Monday, September 22, 2014

1/2 of MCPS High Schools had Failure Rates of more than 70% even with 15 points added

Montgomery schools differ in recent Algebra 1 final exam failures

A little more than half of Montgomery County’s 25 high schools had failure rates of more than 70 percent for the final exam in Algebra 1 in June, even after the district added 15 percentage points to exam grades, according to newly released district data.
The figures also show that eight middle schools, including six in the Silver Spring area, had Algebra 1 exam failure rates from 20 percent to 43 percent after the points were added. By contrast, 18 other middle schools recorded failure rates of 5 percent or less.
The new numbers provide a more detailed picture of June’s poor exam results, which led to a mass grade recalculation and the delay of student report cards districtwide.

Open Letter to MABE Executive Director Frances Hughes Glendening #mabe #celltowers

The Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) is Francis Hughes Glendening.  The Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) is a dues paying member of MABE.  The BOE paid MABE $66,354 out of the MCPS Operating Budget in FY 2015.

The Parents' Coalition has asked Executive Director Glendening and the MABE staff to please explain why they have partnered with a company whose goal is to take away public school playground space?  As of today, there has been no response to this question from anyone at MABE.


Subject: Why does the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE)
want to Take Away Playgrounds from Children?

Date: Sun, September 14, 2014

The Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) has partnered with Milestone Communications to put cell tower compounds on every public school playground in the State of Maryland.

Milestone Communications doesn't just want ONE cell tower compound on a public school playground, they want up to THREE cell tower compounds per playground!  That's right, three!  This fact is revealed in the Milestone Communications Master Leases that have been made public by the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland.

Why does the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) think THREE cell towers on every public school playground is in the best interest of children? A cell tower compound takes away precious green space and replaces it with a commercial HAZMAT facility.  What adult wants children playing on a HAZMAT facility?  

Public school playgrounds are set aside for the use, exercise, and enjoyment of public school children.  Why is an organization funded with public tax dollars partnering with a company designed to take away playground space from public school children? 

The answer lies in MABE's own statement.  Nowhere in the MABE partnership statement is the health, welfare and well being of public school children mentioned. 

"MABE partners with select companies, providing member districts the services that enable them to operate more efficiently, offer benefits to staff, or generate revenue. MABE Partnership Services contribute to the mission of serving and supporting Maryland boards of education."

Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD

Saturday, September 20, 2014

WPOST: Disinfectant on Springbrook HS football equipment causes rashes and burns

The football game between Sherwood and Springbrook, originally scheduled for Friday, has been moved to Monday at 6:30 p.m. after a disinfectant used on Springbrook’s football equipment caused players to experience rashes and burns.
Springbrook athletics director Rob Wendel said Springbrook staff members cleaned the locker room with “an appropriate disinfect inappropriately used.” He said the rashes and burns on the players’ necks and shoulders were serious enough for some players to seek medical attention.
Wendel said the school will be purchasing new equipment and is borrowing some for Monday’s game.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Did the PG Tower Committee Violate the MD Open Meetings Act and Leave Out Community Notice and Input? #celltowers

This is the Open Meetings Act complaint that was the subject of the September 18, 2014, NBC4 report.

NBC4: Parents Protest Plan to Put Cellphone Tower in Maryland Schoolyard

Maryland Coalition Press Conference Calling for Halt to Construction of Cell Towers on Md School Playgrounds

Update 2/22/14:  Our supporters are growing and so our name has changed!  We are now the Maryland Coalition.

Tri-County Maryland Coalition Against Cell Towers on School Grounds 

Press Conference

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 6 PM

14201 School Lane, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Organizations from three maryland counties have formed a coalition to call for a halt to the construction of cell towers on public school playgrounds

Upper Marlboro, MDOrganizations from Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's Counties have joined together to form a coalition to call for the immediate halt to the construction of cell towers on public school playgrounds. The newly formed Tri-County Coalition will hold a press conference on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at 6 PM on the steps of the Prince George's County Board of Education, 14201 School Lane, Upper Marlboro, Maryland to announce the formation of the coalition and present the coalition's goals.
The following organizations and individuals have joined together to form the Tri-County Coalition:
  • AACo Acts (Anne Arundel County Against Cell Towers at Schools)
  • Anne Arundel County NAACP
  • Citizens Against a Cell Tower at Julius West Middle School
  • Coalition of Central Prince George's County Community Organizations
  • Liberty Rec and Tech Center, Baltimore
  • Maryland Smart Meter Awareness
  • Montgomery County NAACP
  • Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Prince George's County NAACP
  • Safe Schools Prince George's
  • Kim Trueheart, Activist, Baltimore City
The Tri-County Coalition is raising the following concerns about cell tower construction projects at Maryland schools:
  • Lack of transparency and community involvement in the decision making process.
  • Safety Issues from the industrial machinery: fires, tower collapse, and worker accidents.
  • Environmental Issues such as paving over green space and cutting down trees.
  • Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) such as diesel fuel and lead acid batteries on school grounds.
  • Increased carcinogenic air pollution: Diesel generator exhaust and biocides.
  • Health issues related to daily long term exposure to microwave radiation.
The Tri-County Coalition believes that cell towers are a bad investment for our children. We call for an immediate halt to cell tower construction at Maryland schools.

