Friday, November 29, 2013

Annapolis' Focus: 9 Montgomery County alcohol bills on tap

It's all about alcohol for Montgomery County in Annapolis in the upcoming legislative session.  Looks like our legislators haven't spent any time in the Rockville District Courthouse. But, we know our elected leaders spend lots of time at cocktail party fundraisers, galas and many other events where alcohol is the focus.  Apparently, they aren't getting enough alcohol in their diet and are looking for more.  Their belief is that alcohol will "solve" any perceived county budget concerns.  

http://www.gazette.net/article/20131127/NEWS/131129100/1124/nine-montgomery-county-alcohol-bills-on-tap&template=gazette

State’s attorney probes Rock Terrace case

The Sentinel
...“(Pisha) was on the supervisory committee of the MCT Federal Credit Union during the period of time in question that money was flowing into and out of these accounts,” Astrove said. “At a minimum, he should have disclosed this conflict of interest to the parents, and preferably, should have recused himself and turned this all over to an external, outside auditor.”
Tofig said Pisha did not remove himself from MCPS’ investigation of Rock Terrace because the investigation centered on how the school staff handled funds as part of an educational program rather than investigating a bank or credit union.
Astrove said she is opposed to MCPS having any access to account record beyond what parents have already provided, but the school system needs to figure out how much money the students are owed and it get back to them.
“I have zero confidence in MCPS to come to a fair, full, and complete reconciliation of how much these children are owed,” Astrove said. “Only an independent, outside auditor should have access to these records. The prosecutor, Hannah Gleason, specifically mentioned the possibility of having a certified fraud examiner review them, and that would be fine, but not MCPS people. They already screwed up.”

Our Say: School board must address parents' cell tower concerns

Our Say: School board must address parents' cell tower concerns - : Our Say

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!


Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving from the Parents' Coalition.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Equity Warrior" Starr Admits Being Comfortable Spending Hundreds of Thousands to Fight Disabled Kids

The Gazette reported the following exchange between Joshua Starr, self-proclaimed "Equity Warrior," and the grandparent of a special needs child:

Steve Zepnick, who said he was advocating for his 10-year-old grandson, asked Starr if he thought the dispute process should be examined and parents consulted to see what changes might be necessary.

Starr said a very small percentage of special education families request dispute resolution with the school system.

In some cases, it’s impossible for the the school system and families to agree, he said.

“I’m comfortable with where we are right now, I am,” he said. “The numbers are really, really solid.”

*******************

So let's look at the details of Joshua Starr's comfort level. Here's a sample from just one month earlier this spring:





And here's the most recent end of the year summary: $308,000 spent fighting families' requests for services for their children with special needs. And that's on top of the cost of the in house counsel Zvi Greismann, and the cost of the Equity Assurance and Compliance Unit.

Are YOU comfortable with your own tax dollars being used in this way?

My Two Cents: Is Innovation Just A Word?

by Joseph Hawkins
Recently, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Joshua Starr gave a speech about innovation.
Now, when you Google the word innovation, this list of synonyms pops up: “change, revolution, upheaval, transformation, breakthrough, creativity, ingenuity, inspiration, inventiveness.”
Revolution! Upheaval! Pretty strong stuff, right?
 Continues at Bethesda Now: http://www.bethesdanow.com/2013/11/27/my-two-cents-is-innovation-just-a-word/

MCPS Parents can buy Stock in No Bid Artificial Turf

Soon Montgomery County investors will be able to buy shares in their sole source, no-bid French artificial turf supplier!

Of course, those shares would have to be bought on the stock market in Paris - not Wall Street...

French flooring company Tarkett begins marketing share sale

MCEA Secretary Blocks Parents' Coalition


Weast is still on the road

Jerry Weast spent the years between 1999 and 2011 as superintendent of Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools, where his success at improving student outcomes drew national attention to his huge East Coast school district. But Weast’s mind-set and manner of speaking developed elsewhere — on the Kansas farm where his childhood was spent.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865588613/Cultivating-school-success.html

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Whitman Students and Staff Go To Denmark!

From the Whitman HS Webpage:


"We are very excited about our exchange program with our sister school, The Norre Gymnasium. The school, located in Bronshoj, a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark is an upper secondary state schools with a highly international student body representing over 40 nationalities. It offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma. In addition to IB, Norre offers many creative subjects such as dance, drama, sports, film, art, and music. For more information go to www.norreg.dk and translate in English (unless you are fluent in Danish!) This will be our third trip to our Danish sister school. The past few years, Walt Whitman students greatly enjoyed the opportunity to explore high school life in educationally progressive Denmark, and we are happy to offer another opportunity. Our students will be hosted by Danish families and will attend classes with host students. Seminars/discussions on global issues and related social and economic problems are planned, giving students a chance to exchange ideas with their hosts"

Dates of travel: November 22, 2013 - November 29, 2013



Staff Chaperones: Mr. Seymour and Mrs. Heckert
*************************
Sounds like a great opportunity for the kids who can afford it! How much does it cost?

