Friday, October 31, 2014

Exclusive: Family Sues BOE over Loiederman MS teacher incident

The Parents' Coalition has learned that a lawsuit has been filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court against the Montgomery County Board of Education concerning the incidents surrounding the arrest of Loiederman Middle School teacher Benjamin Cano. 

Cano was sentenced on January 21, 2014, on two misdemeanor sex offenses in the fourth degree and assault in the second degree.

The civil lawsuit filed in September in Montgomery County Circuit Court lists the following counts:
  • assault and battery
  • negligent hiring/negligent retention
  • battery
Damages against the Board of Education are sought in excess of $75,000.

Whitman Football Coach Plead Guilty on September 26th

A Potomac man was sentenced to three years of probation in District Court on Friday for recording an exchange student while she was taking a shower.
Darrien Lamont Tucker, 40, a physical education teacher at the McLean School of Maryland in Potomac, pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of visual surveillance in a private place and with prurient intent. He was given three years of probation with a one-year suspended sentence for each count, meaning any violation of his probation could result in two years of jail time.
The sentence also requires Tucker to attend therapy and have his computers regularly tested for “pornographic surveillance material,” according to Ramon Korionoff, spokesperson for the State Attorney’s office.
“This plea not only holds him accountable for his crimes but also provides the community safety,” Korionoff said in an email...

Article continues at this link:

Fox5 coverage of Tucker's arrest included, that Tucker has also served as a football coach at Walt Whitman High School.

Starr on Chromebooks: " can never have everything perfectly completed before you go forward..."

Here's Part 2 of the Board of Education meeting where Superintendent Joshua Starr's surprise Chromebooks project was announced and voted on.
In this segment of the video we learn about:
  • MCPS policies need to be updated immediately
  • Co-construction with students as to how to use Chromebooks
  • Training for teachers
  • Support/Repairs 
  • Equipment
  • Media Specialists take on new responsibilities

July 15, 2014
7.1 Strategic Technology Plan-Creating 21st Century Learning Spaces

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ike Leggett one of the Funders of BOE Incumbents Mailer

Did you receive a mailer similar to this one this week?

The mailer says it is "By authority:  Committee for the Public Schools PAC."

The Parents' Coalition has pulled the Campaign Finance report for this brand new political action committee and is making it public here so that voters can see who is actually funding this mailing supporting the current Board of Education members re-election campaigns.

It turns out that County Executive Ike Leggett's campaign account contributed $3,000 to this new Committee for the Public Schools PAC. 

However, County Executive Ike Leggett is not listed on the mailer as a supporter of these candidates.  

As of October 19th, the contributors to the Committee for the Public Schools PAC included:

MCEA (teachers' union)  $4,000
BOE member Judy Docca's campaign $7,000
BOE member Mike Durso's campaign $7,000
BOE member Patricia O'Neill's campaign $10,000
Senator Nancy King's campaign $1,500
County Executive Ike Leggett's campaign $3,000


Cell Tower Committee Admits MD Open Meetings Act Violation, PG Parents Can Finally Track 60 Cell Tower Plan

Cell Tower at Daly Elementary School, Germantown, MD
Parents in multiple Maryland counties, including Montgomery County, are having a hard time tracking the rapid construction of cell towers on public school playgrounds.

In Prince George's and Montgomery Counties, cell tower applications must go through a Tower Committee.  Tower Committees are public bodies and must abide by the requirements of the Maryland Open Meetings Act.  But, in Prince George's County the Tower Committee was not following the Open Meetings Act, making it impossible for parents to track when their local school playground was to be the site of one of the 60 cell tower compounds coming to their schools.

A complaint was filed on September 17th with the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board regarding the failure of the Prince George's Tower Committee to follow the Open Meetings Act.
This week the Prince George's Tower Committee filed their response to the complaint.

In their complaint they acknowledge numerous failings of their committee process including the fact that they have not been providing the public with Minutes of their meetings.

As a result of the Open Meetings Act Complaint that was filed:
  • The Tower Committee has now changed it's webpage to show meeting dates, time and location.  
  • The Tower Committee will now be posting notices of upcoming meetings. 
  • The Tower Committee has now made the location of their monthly meetings public so that the public can attend. 
  • The Tower Committee will now be making audio recordings of their meetings available to the public as the meeting minutes.
Here is the full text of the Tower Committee's response.  In the coming weeks the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board will review the complaint and the response and issue a formal Opinion.
In the meantime, the Tower Committee has committed to following the Open Meetings Act going forward.  This will make the construction of the 60 cell tower compounds on Prince George's public school playgrounds easier to track.

Original Complaint as filed September 17, 2014.

Maryland County Budget Information

Click this link for access to MACO County information

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

MCPS Chromebooks Presentation to Board of Education Part 1

This video is the first hour of the MCPS  July 15th presentation on the introduction of Chromebooks into classrooms.

