Wednesday, April 30, 2014

35 tested positive to low level mercury on shoes &/or clothing

From the Montgomery County Fire Department Public Information Officer:

more - Key Middle School, numerous students screened, 35 tested positive to low level mercury on shoes &/or clothing, no sickness or inj

Exclusive: Board of Education Member Spending Reveals over 100 Local Restaurant Meals, Local Hotel Stays, Local Mileage


Press Release
For Immediate Release

Public Information Act Request of Board of Education Member Spending Reveals Repetitive Local Mileage, Local Hotel Stays, and over 100 Local Restaurant Meals

Parents' Coalition Calls for Immediate Release of Expense Reports and Credit Card Records for Remaining Board of Education Members

Montgomery County, Maryland, April 30, 2014 - Today the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland is releasing 300 pages of credit card and expense reports for two Montgomery County Board of Education members.  The records cover the time period from January 1, 2012, through February 28, 2014, and were obtained through a Maryland Public Information Act request.

The expense reports from these two Board members reveal:
  • mileage charges for Board members commuting between their homes and the Board office
  • multiple mileage charges in one day to the same location
  • over 100 local restaurant meals, including meals where Board members are dining with each other
  • local hotel stays, including room service
  • multiple credit card charges for personal travel and expenses
In all of these records the signature of the "supervisor" is a staff member in the Board of Education office.  According to a February 17, 2010, letter from the MCPS Director of Public Information these charges should have been approved by MCPS Chief Operating Officer Larry Bowers.

Public education dollars are precious.  As Superintendent Joshua Starr and then Board of Education President Christopher Barclay stated in their March 2013 letter in the Gazette, even 36 cents a day can make a difference in the education of a child.

While recognizing that Board of Education members serve part time, still it is important the Board members be frugal in their use of school funds for purposes outside the classroom, and that they be conscientious in overseeing their own charges to reflect how careful they are in overseeing MCPS expenditures. 
In light of the spending revealed in these documents, the Parents' Coalition calls on the Board of Education to post all MCPS credit card and expense reports to increase support of public education and confidence in the administration of our public schools by increasing transparency.  We request that the Board of Education begin by releasing the expense and credit card reports for the remaining 6 Board members.

We ask the Montgomery County Inspector General to offer suggestions on how MCPS can improve its financial management practices so inappropriate expenses are not approved and mistakes are corrected in a more timely manner.

In requesting the full disclosure of Board member and MCPS expense reports we cite President Barack Obama's Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government
Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
About The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland: The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland was formed in 2003. The group seeks to achieve the goals of coherent, content-rich curriculum standards; high expectations combined with timely remediation and acceleration; a wider range of educational options for parents and children; greater transparency and accountability; and meaningful community input.

  • Board of Education member Patricia O'Neill Expense Report and Credit Card Records (34 pages)
  • Board of Education member Christopher Barclay Expense Report and Credit Card Records (268 pages)
January - April
June - September
September - December 

January - March
March - May
June - September
September - December 

2014 (January and February only)

Montgomery County evacuates school bus over Mercury contamination fears |

Montgomery County evacuates school bus over Mercury contamination fears |

Student brings bottle of mercury to Md. school | News | Silver Spring News

Student brings bottle of mercury to Md. school | News | Silver Spring News

Monday, April 28, 2014

BOE to Discuss Office of Legislative Oversight Report on Tuesday, April 29th

5. OLO Report: Performance of MCPS High Schools - A FY14 Update - 10:50 a.m.

MCPS Provided Buses for March

...Buses to transport students to and from the march as well as use of facilities were donated by MCPS.
Local businesses and organizations including American Institute for Research, Identity Inc., Impact Silver Spring, Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company, Planet Cotton, and So Fresh Entertainment helped support the cost of t-shirts and banners for the march...


Thanks to MYMCMedia for reporting on the funding for this event!

Who is on the Board of Impact Silver Spring?

Laura Steinberg, Board Chair
Intergovernmental Affairs Staff, Montgomery County Board of Education

School Board President Philip Kauffman (At Large) assured students that elected officials are “standing there with you” and are committed to working with students, staff, parents and the community to “do whatever it takes to close the achievement gap.”

Note to Board of Education:  Maybe that's the problem, you are just "standing there".

