Friday, March 24, 2017

Smartphones Violate Safety Limits When Placed Against The Body: Schools Allow Cell Phones in Classes?

Montgomery County allows cell phones to be used in classrooms and on school buses. Where are children carrying these phones? Why isn't MCPS informing students and parents that this digital device used in classrooms as part of the educational curriculum emits radiation and should not be held close to the body.  

Watch this CBC investigation that aired on March 23, 2017 that found when cell phones were tested against the body, the radiation absorbed surpassed the safety limit.

Are MCPS students carrying cell phones in their pants pockets? Are teenage girls carrying cell phones in their bra or tucked in their stretchy pants? If so- they are getting radiation levels that are unsafe even according to our government standards.


 The  CBC Marketplace episode entitled “Berkeley's cellphone crusade ” with prize-winning reporter Wendy Mesley and featured Dr. Devra Davis, President of Environmental Health Trust and Frank Clegg, former President of Microsoft Canada and head of Canadians for Safe Technology. The five minute episode will be followed by a longer 30 minute CBC Report running Friday night at 8 pm on March 24, 2017.


“There are dozens and dozens of studies that we presented to Canada that show harm at levels below Canada’s guidelines” stated Frank Clegg pointing to the Safety Code Six review.

“Millions of children use cell phones and wireless devices every day.  Many carry cell phones in their jeans pocket tight against their body. Many women tuck cell phones in their bra or under their spandex pants. The public needs to be informed that cell phones violate already outdated so called safety limits tested in the ways they typically are used,” stated Devra Davis, PhD, MPH pointing out that “the American Academy of Pediatrics and Consumer Reports have issued recommendations that the public reduce exposure to cell phones along with over a dozen other countries.”

If cell phones placed near the body emit radiation levels that exceed safety guidelines- guidelines which are over two decades old and outdated- then what about laptops and tablet on the lap of school children?


Read this letter sent to the Department of Education last week by a parent asking twenty questions about cell phones in classrooms and wireless devices on the lap.

Baltimore Sun: Wi-Fi in Md. schools may put your kid at risk for cancer

Baltimore Sun "Wifi in Md. schools may put your kid at risk for cancer" by Devra Lee Davis PhD, MPH 
Thank you, Gov. Larry Hogan, for appointing thoughtful, brave medical experts to Maryland's Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC). Your next challenge is to get the Maryland school superintendents to heed the council's well-founded advice: reduce and restrict children's wireless radiation (wifi). With distinguished experts in child health, neurodevelopment and pediatrics, the council draws on the well-established public health principle that stopping harm now is always better and cheaper than trying to fix damage later.
The council recommends wired rather than wireless classroom networks. Why? All wireless devices from laptops to tablets to cell phones work as two-way microwave radiating radios. While weak in power, this radiation is absorbed into our bodies, far more deeply into children who are smaller with thinner skulls. Two decades ago when the FCC set "safety" standards, authorities assumed that microwave radiation was harmless unless it produced heat. Research on children's long-term effects was nonexistent. Today millions of children regularly use microwave radiating devices. Read the full article online. 

Md. mother admits to killing children; legal loophole exposed

...At the time, Thompson and Spoon were in a custody battle over Kayla. But Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said no law was broken when no one notified social services of the threat against the 3-year-old’s life...

 http://wtop.com/maryland/2017/03/md-mother-admits-killing-children-exposes-loophole-law/

Thursday, March 23, 2017

MCPS Teacher was alleged to have used physical and mechanical restraints inappropriately to manage the behavior of her special needs students.

PATRICIA SULLIVAN v. MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, ET AL.

