Tuesday, October 17, 2017

4th Circuit rejects bid to turn Rockville zoning spat into constitutional claim #MaryvaleElementarySchool

Saying a zoning dispute does not create a constitutional crisis, a federal appeals court ruled Friday the Rockville City Council did not violate a self-storage company’s due-process and equal-protection rights by enacting an ordinance barring the construction of a facility near an elementary school.
In its published 3-0 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Siena Corp.’s constitutional challenge as “yet another attempt to circumvent the state’s legitimate interest in zoning law and land use policy.”
The ordinance, spurred by local opposition to the planned facility, prohibits self-storage buildings from being constructed within 250 feet of a public school lot. Siena argued the ordinance was unconstitutional because it was targeted specifically at the company, which was the only one planning to build such a commercial storage facility in Rockville.
But the 4th Circuit said Siena had ample opportunity to protect its interests as the ordinance was reviewed and debated before city agencies amid safety concerns about having one of the company’s ezStorage facilities near Maryvale Elementary School...

Monday, October 16, 2017

MCPS is #8 in Nation - Maryland Public Schools Lead Nation in Admin Costs

The State of Maryland appears to have a spending problem, when it comes to paying public school administrators.
The below list was assembled by Project Baltimore after analyzing a 2017 U.S. Census report on the nation’s 100 largest school systems. The list comprises America’s top 10 for per student spending on administration costs. That is, money that does not go to the classroom. It’s not buying books, computers or science equipment. Rather, it’s going to the administrators. The principals, assistant principals and superintendents who run the schools.
Do you notice anything about this list?
Baltimore City, MD: $1,630
Boston, MA: $1,297
Atlanta, GA: $1,182
Howard County, MD: $1,143
Anchorage, AK: $1,134
Baltimore County, MD: $1,132
Prince William County, VA: $1,155
Montgomery County, MD: $1,099
Anne Arundel County, MD: $1,059
Prince George’s County, MD: $1,049
Six of the top 10 are in Maryland.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Md. DOT takes over agency’s procurement after irregularities found

ANNAPOLIS — State transportation officials said they are taking more direct control of contracting within the Maryland Transit Administration after the discovery of dozens of contracts that lacked formal approval or instances in which vendors were paid for services for which there was no contract...


[How many Montgomery County Board of Education vendors get paid but do not have a contract?]

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Heat Wave Makes for Muggy Schools After Air-Conditioning Is Switched Off

Heat Wave Makes for Muggy Schools After Air-Conditioning Is Switched Off

Seneca Valley Student Struck by Vehicle While Walking to School

...5th District Commander Mark Plazinski confirmed that an 18-year-old male student was running across Middlebrook Road at the intersection of Crystal Rock Drive, when he came in contact with a vehicle. Plazinski said the investigation seemed to indicate contributing factors from both the driver and the pedestrian. He said both the driver and victim remained at the scene and were very cooperative. While in the student was in the crosswalk at the time of the incident, according to Plazinski, the student ran into the side of the vehicle as it was making the turn onto Middlebrook Road. Police are unsure of the status of the light at the time of the incident. No charges are expected in this case, said Plazinski...


Breaking: Justice Department Settles with Montgomery County, Maryland, After School Program to Ensure Compliance with the ADA

The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with Bar-T Year Round Programs for Kids (Bar-T), located in Montgomery County, Maryland, to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, including child care centers, from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and those associated with them.  Bar-T is the largest provider of before and after school programs in Montgomery County, operating at approximately 30 Montgomery County public school locations.    

The department investigated whether Bar-T discriminated against a student with a disability, specifically Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and her parents when it expelled the student on the basis of behaviors associated with ASD, without properly considering whether Bar-T staff could implement reasonable modifications to permit the student to remain enrolled.  The settlement agreement requires Bar-T to adopt a nondiscrimination policy; designate staff at each operating location to address ADA issues; implement a process for parents or guardians of children with disabilities to request reasonable modifications and for Bar-T to conduct an individualized assessment of each request; provide ADA training to staff; and report on compliance with the agreement.  Bar-T will also pay $13,500 in compensatory damages to the student and her parents.