# # #

Thursday, September 18, 2014

WTOP: Teen sues over phony Montgomery County school psychologist

WASHINGTON - An 18-year-old Montgomery County man is suing the county and the estate of a man who masqueraded as a school psychologist for more than a decade.
Brandon Hall, of Rockville, Md., has filed a lawsuit claiming the Board of Education of Montgomery County hired and retained a fraudulent psychologist, Duane Donald Flemmer, who in addition to counseling Hall and his family in school, was instrumental in a contentious custody battle between Hall's parents.
"Flemmer was a fraud and a charlatan," says attorney Ronald Karp, who filed the suit on Hall's behalf.
The suit claims intentional misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, retention and supervision seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Flemmer's estate and the county school board...
continues at link:

Breaking News: Student Sues Montgomery Co. Board of Education Over Phony Psychologist David Flemmer

A Rockville lawyer has filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education of Montgomery County on behalf of an 18-year-old man, who claims he was emotionally damaged by a phony psychologist employed by the school district.
Ronald Karp told News4 told News4 Montgomery County Public Schools had employed "Dr. David Flemmer" for more than 10 years based off fake credentials. The man's real name was Duane Flemmer, according to Karp.
"If they had looked into this man's credentials, they would have known he was using a bogus name," Karp said. "They would have known he wasn't a Ph.D., they would have known that he forged all those documents."
Flemmer counseled Karp's client for two years, beginning when he was 8 years old while his parents were going through a divorce.
"Once you can walk into a courtroom and look the judge in the eye and say, 'I am Dr. David Flemmer and I am a Montgomery County Schools psychologist,' you have instant credibility and you can create havoc for all kinds of people," Karp said.
In 2006, the judge removed the boy from his mother and gave custody to his father, allegedly, based on Dr. Flemmer's testimony.

Cell Phone Towers Continue To Cause Concerns

While plans to place cell phone towers continue to move forward, parents and activists say they think the company building the towers needs to file for a special exception because it will make more than four maintenance visits a year.
“It’s simple math,” said Thea Scarato, a Greenbelt resident and parent of two children in PGCPS. “There are going to be more than four visits. It should need a special exception.”
In a previous report by The Sentinel, county planning department officials said the cell phone tower applications do not need a special exception because the towers will only be 151 feet high—lower than the county’s zoning ordinance requirement limitation of 199 feet. However, according to Scarato, cell phone tower applications should go through a process to get a special exception because there will be at least four maintenance site visits per year, according to the leasing agreement between Prince George’s County Public Schools and Milestone Communications....

article continues at this link.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Senior Fees - Still Illegal and Still at Blair HS

The Administration at Blair HS must be slow learners.

Several years ago, I know I told the administration at Blair that you can't charge students to participate in graduation.

Yet, charge away they do.  For buses, programs, and flowers.  With a convenience fee if the student pays by credit card.

Last time I checked, Blair HS had great access to public transportation.  Why the bus?  Why ask students to come to school and ride a bus downtown.  Can't they carpool or go with their parents? What if they only want to travel one way?  Do they get a discount?

Flowers?  Flowers in DAR Constitution Hall?  Can't the school share with the other schools using the facility?

Here is information for MBHS Seniors, class of 2015.

All students are required to ride the bus from MBHS to Constitution Hall. $20
The last day to pay for graduation expenses is December 12, 2014.
Make checks payable to MBHS. The money will be collected by Ms. Fus in
the attendance office and Ms. Norris in Room 232 during 5th and 6th
period. Please have exact change.
*There are no additional fees for graduation.
Credit Card Payments can be made online at: (3.75% convenience fee added)
*Order forms may be found in the main office, Rm. 232, and online.
And the cap/gown rip off?  The school makes money off every cap/gown they sell to you.  How many other schools use RED gowns?  Black is so much simpler, and easy to recycle.

Parents at Blair and other MCPS high schools remember - your child is entitled to a free public education.  Use public transportation and skip the flowers.   But - don't let the school administrators shake you down for additional cash.

New Trend for High School Neighborhoods

Montgomery Blair HS in Silver Spring has always demonstrated its leadership among schools in Montgomery County.

What's the latest leadership trend?

Blair HS is so lucky to have a "HEAD FIRST" concussion care facility located right across University Boulevard from the school.

