Monday, September 30, 2013,0,1886317.story

Board to Grade Themselves Off Camera at Rockville Library on Oct. 1st

Here's the Agenda for the Board of Education's off-site, off camera meeting on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.  The Agenda says that the Board of Education will be reviewing their self evaluation.  
That's certainly a topic the Board doesn't want the public in on!  But, this is a PUBLIC MEETING.  If you want to find out what the Board has to say about themselves, you will have to show up at the Rockville Library at 9 AM! 

Panasonic Foundation Working With MCPS' "Innovation Schools," Washington Post Reports

From today's Washington Post, Monday September 30, 2013. Print Edition, page B4

Panasonic is not new to the Washington region. The foundation has led board retreats and planning sessions, including the work around the development of core values in Montgomery County Public Schools, according to Dana Tofig, a district spokesman. It is also working with 10 innovation schools in Montgomery, providing resources and support to help improve student achievement and narrow achievement gaps.

Just a few questions: is MCPS paying Panasonic Foundation for their resources and support? If so, how much? What exactly are the resources and support being provided? Is there a contact or a memorandum of understanding? Are Panasonic Foundation employees working in the schools? If so, are they undergoing background checks? Just wondering.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Winston Churchill HS Principal signs Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese School

Parents' Coaltion has learned that Dr. Joan Benz, principal of MCPS Winston Churchill High School, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Xi'An No. 1 Middle School in the People's Republic of China.  The MOU was signed on the recent 'mission' to China by county governbment elected officials and employees.  Also part of the mission were Superintendent Josh Starr and Spark Matsunaga Principal Judy Brubaker.  The MOU is here.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Get the new MCPS Connect App for Android devices

Be one of the first to get the free MCPS Connect app for instant access to school system news, student grades, lunch accounts, school and staff directories, school calendars, and high school athletic game scores.

Get it on Google Play

MCPS mandates all teams take concussion test

MCPS mandates all teams take concussion test

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tonight, Referees at MCPS Football Games Should Throw a Flag When They See Face-Tackling

Since the 1970s, initiating contact with the front or top of the head has been prohibited by the National Federation of High School Athletic Associations and NCAA. The technique is prohibited because it increases the risk the tackler will suffer a catastrophic and sometimes deadly cervical neck injuries.

The National Athletic Trainer Association (NATA) recently re-issued its 2004 position statement warning against players initiating contact with their heads, including with the face mask.

Already this year, 5 high school football players across the U.S. have died from head or neck injuries.  Untold others have been injured. 

The Gazette, however, reports that football coaches in Montgomery and PG Counties still teach kids  the dangerous "helmet on the football" tackling technique.  In Prince George’s County, “helmet on the ball is preached.” In Montgomery County, Walter Johnson High School football coach, John Kadi, was quoted as saying, “It should be helmet on the ball.”

But just across the Potomac, football coaches at every one of Fairfax County’s 24 high schools are taking the Heads Up course, which is aligned with the recommended shoulder and chest tackling technique.

Game referees as supposed to be part of the solution, but so far have been part of the problem.  In its annual survey of football injuries, the National Federation of High School Athletic Associations (NFHS) underscores the danger of tackling with the front or top of the helmet “initial contact should never be made with the head/helmet or face mask.”  But NFHS notes, “at the present time, officials are not calling all helmet contacts.”

Al Ferraro is the Commissioner of the Washington District Football Officials Association, the organization that provides referees for MCPS high school football games.  I strongly urge Mr. Ferraro to instruct WDFOA game referees to vigorously enforce the long-standing ban on spearing and face tackling. 

This won't be popular with football coaches.  Given how institutionalized the dangerous tackling technique is at some schools, games involving those schools could grind to a halt with penalties and effectively become proper-tackling clinics.  But by officials sticking their necks out and making these calls, they may be saving the necks of MCPS high school students from catastrophic injuries.

From a public health perspective, though, the game official's role is to reinforce coaches teaching the proper tackling technique when student football players execute that instruction incorrectly--and dangerously--in a game. 

It cannot be an acceptable public health policy for MCPS, Ulder Tillman MD, the Maryland Health Officer for Montgomery County, and Joan Glick, the MoCo HHS staff responsible for student health issues at MCPS, to tolerate football coaches teaching dangerous technique with the expectation that WDFOA officials will gently encourage them toward teaching safe tackling in the currency that coaches understand--calling penalties that may cost games. 

But game referees stepping up would be a start.  So tonight, stick your necks out and call face-tackling when you see it.

Opinion: "Semi-permanent Monuments to our Societal Indifference to the Educational Environment Endured by Children."

Are you at peace with the idea that students should need to bundle up in winter or carry an umbrella when it rains, simply to visit the restroom? You may stop reading now.
Are you not annoyed that the terrain previously utilized by children during recess has evolved into a trailer park sometimes surrounded by 8-foot-high chain-link fence? This op-ed is not for you.
You will sometimes hear them referred to as “modular classrooms.” Euphemistically, educators call them “temporaries” or “temps.” This, however, is a misnomer. Seldom are they “temporary.”
They have, instead, become semi-permanent monuments to our societal indifference to the educational environment endured by children.
We must forget, for a moment, that the climate in our permanent structures is sometimes so unbearable — leaking ceilings, mildew, sweltering in the summer, frigid in the winter — that, occasionally, teachers come to prefer life in the trailer park hidden behind the schoolhouse. That will be another story...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

MCPS SAT scores drop 3 points from last year

"In Montgomery County, SAT scores slipped three points compared with last year — a high point — but, at 1648, remained solidly above state and national averages. School officials for Montgomery said more economically disadvantaged students took the test — and scored 22 points higher overall than similar students a year earlier. "

Math Exam Update: Focus Failure

Summary of September 23, 2013, Board of Education discussion of math exam failure rate in MCPS.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: MCPS BLAMES 6 & 7 YEAR OLD STUDENTS for Bus Driver Putting them Off Bus 1/2 Mile From Home

As first reported here on the Parents' Coalition blog, 17 elementary school students were put off their MCPS school bus 1/2 mile from home on Friday, September 27, 2013. 
The majority of these students were 6 and 7 years old. 
The MCPS bus driver was a substitute. 