Why weren't these students marching TO the Board of Education? Instead, they marched AWAY from the Board of Education.  

Last question, who funded the tee-shirts, wrist bans, speaker systems, buses and County media coverage?  This wasn't a grassroots, students getting together march.  This was a carefully planned, well funded event.  

The Washington Post:  Hundreds of students march in Montgomery, calling attention to academic achievement gap

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Whitman High School Extortion - Banning Students from Graduation

Thanks to the parent that forwarded us the following announcement from Whitman High School.  Extortion is alive and well in MCPS! 

There are no mandatory senior dues in Montgomery County Public Schools. The Board of Education has never authorized the collection of senior dues, and the Maryland legislature has never enacted a senior dues fee.  

A student cannot legally be banned from their graduation ceremony for failure to pay senior dues! Withholding of caps and gowns is extortion, pure and simple. 

We are sorry that not one single Board of Education member will stand up for the right of students to graduate, but we will!  

Just say no to senior dues! 


  [Whitnet] Morning announcements for Friday, April 25, 2014
"Gardiner, Donna I" Date: Fri, Apr 25, 2014 7:40 am
To: ""


There are approximately 50 students who have not paid senior dues.  Please check the obligation list posted on the main office window.  You will not be permitted to buy prom tickets or receive a cap/gown until all obligations have been taken care of.

Friday, April 25, 2014

.@mcpssuper Joshua Starr Declares Plastic Grass "Safer" #artificialturf #crumbrubber #EPA

Plastic grass is now "safer" according to Superintendent Joshua Starr.  That's what Superintendent Starr has told the Board of Education in two separate memos for the April 29th Board of Education meeting.

Artificial turf is "safer."

Could someone please alert the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?


Starr funding Artificial Turf for Churchill High School (Yea for the MCPS Slush Fund!)

Here's the memo from Superintendent Joshua Starr for the installation of artificial turf at Churchill High School. You remember Churchill?  The school with the great natural grass field that didn't want artificial turf. Well, they are getting one anyway!  

Once again MCPS has money to burn and will fund the cost of this field above what can be obtained from a private entity.  Interesting that the private entities that want to use these fields can never afford to pay 100% of the cost!  That must be why they want to do these fields with MCPS! MCPS picks up the difference.  Thanks MCPS Operating Budget! 

Don't be fooled by the fake memo from Superintendent Starr that says any cost overruns will be paid for by user fees.  Any fees won't be collected until years down the road and we already know that these fields only bring in pennies in user fees!  

We already saw this at Wootton High School.  When the costs go over what the private entity will pay, the Board of Education simply coughs up the cash! 

$205,178 in cash was kicked in by the Board of Education for the Wootton High School plastic grass field when the FieldTurf (surprise) cost went over the MCPS estimate (another surprise). But, no worries! The Board of Education can always dip into the MCPS slush fund for plastic grass! (Mold in schools? No.)

Apr 29, 2014 - Business Meeting Agenda
Consent Items - 1:30 p.m.

Artificial Turf Field Installation - Winston Churchill HS

During summer 2013, the Department of Facilities Management was contacted about the possibility of installing artificial turf on the stadium field at Winston Churchill High School. Staff in the Department of Facilities Management evaluated the feasibility of artificial turf installation at Winston Churchill High School and determined that the current grass stadium field may be replaced with artificial turf.

Subsequently, staff publicly advertised a Request for Proposals for private organizations that would be interested in participating in the private/public partnership to install the artificial turf on the Winston Churchill High School stadium field. Only two proposals were received—the Bethesda Lacrosse/Potomac Soccer Association and Montgomery Soccer, Inc.  The top-rated proposal from the Bethesda LaCrosse/Potomac Soccer Association includes a $1.1 million contribution toward the installation of artificial turf at Winston Churchill High School in return for approximately 1,000 hours of use per year for a 10-year period.

Further, the Winston Churchill High School Booster Club submitted a letter of commitment to raise and contribute $200,000 toward the installation of artificial turf.  These two offers total    $1.3 million in private contributions, which is the estimated cost to install artificial turf at Winston Churchill High School.  If the project cost exceeds the $1.3 million contribution amount, the shortfall may be paid through the funds collected for community use and the savings accumulated each year from not having to maintain the current grass field—such as grass cutting, fertilizing, over-seeding, and irrigating.  It is anticipated that approximately 150 hours or more, pending weather conditions, will be available for the community to use the artificial turf field after calculating hours used by the school and the Bethesda Lacrosse/Potomac Soccer Association.