Now if your child plays football at Blair - no worries about whether an athletic trainer is onsite.  Your Head First concussion facility can take care of your child.

And, its not only the football team kids who may find themselves at Head First.  You never know what other challenges face your child at Blair.  This surely beats the emergency room at Holy Cross Hospital for convenience! 

Way to go Blair!

Joshua Starr wants a cell tower at another Red Zone School #celltower #loiedermanmiddleschool

The arrows show where Superintendent Starr
wants to add cell towers to red zone school playgrounds.
Superintendent Joshua Starr does love cell tower compounds on public school playgrounds!

Here's another one he wants to build. This is at least the 6th cell tower he has tried to put on a school playground and the 4th one on a Red Zone school playground.

What has the Board of Education said about these projects?  Absolutely nothing.

The minutes from the November 2013 Loiderman Middle School PTA meeting show the PTA was fed some very bad information about cell towers on MCPS land, but whatever! (Loiderman MS would never "own" the cell tower.  The money isn't distributed 50-50! MCPS takes 30%! The base of cell towers comes with a warning to stay away! And  did anyone talk about where the Wheaton HS tower is now? Bet not.)


From the Loiederman Middle School November 2013 PTA meeting minutes:

The meeting began with a presentation by Drew Montgomery from AT&T Cell Phone Services on
the proposed cell phone tower at Loiederman Middle School. Mr. Montgomery stated that the tower
would serve the immediate neighborhood within one square mile of Loiederman, which has a current
service “hole.”. He began his program with a PowerPoint presentation of current cell phone towers
on select MCPS campuses – some were high school football fields that took advantage of the towers
to place lights for night-time play. The tower would be placed in a 50 x 50 foot compound with
board-on-board fencing and a gated gravel access road. The 100 foot-high monopole would have a 
12 x 12 foot equipment shelter, with space for up to two additional shelters for other cell phone 
carriers. The tower would be owned by Loiederman and AT&T (and potentially two other carriers)
would pay monthly rent. The money, paid into the MCPS would be distributed, with 50% going 
directly to Loiederman and 50% going to feeder schools (e.g. Weller Road and other area
elementary schools). Use of the money is unrestricted and therefore desirable to Loiederman. Mr.
Montgomery fielded questions from parents. When the issue of radiation was brought up, he stated
that radiation was higher by putting a cell phone to one’s ear than standing next to a tower. Other
concerns were the location of the gravel road. One parent proposed installing lights for the tennis
courts. The next step is for AT&T to hold a community meeting away from Loiederman, probably in
January. Ms. Sosik will continue to welcome feedback from the Loiederman community. The
anticipated installment will occur in 6-8 months.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gazette: Youth group says busy roads around Northwest aren’t safe

Gazette: Students look to school board for help with walking, busing issues
...Ruthanne Stoltzfus, a retired teacher who lives in Germantown, said she often stands near Seneca Valley High School after school gets out to help student pedestrians navigate the roads.
Christina Morris-Ward, a sophomore at Seneca Valley, was struck while crossing Md. 118 on her way to school in 2012. She died from her injuries.
Stoltzfus — who said she sees both distracted walkers and distracted drivers — questioned the location of the high school.
“We plant them in between Wisteria [Drive] and Middlebrook [Road] in this great, big, busy block and have them walk all over this congested area,” she said.
Last school year, two Richard Montgomery High School students were hit by cars in separate incidents. One student was struck as she walked in a crosswalk on Rockville Pike. Another student was hit while he was crossing Wootton Parkway where there was no crosswalk.
Montgomery Blair High School sits near University Boulevard and Colesville Road, an area that has seen a high number of traffic accidents, said Therese Gibson, the school’s parent, teacher, student association leader. At the beginning of each academic year, Gibson said, the school will talk to the students about pedestrian safety and the school’s closed-campus rule tied to the area’s dangerous walking conditions...

Blair HS Now Has Same Number of School Days for All Students

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has made Montgomery Blair High School cancel its freshman-only day in the upcoming 2014-15 school year to avoid confusion with starting dates among Blair students and students around the rest of the county. Blair is requiring that all students come to school Aug. 25...
 ...Blair had been the only school in the county which had the first day of the school year dedicated to allowing only ninth graders to go to school. Former Blair principal Phillip Gainous created the freshman-only day in the 1998-99 school year...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cell tower fires on high school sports field #HAZMAT #wheatonhighschool #kennedyhighschool #celltowerfire

Superintendent Joshua Starr wants cell towers on public school playgrounds and fields because why?

Reminder:  Cell Tower compounds are HAZMAT locations and must register with the Montgomery County Fire Department.  

This September 13, 2014, story from Oregon shows a cell tower on fire on a high school sports fields.