When the parents and guardians who were at the bus stop finally found their missing children, they called the MCPS Bus Depot for assistance.  The response they got was, "What do you want me to do about it?"

Below is the e-mail response that a parent finally received on Monday, September 23rd from the MCPS Transportation Manager for this bus route.

MCPS has reviewed the INTERIOR BUS CAMERA VIDEO TAPE and decided that the children were at FAULT in this incident. 
This means that the BUS DRIVER who put these children off at the wrong location is still employed by MCPS. 

Note:  Parents have not been allowed to view the INTERIOR BUS CAMERA VIDEO TAPE.

IF ONLY THE 6 & 7 year olds had done their job this never would have happened?

Mrs.  XXXX,
                I am sorry for the confusion created last Friday afternoon on route XXXX going home from N.C.C. and RHES.
I made a change to XXXX/YYYY effective last Friday at the two stops on West Bxx Dr. The driver on Friday had bad paperwork that did not show the two W. Bxx stops so he did not drive there with the kids. The Paperwork portion has all been fixed as of this morning 9/23/13.
Our office watched a video recording the bus had from Friday; the driver pulled up to the stop at Old Sxxx and Cxxx when kids just got off the bus. The patrols from the stops on West Bxx gathered the kids and took them without talking to the driver about missing a stop. I commend the patrols for identifying where they were and taking charge to get the kids home. If the group had asked the driver that they had missed their stop, the driver would have taken them to the correct location. Two kids stayed on the bus and the driver found them crying at the last stop. When they told him where their stop was he took them there.
I spoke to the supervisor on duty Friday and they did relay that I was out of the office till Monday. An absence of information creates a vacuum which allows people to add information detrimental to a smooth resolution when details can fix the problem right away.  On our end I am working on clarifying how communication is handled with parents when any incident like this ever happens again. I know when my child is missing I get very emotional, the combination of events was not smooth or clear and that puts all in a heighted state.
Sorry to put you and others in that position last Friday. I have spoken to both schools and the administration is clear with what happened and we are ready to continue on from here in a positive light.
                William Stapleton

WTOP: No quick fix for Montgomery County's poor math scores

WASHINGTON - There may be no quick fix to improve math scores in Montgomery County schools, the district's staffers told the Board of Education Monday. The staffers studied the county's high failure rates in final math exams -- a problem that is not new to the school system. During the briefing at Monday's Board of Education meeting, terms like "bin items" and "vertical articulation" peppered the discussion, but board member Phil Kauffman wanted to know if there would be any sign of change by January. "This is not a new problem," said Kauffman.

Starr's One Thing: Mold remediation? No pedophiles in classrooms? Justice for Rock Terrace students? Safe bus transportation?


Starr's one thing is "hope".

If you could make one change in your school system this year — no matter how expensive or dramatic — what would it be?


Remember, Superintendent Joshua Starr just got a pay raise a few months ago. Taxpayers are paying him the big bucks for these thoughts!

Board of Education to Hide at Rockville Library on October 1st

From the Montgomery County Board of Education Calendar the Board of Education will be meeting at an off site location and off camera for a "retreat". The Agenda for this "retreat" is unknown as of today.  If the public wants to know what is discussed at this "retreat", they have to attend.

This is an open meeting under the Maryland Open Meetings Act, the public is welcome to attend.

Tue, October 01 09:00 AM Board Retreat - Rockville Library

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Baltimore school system sued over homeless students

Homeless families in Baltimore have filed a federal lawsuit against the city school system, contending that their children have been denied transportation to school and been stigmatized because they couldn't afford field trips and uniforms....

Baltimore school system sued over homeless students

LISD: Bus driver terminated after forcing students to walk home - KYTX CBS 19

Texas seems to have a clue as to what should happen when a school bus driver forces students off the bus at the wrong location.  What's the problem with MCPS?

LISD: Bus driver terminated after forcing students to walk home - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Monday, September 23, 2013

Robert Small deserves an apology

Robert Small deserves an apology

Charges dropped against Maryland parent who spoke against Common Core standards

Charges dropped against Maryland parent who spoke against Common Core standards

Some Muslims in Montgomery County want schools to observe Muslim holidays |

Some Muslims in Montgomery County want schools to observe Muslim holidays |

Councilmember Leventhal urges staff and students to skip school on upcoming Muslim holiday

From MoCoVox news:

Councilman says stay home for Muslim Holiday

Published on Monday, 23 September 2013

ROCKVILLE—Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal will join the Equality 4 Eid Coalition and community leaders at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, in Rockville as they urge Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) staff and students—Muslim and non-Muslim—to stay home from school on Tuesday, Oct. 15, to help celebrate the holiday Eid al-Adha in solidarity with their Muslim friends.

