Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Unused and Wasted Classroom Space in MCPS

The Washington Post forgot to include the facts below in their article on classroom trailers today

Entire school about to be demolished:

Empty MCPS Middle School Sits Right Next to Elem. School with Trailers

Entire wing of MCPS middle school unused and handed over for FREE to private company:

Empty space left to rot in MCPS school building:

And let's not forget the entire public high school that our County Council, Ike Leggett and Annapolis Delegation worked very, very hard to give away for free while 10,000+ MCPS students were in classroom trailers! 


Starr Clearing 7 Acres of Forest at Ewing Site to Make Way for Bus Depot #byebyetrees

Green shows 7 acres of forest at Ewing site.
On October 28, 2014, Superintendent Joshua Starr announced the surprise plan to use the existing Ewing school site for the new MCPS bus depot.

Just 20 days later, on November 17, 2014, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted to approve Starr's plan to shut down the Ewing school to make room for 400 buses at that site.

The Board of Education voted on the start of this plan without any details.  Who needs the details, right?

The Parents' Coalition thinks the details are important and so this week we have been providing the information that Superintendent Joshua Starr didn't deem important during the 20 days between his announcement and the first BOE vote.

1.  The Ewing school site includes an 8.5 acre park that was funded by the City of Rockville and the State of Maryland. That 8.5 acre park will have to go in order to make room for 400 school buses.
2.  MCPS needs 33 to 37 acres of developable land in order to park it's 400 school buses and offices currently at the MCPS Shady Grove bus depot.
3.  Superintendent Starr says he is using the 22.5 acre Ewing school site for the new bus depot.
Here's the 4th fact that Superintendent Joshua Starr neglected to tell the Board of Education:  The Ewing school site has a 7 acre Forest Conservation area.  7 acres of trees were put into a Forest Conservation area for the City of Rockville back in 1999.

Sorry, City of Rockville, that 7 acres of trees is going to have to go to make room for the 400 school buses that will be parking on this property.  Bye-bye forest conservation easement.

Superintendent Joshua Starr and Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson are meeting on a regular basis.  Starr shouldn't have any problem wiping out that 7 acre Forest Conservation Easement from 1999.

Yes, the easement was set up to last "forever and in perpetuity," but here in Montgomery County we know that "forever and in perpetuity" only means until someone shreds the document over lunch at a Rockville restaurant.   

MCPS Needs 33-37 Developable Acres for New Bus Depot

The County Executive and County Council are kicking MCPS off their current Shady Grove bus depot land. 

MCPS needs to find a new place to park 400 school buses.

According to information supplied to the Montgomery County Council on February 11, 2013, MCPS needs 33-37 acres of developable land in order to replace the existing Shady Grove bus depot.

Ex-LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy traveled on private foundation’s dime

...Deasy, who stepped down last month under scrutiny over technology blunders affecting classes for thousands of students, traveled more than 100,000 miles last year, visiting New York and Washington. D.C., five times each, according to an analysis of travel records by KPCC...


Monday, December 29, 2014

BOE to Pave Over $790,000 in Athletic Fields

Today we reported on the loss of 8.5 acres of athletic fields for the City of Rockville.  

Now we can tell you how much it cost the City of Rockville and the State of Maryland to develop those athletic fields.  Back in 1999, the investment in creating the Mark Twain School playing fields and amenities was $790,000.

That State of Maryland Program Open Space funding and City of Rockville investment will now be paved over to become a MCPS bus parking lot.  


January 27, 1999

The construction of a new athletic park at Mark Twain School in Rockville, which will provide the first regulation-size soccer field in the city, is getting a sizeable amount of funding from the state.
On Jan. 13, Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced that the Board of Public Works had approved $591,750 from the Department of Natural Resources' Program Open Space to help design and construct the facility at the school, which is located at 14501 Avery Road.

Phil Bryan, superintendent of recreation for the City of Rockville, said the state often gets involved in the acquisition of recreational lands or the building of recreational facilities.

Through a collaborative effort begun last year between the City of Rockville and Mark Twain School, the lighted sports complex will include two fields which will be used for softball or baseball in the spring, one measuring 225 feet in length and one 285 feet in length. In the fall, the fields can be combined to accommodate soccer teams.

Bryan said the project will also include a tennis court, a pavilion with restrooms and a concession area, a playground and paths around the complex.

Bryan said the total cost of the project is about $790,000 and Project Open Space will be paying about 75 percent of the cost. He said that funds for the remaining 25 percent will be included in the city's Capital Improvements Program.

The city's sports programs supervisor, Chuck Miller, said last fall that the city decided to work with Mark Twain because the city needed an official-sized soccer field and found that Mark Twain had the available space.

He said the city was also pleased to discover that the site -- flanked by Rock Creek Regional Park, the city-owned Redgate Golf Course and Norbeck Road -- would have low-impact effects on people who live in that area.