And here is a story from this summer about a cell tower fire on another high school sports field.
Fire and police crews responded about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 15, to Anderson Field at Bobcat Stadium in Grandview Heights after one of its light poles caught on fire.
The fire began while a crew from Sprint was upgrading a cell tower located on top of the light pole, according to an email blast issued by Superintendent Andy Culp.

Board of Education Spent $112,569 in One Month on Law Firm Reviewing Credit Card Expenditures - Bethesda Beat

...Why would the board spend more than $128,000 in legal fees for advice on an issue in which they were criticized for improper spending in the first place?
According to Board President Phil Kauffman, who responded to a Bethesda Beat email about the issue, the board thought it was important to have an independent counsel “thoroughly examine the records to ensure that taxpayer dollars were being used appropriately.”...
 ...“Our goal always is to have reasonable legal costs and to get good advice from experts to help us make the best possible decisions,” Kauffman wrote. “I am confident that we did that here and I believe that our new processes and procedures will ultimately serve the board and public well.”...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Exclusive: Parents' Coalition Releases Cell Tower Deal Documents from Across the State

Daly Elementary School playground
Germantown, MD
The PTA and neighbors opposed
the construction of this cell tower.
The MCPS Board of Education
built the tower anyway.
The Parents' Coalition has conducted Maryland Public Information Act requests in all of the 9 public school counties in the State of Maryland that have entered into deals with the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) partner Milestone Communications.

These never before seen documents are available now only through the Parents' Coalition.  Even the local public school systems that have entered into these deals have not made all of these documents available to their parents and citizens.

The Parents' Coalition does not believe that these public school documents should be a secret.

When compared, we immediately see that there are only two Boards of Education, Anne Arundel and Prince George's, that have entered into the unruly and overreaching "Master Agreement" that purports to turn over virtually all county Board of Education property to Milestone Communications for use as cell tower sites.

The "Master Agreements" attempt to eliminate the ability of all parents and citizens countywide to participate and be heard in decisions regarding construction on their local public school playground.

Parents in Anne Arundel County and Prince George's County are just now finding out the surprising news that their local public school playground is on a list of potential cell tower sites being marketed to telecommunications companies.

Under these "Master Agreements" each public school playground is available for the construction of up to three cell tower compounds!  Yes, THREE per playground!

Click the link below for all of the MABE partner Milestone Communications documents that we have obtained.

Documents: Milestone Communications - Cell Towers on Public School Land in Maryland

ABC7: MCPS Board of Ed. spends $140K in legal fees amid Board of Education credit card scandal

"We shouldn't be paying for that," Rosanne Hurwitz said. "It's not my fault there was a failure of leadership."
Hurwitz, a member of the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, is appalled that hardworking citizens are being forced to defend the financial faults of certain elected officials.
"It's a lot of money when we [the Parents' Coalition] gave them the same advice for free ... [Taxpayer insight] is a lot cheaper than hiring an attorney from a downtown law firm," Hurwitz added.
Read more:

Friday, September 12, 2014

“Zoning is not by plebiscite,” Dalrymple told the commission.- Maryvale ES gets Storage Facilty Next Door

Gazette:  Despite objections, Rockville commission OKs storage facility

...Critics also argued that it would create a risk to the students at Maryvale, through increased traffic from customers or potential criminal activity by people storing items at the facility...

Balto. Co. schools' song and dance [Editorial]

If Baltimore County residents had any doubts about the wisdom of moving toward a hybrid appointed/elected school board rather than the all-appointed version we have now, they were likely erased last week when the board voted to hand Superintendent Dallas Dance what amounts to a $27,000 raise. Not only did the board employ what is at best linguistic sleight of hand to provide Mr. Dance a bigger raise than his contract would allow, but it also shut down any public discussion of whether the raise was warranted. Critics of the system have contended for years that the board's all-appointed structure makes it unresponsive to the public. Last week's meeting appeared designed to prove the point.

Read more:,0,5012930.story#ixzz3BnpaRt2N

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Proposed bill would require those who don’t provide apprentice training to pay more

Gazette: Montgomery County Council wants contractors to fund apprenticeship program
...A bill, co-sponsored by Councilman Hans Riemer and Councilwoman Nancy Navarro, would require county construction contractors and subcontractors to provide apprenticeship training for workers or pay a fee to support the Building and Construction Technology Program operated by Montgomery College...

MCPS Mom Files Complaint with US Dept of Ed, Gets Transportation for Child to Magnet School

A Kensington boy is being bused to school after his mother filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education saying Montgomery County Public Schools discriminated against her son when the system did not provide him transportation to a magnet program...
...“I worked smarter because I know that federal government provides funds to schools, and you are supposed to be following federal law to get those funds,” she said. “I took it a different route.”
In response to Diaz-Cooper’s complaint, the county school system decided to enter into a resolution agreement, according to a May 28 letter to Diaz-Cooper from an education department attorney...