Read the entire story at:

Piney Orchard PTA offers info fair on school cell towers

Got questions or concerns about cellphone towers at Anne Arundel County schools?
...The Piney Orchard Elementary PTA will host an information fair Tuesday [September 24, 2013] on the cellphone tower planned for proposed the school in Odenton.
The school is at 2641 Strawberry Lake Way. The fair begins at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Teachers complain about access to new curriculum

Teachers complain about access to new curriculum

5 Families are at the $10,000 Level! Let's Thank the Westbrook ES Donors!

The Westbrook Elementary School Foundation has published the list of donors to the school foundation. 

Did you miss your chance to donate?  Click here now!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

MCPS Transportation Response to 17 Students Ordered Off Bus 1/2 Mile from Bus Stop Incident

The Parents' Coalition contacted the MCPS Director of Transportation, Todd Watkins, for his response to the September 20th incident described in the parent e-mail posted here. 

The following response was received from Mr. Watkins on September 22, 2013:


Watkins, Todd

9:30 PM


We are investigating the matter, but I assure you a different driver will be driving on Monday. We will be working with North Chevy Chase administration.


Guest Post: E-mail to Superintendent Joshua Starr, "Everyone off the bus, now!"

The following e-mail was sent to a MCPS Transportation Manager and copied to Superintendent Joshua Starr (who is currently in China) and the principals of the two elementary schools involved.

[Identifying information redacted]

September 22, 2013

This letter is to inform you of an incident that took place on Friday, September 20 on the afternoon bus, #0000.
After several changes already this year with busses regarding the AAAA (my stop) and the BBBB stop, we were aware that we were going to be having a substitute bus driver on Friday, September 20 due to the passing of [the bus driver's family member].  With substitutes, we are prepared for minor delays, etc.  As I always do, I waited at our stop (AAAA) for my X grader and Y grader. The bus typically arrives at 4/4:05.  It was 4:15 and I was getting concerned.  I was at the stop with a grandmother (who is also always there to collect her grandchildren of varying ages) and another grandmother (who was covering for the mother who is usually there).  At 4:20, one of the kids from our bus stop came tearing down AAAA Road to tell us that all of the kids were up the road.  I looked up AAAA Road (away from CCCC Avenue) to see a group of about 15-20 kids crossing the street at AAAA and DDDD.  We three adults immediately walked up the hill to collect our children and to figure out what was going on.  The kids said that the bus dropped them at EEEE and FFFF (which is ½ mile from our stop).  They reported that this substitute bus driver demanded “Everyone off the bus, now!” 
This group of 17 children from the AAAA and BBBB stops (I understand other children also got off and walked home on their own – I know of at least two, so I’m unclear on how many children total were involved in this situation), were forced off the bus at a stop ½ mile from their homes with no adults present.  I immediately called North Chevy Chase, explained the situation to the secretary, Ms. Ruthie Sherling, who gave me Mr. Stapleton’s number. At 4:23, I called; the phone rang several times before a woman answered. I said I needed to speak to Mr. Stapleton immediately.  She said:  “He’s out for the weekend; you can call back on Monday.”  I said:  “I have an urgent situation and need to speak to someone in charge.”  She said:  “What do you want me to do about it?”  I said: “Well, I would like for you to listen to the situation and help me out.  I have 17 kids who were let off a ½ mile from their home, with no parents, some of them I don’t even know.”  She said:  “Well, I’m just the dispatcher, there’s no one here.  You can call Mr. Stapleton on Monday.”  After pushing a bit, she said she would call the bus driver. For what, I don’t know. 
Although many of the older children were making some good decisions given the situation, there was still confusion and panic because they didn’t know what was going on and were unsure what to do, because they are children!  The patrol (from the GGGG stop) took it upon herself to walk the rest of the group back to their homes, which is what they were doing when we encountered them at AAAA and DDDD, and I commend her for that. After getting nowhere with the transportation office, I essentially began triaging.   The grandparents took their respective children and I dismissed children whom I knew and trusted to get home. Even one new family, a X grader and X grader, who are always on their own getting on and off the bus were confused and awaiting adult instruction to get home.  Per my instructions, my X grade daughter and her friend, who was riding the bus home with her that day, walked a couple of younger children home.  And I personally took another X grade child, whom I know well, back to his stop where his mother was waiting, in a panic, and on the phone with Rosemary Hills principal.  This child was clearly upset and expressing his fear of riding the bus again. 
I shared the incident with both Ms. Ryan (via phone) and Ms. Stevens (in person at NCC’s back-to-school picnic) who were equally horrified by the situation and the response from the transportation office.
It is outrageous that this incident happened in the first place.  I have no idea what sort of experience is required or what sort of background checks are done on substitute drivers, but this is absolutely unacceptable and unsettling.  I have long been an advocate of having adult monitors on the bus, and this clearly makes a good case for that – had there been another adult, familiar with the route, familiar with the children, this would not have happened.   Perhaps even more outrageous and disturbing is that there was no one available to handle emergencies at 4:20 on a Friday afternoon.  No one even checked to ensure that all of the children on #0000 made it home.
I expect a prompt response about this situation in particular and assurances that this will not happen again.  I certainly hope that it won’t take a tragedy to ensure that additional safety measures are enacted.
Very sincerely,
MCPS Parent

Rockville HS: Nearly 57 percent of students at Rockville High said they had studied “hard” for their math final.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Examiner: Baltimore County schools superintendent altered written questions

Dr. Dallas Dance, Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, and Lillian Lowery, Maryland Superintendent, had the opportunity Thursday night to make minor amends at an MSDE-sponsored informational meeting after a three-plus year information blackout on Common Core, the new federal curriculum for Maryland schools.