Krupica Trial now a Plea Agreement Hearing

11/25/2013
Docket Description: ORDER, CONSENT TO SCHEDULE PLEA HEARING
Docket Type: Docket Filed By: Court
Ruling Judge: JORDAN, RICHARD E
Docket Text: CONSENT ORDER OF COURT (JORDAN, J.) TO SCHEDULE A PLEA HEARING ON DECEMBER 2, 2013 AT 9:30 FOR THE PURPOSE OF TENDERING THE COURT A DISPOSITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PLEA AGREEMENT, ENTERED.

Benoit: Make cell towers at Anne Arundel schools an election issue - : News

Benoit: Make cell towers at Anne Arundel schools an election issue - : News

LET’S NOT sugarcoat it: Maryland schools have artificially inflated their performance...

The Washington Post Editorial:  Maryland offers up bogus reading scores

Damascus High School Principal Denies Drug Problem in E-mail to Parents

Below is an e-mail sent to parents from the Damascus High School Principal, Jennifer Webster, after the NBC4 reports on heroin use at Damascus High School and in the community.

NBC4 stories are here and here.

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

From: "DAMASCUS HIGH SCHOOL" <email@blackboardconnect.com>
Date: November 22, 2013 at 8:38:30 PM EST
To:
Subject: News 4 Story

A message from DAMASCUS HIGH SCHOOL

Dear Damascus Community,

News 4 aired a story on Thursday and Friday of this week with the headline, “Recent Spike in Heroin Use in Montgomery County.” The story featured a former Damascus High School student who shared her concerns about the use of heroin in Damascus, particularly at Damascus High School. As your principal, I wanted to share my thoughts with you on this story.

I appreciate the young lady’s efforts to raise awareness about substance abuse. It is so important to make students, parents and educators aware of the signs, dangers and devastation caused by substance abuse. I am, however, concerned about the characterization of DHS as having a rampant drug abuse problem, as I have not seen evidence of this in my work this year. Damascus is a proud, strong community. The students reflect those values. I have not seen evidence of a culture that finds drug use to be acceptable. To the contrary, I have seen students step forward to share concerns about their classmates when they suspect a problem.

Over the last several years, the staff at DHS has taken a number of actions to raise awareness among students, staff and parents about the signs and dangers of drug abuse. These actions have included evening meetings for parents and students and trainings for all staff on the signs and symptoms of drug abuse. When we suspect a student is experimenting with or using drugs, we work alongside families to find resources to help the students. We will continue these efforts of education, prevention and support for our students.

Again, I appreciate the intent of the news story to raise awareness about drug abuse, including heroin use. I think the responsibility for education, prevention and support is the responsibility of the school, alongside members of our community. Our school leadership and PTSA, alongside the Montgomery County Police, had already planned to host an informational meeting for parents and students in January to provide prevention and support resources, as well as an update on the current state of drug use in our community. Please watch for more information about that meeting, and we would love to see you there.

If you have any concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Best,
Jenn



This e-mail has been sent to you by DAMASCUS HIGH SCHOOL. To maximize their communication with you, you may be receiving this e-mail in addition to a phone call with the same message. If you wish to discontinue this service, please inform DAMASCUS HIGH SCHOOL IN PERSON, by US MAIL, or by TELEPHONE at (301) 253-7030.

NBC4: "13 heroin overdose deaths in Montgomery County since June"

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Fighting-Heroin-Addiction-in-Montgomery-County-233096061.html

Monday, November 25, 2013

Internal Auditor Pisha Had Role with MCT as Supervisory Committee Member in 2009



From the September 23, 2009 issue of the Credit Union Times:

MCT Federal Credit Union Adds Three New Supervisory Committee Members

The MCT Federal Credit Union board of directors has recently appointed three new supervisory committee members: Eileen Steinkraus, Janet Williams and Roger Pisha.

All three supervisory committee members currently work for Montgomery County Public Schools or are recently retired from the school system.

Steinkraus retired from MCPS in 2006 after working for the school system for 37 years. She worked for 20 years at Blair High School, where she saw the influence of MCT's in-school branch. Steinkraus also served on Rockville, Md.-based credit union board of directors from 1984 to 1998.

Pisha serves as a supervisor for MCPS' office of shared zccountability. He and his staff of auditors perform a risk analysis of MCPS, and give recommendations to leadership on activities reviewed. Pisha works with the Maryland State Department of Education and the Office of Public School Construction Program on school system audits. Additionally, Pisha and his staff ensure that schools comply with federal, state and local laws, along with MCPS policies and regulations.

NBC4 on Heroin Use:... "the culture in the [Damascus HS] school was that it was acceptable to bring drugs to school..."

NBC4:  Recent Spike in Heroin Use in Montgomery County

More on the Common Core

This paper provides a useful historical timeline concerning how our educational systems adopted the Common Core.

As far as the political perspective, note that the views in the paper represent the views of the authors from the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project,, and not this blogger.

http://americanprinciplesproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top-2013.pdf

MoCo voters need to start understanding the Common Core, and decide whether this is a good initiative for our students.  We have an election coming up next year.  Remember, education is 50 percent of the county budget - do you think your tax dollars are well spent?

Signing on to the Common Core

Did our Montgomery County Board of Education really vet the new curriculum, otherwise known as the Common Core, before the rollout? Or was our school system just taken with the bells, and whistles of the program AND the goodies offered by the Pearson arrangement? 

