Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Exclusive: Starr Spent $330,000 without BOE Approval

Remember back on September 13, 2012, when a press conference was suddenly held to announce a new program to get MCPS students to graduate and move on to college?  The program was called Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success or ACES.  
Now, typically, programs cost money.  Yet, this program was announced without a speck of information about funding.  Councilmember Valerie Ervin was at the press conference and when asked, even she didn't know how this program would be funded.  
So we asked. 
We asked for the document that Superintendent Joshua Starr was shown signing in the press photos and video.
We got the document that Superintendent Starr signed and found some surprising information.  

  • First, the plan to set up the ACES program was actually hatched back in March of 2012 at an apparently secret meeting between MCPS, Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove. Open Meetings Act violation? 
  • Second, when Superintendent Joshua Starr signed his name to this document he was actually committing MCPS to a $330,000 expenditure!  MCPS contracts over $25,000 are to be approved by the Board of Education under Maryland law. When did the Board of Education vote to spend $330,000 on this program? We didn't find a Board vote on this expenditure. Let us know the date if you can find this in Board of Education minutes. 
  • Third, don't miss that this "new" high school to college program is being started at the exact same time that the Gateway to College program has been discontinued.  
You can only read the contract setting up the ACES program here, on the Parents' Coalition blog. 


  1. i don't understand how these things continue to go on. what can WE do? how can we stop this? as a citizen, tax payer, MCPS graduate and parent, i have no idea how to enforce the laws and rules and make the players follow them. You post this type of thing nearly daily - do you have suggestions of what can be done, aside from voting in different, more transparent BOE members? I REALLY want to know - how can I do something to make sure things are being done legally and ethically?

    1. 1. Write to your elected Board of Education

      2. Write to your elected representatives in Annapolis. The legislature can order another Audit of MCPS. The last one was in 2009 and they are now done every six years. Six years is a long time to wait for a review of spending.

      3. Write to the Montgomery County Inspector General and request that he review the spending practices of MCPS.

      4. Write to the Montgomery County Council. They hire and direct the work of the Inspector General. The IG can only do what the Council wants him to do and no more. It's up to the Council to exert oversight.

      5. Move to a jurisdiction where the public tax dollars are respected as something more than Monopoly money.

  2. If you really think the law is being broken, write to the FBI. Don't forget the MD AG is from Montgomery County. From their website at:

    Criminal Priorities

    4. Combat public corruption at all levels

    Corruption in government threatens our country’s democracy and national security, impacting everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads and schools. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, too, wasting billions of tax dollars every year.

    Our investigations in Maryland and Delaware focus on violations of federal law by public officials in local, state, and federal government, such as bribery, contract and procurement fraud, antitrust, environmental crimes, election fraud, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

    For more information on the FBI’s national efforts, see our Public Corruption webpage.

    FBI Baltimore
    2600 Lord Baltimore Drive
    Baltimore, MD 21244
    Phone: (410) 265-8080
    Fax: (410) 277-6677


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