The proposed project timeline to complete the work is by spring 2015, understanding the time it takes for design, permitting, construction bids, and award. In the event an award is made by the Board of Education, staff in the Department of Facilities Management will develop a detailed project schedule and determine the final completion date.

I recommend your approval of the artificial turf installation on the Winston Churchill High School stadium field. Given the shortage of playing fields available in the county and the constant demand for use of our school fields, the artificial turf on the stadium field is a positive solution that will provide safer playing conditions for Montgomery County Public Schools students while allowing many community hours for use.  Furthermore, the entire project will be funded privately without having an impact on our current budgets. The following resolution is recommended for your approval:

WHEREAS,  There  is  an  interest  to  install  artificial  turf  on  the  stadium  field   at Winston Churchill High School; and

WHEREAS, Artificial turf on the stadium field at Winston Churchill High School will provide safer playing conditions and allow significantly more hours of use than the current grass field; and

WHEREAS, Artificial turf would benefit the school and the community; and

WHEREAS, In January 2013, staff in the Department of Facilities Management publicly advertised for Request for Proposals from private organizations for partnering on the installation and shared use of an artificial turf field at the Winston Churchill High School stadium field; and

WHEREAS, Two responses to the Request for Proposals were submitted and the Bethesda Lacrosse/Potomac Soccer Association’s proposal was selected, which includes a contribution of $1.1 million toward the cost of engineering, permitting, and installation of an artificial turf stadium field in exchange for a preferred use schedule agreement for a period of 10 years; and

WHEREAS, The Winston Churchill High School Booster Club has requested permission to raise and contribute $200,000 for the shared cost of the artificial turf field; and

WHEREAS, The cost of the project is approximately $1.3 million; and

WHEREAS, Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with Board of Education Policy CNE, Facility Improvements That Are Not Funded with Montgomery County Revenues, and finds that it complies with the criteria for acceptable contributions established in the policy; now therefore be it

Resolved, That the Board of Education approves the request of the Winston Churchill High School Booster Club to raise and contribute $200,000 for the artificial turf installation on the stadium field at Winston Churchill High School; and be it further

Resolved, That the contributions from the Bethesda Lacrosse/Potomac Soccer Association and the Winston Churchill High School Booster Club be accepted in accordance with Board of Education Policy CNE, Facility Improvements That Are Not Funded with Montgomery County Revenues; and be it further

Resolved, That a Stadium Field Agreement be executed between Montgomery County Public Schools and the Bethesda Lacrosse/Potomac Soccer Association for the sum of $1.1 million; and be it further

Resolved, That the Board of Education president and the superintendent of schools be authorized to execute the documents necessary for this transaction; and be it further

Resolved, That the Board of Education requests a Fiscal Year 2014 supplemental appropriation and amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013–2018 Capital Improvements Program in the amount of $1.3 million to fund the installation of artificial turf at Winston Churchill High School; and be it further

Resolved, That this resolution be forwarded to the county executive and the County Council for consideration and action.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

WPost: Teen charged for having sex in school hallway in Montgomery County

Churchill HS to Get Artificial Turf, Gaithersburg HS and Richard Montgomery HS fields Turned Over to Private Entities

At the April 29, 2014, Board of Education meeting:

9.9 Artificial Turf Field Use Agreements - Gaithersburg HS and Richard Montgomery HS

9.10 Artificial Turf Field Installation - Winston Churchill HS

Note these items are on the Consent Agenda.  The Board of Education won't discuss them, they will just vote them through.  No worries if the deals are bad for MCPS or cost the budget millions of dollars.  MCPS has money to burn and needn't sweat the details.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Does MCPS Separate Alleged Perpetrators from Victims in School Sex Assaults? Richard Montgomery HS Sex Assault Charges

The Parents' Coalition has obtained a copy of a Montgomery County District Court charging document that details the March 18, 2014, arrest of an 18 year old Richard Montgomery High School student for a 4th degree sexual offense that is alleged to have taken place at the school on February 27, 2014.  The victim is a 14 year old student at the school.  The incident is alleged to have taken place in the school at 10 AM while school was in session.