The site will also be a tremendous asset to the community and the school, Miller said, because it will allow for the expansion of adult and children's sports program so that local teams can play more often during the week and at night.

The benefit of such a prime location was also not lost on the governor, who called it "an ideal location for a lighted recreational complex to serve the nearby families of Rockville."

"Not only will the facility be the home of Rockville's youth soccer program, but will serve the needs of adult recreational soccer and softball teams as well," Glendening said in a press release.
Groundbreaking for the complex was originally scheduled for last fall, but the city encountered some delays, which are common for this type of project, Bryan said. He said that construction should start in the spring, and is likely to take approximately two months to complete.

According to the governor's office, Program Open Space has helped counties and cities in Maryland acquire more than 140,000 acres for open space and recreation areas.

“The school board is demanding more money for school construction, and they are getting ready to demolish a school,”

A group of Aspen Hill residents is fighting a plan to relocate Montgomery County’s alternative-education programs to their neighborhood, saying the proposal would disrupt a quiet community, needlessly demolish a school building and waste taxpayer money...


Any employee charged with child pornography or sex abuse will be removed from jobs involving children under a new policy adopted by city officials.

 Greenbelt alters policy regarding city worker arrests

City of Rockville to Lose 8.5 Acre Athletic Fields .@mocoboe .@mcpssuper .@Rockville411

Mark Twain Athletic Park at Ewing Center

Time to say good-bye to the 8.5 acre recreation area in the City of Rockville that is known as the Mark Twain Athletic Park.  The Park is located at 14501 Avery Road in Rockville.

The City of Rockville constructed this park and maintains the facilities on Board of Education land.

The Board of Education and Superintendent Joshua Starr now have other plans for this Program Open Space landThey are going to park over 400 MCPS buses on these fields.

The Mark Twain Athletic Park is at the Blair Ewing Center school that the Superintendent and Board of Education want for bus parking because Montgomery County wants to put 2,200 housing units on the property that houses the current MCPS bus lot at Shady Grove. 

  • County wants public land for developer, kicks MCPS bus depot off leased County land.  
  • BOE and Superintendent move bus depot to athletic fields, kick kids off athletic fields. 

Tell the kids this is called "Smart Growth."

Friday, December 26, 2014

BOE Forming Artificial Turf Program

Sorry, we don't have any additional information about this program. This document was part of the November 18, 2014, Board of Education Fiscal Management Committee meeting documents.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Manno and Kramer Give Away a Public High School, Want More School Construction Dollars

Peary High School 1984
In 2010, Senator Roger Manno and Delegate Ben Kramer worked very, very hard to make sure that a MCPS high school building was given away for FREE to a private interest.  They attended local meetings, gave public comment before the Board of Public Works and even showed up at a little known meeting in Baltimore.  What a team!

Yes, an entire public high school building that had been paid for with Maryland State tax dollars was given away for free in 2010.  MCPS schools were overcrowded in 2010, But Senator Manno and Delegate Kramer made sure that this high school would never again be used for public school students. 

Now, here we are in 2014, and Senator Roger Manno and Delegate Ben Kramer are whining for school construction money. Maybe Senator Manno and Delegate Kramer should have noticed back in 2010 that MCPS buildings were already severely overcrowded?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Starr and BOE Discuss "School Safety Incident" in Closed Session

December 9, 2014:
...The superintendent of schools briefed the Board on a school safety incident which is an administrative function outside the purview of the Open Meetings Act and, the Board received legal advice about a school safety incident, as permitted under Section 3-305(b)(7) of the General Provisions Article...



Who:  Anyone who wants better prevention, treatment and recovery services for those struggling with a substance use disorder

What:  The Maryland legislature will convene on January 14th.  We need representatives from around the state to meet with their elected officials prior to that, as well as during the session, to educate them on the issues and let them know why these issues are a top priority.  We stand a better chance of being successful if we can get everyone on board with a single policy agenda, a good strategic plan, and a unified voice.  

When:  Sunday, December 28th 

10:30 -- 11:00  Meet fellow advocates from around the state.  Enjoy pastries, muffins and bagels with juice and coffee, compliments of Heroin Action Coalition.
11:00 -- 12:30  Members of Heroin Action Coalition will present a unified policy agenda comprised of issues that advocates from around the state have been working on.  
Jason DeLizio, a Maryland lobbyist, will present an overview of how the legislature works, and how we can best impact the process to achieve our goals in 2015.  

Where:  The State House Inn

25 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401-1904
(410) 990-0024

Why:  Overdose death is now the leading cause of unexpected death in the state --higher than car crash fatalities, homicides, or suicides.  

Our children continue to die at an unprecedented rate, without an adequate response from our state leaders or a comprehensive strategy for solving the problem.  
In order for better prevention, treatment and recovery services to become a reality, our voice must be heard by those committed to serving us --our elected officials!  
--If they do not know our story, If we fail to ask for what we want --they cannot give us what we need!  