 In Massachusetts, the State Board of Education decided to delay the rollout. Not an individual board - but State Wide. Here is a summary

 This week, the Massachusetts Board of Education voted to slow the transition to Common Core. The board decided to delay implementation for two years while it compares the Common Core aligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests to their existing—and widely praised—Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam. Commissioner Mitchell Chester, who also chairs the governing board for the PARCC consortium, says that adopting the Common Core by the 2014–2015 deadline would cause Massachusetts “too precipitous a transition.” Massachusetts is known for its quality state academic standards and student achievement levels. This year, Massachusetts celebrated its 20th anniversary of its historic education reforms that kick-started the state’s success.

Continue reading here:  http://blog.heritage.org/2013/11/22/cracks-core-massachusetts-halts-common-core-implementation/

Numerous states are reconsidering whether to adopt the Common Core.  You can read the progress of the state level efforts here.

So - Montgomery County - will we be innovative or has the Pearson Punch taken over?

Stay tuned.

"parents arrived bearing posters with impassioned messages"

MCPS parents are done sitting around "listening" to Superintendent Joshua Starr. 
The Washington Post: Montgomery parents question schools chief Starr at community meeting in Silver Spring

Sunday, November 24, 2013

More Evidence of Cozy Relationship between MCPS and #RockTerrace Credit Union

From Board of Education Fiscal Management Committee minutes, September 13, 2010

Montgomery County Teachers Federal Credit Union Partnership

A meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Education Fiscal Management Committee was
held at the Carver Educational Services Center in room 120 on Monday, September 13, 2010. In
attendance were:

Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Chair
Mr. Philip Kauffman, Member
Mr. Michael Durso, Member

Staff: Mr. Larry A. Bowers, Chief Operating Officer
Ms. Susanne DeGraba, Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Roger Pisha, Supervisor, Internal Audit Unit
Mr. Richard Johnstone, Director I, Benefits Strategy and Vendor Relations
Dr. Marshall Spatz, Director, Management, Budget and Planning
Mr. Robert Doody, Controller, Division of the Controller
Ms. Laura Steinberg, Staff Assistant, Board of Education
Mr. Stanislaw Damas, Director, Department of Association Relations

Guests: Mr. Tom Hipp, MCT Federal Credit Union
Ms. Kristine Mathey, MCT Federal Credit Union

Two representatives from the Montgomery County Teachers Federal Credit Union (MCTFCU)
briefed the committee members on their efforts to build on their partnerships with MCPS staff.
In response to the fiscal climate, the Credit Union has identified low-cost opportunities for
specialized products to serve MCPS staff. Other examples include establishing of an advice
hotline, a 0% loan for 90 days, in lieu of tapping retirement funds. Committee members were
interested in MCTFCU partnering with MCPS to design financial literacy courses, credit card
management, and financial planning for students, as well as staff.

ACLU SEEKING MCPS STUDENTS

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is hoping to talk to students who were suspended or expelled from Montgomery County schools for non-violent, non-threatening behavior. 
If you or somebody you know has a kid(s) who was suspended or expelled for things like not doing classwork, wandering the halls, etc., please call me at 718-510-6289 or e-mail aclustoryfinder@gmail.com
Many thanks!

Sincerely yours, 
Alisa Roth

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Some Not Happy With Proposal For Longer Elementary School Day

Bethesda Now:  
Included in MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr’s proposal to move back high school start times is a proposal to extend the elementary school day by 30 minutes.
It’s not sitting well with a few county parents.
 http://www.bethesdanow.com/2013/11/20/some-not-happy-with-proposal-for-longer-elementary-school-day/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Senators grill educators on Common Core

Senators grill educators on Common Core

Friday, November 22, 2013

Einstein Teacher Case Moved to Circuit Court

Today the case of Einstein teacher Richard Brian Shemer moved from District Court to the Circuit Court.  The next court date in this matter is December 13th at 8:30 AM for a scheduling hearing.

-----------
Court System: Circuit Court for Montgomery County - Criminal System
Case Number: 123956C Sub Type: INDICTMENT
Tracking Number: 13-1001-78277-4 DistrictCourt Number: 2D00301954
Date Filed: 11/22/2013
Case Status: OPEN
Defendant Information

(Each Alias, Address, and Attorney for the Defendant is displayed)
Name: SHEMER, RICHARD BRIAN
Gender: Male DOB: 05/06/1963

(Schedule is subject to change)
Event Date: 12/13/2013 Event Time: 08:30 AM Judge: SALANT, STEVEN G
Location: 50 Maryland Avenue 3rd Floor Courtroom: 1
Description: 4-215/SCHEDULING HEARING
Charge and Disposition Information

(Each Charge is listed separately)
Count No: 1 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR3-602
Charge Description: SEX ABUSE MINOR
Citation Number: Plea:

Financial Transparency and the Montgomery County Public Schools System Thur Dec 12 7-9 pm




                                  Thursday, December 12, 2013  -  7:00 - 9:00 pm (note early time)
                                                 5th Floor Conference Room,  Council Office Building
                                                         100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20854

Topic:   " Financial Transparency and the Montgomery County Public Schools System"

Speaker:  Larry Bowers, Chief Operating Officer, Montgomery County Public Schools

Should you have any questions on the topic, please send them to President@MCTaxpayersLeague.org by Wednesday, December 4th so that they can be forwarded to the speaker in advance of the meeting.