The charging document was forwarded to the Parents' Coalition by a source that wishes to remain anonymous. Our source tells us that when the family of the victim contacted the school they were told to not tell anyone about this incident.

At 1 PM today we contacted the Montgomery County State's Attorneys' office for a comment on this charge as it had, as yet, not been covered in the media.

By 4:34 PM this afternoon the Richard Montgomery High School principal sent out a notice to parents informing them of this incident.  The Gazette reported on the incident by 8:30 PM this evening.

Unfortunately, Montgomery County does not redact the names of minors in charging documents, so we will not be making the actual document public.  We have seen this in other Montgomery County sexual assault cases and it is very disturbing.  Other counties in Maryland do redact the names of minors.

We were told by our source that the alleged perpetrator is still a student at Richard Montgomery High School.  The victim is also still attending Richard Montgomery High School.

Is this how MCPS deals with students when a sexual assault has been alleged and an arrest has been made? 
The victim and alleged perpetrator are left in the same school? 
Is there any concern that the alleged victim would be bullied or harassed?

The letter sent to Richard Montgomery parents and guardians this afternoon is very vague.  We have reprinted it below.  The Gazette article says:
...Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Dana Tofig said the school has taken steps to reduce the number of places that students can hide from security. The measures include using mirrors and additional surveillance, according to Tofig.
Now remember that MCPS installed 70-80 state of the art security cameras at each high school.  The cameras are everywhere.  Did MCPS security cameras record this sexual assault?  We know the security cameras are not monitored, but did anyone review the tapes from this alleged February 27th incident?

MCPS is now saying security cameras are not sufficient and "mirrors" must be installed?  How many "mirrors" will each school get?
Remember that the security cameras are better than hiring additional security staff. That's the MCPS motto!

So what happened in this incident at Richard Montgomery High School? From the District Court charging document: 
(victim) agreed to skip class with (alleged perpetrator) and to meet with him in the hallway by the vending machine beside the attendance office. 
[sexual activity described] (victim) informed (officer) that this sexual act continued for approximately 20 minutes

Here's what Richard Montgomery High School parents and guardians were told today:

From: Richard Montgomery High School
Date: Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 4:34 PM
Subject: School Update 
Dear Richard Montgomery High School Community,

In late March, our school was contacted by the family of a female student about a possible sexual assault that occurred during the school day which involved a male student.  Given the seriousness of the allegations,  we immediately involved the police. The administration and security staff of Richard Montgomery High School worked closely with the City of Rockville Police Department and the Montgomery County Police Department as they investigated this incident. An arrest has been made in this case.

As a result of this event, we are reexamining our security protocols and building supervision by the school administration, security, and staff.  As always, safety is our top priority at Richard Montgomery High School.   Together we will continue to provide a safe, secure environment for our students to learn and grow.

If you have additional questions, please contact Mrs. Afie Mirshah.  Thank you for your continued support.


Nelson McLeod, PhD
Principal, Richard Montgomery High School
250 Richard Montgomery Drive
Rockville, Maryland  20852

The Graduation Math - BOE Refuses to Fully Fund Graduation Venue Rental - Slush Funds Abound

When a MCPS high school collects a fee from every senior, what is the total amount of cash collected by the principal? 

For 2014 Graduations based on current senior enrollment the approximate cash collected, not counting late fees, could be:

Blair HS at $30                          $19,560                        
Walter Johnson HS at $60          $32,280
Richard Montgomery HS            $23,175
Northwest HS                             $22,100
Quince Orchard HS at $70         $32,060
Seneca Valley HS at $65            $16,900
Watkins Mill HS at $45              $15,795
Wheaton HS at $55                     $13,750

Based on our past research, the cost to rent DAR Constitution Hall is $5,700. 

MCPS paid $76,500 in FY 2013 to DAR for 21 high schools to graduate.   

It would appear, therefore, that the Board of Education is refusing to pay the full rental cost of this graduation venue. 
According to the numbers on the MCPS Funding Accountability and Transparency webpage, the BOE is only funding $3,642 per school graduation. 
That would leave $2,058 per high school for the graduation venue fee.  

Now, take a look at how much cash the above high schools are collecting from seniors in the name of graduation venue costs!  