Instead, Dr. Dance added insult to injury by screening, omitting, and editing parents’ questions.

Entire article at:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Baltimore Sun: Parent arrested at forum after protesting use of common core

Robert Small said he wanted to express his dismay over the introduction of a new school curriculum at a public forum Thursday night in Towson, but instead the Ellicott City parent was pulled out of the meeting, arrested and charged with second-degree assault of a police officer.

Entire story and video at:,0,7127220.story

Update:  Michelle Malkin posts email from Baltimore County parent describing the events:

WBAL report:

(As of the morning of September 23, the video has been watched on YouTube over 440,000 times.)

Md Regents Must Wake Up to the Dangers of Intercollegiate Football

When the regents of the University System of Maryland meet today, they need to add to their agenda a discussion of Derek Sheely, the Frostburg State University student who died two years ago of head trauma sustained in football practice.

Will your child be double tested this year?

From September 2013 in The Baltimore Sun:

The new common core curriculum, launched this year in every public school in the state, won't have new assessments to match until the 2014-2015 school year. The state must field test the new assessments next year, and officials say they have chosen to do so on 50,000 students across the state — a small group of students in every elementary and middle school.

Read more:,0,2396093.story#ixzz2f57zzcWr

Durso: "I think we could be in the position of accomplishing things"

Could? What's holding him back now?

School board member Michael Durso said he sees Montgomery County Public Schools facing a variety of complex issues — and he wants to keep working on them.
“I see there’s a fair amount of unfinished work out there,” Durso said. “I like to be part of what’s going on and solving the problems and not just stating the problems.”
Durso of Silver Spring will run for re-election next year to the Montgomery County Board of Education for a second term as the District 5 representative...

180-foot tower would be too close to Carderock Springs Elementary School, residents say

...But residents said they feared having a tower that emitted electromagnetic radiation or electromagnetic fields so close to Carderock Springs Elementary School, a concern dismissed out-of-hand by officials...


Thursday, October 3, 2013Bill Request Deadline for local and bi-county bills (This is a "guarantee" deadline. All bills submitted by this date are guaranteed to be back to the legislator for approval prior to the Sponsor Approval Deadline.)
Thursday, October 17, 2013Consolidated Transportation Program Presentation ("Road Show") by State Highway Administration
7:00 p.m. - 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Stella Werner Council Office Bldg., 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850. The Road Show will be carried live over County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6 on Comcast and Channel 30 on Verizon). 
Thursday, October 31, 2013Sponsor Approval Deadline for local and bi-county bills (This is the deadline for the requesting legislator to approve local and bi-county legislation in order to be guaranteed a hearing without the bill considered to be "late filed.")
Wednesday, November 20, 2013Joint House and Senate Priorities Hearing - 7:00 p.m. - 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Stella Werner Council Office Bldg., 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 - This hearing is an opportunity for the public to respond to the Road Show and to bring other issues of importance for the 2014 Session to the attention of the legislators.  The Priorities Hearing will be carried live over County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6 on Comcast and Channel 30 on Verizon).
Monday, December 2, 2013House Hearing for local bills - 7:00 p.m. - 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Stella Werner Council Office Bldg., 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 - Local bills refer to legislation affecting issues specific to Montgomery County.  The Local Bill Hearing will be carried live over County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6 on Comcast and Channel 30 on Verizon).
Wednesday, December 4, 2013House Hearing for bi-county bills - 7:00 p.m. - 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Stella Werner Council Office Bldg., 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 - Bi-County bills refer to legislation that requires the approval of the Montgomery County and the Prince George’s County Delegations.  The Bi-County Bill Hearing will be carried live over County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6 on Comcast and Channel 30 on Verizon).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

UPDATE ON Rock Terrace: Still No Justice for Students Who Were Ripped Off

The letter below was published on September 10, 2013.
In the meantime, the Montgomery County Board of Education has failed to specify a SINGLE ACTION that it will take to remedy what happened to the students and families at Rock Terrace.
Chris Barclay and Phil Kauffman have paid "lip service" to the idea that MCPS needs to earn back the families' trust.

Open Letter to the Board of Education:

Although I could not attend the committee meeting yesterday where Rock Terrace was discussed, I have watched portions of the video.

I am EXTREMELY distressed by Larry Bowers' failure to be forthright with the Board of Education about the extent of the theft of money from Rock Terrace students.

Bowers kept saying over and over that they need to "piece together" where the money went when it was withdrawn, and that maybe it went for "programmatic purposes", as if that were somehow an acceptable use of the stolen money.

The bottom line is that MCPS has a way to calculate how much money was deposited over the years into different student accounts. And with the subpoena power of the State's attorney, eventually families will be able to ascertain how much money went into these accounts.

Whether the money was used for Rock Terrace School programmatic purposes, to pay the American Express Purchasing Card Bills (for which, by the way, there are apparently no transaction logs), to subsidize staff and staff's children's trips to London, just doesn't matter. The money belonged to the students and should not have been withdrawn from their accounts.

I do not have confidence that the Chief Operating Officer, who let this situation go on for almost 10 years, is the person who should have ANY say-so whatsoever in determining whether and how much to reimburse these students. I renew my call for an outside, independent forensic accountant who will fairly determine what the students are owed.

