Monday, June 29, 2015

ABC7: Abuse policy vote at Montgomery County Schools

Breaking News: Another Arrest, Another MCPS Cover up #abc7 #kevinlewisabc7


WMAL LISTEN: A Former Special Education Teacher in Montgomery County Schools Pleaded Guilty Today to Possessing Child Pornography

http://www.wmal.com/2015/06/29/listen-a-former-special-education-teacher-in-montgomery-county-schools-pleaded-guilty-today-to-possessing-child-pornography/

Breaking News: BCC High School Teacher Peter Flynn Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Porn - 28,785 Images - 795 Videos

June 29, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Contact AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
www.justice.gov/usao/md<http://www.justice.gov/usao/md>  MARCIA MURPHY at (410) 209-4885

FORMER HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER PLEADS GUILTY TO POSSESSING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

Greenbelt, Maryland –Peter Flynn, age 61, of Silver Spring, Maryland pleaded guilty today to possessing child pornography.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Ivan Arvelo of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Flynn is a former special education teacher in Montgomery County.  According to his plea agreement, on April 3, 2014, a Maryland State Police Corporal was conducting an online investigation into individuals sharing child pornography on a file sharing network.  The MSP Corporal downloaded approximately 205 images and videos of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct that Flynn made available through the file sharing network.

On September 30, 2014, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Flynn’s residence and seized two computers from his basement.  Flynn also agreed to be interviewed and admitted that law enforcement would find child pornography on his computer.  A subsequent forensic analysis revealed approximately 28,785 image and 795 videos of child pornography and child erotica on the two computers, the majority of which constituted child pornography.  Some of the images documented the sexual abuse of prepubescent children, including bondage and violence.

Flynn and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Flynn will be sentenced to between 24 and 78 months in prison.  U.S. District Judge George Jarrod Hazel has scheduled sentencing for October 19, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc<http://www.justice.gov/psc>.  For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc<http://www.justice.gov/psc> and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the Maryland State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and HSI Baltimore for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristi N. O’Malley and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Conor M. Mulroe of the U.S. Department of Justice, who are prosecuting the case.


BOE Staff Withholds Public Comments from Board of Education #coverup

The public was told that they could comment on the draft Board of Education Child Abuse Policy.  But, Board of Education staff is not relaying all of the public comment to the Board of Education. 

Why is staff not passing on public comments to the Board of Education members? 

Below is an e-mail that was sent to the Board of Education, but this comment was not included in the packet of comments that has been submitted to the Board of Education for tonight's meeting.   

How many other comments did not get forwarded to the Board of Education members? 

-----Original Message-----
From: Lyda Astrove
To: boe <boe@mcpsmd.org>
Sent: Mon, Jun 8, 2015 3:45 pm
Subject: Comments on Sex Abuse Policy


I strongly urge you to adopt the recommendations and suggestions outlined by Jennifer Alvaro. I am reproducing her comments below. 
Lyda Astrove
17 Welwyn Way
Rockville MD 20850

******
Comments on proposed policy and protocols regarding child abuse and neglect. 

6/7/15 Submitted to Montgomery County Board of Education

By: Jennifer Alvaro 

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration in this matter. For 3 years I have been engaged with Montgomery County schools and officials to improve their prevention and response to child sexual abuse of its students. As a member of the original MCPS Child Abuse Work group (formed due to my advocacy in April of 2014); and as a member of the current Child Abuse Advisory group I would urge you NOT to implement the current policy as submitted to you by the schools.

The current version of the draft policy appears superficially to be a comprehensive response to the astounding trail of abuse committed over years by dozens of school system employees and contractors against our children. In reality the policy and regulations are so riddled by errors, loopholes and conflicting information they would be a step backwards instead of forward.

I will not waste time here enumerating the legal flaws in the policy or regulations, I would instead refer you to the excellent submission by Ellen Mugmon for that information.