Petition: BEST Bell Times for ALL Montgomery County, MD Students

My name is Lisa Rigazio. I am a new MCCPTA delegate for Flora Singer Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD...

Changing the Bell Times is an issue that this forum is already quite well aware of. Since this issue was initially about finding a solution to starting high school later, many elementary school parents, such as myself, have not stayed abreast of the developments. The recent proposal by Dr. Starr however, tacks on an additional 30 minutes to the END of the already very late school day for elementary schools. This is an additional change that he has stated publicly is not directly tied to changing the start time of high school. This is something that elementary school parents are just beginning to learn about and, from what I am hearing, are not in full support of.

This elementary school time change add-on puts elementary school parents, like myself, who fully support the later high school start time in a very difficult situation. Our kids will be going to high school very soon so want what is best for them then, but not at the expense of their many years in elementary school now.

I have started a petition asking the superintendent and the board to support a Bell Times proposal that DOES NOT END ANY SCHOOL LATER THAN 3:30PM. This does NOT address directly adding 30 minutes to the ES day in general. It simply opposes adding them to the END of the already late day for elementary schools.

I urge you to read the petition for details and to bring this concern of elementary school parents to your PTA’s. I am glad that MCPS is taking this year to fully research the impact of the current proposal on our entire community. And I am hopeful that open and frank discussions of both the great benefits and challenges of the Superintendent's proposal will bring about a greater solution. One that will serve ALL of our students every step of their way through our wonderful school system.

Please share this petition with your PTA’s and local communities.
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/best-bell-times-for-all?source=c.url&r_by=5755375

Thank you for your time! And I look forward to hearing comments on how we can provide the BEST Bell Times for ALL students.


Sincerely,
Lisa Rigazio
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/best-bell-times-for-all?source=c.url&r_by=5755375

Thursday, November 21, 2013

MCPS Chief Financial Officer on Board of Subpoenaed Educational Systems Credit Union

Since May, multiple media outlets have written about the alleged mismanagement of student work-study money at Rock Terrace School, an MCPS special education school for students with disabilities. Students who performed tasks in a sheltered-workshop type class at the school earned money, which was deposited into credit union accounts opened in their names, without their parents' permission or knowledge. Other students who worked in the cafeteria or other jobsites within the school also earned wages, but never saw copies of W-2 statements or credit union account statements. Account statements obtained by parents reveal that large sums of cash were routinely withdrawn from these students' accounts, with no explanation where the cash went.

Records reveal that these credit union accounts go back to at least 2004, when the credit union was called the Montgomery County Teachers Federal Credit Union. Last year, the MCT entity changed to become the Educational Systems Federal Credit Union. Before the merger, the MCT Federal Credit Union was in financial trouble, and was the subject of a "cease and desist" letter from the National Credit Union Administration, prohibiting "Montgomery County Teachers from requiring Educational Systems to hire any or all of its staff or place its directors on the board."

Parents have complained that:
(1) Accounts were opened for their minor children without their knowledge or permission
(2) Staff members from Rock Terrace School, including the principal, were signed in as joint account holders on the children's accounts
(3) Account statements were mailed to Rock Terrace School, instead of to the child's home

Parents have hard questions for credit union personnel:

(1) When cash withdrawals were made, did tellers request to see I.D. of the account holder?
(2) What picture identification, if any, was used to open these accounts? (Rock Terrace Students are unlikely to hold drivers' licenses.)
(3) Where was oversight by credit union auditors that over a hundred accounts were listed at the same address?

**************
What is the cozy relationship between Montgomery County Public Schools and the Educational Services Federal Credit Union?

For starters:

Suzanne DeGraba, MCPS's CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, is on the Board of Directors of Educational Systems Federal Credit Union.

So is Philip McGaughey, MCPS's DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PROCUREMENT.


In today's Washington Post, the president and chief executive of Educational Systems FCU said that they had been expecting the subpoenas for the students' bank records, and intend to cooperate fully. Meanwhile, MCPS has steadfastly refused to attempt to account for and reimburse the students for the money that was stolen from them. Here's hoping that the Grand Jury will probe the relationship between the Credit Union and MCPS.

Could White Flint Wegmans Be Source Of School Site Battle?

Bethesda Now: Could Wegmans, the supermarket chain long rumored for the redevelopment of White Flint Mall, be behind the quarrel over the site for a planned White Flint Elementary School?

Breaking News: Inspector General Investigation of MCPS Promethean Purchase "In Progress"

2PM UPDATE:  MEETING CANCELLED

Today, at 2 PM, the Montgomery County Inspector General will update the Montgomery County Council on the work of that office.

Included in the report is news that the Inspector General's investigation of the MCPS purchase of Promethean Boards last year is "in progress".

As we reported last year, the Board of Education voted to purchase almost $9 million worth of Promethean Boards through a contract that did not cover the purchase of Promethean Boards in bulk.  The fact that the contract didn't cover the purchase was of no interest to the Montgomery County Board of Education, but maybe the Montgomery County Inspector General will find something worth noting in this transaction.