While the state's attorney is investigating any criminal elements of this whole sorry scheme, you must realize that MCPS continues to face substantial civil liability as well. As a taxpayer, and as an advocate for children with disabilities, I had hoped that MCPS would see the immediate benefit in acknowledging fault, working promptly to ascertain damages, and take steps to make the students whole. Instead, what I saw on the video was evasiveness, obfuscation, and flat-out untruths.

For example: we know for a fact, and I have provided copies of documents to MCPS's internal auditors, that before one student graduated from Rock Terrace, $340 dollars in cash was withdrawn from his bank account around spring break. Then, after he graduated, the rest of the money dribbled away in "inactivity fees" over several years. So not only was this student's money stolen from him, the rest of it was wasted specifically because MCPS let it be wasted. When Christopher Barclay specifically asked about this exact type of scenario, he was given an evasive answer.

These students did not withdraw cash on their own initiative and use it for their own purposes. To assert that as a possibility is an OUTRAGE and an insult to the students and families who trusted the school system. I'm glad that "going forward," robust training is in place to make sure that all IAF accounts will be handled properly, but that doesn't repair the damage that was done.

Lastly, Mr. Bowers keeps saying "there was no evidence of fraud." NOT EXACTLY, Mr. Bowers. Just the fact that you don't know where the money went after it was withdrawn is evidence of fraud. Accounts without parental permission or knowledge is evidence of fraud. How about you stop asserting legal conclusions and leave that to your lawyers, whom you are apparently already paying to come up with an opinion as to whether the money the students were paid constitutes "wages."

Here's the simple solution: hire an accountant. Make it right.

Lyda Astrove

WTOP: Magruder HS letter from before SECOND gas

Kate Ryan has posted a letter that was sent home to families after the first gas leak at Magruder High School this morning.

WTOP: Magruder HS second gas leak in one day. First occurred PRIOR to school opening @6:20am Students and staff were back in at 7:05am. 2nd leak

WTOP's Kate Ryan is now reporting that Magruder High School has had two gas leaks today.  One before school and one now.  Students were in the school for the full day.

Magruder High School gas leak sickens students |

Magruder High School gas leak sickens students |

China Junket: Is this a legitimate use of Educational Foundation funds?

Here's what the MCPS Educational Foundation says on its website about the purpose of the Educational Foundation:

The Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Educational Foundation, Inc. provides funds for special and innovative programs for MCPS that regular funds cannot support, even though each year about $12,722 is spent on each student to provide him or her with a quality educational program.


With those funds, the MCPS Educational Foundation carefully awards funds to MCPS staff for projects designed to accomplish these goals: Establish scholarships for MCPS students, provide academic-enriching opportunities for students and staff, and provide grants to schools for after school interactive extended technology programs.


And guess what! JOSHUA STARR is on the Board of Directors!
How cool is that to get a gig where you can approve your own fabulous all-expenses-paid trip to China!

And guess who else is on the Board of Directors of the MCPS Educational Foundation! Fellow traveler: REBECCA SMONDROWSKI!

Starr’s and Benz’s expenses are being paid for by the MCPS Educational Foundation

Leggett heads to China

The Sentinel

Md. regents must wake up to the dangers of intercollegiate football

Two years after a Frostburg football players' death, the university system has failed to address the threat of concussions in sports

11:54 a.m. EDT, September 19, 2013

Read more:,0,5060120.story#ixzz2fMEPuxp8

Open Meetings Compliance Board - Annual Meeting 9/20/13

Open Meetings Compliance Board
Annual Meeting
September 20, 2013

10:00 A.M.

Office of the Attorney General

200 St. Paul Place

Baltimore Maryland 21202


1. Call to order and welcome (Elizabeth L. Nilson, Chair)

2. Review of Fiscal Year 2013 and draft annual report

3. Review of training requirement and other current activities

4. Possible legislative recommendations

5. Comments from the public

6. Other business

7. Adjournment

Starr Tweets From China (Photos & Video)

Cell Towers at Schools Found to be Out of Compliance

San Marino Tribune:  Cell Towers Need Permits
Verizon Wireless must receive a retroactive condition use permit, or CUP, from the City of San Marino for a cell phone tower that was constructed in December, 2005 at the maintenance yard near Valentine Elementary and Huntington Middle Schools but never received proper certification...
...It was later determined that State approval is needed if the tower could land on school property if it fell or was knocked over. The tower at Huntington and Valentine could land on school property if it were to fall or be knocked to the ground and will need retroactive DSA approval...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pay raise recommended for Montgomery County Council

Legislation could derail Anne Arundel plan for school cell towers - Government

Legislation could derail Anne Arundel plan for school cell towers - Government
County Councilman Jamie Benoit, D-Crownsville, introduced legislation Monday that would bar companies from building free-standing cell phone towers on public school property in Anne Arundel County. Bill No. 78-13 also would restrict cell phone towers to beyond 500 feet of a dwelling.

Bring a great story!

This flyer has been put in mailboxes at Rock Terrace School.  It announces a "retirement" party for the former Rock Terrace School principal and asks participants to "bring a great story."

Here are some of the "great" stories that have already been in the news:

See you at the party!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rape Charges Filed on MCPS Teacher: Principal Confronted Victim about Relationship with Joynes

The Parents' Coalition has obtained the Statement of Charges from the May 2, 2013, arrest of MCPS teacher Lawrence Joynes.  The Statement of Charges is reproduced below with information redacted.

Read the Statement of Charges and see if you think the Eastern Middle School principal's handling of this was in compliance with Maryland law.  Are children to be confronted when there are suspicions about teacher - student relationships, or do child protection laws call for an immediate investigation by Child Protective Services?

