Saturday, March 17, 2018

Police: Detectives Charge MCPS Substitute Teacher For Inappropriate Touching of Student

Detectives Charge Substitute Teacher For Inappropriate Touching of Student

Steven Katz
Detectives with the Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID) have charged Steven Katz, age 59, of the 6500 block of Quiet Hours in Columbia, with Sexual Abuse of a Minor and 4th Degree Sexual Offense.  The charges involve the inappropriate touching of an elementary school student by Katz in his role as a substitute teacher.
Preliminary investigation has revealed that sometime after school on March 8, a Clovery Elementary School student told his parent that his substitute teacher, identified as Katz, had touched him in a way that made him feel uncomfortable at school that day.  The parent notified Cloverly Elementary School administrators who then notified police.
During the investigation, detectives interviewed the student and also interviewed Katz.  During the interview with Katz, he made admissions relating to inappropriately touching the student.
A warrant was issued for Katz’ arrest.  Katz turned himself in to investigators this evening and he was transported to the Central Processing Unit.  Bond information is not available at this time.
Detectives are requesting that parents of juveniles who may have had contact with Steven Katz to talk to their children about any interaction with Katz and contact SVID detectives at 240-773-5400 if they believe their child was victimized.

ABC7: With the arrest of sub teacher Steven Katz, this marks 3 sex crime arrests at @MCPS Cloverly ES in past years. John Vigna & Sean Kelley too. @NathanABC7

ABC7: JUST IN: MCPS substitute teacher arrested for molesting male student at Cloverly Elementary School in Colesville, Md., police say. @ABC7Kevin

Two Bills HB 1767 and SB 1188 are in the Maryland Assembly that will allow cell towers in our neighborhoods/schools and remove pubic notice and public process.

Sign the Petition: Stop Cell Towers in Maryland Neighborhoods!

Two Bills HB 1767 and SB 1188 are in the Maryland Assembly that will allow cell towers in our neighborhoods/schools and remove pubic notice and public process.

The Maryland Municipal League representing 157 municipal governments in the State of Maryland is opposed to these Bills. The Montgomery County Civic Federation is opposed to these bills.

Sign the petition.

Friday, March 16, 2018

WTOP: Elevated lead levels found in water at 12 of 21 Montgomery Co. schools tested so far

WASHINGTON — More than half the Montgomery County schools tested so far have shown elevated levels of lead in their drinking water.
The district has released results from the first batch of tests of the 205 schools in the county, and so far 12 of the first 21 schools tested have been shown to have lead levels higher than the 20 parts per billion mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Eight of the 12 offending schools are elementary schools: Gaithersburg, New Hampshire Estates, Pine Crest, Rock View, Rolling Terrace, Strathmore, Summit Hall and Viers Mill. Other schools found to have high lead levels so far are Eastern Parkland and Sligo middle schools, and Northwood High School...
...Neighboring school districts have more stringent standards. Prince George’s County set its lead standard at 10 parts per billion; in D.C. schools the standard is 5 parts per billion...

Arlington Not Planning to Join Class Action Lawsuit Against Synthetic Turf Installer

...The fields, which are under warranty until early 2019, will be replaced early so that all three Long Bridge Park fields will not be replaced simultaneously.
Fields come with an eight year warranty, and are generally replaced eight or nine years after installation, according to Lisa Grandle, Arlington County Parks & Recreation’s park development division chief.

The warranty for one of the Long Bridge Park’s synthetic turf fields covers defective material or installation workmanship problems, but doesn’t cover what Grandle called normal wear and tear or heavy usage...

Fired PGCPS guidance counselor believes he was made a scapegoat for grade-fixing scandal

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Lead concentrations exceeding state standards turned up in: Gaithersburg, Summit Hall, New Hampshire Estates and Pine Crest elementary schools and Eastern Middle School.

Drinking Water Tests Show Heightened Lead Levels at Schools in Silver Spring, Gaithersburg: MCPS is conducting a systemwide analysis of lead in water

Superintendent Jack R. Smith is "waiting" and "looking" instead of taking action to keep children safe in classrooms.

Formal Inquiry Into Md. Dept. of Ed. Decision Not to Use Teacher License Background Check System in 2015, 2016
...The agency confirmed it ran a reviewed and updated its files after restoring its conection with the NASDTEC system. It found one other teacher whose Maryland teaching license should have been revoked during the yearlong lapse. But the agency said the second teacher was not teaching in a Maryland school at the time.
In a hearing shortly after the I-Team report, the chair of the Montgomery County Council Education Committee asked Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent Jack Smith if the district was considering changing its background check system for teachers.
“We’re waiting to hear from the state of Maryland about what they’re doing,” Smith said. “We want to hear from them. Simultaneously, we are looking at what we can do around this.”...