Now is not the time to mince words or spare feelings. Mincing words, sparing feelings and ignoring reality have landed MCPS in the national spotlight for failing in every sense of the word to do what is right to protect our children from those who have roamed freely in our schools and have been allowed to harm them, their friends, their families, other staff and their communities.

This policy and these procedures, even if corrected regarding the legal aspects, will still only be words on paper unless you demand other action be taken as well. This plan is doomed to failure unless there is an infrastructure to implement, maintain and continue its mission. Parceling aspects of the work out among various departments and people (who have no expertise in this field) is planning for failure. This plan is doomed to failure as long as the system continues to operate in secrecy, not only from the public but from its own advisory group members as well. This plan in doomed unless other correlating documents / policies / departments / regulations are brought into line and into compliance with these policies. For example, how long will the board continue to allow MCPS to tell staff and students (regarding sexual harassment):
"Prohibited conduct may include, but is not limited to, unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. For example: Grabbing, touching, or patting / Sexual propositions / Sexually offensive pictures, magazines, notes, calendars, cartoons, or jokes / Unwanted flirtations or advances / Verbal abuse / Repeated pressure or requests for sexual activities / Rewards for granting sexual favors or the withholding of rewards for refusing to grant sexual favors /Graphic comments about an individual’s body or dress / Sexually degrading names / Such conduct may also constitute sexual harassment. In determining whether prohibited conduct constitutes sexual harassment, consideration will be given to the totality of the circumstances, including the context in which the conduct occurred. Dating or sexual relationships between employees/adult volunteers and students is prohibited.”
http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/info/sexualharassment/ 

Shockingly, students and staff are advised to report the aforementioned behaviors NOT to police or Child Protective Services but rather to school staff and parents. This breach of duty has been brought repeatedly to the attention of your staff over the past year and yet, to this day, remains unedited on your website. When will an employee code of conduct be published? Codes of conduct for staff and volunteers are a critical piece of any response to addressing child abuse & neglect. Why is participation in the drafting of the code being hidden from Advisory group members and limited to
“internal stakeholders” / “superintendent’s cabinet”?

These are some of many examples which could be provided to highlight the egregious nature of what is acceptable, condoned and allowed to continue under the guise of protecting our children.

I ask you to demand a full, impartial investigation be conducted (with a public report and accounting) regarding the systemic failure of the schools to protect our children and staff from these abuses over the past decades.

I ask you to reject this policy as currently written and if and when corrected, continue to reject it without reviewing and approving the procedures, regulations, MOUs and other corresponding components (specifically the secret database of suspicious and inappropriate employees and those on restricted plans / instructions) related to this critical work. I ask you to commit to the protection of our children and staff. I ask you to reflect upon the words of Augustine of Hippo, "Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”

Sincerely,

Jennifer Alvaro 
MCPS Child Abuse Advisory Group Member 
Parent of 2 MCPS Students 
Alumni of MCPS Schools 
Licensed Clinical Social worker (MD &VA) 
Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider


Sent from my iPhone. Ad astra per aspera. ⭐️⭐️

Burkinshaw: "I just don't think implementing bad policy is a best practice and expect more from MCPS."


If I were on the Board of Education, I would not yet vote to approve this [Child Abuse] policy.

I do agree they have come very far this year, due in large part because of parent volunteers on the workgroup (which is now an advisory group, whatever that means). It scares me that without parent involvement in this process (which has met with much resistance from school administrators along the way), this process would not have come so far. But we are not there yet.

The same people who have perpetuated the problems within the system over are the years are the ones responsible for making the changes to the policy with no accountability.

The definitions the policy relies on reside in the yet-to-be-approved regulations. What if those definitions are changed before that document is approved? Policy assumptions will be negated. The policy depends on cooperation among county agencies with a yet-to-be-approved memorandum of understanding. Not to mention that at last review the current policy language was in conflict with Maryland State Atty General opinions and state law. 

This policy is just not ready, but I am not advocating to stop moving forward. I just don't think implementing bad policy is a best practice and expect more from MCPS.