Lawrence Joynes was at 5 schools following these incidents at Eastern Middle School:

Eastern Middle School: 1990-1997
Francis Scott Key Middle School

Kemp Mill Elementary School
Cresthaven Elementary School
Sligo Creek Elementary School
New Hampshire Estates Elementary School 2002-2013 [Homeland Security investigation and arrest in Baltimore County]

Note that additional charges were filed as to Mr. Joynes in February and August of this year.  This document is just the Statement of Charges that was filed in the District Court of Rockville, Maryland on May 2, 2013.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Truth? or Fantasy?

By now, parents in most Montgomery County Public Schools have attended back to school night.

Did you have fun?  Did your school ask for money?

The answer to both questions for most parents is yes.

BUT - did you know that you don't have to pay for your education?  Amazing, but true.

And, did you know that even if your school wants to ask for fees to provide your child an education, the fees are supposed to be approved by the school system>

Now, here is a question for middle school parents.  Look over the list of fees "approved" by middle school.  Were you asked for money for something that does not appear on this list?

If the answer is yes, please let us know, by leaving a comment at the bottom of this message.  You don't need to leave your name, just the school, class, and teacher.

2013 Middle School Fees 5

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Let's Go to China!

The Parents' Coalition, like many of you, was surprised to learn that a large contingent of Montgomery County elected officials and employees, their spouses and other relatives, and private interests, are planning a trip to China this month, September 15-25.
The entire list is below.
Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski will be making the trip.
From MCPS, we see Superintendent Josh Starr, Winston Churchill HS Principal Joan Benz, and Spark Matsunaga ES Principal Judy Brubaker.
Also attending will be County Executive Ike Leggett and his wife, Catherine Leggett, and a large group from Mr. Leggett's office.
Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Roger Berliner will be going as well. Surprisingly also attending are Marielsa Bernard, Circuit Court Judge, Maryland County Circuit Court, Bonnie Kirkland, Assistant Attorney General, Attorney General of the State of Maryland and Sherry Thompson, Senior Executive Administrative Aide, Department of Correction and Rehabilitation.
What do they hope to learn from China's judicial and prison system? Oh, and its 'rehabilitation' system? We wonder.
According to county officials, the county is only paying the travel expenses, approximately $3,000 each, for two employees, Steve Silverman, the Director, Department of Economic Development, and Lily Qi, Special Projects Manager from the County Executive's Office. Here is the complete list:

Starr Cuts Costs for Trash Pickup in Wootton Cluster

Isn't this clever.  While on a walk recently, this blogger came across a very creative way for Montgomery County Public Schools disposal of surplus furniture.   This is in the stream between Frost MS and Wootton HS.

This blogger can't wait for the residual artificial turf and crumb rubber to follow.

No wonder its called Patriot Pride.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five injured in school bus collision in Aspen Hill

From Twitter @newschopperbrad

2013 Rockville FARE Walk - Saturday, October 5, 2013

2013 Rockville FARE Walk - Home

Welcome to the FARE Walk for Food Allergy! The FARE Walk for Food Allergy brings together thousands of Americans seeking a safe world for those living with food allergies. The Walk is a family-friendly event that takes place in communities nationwide to fund food allergy research, education, advocacy and awareness. Join us; whether you are walking for your health or in honor of a loved one with food allergies, your fundraising efforts and support will make a difference! This special day will include fun activities for the entire family. Register today – as an individual or start a team and invite your friends, family and co-workers. Help us say FAREwell to food allergies!

Walk Location

**New Location**
Rockville Civic Center Park - 1 Mile from Rockville Metro
(On the Red Line)
603 Edmonston Drive
Rockville, MD 20850

- See more at:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Takoma Park parents re-elect Chris Barclay while school HVAC system deterioriates

Takoma Park parents elected Takoma Park resident Chris Barclay to the Board of Education, and Mr. Barclay currently holds the powerful position of BOE President.

Mr. Barclay put artificial turf fields ahead of elementary school maintenance, and now there is extensive mold throughout Rolling Terrace Elementary School. Carpet is now being ripped out and expensive mold remediation is in progress.

What is Mr. Barclay telling Rolling Terrace ES parents, teachers, and students now?

Councilmember Hans Riemer Drafting Facebook Law

As an elected official is it ethical for Councilmember Hans Riemer to attempt to use the power of his position to silence citizens? 

From Facebook September 11, 2013

Hans Riemer First I am drafting a bill that makes it a civil violation to lurk on someones facebook page and comment on every post that they make!

Dr. Starr’s ban on this terminology is a political act disfavoring populations who benefit from focus on the concentration of poverty phenomenon.

Superintendent Joshua Starr at the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board
 September 9, 2013
Summary by Frederick Stichnoth

This is a brief summary of and reflection on Dr. Starr’s remarks at the Silver Spring Citizen’ s Advisory Board (

Red zone. As I entered (late), Dr. Starr was saying that he does not use the “red zone/green zone” terminology; it is unnecessary and sometimes counterproductive. I think that the conditions Dr. Weast saw in 1999 persist: correlation of low academic performance with concentrations of minority and FARMS students in the east County. No terminology has replaced “red zone.” So to stop using “red zone” is to erase or ignore an important educational, social and community phenomenon. Concentration of poverty explains a lot, when it is allowed to. Dr. Starr’s ban on this terminology is a political act disfavoring populations who benefit from focus on the concentration of poverty phenomenon.