R.S.V.P. to Lisa Lowe, Heroin Action Coalition

Monday, December 22, 2014

So Far, the Prize for Most Ripped Off Kids at Graduation - Northwood HS

Its hard to say whether Northwood HS is charging more or less for the honor of walking down the aisle for graduation ceremonies.

In 2010, Northwood assessed a senior fee of $140 dollars, but let students who only wanted to attend graduation fork over $40.

This year, the senior fee is $75.  We can't say what the fee covers, only that of the three schools reporting in so far, this one is the clear top dollar.

Payments go directly through an MCPS website. How convenient is this? But - how do you know the money even goes to Northwood? Where does the receipt of the funds appear in the budget?

Washington Post and Gazette fooled again by MCPS

Tofig admits that $25,000 stock trading fund never really existed at Gaithersburg High School

Stock Trading Room equipment mysteriously disappears

The MCPS announcement on November 26, 2006 was big news.   "Gaithersburg High School Celebrates Opening of First High School Stock Trading Room in Nation."  Funded by a $75,000 grant from the NASDAQ foundation, the school had received an electronic ticker board, a NASDAQ data board, and other equipment to support the Academy of Finance program.  This was a huge win for a school that had a high poverty rate, declining test scores and a seriously decaying building.

Adding even more excitement, MCPS claimed that "Students Have $25,000 Fund to Trade", donated by "a longtime supporter of the school system who wishes to remain anonymous."  And for good measure, according to the announcement, "the school will keep any profits in the account."

The Washington Post and The Gazette both picked up the story, devoting considerable coverage to the grand opening of the trading room.  

"The most intriguing part, financial educators say, is that students will invest real money," wrote Daniel de Vise of the Washington Post.  "You have to have real money involved in order to get the students to take it seriously," said Scott Hoover, adviser to the student investment club at Washington and Lee University. "If you can get the students to take it seriously, they can do wonders."

In the Gazette, reporter Jamie Ciavarra included a quote from Principal Darryl Williams:  "Any money the students make will go back to the school to fund additional programs, while the donor has agreed to absorb any losses."

It sounded almost too good to be true.   And in fact, it wasn't true, according to a letter obtained last week from MCPS Public Information Officer Dana Tofig.  The $25,000 "donation" never took place.  No investment profits have been contributed to the school.  The "real money" that was "needed to get the students take the program seriously" was as fictitious as the profits that were contributed to the school.  

Adding further insult to the integrity of the finance program at GHS, the electronic ticker board, the NASDAQ data board and other equipment obtained with the $75,000 NASDAQ grant have disappeared from the school.  
"No one knows what happened to it," said a GHS finance teacher at an onsite visit by a Parents' Coalition member. The only physical evidence that the NASDAQ-funded equipment ever existed are the screw holes in the wall where the large displays were mounted.  

As for evidence that the anonymous donation "never came to fruition" -- or even that there was an anonymous donor at all --  the Parents' Coalition has requested documentation showing that someone had planned to fund the trading account.   So far, however, MCPS has not come forth with anything, even with names redacted, that shows that anyone ever intended to create the stock trading fund.

(Photo of Superintendent Jerry Weast yucking it up on opening day is from The Gazette archives.)


Second Candidate for Graduation Fee Extortion - Montgomery Blair HS

Montgomery Blair HS in Silver Spring MD charges its students to walk down the aisle and receive their diploma.


Here is the information sheet, straight off the school website:

In 2010, when my child graduated from Blair, the fee was a bit higher - but the fee covered items such as the senior picnic, the honorarium for the speaker, and other"graduation venue related costs."

The bus fee is another example of extortion.  Parents and families have to travel to the graduation venue, why make the kids pay for a bus?  Metro is cheaper.  Most of the students leave the venue directly to continue the celebration with their families - so they essentially are subsidizing transportation without receiving a benefit.  And what about those magnet families that don't live in the area?

Great job, Mrs. Johnson.  At least you aren't collecting fees this year for a graduation speaker!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Paint Branch HS - our First Candidate for Graduation Fees and Educational Extortion

Paint Branch HS reports that they are being charged a fee for graduating from a MCPS High School.


Here is a link to the article.

Apparently, the students did not raise enough during their three years at the high school  Cancelled school events led to the Class of 2015 not having enough cash to provide "pomp" with their graduation festivities.

From the article:

Dr. Rogers shared that this fee was put in place this year because the class has not raised enough money over the past three years to cover graduation. All of those cancelled dances and PB Idol competitions that never quite happened could have been funding sources for senior events – including graduation
According to Dr. Rogers, students will have individual fundraising options to help defray or eliminate this $30 graduation fee. Dr. Rogers notes that she is “happy to do anything and everything that I possibly can to reduce costs for students.” She adds that “within a couple of weeks we are going to provide an option where students can individually fundraise to absolutely cover the cost of the graduation fee.” - See more at: http://pbmainstream.com/1820/features/senior-moments/#sthash.8LBDmbo4.dpuf

Sounds like educational extortion to me!