My former boss used to say, "If you can't do it right the first time, when will you have time to fix it?"
This is not yet an A paper. I expect MCPS to give our kids their best work.

Susan Burkinshaw
MCPS Parent and Child Safety Advocate

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/montgomery-schools-abuse-policy-up-for-vote-with-critics-saying-more-work-needed/2015/06/28/2b482abe-141c-11e5-9518-f9e0a8959f32_story.html

MCCPTA Fibs to Membership, Deceives Members about Input into BOE Child Abuse Policy

MCCPTA does not have a representative that has attended any of the MCPS Sexual Abuse of Students Advisory Group meetings to review the draft BOE Child Abuse Policy, but why should they tell their membership that fact?

On Twitter MCCPTA can put out what ever they want and their members are none the wiser.

Actual Advisory Group member Jennifer Alvaro counters MCCPTA's fib Tweet below.




Exclusive: Policy Expert Slams BOE and MCEA on Draft Policy: 'As a Board member, I would be reluctant to be on record approving documents that do not comply with the law.'

Exclusive: Policy Expert Slams BOE and MCEA on Draft Policy: 'As a Board member, I would be reluctant to be on record approving documents that do not comply with the law.'

Friday, June 26, 2015

BOE to Leave Children in Danger of Being Sexually Abused, BOE to Accept Illegal Policy

Open Letter from Jennifer Alvaro to Montgomery County Board of Education in advance of their Monday, June 29, 2015, vote on Policy JHC Child Abuse and Neglect.
------------------------------ 
June 21, 2015 
To:  Montgomery County Board of Education
In 2012, you were instructed by the state board of education to correct errors and flaws committed by MCPS which allowed and enabled a member of your staff to continue sexually abusing students for years. You chose to do nothing. Since 2012, the public has been made aware of well over a dozen cases where MCPS staff have been arrested & convicted (for sexual abuse) or publicly identified as being as inappropriate sexually to our children.
Please share your rational for ignoring the state board of education and their recommendations.
Please tell me other situations where constituents are ignored and dismissed without being spoken to directly after 3 years of outreach.
Please tell the public what other workgroup(s) MCPS has convened (which have been downgraded to advisory group) whose own group members have to file freedom of information requests to get public documents that relate to the issue they are working on. Information I am still waiting for, I might add.
Please share with the public what other policies & regulations MCPS are currently implementing or planning to implement with full knowledge they violate / conflict with current laws, statutes and AG opinions.
Please share with the public how it is possible to pass a policy based upon other critical documents that have not yet been written much less approved.
Please explain how the schools are going to train 23,000 employees and countless volunteers about sexual abuse without being able to show them (via the code of conduct) what grooming behaviors are.
Please share with us, why county leadership is willing to pass a policy when MCPS staff who are the lead members of the advisory group have stated in meetings, “it’s not perfect” and “we’ve done a lot but still need to do more”.
Please share with us how we as parents are to find it reassuring or acceptable you as a board are going to leave our children in danger of being sexually abused by your staff by you passing a flawed policy because, “we are going to review it every year”. Please show us hard data where this has worked for you in the past.
Please explain how it is acceptable to attempt to publicly blame & shame parents by making public comments saying they have demanded action but now are demanding you slow down. These parents (myself included) are simply asking you to postpone one vote and demand accountability and excellence from your staff so our children are safe. We are not asking you to slow down anything, had you demanded excellence from your staff, we would now be supporting approval of the policy.
Please explain how it is acceptable for the leaders of a world class school system to have abdicated their most basic duty to ensure safety and demand excellence.
Please explain how it is acceptable to knowingly do the wrong thing because you have delayed doing the right thing for so long.
Please reflect upon the following:
To study psychological trauma is to come face to face both with human vulnerability in the natural world and with the capacity for evil in human nature. . . Those who bear witness are caught in the conflict between victim and perpetrator. It is morally impossible to remain neutral in this conflict. The bystander is forced to take sides. It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering”. Judith Herman

