Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Breaking News! State BOE "shine a light on abusive conduct..of school staff toward children" Picca v. BOE

September 25, 2012, Opinion from the Maryland State Board of Education in the Picca v. Montgomery County Board of Education matter :
"...Recent child sex abuse cases have shone a bright light in that dark corner.  We think that this case can shine a light on the abusive conduct, albeit infrequent, of school staff toward children.  We ask local boards to review and put in place a policy addressing teacher and staff conduct with students, and make it a part of the message in staff training and meetings.  We ask local boards to inquire about the safeguards that are in place to assure that the type of persistent conduct that occurred in this case does not occur in their schools..."


  1. Why is the principal, Floyd Starnes still allowed to work at Kemp Mill Elementary School? Parents, please demand that this principal be removed from his position, at least until the pending litigation against him is resolved.

  2. Bottom of Page 26 of ALJ Opinion: "...MCPS continued for fifteen years to employ a teacher who had been found responsible for indicated child abuse."

  3. MCCPTA Resolution: October 23, 2007

    During the last school year there were instances where certain MCPS employees engaged in conduct that resulted in criminal charges against them. In connection with those incidents it became apparent that while MCPS may require some criminal background checks when hiring employees, there is no periodic follow-up
    for persons who are already employed by MCPS; and there is no procedure for notifying school principals regarding employee convictions.
    It is therefore resolved that:
    1. MCPS should report to MCCPTA within one month of the date of this resolution regarding its current practices concerning criminal background checks for new hires and current employees.

    2. MCPS should develop a system for criminal background checks (such as the National Crime Information Center background check) for all employees. Such a system should, at a minimum:
    a. provide for criminal record background checks for all new hires;
    b. provide for criminal record background checks for employees every three years;
    c. provide that a principal will be notified of any criminal conviction of any person employed at the
    principal’s school.
    3. MCPS should report to MCCPTA by the end of March of 2008 with MCPS’s recommendations for an employee criminal background check system for new applicants and employees.

  4. Members of the Rocky Hill community, along with others, could not get
    Montgomery County Public Schools to adopt the measure as policy earlier this

    Parents pleased by law to keep predators off school property,
    Clarksburg community pushed for sex offender provision, focusing now on
    background checks for construction workers,

    Wednesday, June 28, 2006,
    by Titus Ledbetter III,
    Gazette Staff Writer

    School activists who were disappointed earlier this year when a bill
    aimed at keeping convicted sex offenders from working on school construction
    sites failed are cheering now that the measure passed as part of a special
    legislative session held earlier this month. ''It is a huge step forward for
    protecting our children," said Donna Pfeiffer, president of the Rocky Hill Middle
    School PTA.
    The landmark sex offender bill signed into law Thursday makes
    Maryland the 21st state to adopt mandatory minimum sentences for sex offenders and also includes a provision in which convicted sex offenders could face jail time if
    they are found working on a school construction site.

    Members of the Rocky Hill community, along with others, could not get
    County Public Schools to adopt the measure as policy earlier this
    year, so they
    worked to get it adopted as state law. Under the provision, if a sex
    offender is
    found on the property of a school construction site, the violator is
    guilty of a
    misdemeanor and subject to either imprisonment for less than five
    years or a
    fine that cannot exceed $5,000. The contractor found guilty of
    employing that
    sex offender will be subject to the same penalties.


    Garagiola credits community activists in part for the
    provision. ''Here is
    something where the community came out," he said. ''Their actions
    made a
    difference. They made a strong impression on my Senate and House
    colleagues. It
    made a difference in getting them to support this provision."

  5. 2006:

    ‘‘I was hoping MCPS would take care of it at the local level to put something in their local contract,” Pfeiffer said. ‘‘But I was getting nowhere with MCPS, so I took it to the state level and they were very interested.”

  6. what about the abusive principals - e.g., the kmes principal - they get a free card?

  7. Thank you for posting the opinion of the Administrative Law Judge. I suspect that the document will not be making an appearance on the "savekmes" website, as it does not fit their narrative that Picca was terminated based on a setup by a "vindictive" principal.

    Even if the principal WERE the horrible person savekmes claims he is (an assessment I with which I strongly disagree), Mr. Picca chose his own end by defying given to him not only by the current principal, but by other principals for whom Picca had worked and by two superintendents. Even if the Wizards game and the response to the Ross boy's possible injury were wholly innocent, Mr. Picca showed abysmally poor judgement for a veteran teacher.

    I find it appalling that Mr. Picca ever entered under KMES's roof. Those involved in the decision to transfer him to the school have some serious 'splainin' to do, and they must be publicly held accountable. If there is no accountability, then there is no incentive to make the changes needed to protect our students.

    1. Actually, what is apparent to the public is that many, many administrators knew about the contents of this teacher's file for a very long time.

