcCarren

Más de 20 empleados de escuelas de Montgomery investigados por abuso infantil

Las escuelas del condado dijeron que están implementando grandes cambios en la manera que lidian con alegaciones de abuso incluyendo revisión de antecedentes y entrenamiento de empleados.

Más de 20 empleados de las escuelas del condado de Montgomery están siendo investigados por abuso infantil.  Jennifer Álvaro, madre de estudiantes del condado y experta de este tipo de abuso explica que hay que reportar estos ofensores aunque tengan tan solo una sospecha.
Si uno sospecha hay que reportarlo a la ley en muchos casos con las escuelas vemos y tenemos pruebas que no llamaron a nadie intentando de ocultarlo y manejarlo por adentro," dijo Jennifer Álvaro, Trabajadora social y experta de abuso infantil
Las escuelas del condado dijeron que están implementando grandes cambios en la manera que lidian con alegaciones de abuso incluyendo revisión de antecedentes y entrenamiento de empleados. 
"Muchos padres están extremadamente disgustados no solo por los crímenes pero porque dicen que en muchos casos, varias quejas y señales fueron ignoradas por el sistema escolar."...

School bus catches fire in Silver Spring - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

School bus catches fire in Silver Spring - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

@mcpspio says "saw the video. It was a smoky, but was contained to engine compartment."