Jennifer Alvaro
MCPS Child Abuse Advisory Group Member 
Parent of 2 MCPS Students 
Alumni of MCPS Schools 
Licensed Clinical Social worker (MD &VA) 
Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider

Patricia O'Neill in Her Own Words will Pass Child Abuse Policy Even if it Does Not Protect Children


Unbelievable! PTA Silent on Sexual Abuse of Students by MCPS Staff

Montgomery County Public Schools have had almost 20 arrests (that we know about - no count of the number of incidents that have been covered up by allowing the perpetrators to "retire" or "resign") of teachers, staff, substitutes and contractors who have sexually assaulted or had sexual interactions with students in the last 3+ years.

On Monday, June 29, 2015, the Montgomery County Board of Education will finally review their Child Abuse Policy after ignoring the Policy for 26+ years.

What do the 196 PTAs in the county and MCCPTA have to say about this Policy? 

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a word. 

Apparently, MCCPTA and all of the local PTAs could not care less about the sexual abuse and sexual interactions of MCPS students by teachers, staff, substitutes and contractors.

Well, PTA is just a dues paying club and, apparently, the members of this club do not consider the safety of public school children a priority. 

Here are the comments that the Board of Education received regarding their upcoming review of this Policy.
No comments in here from any Montgomery County PTA or from MCCPTA.



Additional comments are at this link.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Exclusive: MSDE Grants to Charter School. Where Did the $1.2 Million Go? Anyone Got a Clue?

Don't expect the Montgomery County Board of Education to discuss this.  It's only taxpayer dollars. No one in Montgomery County cares about how tax dollars are allocated and spent. 

Former MCPS Elem School today after Charter School Shut Down
The letters shown below document that the failed MCPS Charter School (Crossway) had been given Grants from the Maryland State Department of Education and from the federal government totaling $1.2 million dollars
Where did that money go?
The MCPS Charter School barely lasted one year. 

The public school building that the Charter School was using has had a fabulous renovation since the Charter School closed. Was that renovation paid for with these state and federal funds?

Don't count on the Montgomery County Inspector General or the Montgomery County Council or the Montgomery County Executive to investigate and report on what happened to these state and federal grants. It's only money. They can get more.


Former MCPS School Building in Kensington Being VACATED. Charter School Failed. Crossway Program Failed. School Can Now Be Used for Public School Again.

Former MCPS Pleasant View Elementary School today.
Petition:   https://www.change.org/p/department-of-housing-and-community-affairs-office-of-the-general-inspector-remove-ceo-kathleen-guinan-and-administration-from-crossway-community

FACTS:
HOC and DHCA has an started an open investigation against Crossway Community May 2014 from all the complaints against this Non Profit Organization by the women and teachers.
Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County is no longer partners with Crossway Communities as of June 1, 2015 

[That means the former Pleasant View Elementary School building will be VACANT and available for re-use as a PUBLIC school. Contact Ike Leggett today and tell him to give this building back to PUBLIC school students!]

Megan Rome CEO of District Desserts, partnership with CEO Kathleen Guinan as of June 19, 2015, stopped taking customer orders because she was not going to be part of any more lies and refused to continue to operate in a commercial kitchen that was not inspected; furthermore this is the same kitchen was built for the women and was to be used for educational classes yet in reality it was used to conduct business to make cookies and treats. More information on Megan Rome.. This bakery had false ads on community involvement in regards of employing women that live in crossway community on her website.... http://districtdesserts.com
ALL current living women and children are leaving from Crossway Community, last day of stay will be 7/31/2015

Please check out the Facebook page "The Truth about Crossway Community"
https://www.facebook.com/groups/299280646948133/
And a Blog of many mothers and families stories about Crossway Community
http://raiseyourvoicewomenofcrosswaycommunity.weebly.com/about.html

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Stopped MCPS From Running Commercial Radio on School Buses

Retiring founder of small Boston nonprofit notched victories against some of the world’s largest companies