July 15, 2014
7.1 Strategic Technology Plan-Creating 21st Century Learning Spaces

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

@mcpssuper Starr Calls This School a "Successful Co-Location" - You Be The Judge

Here's a couple of snapshots of the playground for students with severe disabilities at Matsunaga/Longview.

Do you call this successful planning?

Exclusive Pictures of Unlocked Pool at Nix Elementary School - Hearing Wed. Oct. 29th

These pictures show the condition of the unlocked and abandoned pool on the Roscoe Nix Elementary School parking lot on September 16, 2014.

As shown in the photo below, an unlocked door would allow Nix Elementary School students to easily enter and explore this abandoned pool property.

What have the Board of Education and Superintendent Joshua Starr done to keep students safe at this elementary school in light of the ongoing danger on the school parking lot?  

It should be noted that in 2005, the Board of Education bought the parking lot for the pool for use by Nix Elementary SchoolThe only access to the pool property now is over Board of Education property.  

As the Parents' Coalition and ABC7 have previously reported, this property is easily accessible by children at Nix Elementary School.

The Montgomery County Board of Appeals will hold a hearing on this property on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

Monday, October 27, 2014

November 11th Meeting on Joshua Starr's Cell Tower for Clemente Middle School

Daly Elementary School cell tower - Germantown - Fall 2014
A public meeting has been scheduled in Germantown for that community to weigh in on a proposal to put a cell phone tower at Roberto Clemente Middle School.

The meeting is scheduled for Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. inside the school’s cafeteria at 18808 Waring Station Road...

Today: County Council Education Committee Off Site, Off Camera

MCPS Teacher Joynes Rape Trial Now Put Off Until May 26, 2015

Mugshot - Balt. Co.

MCPS teacher Lawrence Joynes is currently being held in a Montgomery County jail without bond.  He has two cases pending in the Montgomery County Circuit Court.  One of the cases involves the rape of a middle school student.  That trial has now been scheduled for May 26, 2015, and the Court has set aside four days for that matter.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Montgomery schools to prohibit certain chemicals in foods

New contracts won’t include some food dyes, sweeteners
From the Gazette.  Read the whole story here.
October 16, by Lindsay A. Powers, Staff Writer

Montgomery County students will be seeing fewer dyes, artificial sweeteners and other chemical additives in their food after a recent decision by school officials to add to a list of banned ingredients.

As Montgomery County Public Schools enters into new contracts with food vendors, the system will require that foods be free of the Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 food dyes, aspartame, acesulfame-potassium, butylated hydroxyanisole, potassium bromate, propyl gallate, saccharin, sodium tripolyphosphate and tert-Butylhydroquinone, said Marla Caplon, director of food and nutrition services for the school system. Existing contracts won’t be affected.


Lindsey Parsons, co-founder of Real Food for Kids-Montgomery, said the change marks “a huge step.” Her organization, which includes more than 3,500 members, has advocated for healthier foods in county school cafeterias.

She said Real Food appreciates the school system’s decision given the number of items that will be affected.
“We recognize that that’s a big give for them,” she said.

The organization still wants to see other chemicals banned as well, including other food dyes and substances similar to MSG. Parsons said Real Food’s main concern is that the chemical additives that remain in school foods might be carcinogenic. Members are also concerned the food dyes might cause hyperactivity in some children.

[Marla] Caplon [MCPS Director of food and nutrition services] said some chemical additives are more prevalent in cafeteria foods and the school system thinks there are good reasons for keeping them.

Providing an example, she said that a caramel additive is used in nearly all the fully cooked meat items the school system serves. The system buys fully cooked meat due to safety reasons.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

U.S. High School Dropout Rates Fall, Especially Among Latinos

From Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.  To read the whole story go here.
6:36 AM Oct 20, 2014
By Ben Casselman 

Five years ago, educators at Elkhart Community Schools realized they had a problem. Their dropout rate was too high. More than one third of the northern Indiana school district’s students weren’t graduating from high school on schedule. Among Hispanics, who make up about a third of the student body, the figures were even worse.

“It was a significant moment where we said we have to change the culture,” said Gail Draper, who heads the guidance department at Elkhart Central High School. “We had to do something to turn the tide.”

It seems to be working. In 2013, 85 percent of Elkhart’s students graduated on time, putting the district close to the state average. Perhaps even more remarkably, the graduation rate among Hispanics is now equal to — or even slightly above — that of the district’s overall population.

 Elkhart’s improvement is a particularly dramatic example of a nation-wide trend: Graduation rates are improving, especially for Latinos.1 Nationally, the on-time graduation rate topped 80 percent for the first time in 2012, up from 74 percent five years earlier. For Latinos, the graduation rate is up more than 10 percentage points over the past five years, to 76 percent. 

And...what works:

“It’s hard to get an 18-year-old to think in the long term when they can get a job for $12 an hour,” said Draper, the Elkhart guidance counselor.

So Elkhart administrators began calling local employers and talking to them about how by offering jobs to teenagers during school hours, they were contributing to the dropout problem — ultimately leaving them with a less educated workforce. In some cases, the administrators worked with employers to turn the jobs into internships, earning students school credit. And they developed an after-hours school program to help students who needed to work during the day stay in school.