State and county schools look to mainstream more marginal students by 2015

The Sentinel

Starr reflects on MCPS

The Sentinel

"The Winston Churchill High School drop-out sobbed as he stated his name."

http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/11/david-goldberg-montgomery-mall-stabbing-suspect-held-without-bond-96929.html

‘Sweetie’: Computer-Generated Little Asian Girl Lures Hundreds Of Online Child Sex Predators

‘Sweetie’: Computer-Generated Little Asian Girl Lures Hundreds Of Online Child Sex Predators

Look who is reading the Parents' Coalition Twitter Feed


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Josh Starr came in 3rd for job of NYC Chancellor in poll of education officials


http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/politics&id=9326206

Two boys fall out of moving MCPS school bus in Takoma Park

http://www.gazette.net/article/20131120/NEWS/131129701/1022/two-boys-fall-out-of-moving-school-bus-in-takoma-park&template=gazette

MCPS renovations: School board adds $200 million to capital improvement plan | WJLA.com

MCPS renovations: School board adds $200 million to capital improvement plan | WJLA.com

Washington Post: Grand Jury to Probe Financial Records in Montgomery School Case

Grand jury to probe financial records in Montgomery school case


By Donna St. George, Published: November 19
Online Washington Post


A Montgomery County grand jury is expected to examine bank records for potential financial improprieties at Rock Terrace, a public school in Rockville for special-education students, according to documents in the case.

The action comes amid an investigation by the Montgomery County state’s attorney’s office of complaints that school officials opened bank accounts in students’ names and deposited and withdrew work-study wages without their parents knowing the accounts existed.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Level Playing Field = Free Public Education for ALL MCPS Students

Maryland public school students are entitled to a free public education.
But, MCPS students don't get a free public education.  The Board of Education allows MCPS schools to set whatever class fees they want and charge whatever students they want.

Why aren't MCPS students given a level playing field to access a high school diploma?
These students ask the same question of their institution.
 Listen for the "first class airfare" reference as to how the institution spends education dollars. The same thing goes on in MCPS. Why do citizens put up with the waste of education dollars?


MCPS Charter School: Please No Characters on Clothing!

Here are the uniform requirements for public school children that attend the MCPS Charter School.

When did the Board of Education discuss this policy for the Charter School? Was this requirement disclosed in the Charter Schools application packet to the BOE?

Guess Mickey and Minnie are out at MCPS' one and only Charter School.
Parents and guardians, take note!



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gazette: Rock Terrace Students' Bank Account Records Subpoenaed


County seeks records for investigation into handling of work-study earnings

By Lindsay A. Powers, Gazette Staff Writer, Tuesday, November 19, 2013

At least two parents of Rock Terrace School students have received notification from the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office that records from bank accounts under their children’s names have been subpoenaed for a grand jury investigation.

A Nov. 11 letter from the office to a parent said a grand jury subpoena “has been issued for bank account records maintained in the student’s name at Education Systems Federal Credit Union.”

The subpoena is part of the county state’s attorney’s office investigation into how Rock Terrace staff handled money students earned while in a work-study program that went into bank accounts at the credit union.

To read the whole article, CLICK HERE.

Starr to Face Special Education Parents in Open Forum

Special Education Advisory Committee Meeting Set for Nov. 25

The MCPS Special Education Advisory Committee will meet on Monday, Nov. 25, from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. in the auditorium of the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville.

The guest speaker for the evening is Superintendent Joshua P. Starr.



Parents of students with disabilities are invited to attend this meeting to discuss topics impacting special education services.

Contact the Department of Special Education Services at 301-279-3135 for more information.

Community Forum on Sustainable Agriculture in Maryland:

Notice for a Forum on Sustainable Agriculture, sponsored by Food & Water Watch

Poultry Pollution and the Chesapeake Bay

Speakers: Carole Morison,  Katherine Ozer, Sophia Maravell, Mike Tabor and Terrill North



Join on November 20th to learn about and discuss the Poultry Fair Share Act, the poultry industry's impacts on the Bay, and sustainable alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture.

When:
6:00 to 7:00pm

Where:
Takoma Park Seventh Day Adventist Church
Church Center
6810 Eastern Avenue NW
District of Columbia

The Chesapeake Bay is a global treasure and was once one of the most productive estuaries on Earth. But these days, phosphorus pollution contributes to the persistence of a vast dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay. The poultry industry dumps more phosphorus pollution into the Bay than any other single source. Yet under current law, the industry is not held fully accountable for that pollution and contributes far too little to save the Bay.

State elected officials will introduce the Poultry Fair Share Act in the Maryland General Assembly next January. The Poultry Fair Share Act will require large poultry companies to contribute to the Bay Restoration Fund, and use the revenue generated through this common-sense legislation to support local farmers efforts to plant cover crops. Cover crops are the most cost-effective practice to simultaneously enrich the soil and reduce runoff pollution.

About Food & Water Watch
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Capacity Crisis? Then why give away Classrooms?

The Superintendent and Board of Education are currently singing the "capacity crisis" song.
If the Superintendent and BOE actually believe there is a capacity crisis in MCPS, then why are they giving away MCPS classrooms to private businesses?

This picture shows a wing of Sligo Middle School in Silver Spring.

The awning imprinted with the name of a private business just went up on the outside of the school this year.

Why are those classrooms not being used for MCPS students? 

Gift Idea: Buy a Copy of Starr's Book

Superintendent Joshua Starr has a chapter in the book  Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day: School Leaders Who Are Making Equity a Reality.