Administrative law — Employment reprimand — Arbitrary or capricious
Patricia Sullivan (“Appellant”) was terminated from her job as a special education teacher for Montgomery County Public Schools (“MCPS”) on September 12, 2012, after receiving three reprimands for failing to comply with MCPS’s Regulation JGA-RA on Classroom Management and Student Behavior Interventions (“Behavior Interventions Regulation”). The termination centered on three incidents where Sullivan was alleged to have used physical and mechanical restraints inappropriately to manage the behavior of her special needs students.
Sullivan unsuccessfully sought administrative review of her termination with the Montgomery County Board of Education (“County Board”) and the Maryland State Board of Education (“State Board”) (collectively, “Appellees”). Sullivan sought judicial review of the State Board’s decision in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.
On appeal from the circuit court’s May 4, 2015 opinion and order affirming the decision of the State Board, Sullivan presents three questions for our review, which we have reordered:..

http://thedailyrecord.com/2017/03/21/patricia-sullivan-v-montgomery-county-board-of-education-et-al/

Full text of opinion:

http://www.courts.state.md.us/appellate/unreportedopinions/2017/0692s15.pdf

Video: Mont. Co. Police Statements on Rockville High School 911 Response, Investigation, Security Review @mcpnews


County-initiated audit of Howard schools released ahead of budget season

As local officials grapple with how to fund the school system's record-high budget request this year, the county's auditors released a long-anticipated report on the school system's finances.
In their review of financial statements for special education, the health and dental fund and legal services, the auditors found the school system generally complied with all procedures. State law limits the scope of the financial audit, which purely verifies transactions, traces payments to contracts and reviews other financial statements.
The audit capped an often contentious back-and-forth between the school system's leadership and local officials last year as the Howard County Council considered the school's budget request...

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/elkridge/ph-ho-cf-school-budget-preview-0323-20170316-story.html

VA Superintendent Sends Letter About Teacher's 'Inapropriate Relationships' 2 Years After Instructor Resigned

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Loudoun County's superintendent has called for a former band instructor's teaching license to be revoked two years after the instructor resigned -- raising questions about why the call to action wasn't made sooner.
Brian Damron resigned from his position at Dominion High School in Sterling, Virginia in 2015 before starting a teaching job in Florida...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ask your state Senator to vote YES on SB 705 - a bill that will help people with low incomes, including people with disabilities, find legal representation when their rights under the Maryland Constitution have been violated by the State or local governments.

CALL NOW - Before the Vote!
Urge your Senator to vote YES on SB 705!
 
Disability Rights Maryland (DRM) has been working with a group of public interest advocates to protect your Constitutional rights - please help by making one phone call! Ask your state Senator to vote YES on SB 705 - a bill that will help people with low incomes, including people with disabilities, find legal representation when their rights under the Maryland Constitution have been violated by the State or local governments. 

For example, DRM sees cases of disabled people with no money who are isolated in state-run facilities, and vulnerable to abuse and neglect. SB 705 would allow a judge to decide that an attorney who successfully represents such an individual in state court to vindicate their Constitutional rights may receive reasonable attorney's fees. This would encourage more attorneys to consider representing low-income people in these cases, and would also deter the government from violating the rights of its most vulnerable citizens! 
Call and email your State Senator right away - the vote is tomorrow (Thursday) morning!
 
Tell your Senator:

I support SB 705. False arguments are being made to defeat this important bill. Don't be misled. This bill is about basic fairness and will NOT create "open season" for frivolous law suits. Vote YES on SB 705 to provide access to justice for your constituents.
 

The Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of A Special Education Student

School districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress, the Supreme Court said Wednesday in an 8-0 ruling.
The decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District could have far-reaching implications for the 6.5 million students with disabilities in the United States.

The case centered on a child with autism and attention deficit disorder whose parents removed him from public school in fifth grade. He went on to make better progress in a private school. His parents argued that the individualized education plan provided by the public school was inadequate, and they sued to compel the school district to pay his private school tuition.
The Supreme Court today sided with the family, overturning a lower court ruling in the school district's favor.