“We try and work with the students in the circumstances that they’re in,” Draper said.

Draper recalled one student who had arrived in Elkhart from Mexico in his sophomore year speaking no English. He was a particularly promising student — until one day he walked into the guidance office and announced he was dropping out. His mother had lost her job. He needed to go to work.

“We said no, you can’t do that. You’re too smart,” Draper said. The school raced to find help for the student and his family, reaching out to local community groups to find financial support and working with the student to ensure he could stay in school while working. Draper said the experience showed the importance of relationships — the student’s relationship with his advisor, where he felt comfortable revealing his family’s problems, and the school’s relationship with the community, where they could find a solution.

It worked. The student stayed in school and is on track to graduate with his class this spring — with honors.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Silver Spring neighbors call abandoned Oakview Pool a hazard for kids and an eyesore | - Roscoe Nix Elementary School

See also Parents' Coalition October 21st posting of Montgomery County Citation concerning this abandoned pool next to Roscoe Nix Elementary School.

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - A Montgomery County neighborhood is wading into the debate over a long-standing, now-closed community pool that some say is a danger to kids and an eyesore.

Oakview Pool was built right after World War II, but now it’s crumbling, overgrown, and abandoned.
For many years, the pool served the neighborhood, but it’s located right next to an elementary school and in an area where lots of young children live.
“That's not good for the neighborhood and it's certainly not good for the school,” Donna Butts says.
The pool closed when the nonprofit organization that operated it ran out of money. The grounds have not been kept, rainwater sits in the bottom of the pool, and it was broken into and vandalized in August.
Some neighbors fear children can get in and get hurt.

Starr and Morrison on List for Los Angeles Superintendent Job .@mcpssuper .@CMSSupt

Deasy has stepped down as superintendent of LA Unified, replaced on an interim basis by Ray Cortines, it’s open season on speculating who might be considered as a permanent superintendent...

...In any case, let the speculation begin. Below is a list of possible candidates, compiled by LA School Report :
  • Alberto M. Carvalho has served as superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation’s fourth largest school system, since 2008. He was named Florida’s 2014 Superintendent of the Year, the 2014 National Superintendent of the Year and has worked his whole career for the district
  • Richard A. Carranza has served as superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District since 2012. He previously served as deputy superintendent of Instruction, Innovation and Social Justice at the district from 2009 to 2012 and as northwest region superintendent for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas. 
  • Joshua Starr has served as superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland since 2011. He began his career as a special education teacher in New York City and served as superintendent of Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut.
  • Heath E. Morrison has seved as superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg  Schools district in North Carolina since 2012. He previously served as superintendent of the Washoe County School District in Nevada and community superintendent for the Down County Consortium in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland....

Karl A. Racine has raised about $675,000, including nearly a half-million of his own money, to fund his campaign, which has touted his experience as a litigator and manager.

Audits critical of candidate Karl Racine’s firm roil D.C. attorney general race

MCPS Contends State School Board Should Rule on Turf Field Dispute - Bethesda Beat

Montgomery County Public Schools is asking a Circuit Court judge to dismiss a youth soccer organization’s claims that it unfairly chose other groups to use turf fields at public schools, saying the state school board should weigh in on the issue before the court...

MCPS Contends State School Board Should Rule on Turf Field Dispute - Bethesda Beat

“Teachers say there is too much content to cover” in the standards they have now.

When Mike Petrilli, a national expert on education policy, complained in a Web site post about the thin content of social studies and science lessons in his son’s Montgomery County first-grade class, he received a friendly e-mail from Marty Creel, director of curriculum and instruction for the Montgomery County public schools...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

TONIGHT: Fairfax Board of Education Votes to Move High School Start Time

Are educational materials used to promote products to MCPS children?

We hope not.  But we'd like your help.

As our readers know, Pearson Education Inc, the global educational publisher, now is in charge of the curricular materials in Montgomery County Public Schools.

And our students have new media, Google Chrome account, and lots of other bells and whistles to accompany this new curriculum.

But - and there is always a but - have you noticed something else that comes with these packaged materials?

One MCPS parent recently commented on Facebook about a passage his child had from school concerning purchasing an iPhone and insurance.  Yes, a real life example, but how many elementary kids carry cell phones or purchase their own iPhone?  And insurance?  I don't have that for my iPhone.  My elementary school aged kids would have been confused.

Parents in NY noticed that Pearson exam materials frequently reference commercial products.  From the article:

"Just Do It" has been a familiar Nike slogan for years, but some parents are wondering what it was doing on some of New York's Common Core standardized English tests.
Brands including Barbie, iPod, Mug Root Beer and Life Savers showed up on the tests more than a million students in grades 3 through 8 took this month, leading to speculation it was some form of product placement advertising.
. . .