Northwest Student Caught With Knife as Classmates Walkout to Protest School Violence

Less than an hour after almost 500 schoolmates walked out of class at Northwest High School to protest school violence on Wednesday; a student was caught threatening a fellow student with a knife during lunch.
   According to letters sent home by Northwest High School Principal Jimmy D’Andrea, about 500 of Northwest’s 2,300 students left class at 10:00 am to join high school students nationwide in protesting school violence. The protest lasted 17 minutes to honor the 17 students killed at Margery Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. one month ago.
   During the Northwest lunch period, which runs from 11:16 am to 11:51 am security officials confiscated a knife from an unidentified student who had displayed the knife to another student in a threatening way. “Based upon our investigation, it appears that there was an issue between the two students that had not been reported to the school,” said the letter sent home to parents...

Schools Could be Location for Cell Towers in Montgomery County under New Zoning Amendment

Don’t Let Antennas and Cell Poles Ruin Our Schools!
Fight to keep all residents, homes and neighborhoods protected.
Your participation was so important to our success in 2016, when we said NO to the County’s last Towers & Antennas Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA 16-05).
Unfortunately, the County has returned, this time with ZTA 18-02. And just like its predecessor, this ZTA was designed with and for the wireless industry, and not with or for residents).
We need your voice to be heard LOUD and CLEAR, if we are to beat back ZTA 18-02, a bill that threatens to erode protections for our safety, neighborhood aesthetics, and property values.
Please attend the Public Hearing on Tuesday night, March 20th.  Tell our Council Members that Montgomery County must put residents and our neighborhoods first.
We DO want a ZTA, but NOT this ZTA 18-02!
·         We want a ZTA that will not sacrifice our safety, neighborhood aesthetics, or property values;
·         We want a ZTA that will ensure transparency, proper notice of proposed facilities, and fair and proper consideration of our concerns in the application review process;
·         We want a ZTA that protects ALL residents, regardless of:
o   what part of the County they live in,
o   whether their utilities are above ground or underground, and
o   the type of dwelling they have;
Sure, a ZTA must accommodate the rights of the industry to provide wireless services.
But, we want a better ZTA; one that protects our rights, too – and requires wireless facilities to have the least possible adverse impacts on our neighborhoods! 
Please join your neighbors and friends at 7:30pm on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 to tell the County Council that you OPPOSE Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 18-02.
3rd Floor Hearing Room

Please let us know if you are attending. We need a head count. We really need folks to commit ahead of time. Please RSVP at to let us know you WILL be there.   
Free Parking is available after 6:00pm in the Council Office Building (COB) Garage.  Entrance is on E. Jefferson St. (Rt. 28) on the right just beforeintersection at Monroe Street.
This will likely be the ONLY public hearing on ZTA 18-02, so PLEASE attend!
Be sure to alert your friends and neighbors – and pass along this email.
More details can be found on the website.
Contact us with any questions at

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Breaking: Urgent Changes Needed regarding MCPS and Child Abuse Detailed in Email from MCPS Parent Advocate Jennifer Alvaro

From: jennifer alvaro 
To: Jack Smith <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 8:18:54 AM EDT
Subject: Urgent Changes Needed regarding MCPS and Child Abuse

Good Morning Dr. Smith, 

In a recent Washington Post article regarding the long standing sexual harassment of students by a math teacher at Blair high school, your spokesperson stated MCPS found the allegations credible. 

He went on to state the following, "One of the things we’re trying to figure out is: How did we get here? Where could we have made a better decision or taken more action?” spokesman Derek Turner said. “We want to know how to prevent this from ever happening again.”

To those of us who have been bringing these issues to your attention and in fact, the attention of the school system for 6 years now, reading that statement was a sad confirmation.   A confirmation the schools are still grossly mishandling this entire issue.  A confirmation you are still leaving children in danger.  This is not an accusation or speculation.  One only has to read recent headlines to see what is occurring.

A couple weeks ago, Jill Ortman-Fouse informed me she spoke to you about my concerns and you had instructed staff to "analyse" what had gone on.   I'm not quite clear on what that means so I took the opportunity to draft some recommendations for what the school system should be doing.

I've attached 10 recommendations for you, the BOE, the county council and Ike Leggett to review.

I would appreciate a timely response.    

As always, please feel free to email or call me should you have any questions. 