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/03/22/521094752/the-supreme-court-rules-in-favor-of-a-special-education-student

2017 Report on American education: US students have mediocre scores, US classes "much easier"

The key findings include:
  • The U.S. continues to register mediocre scores on the Program for International Student Assessment, as it has done since the test began in 2000. U.S. performance in all three subjects—math, reading, and science—was no different statistically in 2015 than it was when each subject was first administered. 
  • International students still think U.S. schools are much less challenging than schools in their home countries. In 2001, 55.9 percent of foreign exchange students surveyed said their classes in America were “much easier” than back home; in 2016, that increased to 66.4 percent.
  • Analyzing data from California schools, Loveless finds that African-American students continue to be suspended at a higher rate than other ethnic groups. In 2013, the suspension rate for African-American students was 0.235, meaning 235 out of every 1,000 black students received a suspension; in 2015, it fell to 0.178. This is still dramatically higher than the 2015 rates of Hispanic students (0.052), white students (0.044) and Asian-Americans (0.012).

A painful ESSA setback in Maryland


Editor’s note: In addition to his roles at Fordham, the author is Vice President of the Maryland State Board of Education. The views expressed here, however, are his alone.  
Maryland prides itself on having high-performing public schools, but the truth is that its primary-secondary education system is failing to prepare far too many children for what follows. On the most recent (2015) National Assessment of Educational Progress, for example, barely one third of the state’s eighth graders were “proficient” or “advanced” in either math or reading. Among African-American youngsters, that key benchmark was reached by fewer than one in five.

Yet lawmakers are on the verge of undermining the best chance the state has had in ages to do something forceful about the schools that have allowed this sad situation to endure. They’re about to prevent the State Board of Education from installing a new school-accountability system that prioritizes pupil achievement and student success, as well as true transparency by which parents can easily tell whether their child’s school is succeeding or failing. Instead, House Bill 978 and Senate Bill 871, now speeding toward enactment, sharply limit the extent to which learning counts, restrict the use of achievement data, forbid the state from “grading” its schools (or intervening in dreadful ones), and give top billing to measures of teacher satisfaction, class size, adult credentials, and other inputs that are dear to the hearts of teacher unions but have woefully little to do with classroom effectiveness. The General Assembly has already killed Governor Hogan’s proposed expansion of the state’s cramped charter school program and is threatening to shrink its tiny voucher program, thereby ensuring that kids stuck in district-run dropout factories won’t have any alternatives. Maryland districts are also famously allergic to public-school choice, save for the occasional magnet...

 https://edexcellence.net/articles/a-painful-essa-setback-in-maryland

MCPS Rockville High School: March 16, 2017 Serious Incident Information

 Press releases, statements and videos:


http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/incident-information/

ROCKVILLE HIGH PTSA MEETS FOLLOWING RAPE REPORT

The Rockville PTSA held a meeting on Tuesday night that included a presentation from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) officials about safety and security at Rockville High School.
The meeting comes five days after a student reported she was raped at the school during school hours.
Reporters were not allowed to attend the meeting at Rockville High School.
“It is not a public meeting,” wrote MCPS spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala in an email. “PTA leadership also has made it clear they do not want media there.”...

CDC Issues Guidelines On Recess


Students spend a lot of time on academics and standardized tests, especially in the early school years. Few states require recess.
But studies show recess leads to better test scores and classroom behavior. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines on the issue.

Take note Montgomery County Board of Education of statement that "recess should not be withheld as punishment."

Maryland State Board of Education to Hold Emergency Meeting on March 23

BALTIMORE – The Maryland State Board of Education will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday, March 23, at the Maryland State Department of Education, 200 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore. It will be held in conference room 1 on the 8th floor beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Board members will discuss Senate Bill 871/House Bill 978 Education – Accountability – Consolidated State Plan and Support and Improvement Plans (Protect Our Schools Act of 2017). The discussion will take place via conference call.
The Public may attend in person to listen to discussion or call the WebEx conference call line as follows:

1-415-655-0045
Meeting number (access code): 644 373 389
Meeting Password: 1234 (if prompted)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MCPS superintendent will hold evening press conference to take media questions about Rockville HS rape

Rockville High Principal To Meet With Parents Tonight About Reported Rape: MCPS superintendent will also hold evening press conference to take media questions

Reminder: MCPS Security Cameras - "The cameras are really never monitored."