The use of brand names was one of several complaints raised by some educators and parents about the statewide tests, aligned to the Common Core standards intended to increase academic rigor. Some contend they are too difficult and don't measure what students are actually learning.
While such general complaints about Common Core tests have arisen elsewhere, advocates said the prevalence of brand names appears to be specific to New York.
Here is our question to the folks in MoCo:  Have you noticed any product placements in your child's educational materials this year?

We truly hope that our kids aren't seeing pitches for products in our educational materials or on media in the classroom, and that the one parent comment we picked up was an anomaly.  We don't think our children should be for sale in MoCo, and trust that the Board of Education feels the same way.

But you can never be too sure.

Parents and caregivers - we know you are paying attention to your child's progress.  So - as you go over homework and help out in assignments with your kids - keep an eye out for placement of specific trademarked goods.

And if you find something, take a screenshot (I usually print/save the page as a PDF), and send to us at

contact @

And, as always, stay tuned.

Exclusive: Family Suing Wootton Principal, Athletic Directors, Coaches and Board of Education #mocofootball
On June 27, 2014, a Wootton High School family filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court against Wootton High School principal Michael Doran, Wootton athletic directors Christopher Thompson and Al Lightsey, current and former Wootton coaches Benjamin Tynes, Mark Rabon, Tyree Spinner, and the Montgomery County Board of Education alleging that their student was injured during a football conditioning after school club as a result of "being required to do 125 elevated pushups."

According to the case file the Montgomery County Attorney has alleged that coach Tyree Spinner was not employed by MCPS at the time of the May 2011 incident, but became employed with MCPS a few months later.

The complaint asks for judgment in an amount in excess of $75,000.

City Paper: Karl’s In Charge: Audits Question Bills from Attorney General Candidate’s Law Firm #mocoboe #creditcards #venable

The Montgomery County Board of Education's credit card reviewer in the news: 
...But maybe no one is better positioned to enjoy the new office than Karl Racine, who’s taken a leave of absence from white-shoe law firm Venable to run for the job...

...He’s also loaned or given his campaign $450,000 since the race began, giving him a $40,000 cash advantage over his nearest rival as of Oct. 10...

...While Racine ran the firm, according to the audits, Venable overbilled its clients—including the District—by hundreds of thousands of dollars...

...In 2011, an inspector general looked into whether Venable’s billing to the Treasury Department could be substantiated. Venable submitted bills that were with “vague and inadequate” work descriptions, according to the report, as well as expenses that weren’t allowed under the terms of the contract.
When the inspector general audited $1,027,049 worth of payments to Venable, it questioned $676,840 worth of payments—which amounted to two-thirds of the audited fees. The investigation found many expenses, according to the report, that should have had more documentation...
 ...Venable employees weren’t just remunerated with cash. The audit also found them inappropriately billing for 28 lunch and dinner orders, for a total of $1,737.70 in meals. District taxpayers picked up the check...

WPost: Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong

WAMU: What it is like in a Pay to Play Climate

WAMU:   The Cost of D.C. Council’s Power Over Contracts

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Interactive Map: How Much Is Your School District Spending?

Gazette: Montgomery police planning slow growth for bus camera program

Next phase would require new full-time position

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Breaking: Standing water where "a child could drown" on parking lot of Nix Elementary School in Silver Spring

Open, unlocked pools of standing water on Nix ES parking lot.
Attention Social Justice Warriors:  Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services has now cited the pool on the Roscoe Nix Elementary School parking lot for dangerous conditions that present safety hazards to children at the school. 

The Roscoe Nix Elementary School parking lot abuts a neighborhood pool that has been abandoned for over a year.  The pool property is unlocked and can easily be entered by children.  Inside the property are two pools of standing water.

The Parents' Coalition wrote about this dangerous situation on September 9th.

Would Superintendent Joshua Starr send his children to a school where the parking lot was next to unlocked, abandoned pools of standing water?  Superintendent Joshua Starr wants to drop the terms red zone and green zone.  If that's true, then let's see Superintendent Starr treat Nix Elementary School like it's in the Green Zone! It's time to protect these elementary school children from this dangerous situation.

Note: Access to these pools is only over MCPS parking lots.  The pools do not have a separate entrance.

We ask again:  Would Board members Patricia O'Neill and Shirley Brandman  permit this dangerous condition to exist on the parking lot of any Bethesda elementary school?

MCPS has $1.1 Million in Savings

After maintaining larger fund balances in recent years, Montgomery County Public Schools currently has about $1.1 million in savings, a significantly smaller amount that some school officials say could present a challenge when the next budget season comes around.
At the end of fiscal 2014 over the summer, the school system had $17.04 million left over, creating a total fund balance of $39.34 million, according to the school system. The Montgomery County Council used about $38.2 million to help fund the system’s $2.28 billion budget this fiscal year.

CNS Maryland Video: Maryland Coalition to Halt Cell Towers at Schools Report

Correct name of new coalition is Maryland Coalition to Halt Cell Towers at Schools.