Again, if graduation/senior fees were legal they would be authorized by the Board of Education and there would be a public accounting for the fees collected in the MCPS budget. 

Only $9 will get a senior through graduation at BCC and no mandatory bus fee!

...Students can wear an older brother or sister’s gown if they wish as long as it is Royal Blue. However, they will still need to order a tassel from Jostens. The tassel can be purchased for $ 9 at the senior breakfast...

$10 to Graduate from Blair HS, But Seniors Must Ride Mandatory $20 Bus

What's going on at Blair High School?  A senior at Blair can graduate for as little as $10! Well, almost!
Seniors are "required" to ride a $20 bus to graduation! 

What's going on at the other MCPS schools that are charging mandatory fees of up to $75 to graduate without any bus transportation to graduation?  What is all that money for?

Life long learners might ask for an accounting of these fees at MCPS high schools.  Be warned, MCPS doesn't really promote life long learning and doesn't appreciate questions about illegal fees! 

Taken With Webpage Screenshot

$65 + $10 Late Fee at Seneca Valley HS Graduation - Other Events Required

When it comes time to graduate from a Montgomery County Public High School the only event that signifies graduation is the actual walking across the stage at the graduation venue. Yet, at Seneca Valley High School seniors are required to pay for additional events as part of graduation. 

What if a senior doesn't want to go on the senior "activity", doesn't go to the Senior awards night, and doesn't want to eat breakfast with the rest of the graduates on graduation day? Too bad. 

Seneca Valley HS seniors have to pay for ALL of those events in order to get their cap and gown! As a reminder on these fees: MCPS high schools call these fees "obligations" and will then attempt to withhold documents (transcripts/diplomas) from the student if these fees are not paid. Do these MCPS high schools have any legal right to do that?  The answer is no.  But, call your local Apple Ballot Board of Education member, State Senator or State Delegate and ask them for yourself.  We'd love to hear what you get as an answer.

Taken With Webpage Screenshot

$55 Graduation Fee + $5 Late Fee at Wheaton High School

Notice how these fees vary from MCPS high school to MCPS high school? If the Board of Education had authorized a graduation or senior fee the fee would have been set by the Board of Education, just as they set the student parking fee. Local principals are not permitted to change BOE set fees.
The Board of Education and the Maryland legislature have never authorized that these fees be charged as part of a free public education.  These are fees being set and charged by the local principals without BOE or legislative authorization. 

As an example of the variation in these illegal fees, see this post for when Northwood High School was charging seniors $110 to graduate! 

Taken With Webpage Screenshot

$60 at Walter Johnson HS to graduate

Plus a handling fee!

senior dues $60 + 3.75% non-refundable handling fee

$10 Late Fee on $50 Graduation Fee at Northwest High School

Here's a $10 late fee on a $50 charge!  That's quite a late fee!  Where has this steep late fee been authorized by the Board of Education or the Maryland legislature?  Oh, it hasn't.  
It's just a made up fee by a local principal.  There are no rules when the fees are illegal! 

Taken With Webpage Screenshot

$5 late fee on $45 Senior Fee at Richard Montgomery High School

Here's a twist on the illegal senior fee at MCPS high schools, RMHS charges a late fee if you don't get your fee in on time!  What's the fee pay for? Who authorized a late charge? (Hint: Not the Board of Education.)

$45 to graduate at Watkins Mill HS. Cheaper graduation ceremony?

How is it that graduation from Quince Orchard High School costs a mandatory $70, but over at Watkins Mill High School the graduation fee is only $45?  Both schools graduate from the same venue.  Note: this is what you see when fees are ILLEGAL!  There is no graduation fee set by the Board of Education, and so, principals can charge students whatever they feel like charging them!

$70 to Graduate from Quince Orchard HS. When did BOE approve fees for graduation? Never!

4/25/14Senior Fee’s are due by 4/25/14. This one-time fee covers everything related to graduation day (including cap & gown, programs, the ceremony, etc). The fee is $70. Checks must be made out to QOHS, and the student’s name and ID number must be on check. Turn in the money to Ms. Etzwiler in Room 332, or checks may be mailed to school. Do not leave money in the school mailbox. Students who have not submitted a senior fee by May 2nd, will receive an obligation notice. Obligation notices must be cleared with Mrs. Yee in the financial office. ALL obligations must be cleared before graduation rehearsal. No checks from seniors or their families will be accepted after 4/25/14. After that date, only cash and money orders will be accepted.