 “Through this agreement, Bar-T is taking important steps to make sure that all children in its programs, including children with disabilities, will be given the opportunity to have a positive and successful experience in a supportive after school environment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. 

 “Children with disabilities deserve equal opportunities to attend after school programs.  The policies Bar-T has agreed to implement will ensure that its programs provide an inclusive environment for all students,” said Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning.

To read the settlement agreement or for more information on the ADA, visit www.ada.gov.  For more information about the ADA, including how to file a complaint, call the Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.

Bar-T Settlement Agreement

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

At ribbon-cutting rally, Hogan called it “shining example of public-private partnerships” #NewportMillMiddleSchool

Newport Mill Middle School Unveils New Fitness Center: At ribbon-cutting rally, Hogan called it “shining example of public-private partnerships”

Prosecutors Say Substitute Teacher Was ‘Mentor’ to Student He Allegedly Abused

Prosecutors Say Substitute Teacher Was ‘Mentor’ to Student He Allegedly Abused: Defense attorney argues sexual contact appears consensual

Police: Former MCPS Employee Apologized for Touching 10-Year-Old, Said She Was ‘Flirting’ With Him

Police: Former MCPS Employee Apologized for Touching 10-Year-Old, Said She Was ‘Flirting’ With Him: Roy “Andy” Simmons was released on bail Friday

Md. Comptroller Franchot questions Washington County Public Schools collections proposal

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot weighed in Wednesday on the proposal by Washington County Public Schools to use a collection agency to recover some $45,000 in unpaid charges for student meals.
The topic came up as the Maryland Board of Public Works agreed to let the Washington County Commissioners dispose of the former Conococheague Elementary School.
Franchot used it as an opportunity to comment on a Herald-Mail Media article about the school system "considering a proposal to contract with a collection agency to go after parents whose children have negative balances in their school meal accounts."
"Being humiliated and harassed … by collectors are the last thing families who are experiencing financial hardship need," he said, "and I sincerely hope that the children are not being denied meals or going hungry in schools simply because their parents are not, or are unable to settle up their school meal debts."...

Celebrate National Coming Out Day!

Because everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. And because we love all our kids.

Some Maryland Parents Pushing Schools, State to Bring Back Wired Internet

Two years ago, the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda was undergoing some major renovations when school leaders decided to give the school more than just a new roof. They also installed dozens of internet wall jacks where you can plug in an ethernet cable. Yes, the school was going back to wired internet.
“We were already partially wired,” says Jennifer Page, the school’s faculty chair. “And we just extended that. We put drops in all of our classroom and we added extra drops in our high schools.”
It was an interesting move. Just 12 percent of public classrooms across the country report they don’t have a Wi-Fi connection that supports all students — a number the Federal Communications Commission is trying to get to zero by 2020. But as schools and the federal government try to expand internet and Wi-Fi access, the Waldorf School brought back wires...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

County School Board Again Seeking Leniency From Governor on Academic Calendar Mandate

County School Board Again Seeking Leniency From Governor on Academic Calendar Mandate

Richmond School Board members call for more transparency after Dallas Dance was hired without their knowledge

Richmond School Board members, both current and prospective, are calling for more transparency in the hiring of consultants after former consultant Dallas Dance was hired without their approval and was reported to be under investigation by Maryland.
Dance, the former Baltimore County school superintendent, was approached by the division and served as a consultant from July 1 through Aug. 31. He was paid $25,000 for his services, which, according to a contract obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch through a Freedom of Information Act request, meant helping interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz and other senior staff members until a new superintendent takes over....

Monday, October 9, 2017

Among texts sent by Boatman, according to police: “I just enjoy sex with you almost too much.”