What's happening at your high school?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Zip Code Madness - Do You Pay More to Graduate from an MCPS High School Because of Where You Live?

Answer:  Probably.

Back in 2010, this blog did a survey of how much each high school charged for various fees related to walking down the aisle to pick up a diploma.   You can read the post here.

MCPS representatives were reported to state at a recent Taxpayers League meeting that these fees were approved by the Board of Education and consistent with MCPS policy,

Answer:  Wrong.

The state of Maryland Constitution guarantees a free public education, and the state constitution trumps MCPS policy.

You, your family, and your child cannot be charged a fee to attend the students graduation ceremony.

Yet, MCPS continues to claim this is legitimate.  We claim this is educational extortion.

We will send in for an official list of what's been "approved" so you can determine which zip codes get shaken down the most.  Last time we checked, the fees approved didn't quite match what the students were charged.

What to do if you get a bill?

Answer:  Don't pay.

What if you already sent in your money?

Answer:  Ask for a refund.  Blair HS's graduating class of 2010 got a refund because they were charged to cover the graduation speaker's honorarium.  Really.  And the speaker was the spouse of a Blair staff member.  Talk about a rip off.

And please, stay tuned to this website for more information.

Friday, December 19, 2014

MCPS to Launch New Data Portal with Budget Information

In an attempt to make public school data more user-friendly and available to the public, Montgomery County Public Schools announced last week it plans to launch a data portal where it will post a break-down of its operating budget and other information.
MCPS plans to launch the new website in January. The site will offer the superintendent’s recommended budget as well as enrollment data and school boundary information.
The move comes as officials and members of the public questioned why the MCPS budget was not included in a new online data portal launched by the county in July. That portal allows users to access county government budget data to see how much funding specific agencies receive and what they spend it on.
Dana Tofig, MCPS spokesman, said in an email Tuesday the county didn't invite the school system to participate in the portal until shortly before it first launched and that because its budget is very different than the county's they weren't able to make it fit into the categories used by the county portal...


School system wants more, Montgomery County has less

Montgomery County Public Schools wants about $127 million more from the county next year, but county officials say their options for going above state-mandated funding levels have been exhausted and revenue is dwindling.
“We don’t have any gimmicks or tricks to get us beyond that,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett...

School system evaluating abuse-reporting protocol after Pineda case

...“Recently, some of us have been shaken by multiple reports of possible abuse at public schools in Montgomery County. To heighten our concern, these incidents have spurred a larger discussion within the county as to how these incidents are handled and whether additional measures may need to be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of our students,” said ED committee chairman Councilmember Craig Rice (D-2)...

...Pineda’s work history shows MCPS employed him as a bus driver from 2000-2003 before employing him as a substitute teacher from 2003-2006. He did not work for MCPS from 2006-2013; police are trying to piece together Pineda’s work history during that time period. MCPS hired him as a substitute teacher in 2013 and he worked for 111 days during the 2013-2014 school year.
Police said Pineda taught a variety of subjects and grade levels, including kindergarten through fifth grade, middle school and high school. From November 2013 to September 2014, Pineda worked at Twinbrook Elementary School, Ridgeview Middle School, Earle B. Wood Middle School, Montgomery Blair High School, Seneca Valley High School, Gaithersburg High School, Rosa Parks Middle School, Watkins Mill High School, Gaithersburg Middle School, Forest Oak Middle School, Goshen Elementary School, Roberto W. Clemente Middle School, Maryvale Elementary School, Clopper Mill Elementary School, Julius West Middle School, Gaithersburg Elementary School, Parkland Magnet Middle School, Longview School and Rockville High School. He taught English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), English, math, science, biology, computer science, technology and special education classes.
Montgomery County Police are asking anyone who believes they are a victim of Pineda to contact police. 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Residents cite conflict of interest in storage facility battle

ROCKVILLE – The ongoing storage facility saga in East Rockville continued this week, now with an accusation of conflict of interest.
The mayor and City Council discussed a proposed zoning text amendment (ZTA) that would prevent self-storage within 250 feet of a school, including an approved ezStorage site near Maryvale Elementary School for which Siena Corporation already bought the land. Community activist Drew Powell also asked Councilmember Tom Moore to recuse himself because of a past campaign contribution from the lawyer representing Siena.
According to campaign finance statements, Robert Dalrymple contributed $100 to Moore’s bid for County Council. Powell called for Moore’s recusal based on a proposed recusal policy the mayor and council placed on the agenda – but did not adopt – at the Nov. 10 meeting.
Although the Rockville City Code dictates when an official cannot participate because of a “gift” that might cause conflict of interest, the definition of “gift” exempts political contributions.
Moore said the current law is intentionally worded so someone cannot strategically contribute to force them to recuse themselves...

school system should bring in an outside expert to examine problems and “formulate a comprehensive plan, not to cobble together some changes.”