...Originally called Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children, the organization has racked up a lengthy list of achievements. It prompted entertainment giant Disney to offer refunds on its “Baby Einstein” videos on the grounds they could not truly turn toddlers into geniuses. It prevented toy maker Hasbro from releasing a line of toys based on the racy pop group The Pussycat Dolls.
It stopped fast-food chain McDonald’s from advertising on report cards. It defeated legislation in several states that would have allowed ads on school buses. It put the company Your Baby Can Read out of business for deceptive advertising since, simply put, babies cannot read no matter what educational products their parents buy for them.
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has a two-pronged approach to taking on corporate Goliaths. It sometimes files complaints with federal agencies, typically in partnership with Georgetown Law School’s Institute for Public Representation. It also wages antimarketing campaigns and demonstrations...

 https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/06/17/small-group-big-victories-fight-against-marketing-children/UivCqiWmw8WNX5AXA6928K/story.html#comments

------------------------------

Back in 2008, the Parents' Coalition found out that Superintendent Jerry Weast had installed commercial radio targeting children on MCPS buses.  The radio ads instructed students to sign on to the BusRadio website and log in with personal information.  
We contacted the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and within 24 hours Superintendent Jerry Weast announced that the commercial radio receivers on the MCPS buses were being removed.

 
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Press Release

December 11, 2008
Contact: Josh Golin (617.278.4172)

For Immediate Release

Montgomery County Pulls the Plug on BusRadio
Today, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) decided to terminate their relationship with BusRadio, the controversial company created to force children to listen to commercialized radio broadcasts on school buses around the country. MCPS's decision came after the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) sent a letter to MCPS superintendent Dr. Jerry Weast urging him to end the use of BusRadio on MCPS school buses. Montgomery County had been using BusRadio in a number of school buses on a trial basis. With 96,000 school bus riders, Montgomery County would have been BusRadio's largest school district. The following is CCFC's statement on Montgomery County's decision:

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood commends Montgomery County Public Schools for their decision to terminate their relationship with BusRadio. No school district should turn their students over to a company whose stated goal is to "take student-targeted marketing to the next level" or force children to listen to advertisements on their way to and from school.

CCFC also congratulates the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County for their advocacy efforts and for drawing attention to BusRadio's presence in Montgomery County. The events of the past twenty-four hours demonstrate once again that when parents learn the truth about BusRadio, they want no part of it for their children. We hope that parents around the country will continue to utilize our BusRadio resources – and those of Obligation, Inc – to keep their school buses commercial-free.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC supports the rights of children to grow up – and the rights of parents to raise them – without being undermined by rampant commercialism. For more information, please visit: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sen. Mike Miller Aide will Now Lobby Annapolis for MCPS BOE

On Monday we reported that Board of Education staff member Laura Steinberg was gone. Here is the resume of Ms. Steinberg's replacement.

The Montgomery County Board of Education will now have a former staffer from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.'s office as their in house lobbyist in Annapolis. 



Monday, June 22, 2015

Time to Cut up BOE Staff Assistant Laura Steinberg's MCPS Credit Card

The Board of Education's Staff Assistant Laura Steinberg was one of the many MCPS administrators who has a MCPS credit card.  60 pages of her charges were exposed last year. 

Laura Steinberg has now retired from MCPS.  


Sunday, June 21, 2015

.@mocoboe Spent $16,228 in February Fighting Special Education Families

Special Education Legal Expenses

Special education legal fees for outside counsel for February 2015 totaled $16,228. The year-to-date
total of $187,291 is $630 (0.3 percent) less than the same period in the previous year.

In addition, total year-to-date special education legal costs of $187,291 are $133,477
(41.6 percent) less than the budgeted amount of $320,768 for this time period.

The Jeffrey A. Krew bill for February 2015 totaled $14,649, all of which related to four
administrative hearing matters.

The Carney Kelehan bill for February 2015 totaled $1,579, all of which related to an Office of
Civil Rights complaint.

.@mocoboe Spends $31,385 in March Fighting Families of Kids w/Disabilities

Special education legal expenses for outside counsel for March 2015 totaled $31,385.