Education debt. Dr. Starr prefers Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings notion of “education debt (” to the standard notion of “achievement gap.” Education debt changes the focus from a current snapshot of the performance gap to the historical factors that have cumulated into the current snapshot.

Dr. Starr then said that there are “two sides” in the debate as to how to address the debt/gap: Joel Klein/Michelle Rhee permit “no excuses” in committing the schools to address the gap through teaching alone; and Richard Rothstein believes that significant progress cannot be made without ameliorating poverty (

In this debate, Dr. Starr says he comes down “somewhere in the middle.” Where?

Dr. Starr emphasized that “teaching and learning” (Klein/Rhee) is the “number one” in-school factor determining education outcomes. This contrasts with the well-tested foundation finding of sociologist James Coleman that school composition/peer group is the number one factor.

Dr. Starr should consider how MCPS’ linking of school assignments to socio-economically segregated neighborhoods causes the education debt to compound.

How did “tracking” get into the conversation? Gifted and talented education was not addressed by the audience or Dr. Starr as a topic, but nevertheless Dr. Starr, on his own, referred to “tracking” twice. First, apparently countering Dan Reed’s suggestion that MCPS needs to integrate its schools, Dr. Starr said that in Stamford, where schools were integrated, classrooms had been segregated by tracking. Second, Dr. Starr is wrestling with how MCPS can support career and technical education (vocational ed) without falling into tracking. I understand the risks, but believe we must serve every child.

I also suggest to gifted and talented education advocates that GT/ability grouping is not the stand-alone topic they would make it. If, when “red zone” is the topic, the leader skips to ability grouping; and when CTE is the topic the leader skips to ability grouping, then those with an interest in ability grouping must either address a much wider set of topics or be self-relegated to the sidelines.

Bona fide experts only. Before I arrived, Dan Reed’s very widely discussed Post on-line piece (MCPS schools, segregation-- was raised by the audience. Dr. Starr rejoined: "There's no dearth of self-professed experts on education because they went to school."

Dr. Starr’s remark doesn’t really grapple with the substance of Dan’s piece, but is more an ad hominem put down.

To extract some substance from Dr. Starr’s slam, I wonder if the achievement gap, school composition, school results and schooling in general are matters best kept in the exclusive purview of professionals with Ed.D degrees, protected from community input. In an earlier era, should school desegregation have been left to the schoolmen, and Dr. King relegated to reading Rheinhold Niebuhr? Isn’t the education of the community’s children a matter for community, political, discussion?

That raises the odd appearance of Raymond E. Callahan. Dr. Starr often refers to his book Education and the Cult of Efficiency (, even when it’s not quite obvious how Callahan should apply. He did so again last night, in connection with the CTE quandary. Callahan was interested in the intrusion of business values and procedures into education during the Progressive era. Callahan’s thesis (which Dr. Starr did not refer to) involves “the extreme vulnerability of our schoolmen to public criticism and pressure and that this vulnerability is built into our pattern of local support and control.” So maybe Callahan’s thesis supports Dr. Starr’s quest to be elevated above community comment.

On the other side of the “expert schoolmen” debate, noted University of Maryland political scientist Clarence Stone argues:

“During the Progressive Era, a consensus emerged, among elites if not necessarily more broadly, that education was a specialized arena in which decision making was best left to those with deep knowledge and expertise.”

“Subsystem elites and their privileges are protected less by the direct assertion of political power than by the broad acceptance of certain ways of understanding what items are legitimate issues for the exercise of public power.”

“Exaltation of technique and organizational form constitutes the second intellectual wellspring that feeds the misguided mission to create an educational system outside politics.”

“Civic capacity involves mobilization by a broader array of community interests to remove policy-making authority from subperforming policy subsystems.”

“America spent most of the twentieth century trying to take politics out of education. That was a mistake.” Building Civic Capacity: The Politics of Reforming Urban Schools.

Dan Reed does not seem to be a “self-professed expert,” but a politically-concerned citizen. MCPS is “subperforming,” leaving swaths of the County behind. That’s a matter for civic involvement—politics.

Funding. The PTA president from Silver Spring International Middle Schools (FARMS 43.7%), argued that the high FARMS rate and other factors justify increased MCPS funding. Dr. Starr responded that “we do fund according to needs.” He cited the funding in the current budget of 30 middle school focus teachers to provide instruction to students who have not been successful in math and English in the regular classroom setting, to which was budgeted $1,499,850. He also cited the new Core Values commitment to distribute resources to produce equity. To the non-expert, this seems to be a good allocation of funds. MCPS should produce an “equity budget” to show the interaction of all sources and uses of funds in addressing the disparate needs of schools and neighborhoods.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Would you put your child in a classroom where the teacher had these restrictions?

In Joynes’ case, according to court documents, the principal of New Hampshire Estates Elementary placed a variety of restrictions on him in November 2011, including “activities only in public areas, classroom door to remain open during instruction, stay off playground during recess, no sitting at the cafeteria with students, use of staff restrooms only, don’t be alone with any student in classroom, and no touching of students in any form.”

Starr Will Continue Practice of Moving Teachers Accused of Sexual Abuse to New Schools

Parents, you will still need to ask if your child's teacher has restrictions on their ability to touch or interact with your child.  Superintendent Joshua Starr has no plans to stop moving around suspected child abusers. 

The Parents' Coalition has shown you what "restriction" letters look like here and here.  We also know that Lawrence Joynes had restrictions on his ability to touch or interact with students.  Superintendent Starr is not changing how these matters are handled.  Read the Gazette article below and see if it is about PROTECTING students or employees. 


