Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rock Terrace: Open Letter to George Leventhal and Craig Rice, Montgomery County Council

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
To: Councilmember Craig Rice
Councilmember George Leventhal

Dear George and Craig:

First of all, thank you both for writing letters to MCPS concerning the "bus" incident and the "healthy foods" issue. I agree that both of these matters need to be addressed by MCPS.

As both of you know, I have asked before why you haven't also written Joshua Starr concerning the issues surrounding Rock Terrace School. My understanding from Craig is that you are waiting to see how the criminal investigation plays out (from Craig) and that the Council does sometimes question MCPS as it relates to matters that tie in with Health and Human Service matters (from George).

I have said from the beginning that the Rock Terrace issues are not simply criminal ones. Yes, a criminal investigation is ongoing, so far as I know, but so are other investigations. The Maryland Dept. of Labor has interviewed staff. The USDOE Office of Inspector General is reviewing information, as is the National Credit Union Administration. I see the Rock Terrace issues as being divided into three parts:

(1) criminal issues
(2) MCPS program issues
(3) how the families were impacted

As you may know, MCPS has sent out letters informing families that they will be sending them checks of varying amounts. The letters specifically state that MCPS cannot advise them on the impact these funds will have on the children's benefits, and advises them to seek advice from their "financial advisor or accountant."

This is unacceptable.

Why should the families of children who were financially exploited have to undergo an additional expense and burden of consulting a professional at their own expense?!

As Chair of the HHS committee, George, this specific issue is ripe for the Council to address. What impact are these payments going to have on these families? At least one family I know of has been notified that they will be receiving checks totaling over $1100. Will their children's medicaid or SSI benefits be jeopardized if they cash them?

It is obvious that MCPS is trying to sweep this issue under the rug by paying off families and hoping the issues go away. Instead, they may be causing MORE problems. And additionally: where is this money coming from? Have you asked MCPS whether these payments are coming out of the Special Ed Budget?

I have more questions than answers. As my elected representatives, you should have questions too. I hope that you will join me in seeking answers.

Lyda Astrove

(*As of March 18, I have not had the courtesy of a response.)

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