Superintendent Joshua Starr's chapter is titled, Pragmatic Radicalism: The Superintendent as Catalyst, Capacity Builder, and Concertmaster.

Einstein Teacher in Court November 22nd

Richard Brian Shemer


Charge No: 001Description:SEX ABUSE MINOR
Statute: CR.3.602.(b)
Description:SEX ABUSE MINOR
Amended Date: CJIS Code:1 0322MO/PLL:
Probable Cause:X
Incident Date From: 09/02/2013 To: 10/01/2013 Victim Age:


Trial Date: 11/22/2013
Trial Time:10:00 AM
Room:513

Trial Location:191 EAST JEFFERSON ST ROCKVILLE 20850-2325

Monday, November 18, 2013

Grand Jury to Convene in Rock Terrace Case

Rock Terrace parents have reported that they have received notice of subpoenas issued to the Custodian of Records, Educational Systems Federal Credit Union.

The subpoena directs the custodian to appear before the Grand Jury on December 12, 2013, to testify for the Grand Jury Investigation, and to produce copies of the children's bank records.

I do not know at this time whether MCPS employees have been subpoenaed to appear as well.



'White moms' remark fuels Common Core clash - Stephanie Simon - POLITICO.com

'White moms' remark fuels Common Core clash - Stephanie Simon - POLITICO.com

Staff tells legislators to keep current lid on state debt

Staff tells legislators to keep current lid on state debt

Joshua Starr: A Testing Moratorium Is Necessary in Education Next

A Testing Moratorium Is Necessary : Education Next  by Joshua Starr

Starr feels "put upon" by BOE questions on Innovation Schools & Math Work Group, says they can discuss it during his evaluation.

On October 1, 2013, the Board of Education met in a 3rd floor, back conference room at the Rockville Library.  Even the librarians on the 1st floor didn't know the BOE was hiding upstairs.  The purpose of the hidden meeting was for the Board to conduct a "self-evaluation."
The document the BOE was reviewing is below.

At the end of the meeting, Superintendent Joshua Starr took issue with a statement in Section G of the the BOE self evaluation document below.
Here's the statement that Starr wanted removed from the document.
"Furthermore, several Board members expressed some frustration because of the lack of communication regarding the progress of the math exam workgroup as well as innovation schools."
Here's the video of the part of the meeting that discussed Section G of the BOE self evaluation.  Included in the discussion are the following comments by Superintendent Joshua Starr and BOE President Christopher Barclay.
Minute 22:00 - Starr: ...Staff feels put upon, and I do as well... ...I need to understand this claim of lack of communication...
...I have a concern about that statement... 
Minute 23:00 - Barclay:  There is a disconnect that went on with the Innovation Schools... 
Minute 25:25 - Starr: ...We can discuss this during my evaluation...



The meeting was video taped by the Parents' Coalition.  There were just 3 members of the public in attendance at the meeting.  All of those individuals were members of the Parents' Coalition.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

WTOP: Are Md. schools really No. 1? Not so fast

WASHINGTON - For years, Maryland public schools have been the best in the country, but now there are new questions about how they got to the top.
More special education students in Maryland are excluded from the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading tests than any other state in the country. The Department of Education says that could be inflating the state's test results... 
http://wtop.com/46/3506640/Are-Md-schools-really-No-1-Not-so-fast

Proposed White Flint Elementary School Meeting 7pm Nov 20



White Flint Elementary School
7:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 20
Garrett Park Elementary School
4810 Oxford Street
Kensington, MD

Planners from the Montgomery County Planning Department  will participate in a general meeting of the Garrett Park Estates/White Flint Park Citizen's Association at the Garrett Park Elementary School on Wednesday, November 20 at 7:00 p.m. Up for discussion is the  proposed White Flint elementary school on the White Flint Mall site. The meeting is open to the public.

A total of approximately 9,800 new residential units are expected as the White Flint District develops.  MCPS had estimated approximately 450 new elementary school age children, and, as follows,



The Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Division of Long-Range Planning
estimates that the 9800 residential units will generate-
- 321 High school students for Walter Johnson HS
- 380 Middle school students for Tilden MS
- 410 Elementary school students for Garrett Park ES and Luxmanor ES.

Krupica Trial Set for December 2nd

Timothy V. Krupica (Meadow Hall Elementary School teacher)

Event Date: 12/02/2013 
Event Time: 09:30 AM
Judge: JORDAN, RICHARD E
Location: 50 Maryland Avenue 8th Floor Courtroom: 6
Description: TRIAL - JURY (4 days)

Joynes Pornography Trial in Baltimore County now Set for January 21st

Lawrence Joynes (New Hampshire Estates Elementary School teacher)

Event Type: Criminal Court Trial
Notice Date:
Event Date: 01/21/2014
Event Time:09:15 AM

Greenberg Trial Date (Hoover Middle School staff)

Josh Andrew Greenberg

Court Scheduling Information

Trial Date: 12/16/2013
Trial Time:08:30 AM Room:411
Trial Type:
Trial Location:191 EAST JEFFERSON ST ROCKVILLE 20850-2325

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Md. excluded large number of special-education students in national test

Md. excluded large number of special-education students in national test

Maryland's scores on a national reading test may have been inflated because the state's schools excluded a higher percentage of special-education students than any other state, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/blog/bs-md-naep-exclusion-rates-20131115,0,4258634.story#ixzz2kpkd3s4m