This video has excellent pictures of the cell tower at Wheaton High School in Silver Spring.  That cell tower was on the football field, now it is smack up against the school building due to construction.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cell Tower Requested at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown

[Note: It's Verizon that wants to put a cell tower on the school playground, and the PTA will be presented with the plans on December 9th.  Why didn't the MCPS Public Information Officer didn't have these details?]

A communications company has requested a cell tower at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown.
Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Dana Tofig confirmed that a company has approached that school at 18808 Waring Station Road as a potential site for its communications equipment. He did not have specifics about the type of equipment or the name of the company...

PG CoEx Rushern Baker: Credit card expenditures by county school board "very disturbing.. should be a wake up call"

BOE Candidates Talk Budget, Math Curriculum, Westbard

With only one scheduled candidates forum left, the eight people up for four county Board of Educations seats on Nov. 4 made clear Wednesday that there are differences in opinion when it comes to some pressing MCPS issues.
Candidates differed on maintenance of effort, disagreed on whether the school system should institute its own inspector general and shared different views on the importance of later start times. Two candidates challenging incumbents criticized the Board and Superintendent Joshua Starr for what many teachers claim has been a disjointed rollout of the county’s new math curriculum.
The non-partisan Board of Education election pits four pairs of candidates against each other for three district seats and one at-large seat. Every voter in the county gets to vote for every board member, no matter the district.

Starr Wants Cell Tower on Another Middle School Playground

The school is surrounded by homes on 3 sides.

The Parents' Coalition has learned that Superintendent Joshua Starr is now proposing a cell tower for the Roberto Clemente Middle School playground.  The proposal will be presented to parents at the November PTA meeting.

By our count, this is the 7th cell tower that Superintendent Starr has proposed for a MCPS playground since he became superintendent.
  • Has Superintendent Starr ever made a public statement on why he is pushing for cell towers on MCPS playgrounds? No.
  • Has Superintendent Starr ever made a public presentation to the Board of Education about his 7 cell tower construction projects? No. 
  • Better question, has the Board of Education ever publicly ASKED about Superintendent Starr's 7 cell tower proposals? No.

If cell tower compounds on public school playgrounds are such a super cool awesome deal, then why all the secrecy?


Let's hear the Board of Education and Superintendent Starr discuss these plans in public at the next Board of Education meeting!  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

WPost: Montgomery County school board, critics at odds over $140,000 legal bill

First there was public uproar about how members of Montgomery County’s Board of Education used their district-issued credit cards. Now comes fallout regarding the $140,000 in legal bills that piled up as the records for those credit cards went under review and investigation.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"this county needs a cultural earthquake to occur on the current Board of Education"

Gazette Letter: 
...I ask the voters of Montgomery County to vote for Kristin Trible, Laurie Halverson, Larry Edmonds and Jill Ortman-Fouse because this county needs a cultural earthquake to occur on the current Board of Education. We need a new breed of leaders who will be accountable to the parents, teachers, students and taxpayers, will be open and transparent with the allocation of $2.3 billion and will respond to constituents emails, telephone calls and questions instead of being ignored or brushed aside.

Furthermore, I ask residents in Montgomery County to vote against the Apple ballot and MCEA’s monopoly of thought that has pervaded MCPS for too long...

Friday, October 17, 2014

WPost: Report finds wide disparities in local per-pupil spending

...Montgomery County Public Schools, for example, regularly rates among the top-performing districts in Maryland and spends $12,649 per student, according to Fordham, far less than the public school system in the District, which spent $15,743 per student but ranks poorly nationwide...

Gazette: Rockville, county at ‘stalemate’ on stormwater fees #mcps

Rockville serves as the center of Montgomery County’s government, housing the offices of the county executive, county council, several of the county’s courthouses and other county facilities.
But for more than five years, the city and the county have been engaged in an ongoing dispute over whether the county should pay stormwater management fees for its properties in the city...

...If the government agencies were subject to the fee, MCPS would owe $236,861 for fiscal 2015, Montgomery College $100,374 and Montgomery County $126,281, according to a memorandum from Rockville city staff...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pa. House approves 'Pass the Trash' bill to stop abusive teachers from relocating to another school

Legislation designed to prevent abusive teachers from relocating to another school district will go to Gov. Tom Corbett for enactment after being unanimously approved by the House on Wednesday evening.
Corbett is likely to sign it, said the governor's spokesman Jay Pagni.
The bill would bar schools from entering into contracts that suppress information about investigations of abuse and sexual misconduct, as well as prevent schools from transferring problem teachers from school district to school district, a practice called "pass the trash."
House Bill 1816, which was approved 195-0, was introduced in the wake of a raft of lawsuits and revelations of widespread abuse in the school system.

Breaking News: Deasy Out After Failed iPad Project

Former Prince George's County Public Schools superintendent John Deasy in the news:

Deasy, 53, has led the district for 3.5 years. During that time, he has faced much scrutiny and criticism, especially over two technology projects, one of which would have spent more than $1 billion to provide an iPad to every student, teacher and administrator at Los Angeles USD schools.

