Monday, March 10, 2014


by Frederick Stichnoth, 
February 10, 2014
            On Saturday, MCCPTA President Janette Gilman announced her appointment of Shruti Bhatnagar, Blair Cluster Coordinator, to succeed Shebra Evans as VP for Educational Issues. Shebra resigned to run for Shirley Brandman’s BOE at-large seat.              
Janette says that Shebra “was in many ways my right hand;” she took on lots of tasks; especially in a previous job where she put together “pertinent, informative, well-organized programs.” Shebra cites those programs as her qualification for the BOE: “In my previous role with the county PTA , I devised a series of programs that supported the academic, health, and social needs of our students and families. The speakers and panelists ranged from….”              
Shruti has been prepared for the VP position by various previous MCCPTA jobs. She’s the Annapolis Bus Marshall. I guess she’ll be getting people on the bus in the fervid community rally for State bond money.              
No need for bond money to finance the capital costs of unpairing Oak View and New Hampshire Estates, though. They won’t be unpaired. But that’s a bit of Shruti and MCCPTA handiwork too. Janette obliquely recognizes Shruti’s OVES/NHEES “leadership” role in her Saturday message: “For MCCPTA, Shruti has been an effective cluster coordinator; being effective, however, doesn’t always mean being universally loved. Shruti has taken principled, difficult stands at times in an effort to respect process, default to collaboration, and get fair and equitable results.”                   
Dr. Starr recognized Shruti’s work in his recommendation against unpairing: said that “The cluster coordinators [Shruti and Kathy Larin] urge MCPS to prioritize the potential academic consequences and the capital and disruption costs of unpairing the schools over the desires of parents for continuous pre-K–5 schools. They also raised concerns about the highly organized and strident advocacy of the PK5NSI community coalition and whether the members, many of whom do not have children in MCPS, have the best interest of all students at both schools in mind.”              
Unpairing was advocated by 600 petitioner signers, four civic associations, and the resolution (with 72 votes) of the NHEES/OVES PTA.              
Shruti took a “principled…stand,” but we don’t find the principle. She “respected process,” but not the petition, civic association, PTA process. She “defaulted to collaboration,” perhaps with Dr. Starr, but not with the people and PTAs we thought she represented. She condemns “the highly organized and aggressive advocacy of members of the Oak View community who do not have children in MCPS and in some cases have never had children in MCPS. It is not at all clear that these community members have the best interests of all of the students at both school in mind as they advocate for unpairing (Bhatnagar and Larin Evaluation 5; bold in orginal).” It’s ironic that the MCCPTA machine and our Bus Marshal take offense at “highly organized” advocacy. It seems self-defeating to disparage community input when, if the community mattered, MCPS and MCCPTA would want community support for our schools, state funding of school construction, and County funding of the budget. The Bus Marshall puts MCCPTA on the bus but throws her community under it.  


  1. Has anyone asked Shruti what she has done to help support the NHEES/OVES PTA since she decided to take it upon herself to override the interests of the affected communities and PTA and prevent the unpairing?

  2. There may not be any NHE/OV PTA going forward; see this link--

    1. An acting principal was appointed to NHE in mid-July, replacing principal Marinda Thomas-Evans (who officially retires from MCPS on September 1): Thomas-Evans is the principal who allowed music teacher Lawrence Joynes to remain in classrooms with his students--unsupervised--despite multiple warning signs and complaints:

  3. Exactly. MCPS missed an amazing opportunity to leverage community interest in reviving these schools and re-engaging the community in the welfare of these schools. They let outdated beliefs about demographics, and in some case flat out lies about demographics, trump everything. Starr should have payed closer attention to what it was all about, but instead he let MCCPTA reps disparage the engagement of communities in the official final report rather than look at the real data and the real issues. Truly shameful. Hopefully the demise of the joint PTA is just a pre-cursor to the establishment of separate PTAs at these schools that can start to pave the way to eventual unpairing.


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