Substitute teacher charged with sex abuse of student in Montgomery County, Md.
A substitute teacher and assistant football coach at Montgomery Blair High School, just north of Washington, was charged Friday with sex abuse of a minor after allegedly having sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old Blair student, officials said.
The suspect, Cory Boatman, 27, had sex with the girl at his apartment on several occasions in August, according to police accounts filed in Montgomery County.
Investigators built their case after speaking with the student, who said Boatman had served as a mentor, and after looking at text messages Boatman had sent her, according to the records.
Among texts sent by Boatman, according to police: “I just enjoy sex with you almost too much.”
And: “Can I bring you back to the crib?”
Boatman, who lives in Wheaton, texted the student during the summer and during the current school year while he was employed by the school system, the documents said...

The right to read: My dyslexic daughter got the help she needed. All kids should. #MCPS

...While not thrilled about the tutoring, Phoebe recognized that the sessions at the Lab School were “better” than the help she was getting at public school, even from reading specialists and special educators. Why was this? I believe it was because her tutor was using an Orton-Gillingham-based approach to help her remember phonics — the word sounds that “normal” readers can’t recall learning to recognize in print because their brains held on to that information like flypaper in first grade. Developed in the early 20th century, Orton-Gillingham emphasized explicit, sequential, multisensory instruction (hearing, saying, tracing and writing). For example, Phoebe and her tutor might spend a session on the letter combination “ow” and the different sounds it makes, then review letter combinations Phoebe had mastered earlier. The training and materials for programs based on Orton-Gillingham tend to be expensive and work best one-on-one or in small groups, which may explain why this particular intervention wasn’t available at her school...
...Maryland special education census data shows this lack of clout in private school placement: In 2016-17, white students, who are 37 percent of special education students in Maryland, secured 76 percent of parentally requested private placement at public expense, whereas African Americans, who make up 41 percent of special education students, secured 11 percent, and Latinos, who make up 14.5 percent of special education students, secured 5 percent...


Friday, October 6, 2017

Town Hall Meeting on Critical Issues Facing People who Have a Developmental Difference Oct 10, 6:30pm

For those interested in Councilmember Leventhal's Town Hall meeting, live streaming will be available the evening of the event, beginning at 6:30pm at https://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/mctv/ .  

The Town Hall will also be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (Channel 996 on Comcast and Channel 30 on Verizon).
The Honorable George Leventhal HHS Committee Chair, Montgomery County Council will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting on Critical Issues Facing People who Have a Developmental Difference
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
6:30 pm
Montgomery College Science Center Building, Room 152
51 Mannakee Street, Rockville MD
Developmental Disabilities Administration Waiting List for Montgomery County, MD
There are 1058 Montgomery County individuals on the waiting list.
9 Identified as Crisis Resolution (6 identified as DD and 3 identified as Supports only)
93 identified as Crisis Prevention (59 identified as DD and 34 as Supports Only)
956 identified as Current Request (749 identified as DD and 207 as Supports Only)
Please attend to join in this important discussion.
Please let their office know if you can attend by contacting Walton Harris at 240-777-7945 or Walton.Harris@montgomerycountymd.gov. Plenty of public parking is available at the surface parking lot on South Campus Drive.

Breaking News: 2 Arrests in 2 Days - Montgomery County substitute teacher arrested for sexual abuse of teen student #BlairHS #NorthwoodHS

 - A Montgomery County substitute teacher has been arrested after police say he was involved in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student.
Montgomery County police say detectives began investigating 27-year-old Cory Boatman on Sept. 22 after it was reported that he was engaging in the sexual relationship with the teenage victim who attends Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.
According to investigators, Boatman met the 16-year-old victim while he was working at the school as a substitute teacher and assistant football coach at Blair. The girl told investigators that Boatman began sending suggestive text messages to her in early August. Later that month, Boatman picked her up at her home and drove her to his residence where they had sexual intercourse.
...Montgomery County Public Schools says Boatman has been placed on administrative leave...

he worked at Carderock Elementary as a part-time paraeducator for the school system

Police arrest after-school program worker for touching 10-year-old girl

...In a letter, school principal Jae W. Lee said that Simmons was known as “Andy” when he worked at Carderock Elementary as a part-time paraeducator for the school system and for Kids Adventures after school...