The Board of Education has never approved the charging of fees for students to graduate from MCPS high schools.  The funds collected by principals never show up in the MCPS budget and are not accounted for in any public budget document.

In the past, the Parents' Coalition has documented how these fees are used by principals to create slush funds for purchases unrelated to the graduation of students.  Pay if you want, but know that graduation fees are not an "obligation", they are optional.

Monday, April 21, 2014

And, Starr protégé is outta here! MCPS boosts another resume!

Taken With Webpage Screenshot

Guest Post: MCCPTA wants to shut down communication with members, again...

Years ago, the MCCPTA Yahoo listserv group was open to all Montgomery County PTA members.  
Over the years, MCCPTA has restricted who can participate in this group. Tomorrow evening the latest proposal to shut down communication will come up for a vote at the April MCCPTA meeting. If passed, this resolution will create the most restrictive group since the group began in 2003.  The minutes from the March MCCPTA meeting aren't online yet so this resolution has been forwarded to the Parents' Coalition for Montgomery County PTA members to review before the Tuesday evening vote. 

Motion on the Function and Composition of the Delegates eList
April 22, 2014
Proposed by MCCPTA eCommunications Committee
I move that the MCCPTA Delegates eList henceforth become a two-way communication and discussion vehicle open to current members of the MCCPTA Delegates Assembly.  This change would align the Delegates eList with other MCCPTA eLists (Presidents, Treasurers, etc.) already functioning in such a manner.  MCCPTA information will be available to all PTA members and the public via our MCCPTA website and open enrollment to the MCCPTA newsletter.  To accomplish this, I move to:
1.     Open the opt-in membership to this eList to MCCPTA Delegates Assembly delegates, PTA presidents, and all members of the MCCPTA Board of Directors, for the given MCCPTA fiscal year; 
2.     Instruct the eCommunications chair or eList administrator to open membership of the eList on July 1 of each year;
3.     Allow postings by all members of this eList, with the intent of spurring discussion; and
4.     Requesting all members treat the Delegates eList messages as internal discussions and not forward or repost messages or threads, unless expressly labeled otherwise (ie in the re: line if marked “PLEASE SHARE” or “FOR LOCAL CONSIDERATION”).

If approved by the MCCPTA Delegates Assembly, I move that this change be effective as of July 1, 2014. 
Deb Lang (2013-2014 eCommunications Chair)

Tuesday, April 22nd: MCPS Financial Report at Montgomery County Council Education Committee

April 22, 2014
Montgomery County Council, Maryland
Education Committee

ED 2:00 PM - 7CHR
Apr 22 (1) • MCPS Financial Report (McGuire)
 FY15 Operating Budget
 (2) • Montgomery County Public Schools (McGuire)

Rock Creek Hills School Opponents Prepared To Go To State’s Highest Court

Field-Testing of Common-Core Exams Gets Off to Shaky Start at Wootton HS

Full text of article at this Education Week link.
At Thomas S. Wootton High School, teachers and administrators seem to be in agreement that field-testing for the common-core assessments is off to a bumpy start. I spent the morning of April 2 in a computer lab at the school with 9th graders who were randomly assigned to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, tests in English/language arts. This was the group's second attempt at completing the computer-based tests, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.Last week, students at the school encountered technical difficulties—software systems that "weren't jiving," said Joseph Du Boyce, an assistant principal at Wootton High School—and eventually were sent back to their regular classrooms without taking the exam...,,,On the day I visited Wootton High, Mr. Du Boyce began by walking students through a Java update intended to help prevent software problems. He repeatedly urged the students to "be patient"—though his own actions revealed some edginess. He circled the lab with purpose and breezed through the instructions, which he later told me were "very unclear" and "poorly written.""Let's pray this works," he said to students as they clicked the sign-in box on their computer screens......As the students began the PARCC test, Mr. Du Boyce was rushed out of the room to address a technical problem in another computer lab. A few minutes later, the two remaining proctors realized that none of the students had headphones, which were supposed to have been distributed before the test began. A couple of students raised their hands when they reached items that required them to listen to a reading—though some did not and plowed on. About 10 minutes after testing had begun, a staff member entered with the headphones PARCC had provided. The proctors couldn't help but laugh as they picked apart the mess of tangled cords... 
...JeanMarie Joseph, a special education teacher at the school who has taught for 28 years, said she's seen the evolution of states tests and understands there are often "rough spots to iron out" with new assessments. However, having experienced the computer difficulties while administering the test to a student with special needs, she said, with PARCC, "I've been underwhelmed so far."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

WPost Letter: Successful schools do not engage in the obfuscation that Montgomery County has undertaken to keep people from understanding what is going on in them.