Thank you,

Jennifer Alvaro 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ex-Leader of Baltimore County Schools, a Tech Booster, Pleads Guilty to Perjury

A former superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, the 25th-largest district in the United States, pleaded guilty on Thursday to four counts of perjury related to payments totaling about $147,000 that he received for consulting and speaking engagements.
The state said the former superintendent, Shaun Dallas Dance, had made false statements on his financial disclosure forms “to conceal the nature and extent of his outside business interests and conflicts of interest.” Among other sources of income, the state said, Mr. Dance received payments from a school leadership training company that he had helped win an $875,000 no-bid contract from his school district.
After his financial relationship with that school vendor became known, the state said, Mr. Dance falsely told a Baltimore County Public Schools ethics panel that he had not been paid by the company while it was doing business with the district. He also provided the ethics panel with what the state described as a “sham” service agreement with the company supporting his false claims...

Monday, March 12, 2018

FYI: The School-to-Prison Pipeline in Montgomery County

The School-to-Prison Pipeline in Montgomery County 
Executive Summary of OLO Report Number 2016-6 
March 1, 2016 

Summary: The School-to-Prison Pipeline refers to the increased risk of juvenile delinquency and criminal justice system involvement among children who have been suspended or expelled from school. Nationally, the criminalization of minor school-based infractions and the over-representation of youth of color and students with disabilities are key features of the School-to-Prison Pipeline. This report seeks to improve the County Council’s understanding of the School-to-Prison Pipeline, particularly in Montgomery County. 

Overall, the School-to-Prison Pipeline within the County mirrors national trends in disproportionality by race, ethnicity, gender, and special education status, but the Pipeline is shrinking. OLO also found that while many local agency practices align with best practices for stemming for the Pipeline, opportunities exist for improving local practices that include engaging community stakeholders and improving data systems to track performance outcomes and to support program improvements...

Friday, March 9, 2018

Is The Freshman Dominating MD [Rockville] High School Basketball Actually 20 Years Old?

The Cinderella-est story of the schoolboy hoops season in the Washington, D.C. area came to an end over the weekend. It turns out the year’s most fantastical feel-good tale really was a fantasy after all.
The Rockville Rams, a Montgomery County, Md. public school squad that went2-22 last season, won its district this year. The Rams blew a second-half lead to Governor Thomas Johnson High on Saturday, losing out on a trip to the Final Four of the Maryland state championships...

ABC7: Montgomery Blair High School student caught with 15 grams of marijuana, a digital scale + $161 in cash - all stashed in his book bag, police say.

Police: MCPS 12th grader caught with three knives, school doesn't notify parents

ROCKVILLE, Md. (ABC7) — A 12th grader at Richard Montgomery High School was allegedly caught on campus with three knives, yet administrators chose not to notify the school community about the public safety threat.
On Friday, February 23, an unnamed student spotted a knife sticking out of 18-year-old Carlos Ruben Castillo Junior's front pant pocket. They notified school staff members...

“They knew that the strategy they were pursuing was dangerous to young children and they pursued it anyway.”

When Indianapolis Star reporters began to break news that former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused more than 150 women, Nancy Hogshead-Makar met with them to explain how oversight of sexual abuse works in club and Olympic sports—basically, she said, there had long been very, very little. “Larry Nassar, or somebody like Larry Nassar, was inevitable,” Hogshead-Makar recently told Mother Jones. “By not imposing any child protection policies on youth sports, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have a monster that’s going to come out.”...
...It also says that people need to report if they suspect child abuse, not if they know there’s child abuse. One of the things that we need to make sure that we educate people on is that they don’t need to do their own investigation. In fact, they shouldn’t do their own investigation. Interviewing a child requires special expertise. You tell the child protective services, the FBI, or the local police and let them take it from there...

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Floreen to Berliner: “This is not a game! You cannot have it both ways, my friend. I mean, what are you smoking?”

WASHINGTON — A long-delayed transportation project aimed at relieving traffic congestion in the White Flint area of North Bethesda, Maryland, could face further delays due to a move Thursday by the Montgomery County Council’s transportation committee.

By a 2-to-1 vote, the committee declared that construction work on Montrose Parkway East should be pushed back by three years. The recommendation now heads to the full council...

...The project, which has already been delayed by eight years, would stretch between Rockville Pike and Veirs Mill Road.
Under the plan laid out by “the three amigos,” construction would be moved from 2021 to 2024, freeing up more than $94 million...