Council to Approve Fake Security for Schools - $5.8 Million: Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland

Even in such highly regarded districts as Montgomery County, we find school after school where barely one pupil in five is on track for college.

Will Maryland ever place the educational needs of its neediest children above the interests of its middle-class adults? History — and recent events — suggest that the answer is no, barring a fundamental change in the stance of policy makers and those who influence them.
While public education in Maryland assuredly has bright spots and success stories, it's failing far too many of the state's children, with just 23 percent of 8th grade African-American students in Maryland "on track" toward college readiness in language arts according to the 2016 PARCC assessments and only 11 percent in math. That's because far too many young Marylanders are trapped in dreadful schools. Even in such highly regarded districts as Montgomery County, we find school after school where barely one pupil in five is on track for college...
 
...The state board, to my sorrow, lacks the statutory authority to remove either kids or schools from the clutches of failure. The General Assembly would need to act. Instead, by killing the bills that propose such changes while moving ahead with measures that forbid them, lawmakers will ensure that the status quo endures. They will declare that they're keeping public education public and preserving local control. But what they're really doing is preserving bad schools, existing power structures and middle-class jobs. The heck with the kids.
Chester E. Finn Jr. (cefinnjr@edexcellence.net) is vice president of the Maryland State Board of Education and distinguished senior fellow and president emeritus at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The views expressed here are his alone.

88 PG public schools exceeded EPA allowable lead levels #lead

After the story of the Flint Michigan water crisis unfolded in the media last year, I read a news story reporting that lead had been found in the water at Ardmore Elementary School and that water fountains and sinks had been turned off. I became curious. Was the drinking water in our county schools safe?
So in January of 2016 I decided to write to PGCPS CEO Dr. Maxwell and began a long inquiry asking what tests had been done in Prince George’s County Schools to measure for lead. Here is what I learned:

The school system performed water tests from 2009 to 2012 and found that at least 88 schools exceeded EPA allowable lead levels. (Read the list of “Prince George’s County Public Schools Fixtures that are Valved Off” which was sent to me from PGCPS). The majority of  schools with lead contamination are elementary schools.
As of December 2016, the school system had not done anything to remediate this other than simply to turn off faucets in the majority of these schools.
At first, PGCPS told me that they were fixing the lead problem. I was sent a document titled “PGCPS Lead in Water Program” that explained a four-phase plan to fix the lead problem. This document said that a Request for Proposals (RFP) had been submitted “to remediate the remaining classroom water fountains and sinks throughout the system.” This was “Phase Four” of the plan.
You can imagine my surprise to learn that in fact the information PGCPS had sent me was not accurate. When I asked PGCPS to share the details of the “Phase Four” plan, they responded on October 7, 2016 with an email saying that they had made a mistake...

https://pgcabs.org/2017/03/10/what-i-learned-about-lead-in-the-water-in-prince-georges-county-schools/

Monday, March 20, 2017

Maryland delegate's effort to allow child abuse lawsuits clears hurdle

C. T. Wilson gathered his courage, told his colleagues in the Maryland House of Delegates about how he was sexually abused as a child and urged them to allow child victims more time to file lawsuits against their attackers.
The first two times he did that, the Charles County Democrat saw his proposal die in a House committee without even being called for a vote.

He said it was a relief after repeatedly giving painful testimony.
"It's a huge accomplishment. Also a huge weight," Wilson said. "To expose yourself like that is so painful."

For the bill to advance, two powerful opponents had to be won over: the Catholic Church and Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Their concerns were satisfied when the bill was amended to make it more for difficult for victims older than 25 to win damages in civil lawsuits...