Montgomery County to probe handling of school abuse allegations

...Jennifer Alvaro, a Montgomery parent and advocate on sexual abuse issues who is part of a district-appointed work group, said the two cases reflect multiple flaws in how school officials handle allegations of abuse.
She said the school system should bring in an outside expert to examine problems and “formulate a comprehensive plan, not to cobble together some changes.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

School Board member supports proposed law to ban BOE credit cards

No, it's not an MCPS school board member who is publicly supporting State Delegate Alonzo Washington's bill that would ban taxpayer-funded credit cards for school board members.

In today's Prince George's County Sentinel:
“I think there’s some members who used their credit card in an appropriate manner,” said [Prince George's County] Board of Education member Edward Burroughs, who does not have a board-issued credit card. “I think there’s some members in the past who have not used it in an appropriate manner. Taxpayer dollars are so important it’s best for no one to have a card.”
Read the entire article at:


Sentinel: County Income Tax Revenue More Than Projected

No, not in Montgomery County, where income tax receipts were $96 million lower than projected, leading to a partial hiring and purchasing freeze.  We're talking about Prince George's County, where receipts were $4 million above projections.

Read the full story in the Prince George's County Sentinel at:


Breaking News: Starr Forced to Reveal Secret Child Sexual Abuse Committee

Superintendent Joshua Starr has finally created a website to detail the secret task force that has been meeting since April. 

Yes, April of 2014. 

But, Starr won't tell the public that the task force started meeting in April in response to a request for a meeting with Starr from The Family Tree in Baltimore.
Starr refused to meet, The Family Tree staff was only able to meet with some MCPS staff.

Starr's brand new website to announce the task force only shows meetings in October and December

Here's the brand new link.  Take what you read here with a grain of salt, but do note the links to the decades old Board of Education policies! Yes, the policies are still out of date, 26 years and counting!


Identical: Pearson & MCPS Curriculum Guides

Do Montgomery County parents and guardians get that their children are learning the exact same math, reading, science, social studies and writing curriculum being used across the country by Pearson?

MCPS no longer has a local curriculum or even a Maryland State curriculum, MCPS is using Pearson Education, Inc.'s curriculum.

Parents and guardians in other states have rallied against the Pearson curriculum and tests, but not here in Montgomery County.
In some jurisdictions Pearson testing has even been dropped, but not here in Montgomery County. 

For parents and guardians that don't understand that their children are receiving a Pearson Education, Inc. curriculum here in Montgomery County, here is a visual to help make the point.

At this link is the Pearson Grade 1 curriculum guide.

Below is the MCPS "Integrated Curriculum" Grade 1 curriculum guide.  The pink highlighting shows where the words and sentences used to describe the curriculum are identical to the words and sentences in the Pearson guide above.  Yet, the MCPS guide doesn't mention Pearson or the Pearson trademark anywhere on the document.

Note that Pearson does not do curriculum for art, music, health, physical education and information literacy in their guide.

Joshua Starr and Casey Anderson are meeting on a regular basis

Who knew? 

How does this work? Casey Anderson is one member of a public body, yet he is having meetings with the public schools' Superintendent to discuss collaboration and issues? 

Let's hope no one is trying to circumvent the Maryland Open Meetings Act.

See bottom of Page 2 of this November 17, 2014, memorandum from Superintendent Joshua Starr to the Board of Education.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Mayor and Council are acting in good faith, are acting with the protection of students in mind"

Once again Siena Corporation attended the [City of Rockville] Mayor and Council meeting last night and threatened to pursue all legal means at their disposal in order to turn a profit for their investors.
At issue now is a proposed Zoning Text Amendment(ZTA) that would prohibit self-storage as a use in several zoning classifications in the city if it is within 250ft of a public School.


WBAL: Starr at MSEA Forum in Annapolis Today



Will Joshua Starr seek another four-year term as superintendent?

...O’Neill said Dec. 10 that, in the upcoming year, she will lead the board as it addresses big issues such as the school system’s need for more school construction money and “the tremendous uncertainty of the operating budget process.”
The board will again take on the issue of possibly changing school bell times, after Superintendent Joshua P. Starr submits potential plans in January, O’Neill said.
Another task ahead, she said, is considering Starr’s contract renewal should he tell the board in February he plans to seek another four-year term as the school system leader. His contract expires in June 2015...