MD v. Dallas Dance: Statement in Support of Plea of Guilty

***Former Baltimore County schools leader Dallas Dance pleads guilty to perjury

Former Baltimore County school superintendent Dallas Dance pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of perjury for failing to disclose nearly $147,000 he earned from consulting jobs — including payments from a company he helped win a no-bid contract with the school system.
Prosecutors recommended a sentence of five years and want Dance to serve 18 months in jail. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for April 20, Dance’s 38th birthday.
Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt read a lengthy list of facts that laid out in detail how Dance repeatedly deceived the school board and ethics officials and manipulated the purchasing process to award a contract to a company that was paying him for consulting.
The facts show that Dance began negotiating for private consulting work with executives of the Chicago company, SUPES Academy, shortly after he was hired as Baltimore County schools superintendent in July 2012.
Dance told the executives that he needed to make more money due to a divorce, Davitt said in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
“Keep me as busy as you can,” Dance reportedly told one of the SUPES executives, Davitt said.
Davitt also said Dance vowed to a SUPES official that he would fire a Baltimore County Public Schools employee in order to get a no-bid contract for SUPES, which the school board approved in December 2012.
After his private consulting work with the school contractor became public in media reports, Dance lied to ethics officials about payments from his SUPES job and begged SUPES executives not to provide information to the ethics panel, Davitt said.
He also provided false documents to the school system’s ethics panel that showed any income he had earned was going to the school system’s education foundation. It was not, Davitt said.
Dance told SUPES executives not to worry because the ethics panel has no subpoena power. He also said that if they turned over any documents “he might as well kill himself.”...

Bill spurred by Nassar scandal concerns Catholic Church


LANSING, Michigan — A Michigan bill inspired by the Larry Nassar scandal that would retroactively extend the amount of time child victims of sexual abuse have to sue their abusers is drawing concerns from the Catholic Church, which has paid out billions of dollars to settle U.S. clergy abuse cases.
Michigan Catholic Conference spokesman David Maluchnik confirmed Tuesday that extending the statute of limitations is “of concern” to the church’s lobbying arm, but he withheld further comment until the bill’s impact could be fully reviewed. He said the group supports other parts of a 10-bill package introduced Monday, including a measure that would add more people to the list of those who must report suspected abuse to child protective services...

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

County Council Looks To Avert Bethesda Building Moratorium Due to School Crowding

County Council Looks To Avert Bethesda Building Moratorium Due to School Crowding: Members add money to capital plan for projects at Bethesda Elementary, Somerset Elementary

Stop the assault on our Maryland Public Infomation Act

Our county delegation to Annapolis is currently working to limit the Maryland Public Information Act. They late-filed a bill, hoping you wouldn't find out about it. Here at Parents' Coalition we rely on this act to get the information the county wants hidden.  Information on dangerous radon in our schools. Information on cover-ups of pedophilia in our schools. Information on cell towers. Dangers of artificial turf.

Here is a draft letter you can send to your delegates. Contact information is here.

Subject line:  OPPOSE HB 677 (Emergency Bill), entitled “Public Information Act – Required Denials – Physical Addresses, E–Mail Addresses, and Telephone Numbers”
Dear Delegate <NAME>,

I urge you to oppose HB 677 (Emergency Bill), entitled “Public Information Act – Required Denials – Physical Addresses, E–Mail Addresses, and Telephone Numbers” -- but which more accurately should be called the “Special Interest and Incumbent Protection Act.”

Currently, some Montgomery County elected officials use taxpayer resources to collect email addresses and then send newsletters  via email to many thousands of constituents -- ostensibly to inform constituents, but with the effect of using taxpayer resources to solidify their incumbency.
Wealthy special interests can also communicate with voters by paying large sums to data mining companies for contact information lists.  One such wealthy special interest reportedly has contact information for hundreds of thousands of Montgomery County residents.

If the bill is passed, only the following will have the capacity to reach large numbers of potential voters:
  • Incumbents using email lists developed with taxpayer funds;
  • Wealthy special interests who use their wealth to buy contact information lists from private vendors.
Who is left out: "We, the People” -- whose tax dollars were used by elected officials to create the email lists.

The proposed bill bars voter groups from accessing the email addresses that the voters paid for with their tax dollars.  Given that there is not a single daily newspaper that focuses on Montgomery County and holds elected officials accountable, it is essential for voter groups/constituents to be able to communicate with large numbers of voters/constituents via the same mechanisms as their elected officials -- and to be able to obtain those taxpayer-funded email lists under Maryland’s Public Information Act.

If this bill is passed, only special interests and incumbents -- some of whom take large campaign contributions from special interests -- will have the power to communicate with voters ... and "We, the People" -- voter groups -- will have no power to reach many voters.
For these reasons, I urge you to reject HB 677, which we call the “Special Interest and Incumbent Protection Act."