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-abuse-statute-20170315-story.html

Sunday, March 19, 2017

High schooler blocked from playing basketball because of her hijab

At Watkins Mills HS in Gaithersburg, story from reporter Megan Friedman. Watkins Mills, according to their website, is "An International Baccalaureate World School."

Je'Nan Hayes, a junior at Watkins Mill High School in Maryland, had played an entire season of basketball for her high school—until March 3. That's when she was blocked from playing, all because she was wearing a hijab.

And:

"I felt discriminated against and I didn't feel good at all," she told the newspaper. "If it was some reason like my shirt wasn't the right color or whatever, then I'd be like, 'okay.' But because of my religion it took it to a whole different level, and I just felt that it was not right at all."

Full story here.

Reminder: Students who raped classmate were allowed back at school

Gazette: Students who raped classmate were allowed back at school: Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland

Friday, March 17, 2017

Exclusive: Kagan, Zucker and MCEA employee Pinsky vote No to Guidelines for Digital Devices in Classrooms #progressive #AppleBallot

The Parents' Coalition has obtained a copy of the voting record for the Maryland Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee vote on Senate Bill 1089, the bill to provide guidelines for the use of digital devices in public school classrooms. 

From the voting record we learn that two Montgomery County Senators voted against moving this bill forward.  

We also see that on the same committee with Montgomery County Senators Cheryl Kagan and Craig Zucker is Senator Paul Pinsky.  While Pinsky technically represents citizens in Prince George's County, he is also a long time employee of our Montgomery County teachers union.  

Does Kagan and Zucker voting against this bill along with Pinsky signal that our local teachers' union (MCEA - Apple Ballot) has secretly put the kibosh on this bill, thus killing it for all public school children in the state of Maryland?

If anyone can get Senator Cheryl Kagan or Senator Craig Zucker to explain their NO vote on this bill, please let us know their explanation.

As a reminder, the national organization Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood supported this bill. 

http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2017/02/campaign-for-commercial-free-childhood.html

Two Male Rockville High School Students Charged with Rape of Female High School Student

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department – Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID) have arrested and charged two Rockville High School students, Jose O. Montano, age 17, of an unconfirmed address, and Henry E. Sanchez, age 18, of Bel Pre Road in the Aspen Hill area, with the rape of a juvenile female Rockville High School student.  The rape occurred at the school yesterday during school hours.  Montano has been charged as an adult in this crime.
On Thursday, March 16, school administrators notified Montgomery County Police that a juvenile female student reported to them that she had been sexually assaulted in a boy’s bathroom by two male students.  SVID detectives were notified of this report and began an investigation...


http://www.mymcpnews.com/2017/03/17/two-male-high-school-students-charged-with-rape-of-female-high-school-student/

http://www.wmal.com/2017/03/17/wjla-tvs-kevin-lewis-on-the-rape-of-a-14-year-old-girl-at-rockville-high-school/

Senate Committee Votes NO to Protecting Students from Eye Damage

Ever wonder how much screentime your kids have at school? Chromebooks and ipads, Promethean boards, videos.... We can monitor screentime at home, but we have no idea what goes on in class. 

Today's instruction requires computers. "Computer literacy" is baked into Curriculum 2.0. Substitute teachers reportedly let kids play "computer games" for an entire period. Indoor recess = videos. Homework requires computers. 

Just Google "retinal damage," "digital addiction," and "wifi radiation" for why this is a problem.

What can you do? Maryland is on the verge of creating legislation that gives schools common sense guidelines for device time. Please pick up the phone today and call our Montgomery County legislators.

"What do I say?" "I'm a Montgomery County parent and I want to voice my support for HB866 and SB1089." Honestly, that's all. 

Phone calls are best, but here are email addresses:

Senator Zucker
Senator Kagan
410-841-3134

Delegate Kaiser
410-841-3036

Delegate Luedtke
410-841-3110