Monday, December 15, 2014

Educators Worried About What Md. Budget Deficit Means For Schools « CBS Baltimore

Educators Worried About What Md. Budget Deficit Means For Schools « CBS Baltimore

Listen: Building the Future of Public Education: 2014 Education Policy Forum #MSEAforum14

Click link for audio of this forum: 

9:00 a.m. - 9:05 a.m.—Introduction
9:05 a.m. - 10:25 a.m.—School Funding
  • Mary Gable, Assistant Superintendent for Academic Policy and Innovation, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Verjeana Jacobs, Maryland Association of Boards of Education President
  • Kevin Maxwell, Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO
  • Betty Weller, MSEA President

    Moderator: Tim Tooten, WBAL-TV
10:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.—Legislative Issues Preview
  • Delegate John Bohanan (D-St. Mary’s County)
  • Delegate Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery County)
  • Senator Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County)
  • Senator Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s County)

    Moderator: Len Lazarick, MarylandReporter.com
12:00 p.m. - 1:20 p.m.—Standards, Assessments, and Evaluations (Lunch)
  • Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University
  • Morgan Polikoff, Assistant Professor of Education, University of Southern California

    Moderator: Liz Bowie, Baltimore Sun
 1:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.—The Role of Teachers
  • Sean McComb, High School English Teacher in Baltimore County and 2014 National Teacher of the Year
  • Jose Vilson, Middle School Math Educator in New York City and author of This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and the Future of Education
  • Jody Zepp, High School Government and Psychology Teacher in Howard County and 2014-15 Maryland Teacher of the Year

    Moderator: Marc Steiner, WEAA 88.9
 2:55 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.—Connecting K-12 to Higher Ed and Business
  • Brit Kirwan, Chancellor, University System of Maryland
  • Martin Knott, Chair, Governor’s Workforce Investment Board
  • Bernard Sadusky, Maryland Association of Community Colleges Executive Director

    Moderator: Jenna Johnson, Washington Post
 4:15 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.—Closing

Wed. 12/17: BOE Members Durso and Ortman-Fouse at Taxapayers League Meeting

Montgomery County Taxpayers League Meeting
             Check out our new website www.mctaxpayersleague.org
                                      Wednesday, December, 17, 2014  -  7:00 - 9:00 pm
                                    5th Floor Conference Room,  Council Office Building
                                             100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850
Topic:   "Montgomery County Public Schools - Perspectives from a Current and a New School Board Member"


Mike Durso, Montgomery County School Board Member, District 5
Jill Ortman-Fouse, Montgomery County School Board Member, At-Large

Questions sent to the speakers in advance of the meeting:

1. Only 25% of county households have children in the public school system, yet 100% of households pay for the schools.  There is a quite widely held view that the Board and the Superintendent do not appear interested in answering questions from the public.  What will you do to increase communication between MCPS and the other 75% of households who foot the bill but have no students in the public school system? 

2.  The Maintenance of Effort (MoE) law while a boon to the school system provides no such favors to the rest of the County government.  With the recent dismal revenue projections for Montgomery County which will very likely result in a reduction to the County Government in FY 2016 while increasing funding to the school system at the mandated MoE level, what is your position on the MoE law and do you have any suggestions for its amendment?  

3.  Given the growing over-capacity of our school buildings and the proliferation of portables, the need for school construction funding is an issue with which we all agree.  Would you agree that reducing the cost of renovations, additions and new school construction would help reduce the backlog of schools on the waiting list.  What actions do you think the county can take to reduce costs such as changes in construction procedures, changes in siting procedures, moving to "design-build" in bidding out contracts, looking at pre-fabricated buildings, fighting for reduced regulation from Annapolis regarding "prevailing wages", etc.  Also what do you think the BoE can do to temper constituent expectations about building what some have described as "5-star hotel design" school  buildings so that scarce resources can be used for a greater number of school construction projects?

4. When reviewing the system's budget request for FY 2016, will you look at costs or outcomes, or both?  When outcomes are not supplied, how do you estimate them?  When baseline costs are not broken down by strategy how do you evaluate them?  Do you have a standard for non-instructional costs as a percentage of total costs? 

5. Is "equity" spending which directs more resources to schools that need them the most, a sufficient criterion for evaluating program alternatives?  How should achievement gap performance goals be factored into the study to improve "bang for the buck"?

6.  In the FY 2015 budget, the Career Lattice Program called for 250 exemplary teachers to be awarded extra compensation for serving as lead teachers in lower income schools.  Should this pilot program be expanded in FY16? What would it cost?  What are the criteria you would use for expansion?

7.  When the FY 2015 budget was formulated, oil and gas prices were at record highs.  What are the savings accrued from the plummet in prices?  Given that this decrease in prices is likely to continue, will the FY 2016 budget reflect the new scenario?

8.  Given the very high cost of union contracts, does it seem fair that the very same staff negotiating with the unions benefit from the outcome of these negotiations?  Do you see an inherent conflict of interest here?  Would an independent board lend credibility to the process?