Blair opens Chrome accounts for all students and staff

Montgomery Blair's media center created Chromebook accounts at the start of the school year for the school's staff and students. The accounts function as online workspaces for teachers and students through novel file sharing capabilities.

Blair's Chromebook accounts form a closed and secure cloud-based platform for classroom use. Media center specialist Andrea Lamphier was the liaison through which Montgomery Public Schools distributed the Chrome accounts to Blair. "Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) central officers started importing student and staff records. I certainly knew by July 11 and already access them by that moment," she said. The accounts provide an alternative to traditional file-sharing methods. "It will definitely help resolve file sharing. Students making presentations won't have to log off and won't have to email or [use] flash-drives," Lamphier said.

WSJ: "One in 10 sites violates the rules" #celltowers

Cellphone Boom Spurs Antenna-Safety Worries
...Federal rules require carriers to use barricades, signs and training to protect people from excessive radio-frequency radiation, the waves of electric and magnetic power that carry signals. The power isn’t considered harmful by the time it reaches the street, but it can be a risk for workers and residents standing directly in front of an antenna.
One in 10 sites violates the rules, according to six engineers who examined more than 5,000 sites during safety audits for carriers and local municipalities, underscoring a safety lapse in the network that makes cellphones hum, at a time when the health effects of antennas are being debated world-wide...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thursday on the Kojo Nnamdi Show: MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr

In Maryland's largest school district, growing enrollment and shifting demographics continue to stretch the capacity of school buildings and boost the need for ESOL classes and subsidized meals. Superintendent Joshua Starr joins Kojo to talk about project-based learning, the need to balance social and emotional learning with college and career readiness and a new discipline policy that cuts down on suspensions.


Joshua Starr
Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools (Md.)

" of the most dynamic and visionary school leaders in Maryland, Joshua Starr..." #nobid #gallup

This article has now been reprinted in a New Hampshire newspaper.
...Compare this view with one of the most dynamic and visionary school leaders in Maryland, Joshua Starr, who is attempting to be a model disrupter by sponsoring the Gallup organization’s survey of students’ dreams. The thinking is that if educators can know and understand young people’s dreams for their futures, then the curriculum and instruction provided through schooling can be designed to support their manifestation.
Now that is 21st-century thinking...

Sponsoring? Is that what we call no bid surprise contracts these days?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sentinel: Family sues MCPS for $3 million for teacher's sexual abuse

ROCKVILLE – A high school student and her mother are suing Montgomery County Public Schools for $3 million for the inappropriate and sexual actions of the student’s teacher, who was convicted of sexual abuse in June.
Potomac resident Richard Shemer, 51, who taught history at Albert Einstein High School, received a 20-year sentence for sex abuse of a minor with all but one year suspended. As of Sept. 25, the court released him to his home under electronic monitoring. He had exchanged a number of sexually inappropriate emails with his student, who plaintiff’s attorney Norman Schneider names as Jane Doe in the complaint...

...Schneider said the school allegedly had warning signs of Shemer’s inappropriate behavior.
“There were numerous people in the school who had complained about him and were told by the counseling staff that this is the way he is with everybody,” Schneider said. “Certainly Einstein’s administration knew that he was somebody who acted inappropriately at times and probably should have monitored him a little closer just on that basis.”
Shemer also allegedly sent many explicit emails from his MCPS email address or on school computers, according to Schneider...

MD special-ed students can't serve coffee at school

The Baltimore Sun:

Patapsco special-ed students can't serve coffee at school, will now sell slushies

Wheaton HS Construction Cost Up $2,018,890$file/Chg%20Order%20Wheaton%20HS.pdf

1985: MCPS Teachers were 9.5% Black, 1.1% Hispanic, .8% Asian

Minutes of September 23, 1985, Montgomery County Board of Education meeting.

Status Report on the Education of Minority Students in MCPS

...Dr. Cody reported that the last area in the report was the employment
situation in MCPS. He said that student enrollment by race was 9.4
percent Asian, 15 percent black, 5.7 percent Hispanic, and 70 percent
white. However, the teaching force was .8 percent Asian, 9.5 percent
black, and 1.1 percent Hispanic.
He explained that the problem was
not just that the employment figures did not mirror the enrollment
figures. He thought they needed teachers who were majority/minority
for all students. This year they hired 534 teachers and .6 percent
were Asian, 7.4 percent black, 1.9 percent Hispanic, and 90.1 percent
white. He noted that the employment pool was .1 percent American
Indian, 1.0 percent Asian, 5.2 percent black, .9 percent Hispanic,
and 92.8 percent white.

Dr. Cody said that last year several steps were taken including
recruiting at black colleges, but this did not work. In order to
build up the applicant pool, he had added three people to the
Department of Personnel to set up and carry out recruiting efforts
and seek the help of other people throughout the school system. They
wanted to build networks with college professors and deans and
solicit assistance from citizens in the community. He said they had
a task of not only assigning people to do a job but a task of
thinking through more creative ways of recruiting teachers to that
applicant pool.