Tonight: Guests on the Pat McDonough Radio Show to Discuss Supt. Dance's Antics

Announcement from State Delegate Pat McDonough of Harford County and Baltimore County

Hereford High School parents will be guests on the Pat McDonough Show on WCBM, 680 am this Saturday night, April 19th, from 8 to 10 pm. It will also be on

The show will discuss the outrage by parents regarding Dr. Dance and his policies related to Hereford High School.
Delegate McDonough and others will review the problems created by Dr. Dance in the Baltimore County School System, including McDonough's "conflict of interest" charges against the Superintendent.

Click here to listen live

Montgomery County Executive Candidates Forum at Rockville Library on April 16th

Open Data Policy called step forward for Md. transparency

Open Data Policy called step forward for Md. transparency

Friday, April 18, 2014

Who knew? Schiavino-Narvaez "described herself first and foremost as a parent whose child has special needs"

Real Hartford » Superintendent Search: Substance or Style?

MCPS Deputy Sup. "Schiavino-Narvaez said she supports school choice and admires Hartford's "portfolio" approach to education that gives families the option of traditional neighborhood schools, specialized academies, charter schools and magnet programs."

Superintendent Joshua Starr's former intern and now MCPS Deputy Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez is one of two candidates for the Hartford, Connecticut superintendent position.  In today's Hartford Courant article on the superintendent selection process we learn what Schiavino-Narvaez had to say about school choice at yesterday's Hartford forum.

Hartford Courant:  Hartford Superintendent Finalists Meet The Public

PARCC piloted at Fallsmead Elementary and other county schools

Gazette: Fallsmead students try new state assessment test

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Derek Sheely died after contact football drills at Frostburg State University

Gazette: Judge keeps helmet lawsuit intact in case involving death of Germantown player

Real Food for Kids: Screening of "Lunch Hour" May 3rd

If you care about what your kids are eating at school, you won’t want to miss this compelling  new movie. On Saturday May 3, Real Food for Kids – Montgomery (RFKM) is  hosting a screening of “Lunch Hour (, a feature-length documentary that explores the national school lunch program, childhood obesity, and our addiction to unhealthy food (starring Rachel Ray, Robin Quivers, Marion Nestle, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Amie Hamlin, Peter Eisler, and Alex Jamieson). 
Following the film, James Costa, writer and director of “Lunch Hour,” will be on hand to lead a discussion.
May 3: 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Takoma Park Community Center
7500 Maple Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912
Suggested donation: $10 per person.
Appropriate for ages 14 and older.          
Please sign our petition for better school food in MCPS!
We will be delivering our petition to the Board of Education and Supt. Starr at the June 3rd Board of Education Meeting.  This is your chance to have your voice heard.  Click on this link to sign:   online petition, have your spouse and kids sign, share it on Facebook, tweet it and e-mail it to all your friends in MCPS. 
Real FoodFor Kids - Montgomery is a grassroots, parent advocacy group promoting whole, delicious, fresh and nutrient-rich foods in the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Formed in October of 2012, we currently have parents representing 69% (140) of MCPS' 202 schools - and over 1800 supporters. If you support our mission, please email us at  For more information, visit our website at
Thank you!
Karen Devitt and Lindsey Parsons
Real Food For Kids - Montgomery

Starr's Hired Gun

This week's Gazette includes a letter to the editor from the MCPS Public Information and Web Services Director.  The letter criticizes a Gazette Editorial about Superintendent Joshua Starr's "Hope" agenda.  Joshua Starr brought the "Hope" agenda to MCPS as part of a no bid $900,000 multi-year contract with Gallup, Inc.  