Friday, November 15, 2013

Breaking News: $100,000 Gates Grant Awarded to MCPS

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Awards a $100,000 Grant to Montgomery County Public Schools
Nov 9 2013 05:59:44:000AM
Recipient: Montgomery County Public Schools
Location: Rockville, Maryland, United States of America
Recipient URL: www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org
Grantmaker: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Grant Amount: $100,000
Grant Period: 09/26/13 - 01/31/14
Duration: 4 months
Fiscal Year End: 12/31/13
Description: to support the development of a system-level strategic plan for personalized learning
Geographic Area Served: North America

Gazette Coverage of BOE Off-Site, Off-Camera Meeting at Seneca Valley High School

On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, the Board of Education held an off-site, off camera meeting with members of the Montgomery County Delegation.  They were joined at this meeting by 6 members of the Montgomery County Council.

The Parents' Coalition video of the end of the meeting is here.

Click the link below for the Gazette's coverage of the meeting.   
Gazette:  Montgomery lawmakers will make pitch in Annapolis for more school funding

County schools look forward to more funding

The Sentinel

Petition: No to Proposed MCPS Elementary Bell Time Changes

We, the undersigned, request that efforts be made to provide high school students with a later bell time, but it should be accomplished in such a way that no elementary school should end later than 3:30pm.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mold returns to two Montgomery County elementary schools | WJLA.com

Mold returns to two Montgomery County elementary schools | WJLA.com

School Design Flaws Indicative of MCPS’s Predator Problem

When a building maintenance worker at Hoover Middle School was arrested on Thursday after allegedly watching female students undressing in their locker room, it became apparent that the school’s layout shows a fundamental design flaw may be responsible in part for placing the young girls at risk.  

NBC Washington reported that Maintenance worker Josh Greenberg, 28, used a Herbert Hoover Middle School staff office to look into the girls’ locker room on two different days, police said.

As NBC Washington reported, the layout of the Rockville/Potomac middle school allowed passersby to peer into the locker room through a window shrouded with blinds located in a staff office - an area possibly accessible by almost anyone. Greenberg reportedly admitted what he had done and was placed on administrative leave, NBC Washington reported.


The architectural blueprint of the school showing the locker room window and its position is located here. And it is that blueprint that would have likely been approved by the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Director of Facilities Management James Song.

Hoover Principal Yom Mi Kim wrote to parents after the Nov. 7 arrest: “After these allegations were brought to our attention by the students, we immediately contacted the police, MCPS and the parents of the students involved. The employee has been placed on administrative leave, and an investigation by the MCPS Office of Human Resources and Development is being conducted.”

Then came the MCPS commercial.

“At Hoover, we take pride in ensuring the safety and wellness of all our students. We are proud that students had the courage to come forward and share this information with the staff who they have come to trust and respect.”

It is one more incident in a long line of MCPS staff and teachers who have been arrested and charged with sexual misconduct. In 2013 alone, according to Parents Coalition records, there have been five MCPS workers who have been arrested on sexual misconduct charges.

It is indicative of a systemic problem within the county school system that these alleged predators are able to operate and sometimes thrive around the county’s most vulnerable population.

What’s more damning for MCPS is the emerging evidence that the system moves predators from one school to the next – similar to the actions taken by the Catholic Archdiocese that resulted in millions of dollars in settlements to former abuse victims – and a lifetime of damage to the victims.

It isn’t known how long any of the predators that worked for MCPS were engaged in their appropriate behavior. The school system is more focused on school construction and curriculum secrecy than the safety of the children in their charge.

Despite the recent spate of school shootings, security is not a priority for MCPS. During a recent Parents Day at Bradley Hills Elementary School in Bethesda, the staff piled sign-in sheets and badges on an unmanned table set up in the school entrance way. Anyone could then walk in, sign in and roam freely throughout the school unchallenged.


Slate.com reported that in a 2000 study commissioned by the American Association of University Women, one in 10 students between 8th and 11th grade had reported experiencing inappropriate sexual conduct at school. The news group said that if those number were accurate then nationwide, “4.5 million students currently in grades K-12 have suffered some form of sexual abuse by an educator, and more than 3 million have experienced sexual touching or assault.” 

If a culture of safety isn’t coming from Josh Starr, then it likely won’t filter down to the principals under his charge. Then again, he’s likely far too busy being an education rock star delivering his canned and crafted messages in pricey venues like Strathmore Hall, and having photos of himself getting the Miley Cyrus treatment being tweeted by his staff.




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Video: There's Always $$ for a Buffet! BOE & Delegation & Council Meeting Today

Today, the Board of Education held an off-site, off camera meeting with members of the Montgomery County Delegation.  They were joined at this meeting by 6 members of the Montgomery County Council.

The Parents' Coalition has video of the end of the meeting, including pictures of the breakfast buffet that was laid out for the attendees.  This picture was taken at the end of the meeting. 