Dr. Cody noted that they did have one barrier the Board needed to
know about in terms of Hispanic and Asian candidates. Many of these
people had their education in foreign countries, and the Maryland
State Department of Education would not issue a teaching certificate
to those who received their education in a foreign country and taughtin a foreign language...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Total Now $146,602! Another $18,477 to Venable law firm for credit card review! #creditcards

The July 2014, Venable law firm bill is now public. 

The Montgomery County Board of Education spent another $18,477 in July on legal fees to defend their use of MCPS credit cards. 

That brings the grand total to date up to $146,602! 

The Board of Education has almost spent as much on legal fees to defend their use of MCPS credit cards as their entire annual expense budget! 

Will there be more charges in August?  Stay tuned!

More Artificial Turf & Crumb Rubber for MCPS! #churchill #artificialturf #crumbrubber

NBC4 Parents, Lawmakers & Safety Experts Weigh in on Turf Concerns!/news/local/Parents--Lawmakers---Safety-Experts-Weigh-in-on-Turf-Concerns/278725921

Deny Students a Free Public Education, Then Form Coalition to "Study" #hypocrites #mocoboe #mcpssuper

Let's just start with #hypocrites on this one. 

The exact same people who are responsible for denying Montgomery County students a free public education are now forming a coalition to "study" the problem of an "unmistakable shortage of skilled workers."  As the Parents' Coalition has been investigating and publicizing since 2008, Montgomery County Public Schools and the Board of Education permit schools to charge random fees to students for attending public school classes.

As we have also documented repeatedly, the Maryland Constitution guarantees ALL children a free, public educationFees to attend public school classes violate that right and are not permitted in Maryland. 

In our 6 years of investigations of this issue, the most horrendous illegal curricular fees have always been found at Edison High School in Silver Spring, MCPS' only career and technical high school.  Enrollment at Edison High School has dropped year after year and parents have told the Parents' Coalition that they will not even consider the sending their child to Edison because of the class fees.  

Today, a new group is being announced to start an 18 month "study" of the "unmistakable shortage of skilled workers" in Montgomery County.  Included on the Press Release for this new group is Superintendent Joshua Starr, BOE member Shirley Brandman, former MCPS employee Steve Simon, and former MCCPTA Cluster Coordinator Gigi Godwin. 

Note that the Press Release from this group is from Steve Simon, former MCPS public relations employee who back in 2010 said:

MCPS' Steve Simon: "We absolutely are in conformance with state law. We are adamant that we are providing a free public education."

MCPS was not providing all students a free public education back in 2010 and they are still not today. The worst fees were, and still are, found at Edison High School.

Take a look at the Edison High School fees that the Parents' Coaliton exposed in 2008. Edison High School students were being charged curricular fees in 2008 and they are still being charged them today.

Do these fees look like students at Edison High School have been receiving a free public education?  
Do we need to state the obvious?  
If you block students from attending classes by imposing illegal fees is there any surprise that there is now a shortage of skilled workers?

2008-2009 Edison High School curricular fees.

NBC4: Delegate Considering Legislation to Prohibit BOE Credit Cards

UPDATE: Members of the Maryland state legislature are urging the Prince George’s County School District to overhaul the rules for how board members use their taxpayer-funded credit cards, in the wake of an investigation by the News4 I-Team.
Del. Alonzo Washington (D-Hyattsville) said he’ll consider introducing legislation in January to prohibit the district from issuing credit cards to its board members. Washington said the use of those taxpayer-funded credit cards for meals and local hotels, detailed in the I-Team report, is a concern for his constituents. Washington said,
“They want us to do something about it,” Washington said
Washington said he’ll await the completion of an internal audit review of board credit card policy by the district before deciding whether to formally introduce the legislation.
“I’d want to see significant changes,” he said.
Del. Barbara Frush (D-Beltsville) said the district should consider cutting up the credit cards on its own.
“It’s a huge mistake for them to use the cards so freely for meals,” Frush said. “I’m clearly concerned when public money is used for private purposes.”

WPost: Montgomery to test using public buses for private schools, aiming to reduce traffic

Montgomery County officials are exploring the feasibility of using public school buses to serve private and parochial institutions to reduce traffic congestion in the morning and afternoon rush hours.
County officials disclosed Wednesday that they have asked both religious and non-sectarian schools to participate in a pilot program to test the idea. Four religious schools have agreed so far: St. Jude Regional Catholic School and Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, and St. Francis International School and the Torah School of Greater Washington in Silver Spring.
The county’s transportation department will bill the schools for 22 percent of the cost for buses and driver time — the same proportion that Montgomery Ride On passengers pay in fares for operation of the bus system, officials said. The pilot program is expected to cost between $400,000 and $600,000 in county funds, and a full program would probably cost far more.
County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said he authorized the venture after hearing from educators and parents about traffic tie-ups on the daily drives to and from school. Getting some of the county’s 30,000 non-public school students out of cars and onto buses could relieve some of that congestion.
“We have all these kids on the road,” Leggett said. “It’s something that begs for attention.”...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

MD SAT scores plummet as test takers increase

SAT scores plummet as test takers increase

Mon. Oct. 13th: Time and Location Changed on BOE Off Camera Mtg

The Monday, October 13, 2014, Board of Education Off Camera meeting is now at the Board of Education main office and the time is now 1 PM.  