Topic: "How do Planning Board decisions affect the Taxpayers of Montgomery County?"

Montgomery County Taxpayers League Meeting

                            Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 7-9 pm
            Council Office Building, Conference Room TBD
              100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20817

                    Free and open to the public

Topic:  "How do Planning Board decisions affect the Taxpayers of Montgomery County?"

Speaker: Casey Anderson, Chair, Montgomery County Planning Board

Thursday, October 5, 2017

After-School Program Employee Charged with Inappropriate Touching of Student

etectives from the Montgomery County Police Department –  Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID) have arrested and charged Roy Andres Simmons III, age 41, of the 9500 block of Bell Vernon Place in Gaithersburg, with a sex offense committed against a 10-year-old female student while Simmons was employed with a company that administered an after-school program at the victim’s school.
In May of 2017, detectives began investigating the report of Simmons inappropriately touching the victim.  The victim stated to investigators that in November of 2016, she was attending an after-school event sponsored by a company named “Kids Adventures” at Carderock Springs Elementary School located at 7401 Persimmon Tree Lane in Potomac.  The victim knew Simmons from his capacity as a group leader for “Kids Adventures”. The victim further stated that Simmons was leading a group activity when he inappropriately touched her while she was separated from other students.
During a police interview, Simmons admitted to the inappropriate contact.
On October 3, detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Simmons charging him with one count of fourth-degree sex offense and one count of second-degree assault.
This afternoon (October 5), Simmons turned himself in and was served with the arrest warrant at the Central Processing Unit.  Bond information for Simmons is not yet available.
Investigators believe there may be additional victims.  Detectives are requesting that parents of students who may have had contact with Simmons, to talk to their children about their interactions with him and contact SVID detectives at 240-773-5400 if they believe their child was victimized.

Durso Leaning Toward Leaving School Board When Term Ends in 2018

Durso Leaning Toward Leaving School Board When Term Ends in 2018: Brenda Wolff, a retired federal education official, running for his spot

Cyber attack on county-wide network shuts down internet connection

Students and faculty across Montgomery County couldn’t complete planned classwork because of intermittent loss of internet service Sept. 25 and 26 after an an outside source issued a cyber-attack on the county-wide network, MCPS Chief Technology Officer Pete Cevenini reported.
These types of cyber-attacks are relatively common, according to Cevenini, and didn’t threaten student data or private information.
“It was difficult and very disruptive, but all it did was shut down the network at the front door. There was no serious damage to our network,” Cevenini said. “But we had to have people staying, pulling all nighters both nights to try to mitigate things and get things back in working order.”
Without internet, teachers were forced to adjust lesson plans last minute...

State Prosecutor investigating former Baltimore County School Supt. Dallas Dance

State prosecutors are investigating former Baltimore County school superintendent Dallas Dance and his relationship with a company that did business with the school system, according to multiple sources.
The Maryland State Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal investigation more than six months ago, issuing a subpoena for school system records, and this month several people associated with the system were interviewed by investigators, sources said.
The investigation was well under way, sources said, when Dance announced in April that he was resigning as superintendent with three years left on his four-year contract. He offered no reason but later cited the burdens of the job...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Howard County students blew past the statewide average as well as the five nearby school districts. #SAT

While Maryland students as a whole scored just above the national average on the SAT last year, results across the Baltimore region varied widely, data released by the College Board shows.
Howard County students blew past the statewide average as well as the five nearby school districts.
Public school students in Maryland averaged 528 points out of 800 on the English Language Arts portion of the college readiness exam and 518 points on the math section. Both scores were one point higher than the national average.
In Howard County, which has the lowest poverty rate in the Baltimore region, students averaged 581 points on the English section and 580 in math. Baltimore's scores were the lowest among the counties that responded: 450 in English and 435 in math.
Scores can not be compared to those of previous years because the exam was overhauled in recent years. Students are no longer penalized for wrong answers, and with the essay portion now optional, the maximum score is 1600.
The test scores highlight racial disparities throughout the state. Asian-American students averaged the highest scores in Maryland, followed by white students, Hispanic students and black students...