Former principal doesn’t remember 2004 allegation against substitute teacher

A former principal of a Gaithersburg middle school where a substitute teacher is accused of groping a girl in 2004 said he has no recollection of investigating the allegation.
Charging documents filed last month indicate that the Forest Oak Middle School student, who is not named, told her mother in 2004 that the teacher touched her several times, including on her thighs and buttocks. Mother and daughter then drove back to the school, where Principal John Burley “was notified of the above events,” according to charging documents.
Burley, now retired, told The Gazette Friday that while he doesn’t recall talking to the alleged victim and her mother about the incident, he must not have perceived it as a case of abuse. Otherwise, he would have called police, he said.
Burley spent 17 years as principal of Forest Oak, ending in 2011.
The former Forest Oak student is one of four females to accuse Jose Pineda, 50, of the 9100 block of Bramble Bush Court in Gaithersburg, of touching them inappropriately in the classroom. The other three alleged incidents occurred in 2013 and 2014 — two at Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg and one at Clemente Middle School in Germantown in September, after which Pineda was arrested.
Pineda is charged with four counts of third-degree sexual offense and four counts of sexual abuse of a minor. He was being held Friday in lieu of $150,000 bail.
Montgomery County police said Thursday that they had no record that law enforcement had been informed of the incident in 2004...

...Burley was told by police that, according to the victim, he said he would make sure Pineda didn’t teach at the school again. Pineda doesn’t appear to have returned as a substitute to Forest Oaks, he said.
“If such a report came to me, and if all of this happened, I would have reported it to the [MCPS] substitute [teacher] office,” Burley said, adding that he would have filed paperwork removing Pineda from the list of substitutes for Forest Oak and then left the matter in the hands of the MCPS central office. Since Pineda doesn’t appear to have taught at Forest Oak after the incident, Burley said that’s probably what he did...


Why we Need an Independent Inspector General for MCPS

Why we Need an Independent Inspector General for the Montgomery County School System — Joan Fidler, President, Montgomery County Taxpayers League  (Dec. 2, 2014)

The Montgomery County School system has an annual budget of $2.3 billion, student enrollment of 154,176 and a staff of 21,580. It is an organization that rivals many counties in the nation not only in the size of its budget but in the number of people it employs. Yet, despite that, it lacks an independent authority within the organization that has oversight over waste, fraud, abuse and just good management, in general. One wonders why. It does have an audit staff that reports to its Chief Financial Officer but not directly to the Board of Education.
Fairfax County Public Schools with an annual budget of $2.5 billion, student enrollment of 186,785, and a staff of 23,447 recently appointed an Audit Manager located within the Office of Internal Audit but reporting directly to the Board of Education. The Audit Manager is responsible for analyzing school operations and efficiency “through independent and objective analyses and evaluations.”
The 9 members of Montgomery County’s Board of Education work part time and have administrative/secretarial staff but none with financial or audit expertise. Yet the Board has oversight of a large school system with an enormous budget that must rely on the very bureaucrats that run the system to provide it with analyses. So the Board is totally dependent on the school system staff who must have the time, the energy and the motivation to respond to Board requests...

article continues at this link

Friday, December 12, 2014

WUSA9: Hearing postponed for accused Damascus middle school groper

5 PM on a Friday: Why do MCPS computers permit these sites to be viewed?

Date: Dec 12, 2014 4:49 PM
Subject: December 12th Incident


Dear Parents and Guardians:

I am writing to inform you of an incident that occurred during school today. This morning multiple students reported that a substitute teacher had looked at inappropriate material on the computer while students were in class. The substitute teacher was covering Ms. XXXXXX's classes yesterday and today.

As a result of this report, we immediately removed the substitute teacher from the classroom, and we are working with the MCPS Office of Technology to investigate the situation. During the investigation, the substitute teacher will not be returning to Kingsview Middle School. I am very proud of the students who reported this information, and it underscores the importance of ensuring that our students know to tell a staff member immediately if they see or hear anything of concern.

Thank you for your continuing support. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at 301-601-4611.


Jimmy D'Andrea

Acción frente a denuncias de abuso sexual en Maryland | El Tiempo Latino | Noticias de Washington DC

Acción frente a denuncias de abuso sexual en Maryland | El Tiempo Latino | Noticias de Washington DC

English translation

Gazette Editorial: "parents aren’t getting information they need about their children’s safety."

Fix the channels

School system’s recent record of communication about abuse allegations is weak
In bureaucracies, procedure sometimes trumps common sense.
We’re seeing evidence of this in Montgomery County Public Schools, as the district tries to clean up fuzzy, conflicting guidelines for handling sexual abuse allegations.
This murkiness is having real-world repercussions. Most notably, parents aren’t getting information they need about their children’s safety.
In October, a contractor at John T. Baker Middle School in Damascus was arrested, accused of inappropriately touching a 12-year-old student.
Later that month, a substitute teacher at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown was arrested for a separate but similar offense and now faces charges connected to four students.
In both cases, principals dragged their feet in disseminating information...