Parents and media that wish to attend this off camera meeting may want to call ahead to check on the time and location. 
For those that aren't "in the know" the CESC abbreviation on the Board of Education website refers to Carver Educational Services Center located at 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville, MD. 


The Montgomery County Board of Education will be hiding again on October 13, 2014.  They don't want the public to observe their discussions so they will meet in a room without a camera. 

What will they discuss? Their self-evaluation! 



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Official MCPS App for Android can track location and identity of users

A couple of weeks ago, MCPS announced availability of an app for Android and Apple devices.

What MCPS didn't mention is that the MCPS Android App is capable of tracking the precise locations of users of the app.

In addition, the official MCPS App peeks into your Android phone's (or tablet's) identity database.   This means that when you install and run the official MCPS App, MCPS can record exactly who you are and where you are.  But as an enduser, you can't even find out what the MCPS App knows about you.

But wait -- that's not all.   The official MCPS App is also capable of accessing the microphone and camera in your Android phone (or tablet).  Any time that the official MCPS App is running, MCPS can turn on your phone's (or tablet's) camera and microphone to record what your phone or tablet is seeing and hearing.

There are legitimate reasons that some apps track the precise location of users, query the identity database, or access the camera.  For example, mapping apps use location tracking to display the user's location on the map. Video apps use the camera and microphone to make videos.   The MCPS App, however, does not have mapping or video functions that are accessible to the user.   Any location information, photos or audio that the app collects is accessible to MCPS, but not to the owner of the phone or tablet on which the app is installed.

Why does the MCPS App track the locations of users?   What does the MCPS App do with the location information that it collects?  Why does the MCPS App have access privileges to the camera and microphone in Android phones and tablets?   We don't know.

In contrast, the MCPS Connect App from the Parents' Coalition does not track user locations, does not query the identity database, and does not access the camera or microphone.  Users of the MCPS Connect App from the Parents' Coalition are anonymous.  (The MCPS Connect App does link to the phone dialer to allow parents to call MCPS transportation services, and the phone uses the microphone but the MCPS Connect App itself does not have access to the microphone.)

The official MCPS App uses 11 MB of storage on your Android device.  Why would such a seemingly innocuous app have 11 MB of program code?  In contrast, the Parents' Coalition's MCPS Connect App consists of just 1.5 MB of program code.

You can find out exactly which privileged functions any app uses by clicking on the "View Details" link under "Permissions" for the app in  The list is automatically generated by the Google developers site through detailed inspection of each app's code when it is placed in the Google play store.  Check out the permissions for the official MCPS App and for the Parents' Coalition's MCPS Connect App and decide for yourself which app is safer to use.

Note:  The Parents' Coalition has not analyzed the Apple version of the MCPS app, so we don't know its under-the-covers capabilities at this time.

Breaking News: Deal Requires 60 Cell Towers on PG Public School Playgrounds Now! #mabe #dougduncan #nobrainer

In order for the Prince George's County Board of Education to attempt to meet the 5 year revenue projections that were given in 2010 for the "no-brainer" Milestone cell tower deal 60 cell towers need to be built on public school playgrounds immediately!

The Prince George's County Board of Education was "sold" the Milestone no-bid deal based on a 5 year revenue projection of $2.5 million.  Apparently, no one bothered to mention to the Board of Education that in order to bring in that $2.5 million over a 5 year period they would have to immediately build 60 cell towers on PGCPS playgrounds!

The Prince George's County Board of Education is now into the 4th year of the super Milestone cell tower deal and not one single cell tower has been built.  At best, the 5 year revenue from this deal will be a $25,000 one time site fee and a $12,000 lease payment.  That's a 5 year total of $37,000.  A far cry from the $2.5 million that was projected back in 2010. 

Did any Prince George's County Board of Education members actually read the answers to the questions they posed about the FY 2012 PGCPS Operating Budget?  See page 19 of this Questions from the Board document dated February 22, 2011.

The Board Action Summary

Telecommunications Leasing Master Agreement with Milestone Communication Management III, Inc., dated November 11, 2010, provided a potential revenue estimate at approximately $2.5 million over a five (5) year period. However, administration was asked by the Board of Education to provide anticipated revenue for the 2011-2012 school year only (Refer to 01.31.11 BOE Part II- Question #40). The response that was provided anticipated generating annual revenue of $1.2 million to $2.1 million during the 2011-2012 school year only. This estimate was based on 60 potential towers being placed on various sites, a site fee of $25,000, per site, and the spread of the estimated revenue as stated in the November 11, 2010 Board Action Summary of $2.5 million over a five (5) year period.