The year-to-date total of $218,676 is $26,462 (13.8 percent) more than the same period in the
previous year.
In addition, total year-to-date special education legal costs of $218,676 are $142,188
(39.4 percent) less than the budgeted amount of $360,864 for this time period.

The Jeffrey A. Krew bill for March 2015 totaled $30,896, all of which related to four
administrative hearing matters.

The Carney Kelehan bill for March 2015 totaled $489, all of which related to an Office of Civil
Rights complaint.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Breaking News: MCPS May Shut Down "Infamous" Secret Database of Staff Suspected of Sexually Abusing Students. Kauffman calls it the "infamous" database, Smondrowski laughs.

MCPS Elem. Music Teacher Mug Shot
On Monday, June 15, 2015, the Montgomery County Board of Education's Policy Committee met and discussed changes to the extremely outdated BOE Child Abuse Policy.  BOE Committee meetings are now videotaped, yet there has been no press coverage of this important discussion.

Below is the video of the June 15th BOE Policy Committee meeting. At minute 17:50 you can hear BOE member Phil Kauffman talk about the "infamous" secret MCPS database of staff suspected of sexually abusing students. 

Phil Kauffman:  "...In the past, I think that's where we were collecting this database, I guess, called the infamous database, um [ BOE member Rebecca Smondrowski laughs out loud] where I would say that these were innocent things being collected in a database and, but, maybe if you have 20 innocent incidents this looks like this isn't so innocent anymore.  It looks like we are not planning to keep this database anymore..."

MCPS staff, Josh Civin:  "We took out of the Protocols references to an Inappropriate Interactions Database while we are looking into that, with some concerns on that..."
Mr. Kauffman seems to think that the Infamous Database was used for innocent incidents. Maybe Mr. Kauffman should talk to some of MCPS elementary school teacher Lawrence Joynes' 15+ victims and see if he still considers those incidents "innocent."

As to Rebecca Smondrowski's outburst of laughter during this discussion, in what society is harboring sex offenders in public schools for decades anything to laugh about, ever? 


Washington Post reporter attends BOE Committee Meeting, Does Not Report on BOE Discussion

This is the last week that the Gazette will be published.  That means that the Gazette's education reporter will no longer be around to cover Board of Education meetings. 

On Monday, we got a taste of what The Washington Post will be doing with regard to covering Montgomery County education issues.  The Washington Post's Montgomery County education reporter showed up at the Board of Education's Policy Committee meeting, but didn't file a report on what transpired at the meeting.

What was on the agenda for the BOE's June 15, 2015, Policy Committee meeting?  Just the revision of the BOE's 26 year old Child Abuse Policy.  Apparently, The Washington Post does not feel that discussion of how a public school system handles the sexual abuse of public school students by staff is newsworthy.

Cell Tower Fire Forces Cancellation of High School Football Practice #celltower #milestone

...There were not injuries, and no students were in danger at any time, Pincus said. The high school principal cancelled football practice, due to the fire...

 http://wavy.com/2015/06/16/cell-phone-tower-near-newport-news-high-school-catches-on-fire/











Cell Tower at Schools Catches Fire #celltower

Newport News, Va. – A cell phone tower in the 5800 block of Marshall Avenue caught on fire Monday around noon, according to the Newport News Fire Department.
Fire Chief Stephen Pincus says a company was working on the tower doing some welding when some insulation to the wires caught on fire.
Crews arrived to find a massive amount of fire at the base of the tower and wires burning along the full length of the tower.
With heat index values already over 100 degrees in Newport News, fire crews had some difficulty putting the fire out because the heat was so taxing. It took approximately 25 minutes to get the fire under control.
The structural integrity of the tower was compromised due to the heat of the fire and the tower is now leaning. The damage is extensive and the tower has been disabled...

...The tower is located on property in between Heritage High School and Achievable Dreams Middle & High School. Students were not in school but teachers were at both locations.