The letter to the editor from the MCPS Public Information and Web Services Director dispenses the following statement as "public information":  
...the Gazette’s recent editorial on the superintendent’s speech at Interfaith Works [“The urgency of action,” April 9] didn’t meet that basic standard of journalism...
Does the  job description of the Montgomery County Public Schools' Public Information Director include defending the personal agendas of superintendents?  No, it actually doesn't. The position is to provide public information and web services to the public on behalf of the Board of Education and the school system. The position does not include spinning the personal agendas of superintendents.

Gazette Letter: Schools need to pay for athletic trainers

Sports safety experts say that if you can’t afford athletic trainers, you can’t afford to run a high school athletics program. We should not forget the death five years ago of Edwin “Dek” Miller from heat stroke during football practice at Northwest High School. Had an athletic trainer been present that day, Dek Miller might still be with us.
Surrounding school systems have found a way to fund athletic trainers in their budgets.
The Gazette reports that MCPS adopted a pilot program this year under which 11 of its 25 high schools are staffed with part-time athletic trainers [“Athletic trainers on the sidelines on Montgomery County,” March 12].
While the pilot program is a start, keep in mind that the athletic trainers’ services were donated by Medstar and other local health care providers, not funded through MCPS’s operating budget.
These health care providers are not charities, and if marketing and branding benefits do not materialize, they may discontinue their donations.
Having athletic trainers by donation at some high schools is better than no athletic trainers at all. But long term, Superintendent Joshua Starr and the school board need to make a grown-up decision to fund athletic trainers in the budget, rather than getting by on the kindness of strangers. After all, their primary mission is student safety. 
Tom Hearn, Bethesda

WTOP: Report: gap persists between rich and poor schools in Montgomery Co., Md.

The report finds students at high-poverty schools to those in low-poverty schools are:
  • 91% as likely to graduate on-time
  • 76% as likely to maintain their academic eligibility for the entire school year;
  • 71% as likely to complete Algebra 2 by Grade 11 with a C or better, a slight improvement from the last analysis three years ago
The Office of Legislative Oversight recommends a greater focus on integrating students across all of the county's high schools, and new steps to narrow the achievement gap.

Easter Monday: MCPS Union will get 2 and 1/2 times hourly rate

The Board of Education and Superintendent are going to have to pay SEIU members who work on Easter Monday time and one-half according to the SEIU contract.  That will make running school on that date more expensive than a regular school day.  

If, after having established the calendar for the school year (including the 
designation of official holidays), (a) the Board changes the school calendar and 
the Board removes the designation of holiday from a day designated as an official 
holiday; and (b) bargaining unit employees are required to work on the 
previously-designated holiday due to the change in the calendar, the bargaining 
unit employees required to work on that day shall be entitled to the pay for 
Holiday Work described in this Article 9, Section C, and bargaining unit 
employees on authorized paid leave for that day shall be considered to be on 
Holiday leave, as defined in Article 12, Section G. 


Holiday Work 
1. A unit member required to work on an official Board of Education holiday 
(and/or Christmas and New Year's Day when such days fall on a weekend) shall 
be paid one and one-half times the basic hourly straight time rate for each hour 
worked in addition to the holiday pay to which he/she is entitled. 

2013-2014 SEIU - MCPS Contract:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

@bturque Tweeted Montgomery County Executive Candidates' Debate

Thanks Taxpayers League, Civic Assoc & Parents Coalition for the honor of moderating #MontCo Exec Debate. @wusa9

Tonight: WUSA9's Andrea McCarren Moderates Civic Fed, Taxpayers' League, Parents' Coalition Forum for County Exec Candidates

A reminder: The Candidates Forum is tonight.

Please pass this information on to your neighborhood, school, and other listservs and friends.
Montgomery County Executive Candidates Forum
The Civic Fed, Montgomery County Taxpayers League, and the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County, MD, are co-sponsoring this Candidates Forum.  All four candidates have agreed to attend - Phil Andrews (D), Doug Duncan (D), Ike Leggett (D), and Jim Shalleck (R).  Andrea McCarren of WUSA*9 News has agreed to moderate.
DATE: Wednesday, April 16th
TIME: 6:30 pm meet-and-greet, 7-9 pm, Q&A
PLACE: Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville
Please come and bring your questions!