Here's the video:



BOE Members in attendance at the meeting:
Christopher Barclay
Patricia O'Neill
Shirley Brandman
Phil Kauffman
Rebecca Smondrowski
Mike Durso

County Council Members in attendance at the meeting:
Valerie Ervin
Roger Berliner
Craig Rice
Phil Andrews
Marc Elrich
George Leventhal

Council Staff
Essie McGuire
Valerie Ervin's chief of staff Sonya Healy

MCPS Staff in attendance at the meeting:
Joshua Starr
Larry Bowers
Dana Tofig
James Song
Roland Ikehoa
Laura Steinberg

Montgomery County Delegation in attendance:
Jaime Raskin
Nancy King
Al Carr
Susan Lee
Eric Luedtke
Rich Madaleno
Jeff Waldstreicher 
Karen Montgomery 
Craig Zucker 
Anne Kaiser

Let us know who you recognize in the meeting video and we will add in the names.

What is "Amplify Education" and Why Did MCPS Pay Them $500K?


Looking through the "Funding Accountability and Transparency Database," we see that so far this year in FY 2014, MCPS has paid "Amplify Education" over a half-million dollars.

Here's the only reference to "Amplify" I could find on the MCPS website:


I did, however, find this disturbing article online:

...hundreds of designers, programmers, writers, artists and all manner of tradesman toil away on some aspect of Amplify.

Mainly, that's a tablet computer, created for K through 12 classroom usage, and a Common Core-based curriculum, designed by Amplify.

Amplify’s mission statement declares, “Amplify is reimagining the way teachers teach and students learn.” That message seems drilled into the heads of everyone I meet. Certain phrases tumble out of everyone’s mouth, a corporate mantra that quickly loses steam. The first time I heard “We’re not trying to replace teachers. We’re trying to be the teacher’s assistant,” it rang true. The fourth iteration, less so.

Whether it’s true or not remains to be seen. Given the newness of classroom tablets, there aren’t many studies gauging the devlices' effectiveness. According to the U.S. Department of Education, "technology-based instruction can reduce the time students take to reach a learning objective by 30 to 80%," and a PBS study states that 81% of teachers feel tablets aid education. While the numbers might seem shockingly high, many experts warn these studies are vague at best and don't completely tell the whole story.

Rock Terrace School: Fast Facts


According to the above "Special Education at a Glance" document, Rock Terrace has a combined percentage of 56.5% African-American and Hispanic students.

35.3 percent of the students at Rock Terrace are eligible for Free and Reduced Meals.

So far, MCPS has gotten away with stealing money out of these students' bank accounts. Dr. "Equity Warrior" Starr remains silent. (or does he prefer to be called "Social Justice Warrior" Starr?) How much longer do these families have to wait?





MCPS crumbling from within, say parents and students | WJLA.com

MCPS crumbling from within, say parents and students | WJLA.com

Proposed cell tower in Carderock draws debate

Proposed cell tower in Carderock draws debate

BOE Off Camera Retreat Addressed Public Comments

Here's a memo about what the BOE did on their off camera retreat on October 17, 2013.  
Too bad all of the parents and citizens that have given or sent comments to the BOE missed the BOE's actual discussion of their issues. 

...In addition, the Board used this work session as an opportunity to conduct its first quarterly deliberation regarding concerns raised by the community. This memorandum seeks to memorialize the decisions made by the Board during our retreat...

Off Camera: BOE Policy Committee Nov. 14th

MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
Policy Management Committee 

November 14, 2013 
4:00 pm 
Room 120 
850 Hungerford, Drive
Rockville, MD

AGENDA

1. Call to Order

2. Approval of Minutes

3. Discussion of Policy FAA, Long-Range Educational Facilities Planning –
Bruce Crispell (4:35) 15 minutes

4. Discussion of Policy DNA, Management of Board of Education Property –
James Song (4:50) 15 minutes

5. Plan for Policy CNE, Facility Improvements That are not Funded with
Montgomery County Revenues – James Song/Bruce Crispell – (5:05)
15 minutes

6. Adjournment

Committee Members
Pat O’Neill, Chair
Shirley Brandman
Justin Kim
Rebecca Smondrowski

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Starr video from yesterday on MCPS website already, Clarksburg HS video still not public.

Interesting.

The video from yesterday's State of the Schools extravaganza is already up on the MCPS website.

However, the video from the October 14, 2013, Clarksburg High School community day is still not on the MCPS website.

What's the hold up on making the October 14, 2013, video public?

MCPS 1st Q Projected Surplus of $13,500,000

http://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/mcpsmd/Board.nsf/files/9D5KZH53EBEB/$file/9.1%20Financial%20Rpt.pdf

Off site/Off camera: Wed. Nov. 13th BOE meets with Montgomery Co. Delegation

Wed, November 13, 2013
08:45 AM Annual Meeting with the Delegation -
Seneca Valley High School

The Montgomery County Board of Education 
The Montgomery County Delegation 
November 13, 2013 
Seneca Valley High School 
19401 Crystal Rock Drive, Germantown, MD 
Media Center 
8:15-10:15 

AGENDA 

Coffee and Light Breakfast Fare 

Welcome 
Mr. Christopher Barclay, President 
Mr. Marc Cohen, Principal 


MCPS Demographics and Enrollment Overview 
Mr. Christopher Barclay, President 


MCPS School Capacity and Construction Issues 
Mr. Phil Kauffman, Vice President 
Mr. Larry Bowers, Chief Operating Officer 


Dialogue on Key Legislative Priorities 

 State School Construction Funding 
 Adequacy of State Education Funding 

 Common Core State Standards