Thursday, December 11, 2014

NBC4: Montgomery Co. Schools Received Harsh Emails After Removing Religious Holidays From Calendar

After MCPS kept quiet about allegations of sex crimes against students, county council pushes for change | WJLA.com

After MCPS kept quiet about allegations of sex crimes against students, county council pushes for change | WJLA.com

BOE Chair Campaign Got $500 Milestone Contribution 4 Months Before BOE Vote on Contract

Following up on The Washington Times article that revealed the payments from a Milestone cell tower company to a Prince George's County referendum campaign supported by the County Executive Rushern Baker, we note that back in 2010, a Milestone company made a donation to a Prince George's Board of Education Chair's campaign account just 4 months before the Board of Education vote to approve this "deal". 

Here's the timeline:

July 1, 2010: $500 campaign contribution from a Milestone cell tower company to the Verjeana Mc-Cotter Jacobs campaign.

November 11, 2010:  Watch the PG Board of Education vote to approve the Milestone cell tower contract in just 40 seconds. Watch the PG Board of Education Chair, Verjeana McCotter-Jacobs, cut off discussion and push through this vote.
Remember that the Milestone contract with Prince George's County Board of Education was a no bid, no RFP, no competition contract award.  In fact, the contract wasn't even made public until it was obtained by the Parents' Coalition in 2014.

MCPS parents, educators determined to spot, prevent sexual abuse of children | WJLA.com

MCPS parents, educators determined to spot, prevent sexual abuse of children | WJLA.com

 ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) – A group of parents, educators and school board members met Wednesday night in Rockville to learn how to spot and prevent sexual abuse of children.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

NBC4: County leaders told News4 they will be calling Superintendent Joshua Starr to testify at an investigative hearing Feb. 2 regarding what many parents called a lapse in communication.


$2,000 to MD House Speaker Campaign from Milestone (VA Cell Tower Company - 3 cell towers per public school playground)

The Maryland Association of Boards of Education "partner" Milestone took a sudden liking to Maryland campaigns at the end of October contributing $5,000 to PG County Executive Rushern Bakers' referendum proposal, $2,000 to PG Delegate Michael Vaughn's campaign, and $2,000 to Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch's campaign.

Isn't that super the way a corporation based in Virginia suddenly took a interest in Prince George's and Maryland campaigns!  
This couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that Milestone Communications wants to put 3 cell towers on every public school playground in Prince George's County, could it?

Maryland House of Delegates
House Speaker
Delegate Michael Busch

MABE Cell Tower "Partner" Gives $5,000 to PG Referendum. More Cell Towers for Public Schools!

Remember that the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) "partnered" with a Virginia Company to push for cell towers on public school playgrounds in Maryland. The company is called Milestone and has about 5 or 6 different company names, all run by the same man.

Former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan was a spokesmodel for Milestone.  

We know that in Prince George's County the Milestone cell tower projects are being allowed to SKIP the Prince George's Special Exception process, even though the PG Regulations call for these construction projects to go through the Special Exception process. 

Now we find out that one of the numerous Milestone companies donated $5,000 to a referendum effort supported by the Prince George's County Executive, Rushern Baker.  

Contrary to the quote from the Milestone president in the Washington Times article below, the County Executive runs the Executive Branch of the PG government that INCLUDES PERMITTING and the Cell Tower review committee that violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act this year.

Milestone Tower Limited Partnership, a company owned by Leonard Forkas, who is working on plans to install cellphone towers on county school buildings, donated $5,000.
Mr. Forkas said his support of the ballot initiative was solely based on his support for Mr. Baker.
“We like Rushern Baker. I think he’s been doing a phenomenal job for Prince George’s County,” he said, noting that the review process for cell tower site selection does not involve either the county executive or the county council.

Rock Terrace School Teachers Have Safety Concerns, Request More Support

The following statement was received by the Parents Coalition on Monday, December 8.
Article 9 of the Montgomery County Education Association union contract states that we "must provide a safe, respectful, and affirming environments for all." Rock Terrace has done their job
of doing this for the students but has failed at doing this for the teachers.
This year alone by September there were 11 workman's compensation claims filed and
that's only the ones that were reported. Teachers have suffered bites resulting
in infection repeatedly, teachers have sustained concussions from being head
butted and punched. Current Rock Terrace School Administration, Superintendent Joshua Starr, and Director of Special Education Gwen Mason have
been made aware of these safety concerns and yet injuries continue to occur.
Recently a pregnant teacher who had previously expressed concern for her safety
was kicked in the stomach. Staff are scared to come to work and report feeling physically
and mentally unable to perform their jobs.