That's what happened to Lawrence Joynes' victims, right? It was just "rare" so not a problem?

Gazette:  Reassignment after accusations could be rare

Four Years After an MCPS High School Football Player’s Death From Heat Stroke, MCPS Athletics Still Has a Flawed Heat Illness Policy

Below is the text of an email sent to MCPS Athletics Director Beattie, Dr. Tillman, the Md Public Health Officer for MoCo, and Ms. Glick, the MoCo official in charge of health issues for MCPS students.

Today's forecasts for MCPS 25 high schools are for heat indices that would dictate that no outdoor activity be permitted.  Actual conditions at the time of practice may vary from forecasts and from school to school depending on unique conditions.  That is why best practices is to measure the heat index at the field any time the temperature is 84 or above.  Especially on a day like today with high humidity in the forecast.  

As shown on this Maryland map, 3 Md local school systems, including Baltimore City, have policies requiring that the heat index be checked at each school.  MCPS Athletics only requires that the regional air quality index be checked.  Today's AQI forecast is Yellow, which will require no heat restrictions according to MCPS Athletics Policy.

August 26, 2013

Director Beattie, Dr. Tillman, and Ms. Glick,

In July 2009, Edwin “Dek” Miller, a student at MCPS’s Northwest High School, died of heat stroke in a no-pads football practice.[1]  Four years later, MCPS still has a flawed policy for managing the risk of heat strokes in football and other athletics programs.

I testified to the Board of Education about this during public comment at its meeting on July 29, 2013.[2]  As of today, August 26, 2013, however, the flawed heat stroke policies remain unchanged at the MCPS Athletics Department website.[3] 

MCPS’s deviation from best practices may be putting some MCPS students who play football and other fall sports at risk today, August 26, 2013, based on today’s forecasted elevated heat index readings.[4]

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a serious and potential fatal condition where the body’s core temperature rises above a safe level.  In high school sports, the majority of heat stroke cases happen in football.  How many happen in MCPS we don’t know because MCPS does not keep such statistics.  In MCPS’s informal annual survey of football coaches, they did not report any heat illness cases in 2010 or 2011.[5]

In neighboring Howard County, however, the public school system keeps detailed records of all sports injuries and reported 22 and 14 heat illness cases in football in 2010 and 2011, respectively.[6]  Howard County only has 12 public high schools so for MCPS, with 25 high schools, a fair estimate is double those occurring in Howard County, or 28 to 44 heat illness cases in football per season.

            It’s the Heat Index, not the AQI Index

MCPS’s policy for managing heat stroke remains flawed in at least two ways.[7]

First, coaches are not required to follow best practices when assessing weather conditions for heat illness risk.  Heat illness risk doesn’t just correspond to the outside temperature.   Rather, it depends on both temperature and relative humidity, the combination of which is measured by what is called the heat index.  As you can see at the heat index chart at this footnote, dangerous conditions can exist with the outside temperature as low as 85 degrees if the relative humidity level is high enough.[8] 

And the heat index has to be measured at the field of practice or play because it can be influenced nearby heat islands, like a parking lot or a school roof.

Sometimes the field itself can be heat island if it is an artificial turf field where surface temperatures can soar to as high as 200 degrees.   So you can’t just look at the heat index for a region or a zip code area.  You have to measure it at the field.

An athletic trainer is trained to measure the heat index before every practice or game using a device called a psychrometer.  And the athletic trainer records the reading on a log chart like this one:

Howard County Public Schools Policy requires the Heat Index to be measured each day.

MCPS Athletics’ heat policy, however, doesn’t educate coaches about the heat index or require that they measure it to make decisions about play or practice. 

Instead, MCPS Athletics policy requires coaches and athletic directors to consult the air quality index readings for the particulates in the region.[9]

It is true that the Air Quality Index for particulates increases as the outside temperatures increase.  But using an index designed to help people with air quality related conditions, like asthma, to make decisions about heat illness is dangerous.

The danger of making heat activity restriction decisions based on the Air Quality Index readings instead of heat index readings was on display during the heat wave that the DC area experienced between July 12 and July 19 this year.  On many of those days, the heat index was well above 105, the level for which best practices say any outside activity is safe.  The Air Quality Index readings for those days, however, did not exceed a level that under MCPS’s policy would have only required coaches to watch carefully.

Attached are heat index estimates for each of MCPS’s 25 high schools for today, August 26, 2013, based on using the schools zip code in the calculator at the Oregon State Activities Association’s website.

The August 26, 2013 heat index estimates are also found at this link:

So MCPS needs to change its policy to align with best practices.  And it needs to go out purchase 25 digital psychrometers and keep them properly calibrated.

            Emergency Plan for Heat Illness

When a heat illness emergency happens, seconds count.  The gold standard practice is to have a shaded cooling station, water, and ice and a tub that a student suffering from heat stroke can be immersed up to his or her shoulders.[10]   Cool first, then transfer.

A distant second best is to pack ice under a student’s armpits and groin and transfer to the school shower.  It’s a second best because the delay in getting the student immersed in ice water could reduce the changes of the student surviving a heat emergency.

MCPS Athletics’ heat policy allows a school to chose which of the two responses and at least one high school.[11]   At least one MCPS high school has chosen to go with the second best plan.[12]


To prevent another tragedy like Dek Miller’s death, please bring MCPS’s heat illness policy in line with best practices.


Tom Hearn