      Many, many administrators moved him along from school to school and class to class. So the information in the file was covered up until one principal had a dispute with him and used the information.

      This actually does fit the description of vindictive. Because the information was known to the principal from day one when he arrived at the school, yet nothing happened until there was a dispute. That's vindictive.

      Protecting children would have been removing him from the classroom on the first day the principal arrived at the school.

    2. sorry, you're wrong Anonymous at 9:20AM. I know what starnes did to my son, and I know what he did to other children. Just because Picca is not perfect does not make Starnes a wonderful person. Starnes is two-faced, so charming and nice - but he is a typical groomer. We trusted him, and we were wrong. Our children suffered.

  8. One would think that it would be routine for a newly-assigned principal to review the personnel records of the staff assigned to the school, but with all else that is involved in such a transition, does a comprehensive file review actually happen? It would be understandable if a principal failed to review a staff member's record until there was an issue.

    Even if the principal had reviewed Picca's entire record upon his arrival in 2007, and been appalled by what he saw, what actions could the principal have taken? The infractions up to that point had not occurred under his watch, nor, as far I can see from the evidence presented, during the tenure of the principal's immediate predecessor at Kemp Mill.

    If the principal had expressed concerns about Picca to his superiors, what action could they have taken? "Oh, we really should have fired you eight years ago, so we're going to do it now."

    For all that the State BoE asserted that MCPS screwed up, to terminate Picca in 2007 would not have been a legally defensible action, any more than it would be to decide that a convict serving a life sentence should really be on death row.

    1. Sorry, anonymous PR person. You blew this one. We are talking about the safety and security of children. No, you do not LEAVE a known child abuser around children just because you just found out about a previous finding. In fact, you actually REMOVE the child abuser from access to children. That's how you protect CHILDREN.

      This is NOT about protecting adults! This is about protecting children.

      Try again with your lame excuses, after all, you are getting paid to post comments.

  9. I completely agree that Picca should have been removed.

    I'm just asking what mechanism was there for MCPS to do so? How could they have booted Picca to the curb without regard to the provisions of the union contract under which Picca was covered? MCPS could have been forced to take Picca back, at which point it would have taken an act of God to get the creep out of the classroom.

    Instead of calling me a "PR person" with "lame excuses" explain to your readers the legal framework available to effect Picca's dismissal upon Mr. Starnes's arrival at KMES. If that framework, including the provisions of the union contract, hampered MCPS from doing the right thing, then THAT is an issue for the Parents Coalition and the MCCPTA to bring to light, so that we as parents can advocate for change.

    1. To PR person with more lame excuses:

      TAKE HIM OUT OF THE CLASSROOM. Is that really so hard to understand? There is no union prohibition of removing a teacher from a classroom! MCPS does it all the time! It's called a promotion and teachers are sent to Carver as "teachers" who never, ever, ever go near children! There are hundreds of these jobs and the union loves them!

      Try again. So far you are consistently striking out in protecting children. Your goal is crystal clear, cover for adults at the expense of children.

  10. That's right, Janis. If anyone in central office cared about the children at Kemp Mill, they could have easily sent Picca to train teachers or develop curriculum. All of the directives given to Picca in the letter from Weast (posted on the savekmes website)are absolutely outrageous. What's going on here? None of this adds up. MCPS needs to be investigated and their process/neglect in all of this needs to be understood/uncovered.

  11. I find it interesting that many of the letters submitted to evidence are unsigned by their purported senders. What's THAT about? If you've access to those documents, please post them as well; I'd be interested to see them.

  12. Picca is "not perfect?" THAT's an understatement. We're not talking minor infractions. He willfully disobeyed instructions that were meant not only to protect students, but also to save Picca's rear from getting kicked to the curb.

  13. you're missing the point anonymous at 8:38 pm - the point is that starnes is far worse, he has done far more damage, and he is still in the school, with easy access to children.

  14. I didn't really know Mr. Picca because my Kemp Mill student was never in his classroom. I certainly was shocked to read about all of the allegations reported in the state board's opinion about Mr. Picca's termination by MCPS.

    The savekmes people seem unwilling to acknowledge that Mr. Picca was something less than a saint. Even if the allegations against him were lies and/or exaggeration, Mr. Picca was clearly told to NEVER be alone with a student, and to NEVER touch a student. Those directives were to PROTECT Mr. Picca, not to punish him.

    If he loved teaching as much as he claims, Mr. Picca would have followed the directives from MCPS. Mr. Picca needs to be a man and accept the consequences for his disregard of the directives, and find something else that suits his talents and interests. And the savekmes people need to drop Mr. Picca like a hot potato. Continuing to advocate for Mr. Picca undermines their efforts to address concerns regarding Kemp Mill's principal.


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