Saturday, October 31, 2015

Update!! Exclusive Breaking News: Bowers Gives Away 61.25 Acres of MCPS School Land

Is your local MCPS school overcrowded? Have you heard the Board of Education complain that they do not have any place to build more schools and that they can only build multi-level, overcrowded schools on too small lots?

Do you like being tricked?

Well Trick or Treat time is here, and the Parents' Coalition has heard that the Board of Education and Superintendent Larry Bowers have a big trick for parents this week!

The Trick is that without any public process or Board of Education public discussion or vote, Superintendent Larry Bowers is giving away 61.25 acres of open public school land.  

The Treat is that the land is being handed over to a no bid vendor.  

Where is this land located in the County?  It doesn't matter.  
Public school land is a valuable asset and its disposition should be discussed in public by the land owner, the Board of Education.  
The land could be used to build a school, it could be sold, or it could be traded.  The possibilities are endless, but, once again, usable public school land will disappear from the Board of Education inventory without any public process.  

We have seen over 176 acres of MCPS public school land lost since 1994.  

Say good-bye to another 61.25 acres this week and add it to the list of dedicated, public school land that was given in trust to the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education for the benefit of public school children, but not used for the educational benefit of our children.  

Happy Halloween!  


Friday, October 30, 2015

Maryland PTA pushing McDonald’s Because McDonald's Sponsored Their Conference

...On Maryland PTA’s Web site, a letter urges parents to ask their schools to show the documentary to them so that they “have the most current and accurate information about McDonald’s.”

An accompanying teaching guide specifically recommends that teachers show the documentary when “Super Size Me” is part of the curriculums.

“They help teach the kids about choice, and how you can personalize what you want to eat,” Maryland PTA president Elizabeth Ysla Leight said. The lessons, she added, teach how students can modify their order at McDonald’s.
Leight said the information was featured after McDonald’s sponsored the group’s annual conference this year. McDonald’s is one of her group’s most consistent supporters, but she declined to say how much it receives. McDonald’s and other supporters give the PTA money for basic educational materials. “In order to do things like provide materials and put on conferences, we need the support,” she said...

Exclusive Breaking News: Bowers Gives Away 18.5 Acres of MCPS School Land


Is your local MCPS school overcrowded? Have you heard the Board of Education complain that they do not have any place to build more schools and that they can only build multi-level, overcrowded schools on too small lots?

Do you like being tricked?

Well Trick or Treat time is here, and the Parents' Coalition has heard that the Board of Education and Superintendent Larry Bowers have a big trick for parents this week!

The Trick is that without any public process or Board of Education public discussion or vote, Superintendent Larry Bowers is giving away 18.5 acres of open public school land.  

The Treat is that the land is being handed over to a no bid vendor.  

Where is this land located in the County?  It doesn't matter.  Public school land is a valuable asset and its disposition should be discussed in public by the land owner, the Board of Education.  The land could be used to build a school, it could be sold, or it could be traded.  The possibilities are endless, but, once again, usable public school land will disappear from the Board of Education inventory without any public process.  

We have seen over 176 acres of MCPS public school land lost since 1994.  
Say good-bye to another 18.5 acres this week and add it to the list of dedicated, public school land that was given in trust to the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education for the benefit of public school children, and not used for the educational benefit of our children.  

Happy Halloween!  

WJLA: Full Report - Do these local athletic fields cause cancer?

It's on as many as 12,000 fields across the country, including at least 50 public school facilities in the Washington area. But the black crumb rubber infill that comes home stuck to your kids' uniforms and in their cleats could be more than just an annoyance. The 7 On Your Side I-Team is digging into major health concerns about the turf your kids are playing on, questioning why federal studies aren't being done even though experts wonder whether crumb rubber could have a cancer link.
As a former University of Maryland and professional goalkeeper, Steve Powers spent more than half his life guarding the goal. But these days he's more concerned about protecting his kid and athletes like the ones he cares for as the Athletic Director at the Sandy Spring Friends School. Powers' goal, he says, is simple.
"I'd like to be part of the solution in moving schools and parks and other facilities away from crumb rubber," said Powers.
Crumb rubber is shredded up tires that now cover the ground on thousands of athletic fields. It's popular because of its ability to aid in fast drainage, injury prevention and year-round field use. But as its use spreads nationwide, so do questions about its potential impact on health, especially for someone like Powers who spent years diving onto crumb rubber before getting cancer...

Note: Montgomery County continues to use crumb rubber on all of it's high school fields.  

Principal Stole $50,000 from Student Funds

...From February 2011 to January of 2014, prosecutors said, Trusty used the account's debit card and checks to buy $25,000 worth of personal items and more to pay bills, personal legal fees and a 19-day hotel stay in New Jersey.
State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt asked for a nine-month sentence, calling the case "particularly egregious" because Trusty abused her position as principal, taking advantage of students she was supposed to serve. He added that Trusty's financial troubles were not an excuse, and noted her $126,000 annual salary...

First US Public School District Limits Wi-Fi Radiation Exposure to Students and Staff

Instructions for "Best Practices" are posted in every classroom and include:

- Turn off the device when not in use
- Turn Wi-Fi on only when needed
- Always place the mobile device on a solid surface
- Viewing distance should be a minimum of 12 inches from the screen
- Specific product information guides are available through the IT department
- We ask that staff members regularly remind and instruct students in using best practices in regards to mobile devices

Thursday, October 29, 2015

WJLA: Do these local athletic fields cause cancer?

WJLA Investigative Report

Note their map seems to be missing Blair High School in Silver Spring.

Video: Dr. Lennart Hardell versus MCPS Administrator

MCPS: Please Get The Facts on Wi-Fi From Dr. Lennart Hardell  

MCPS will no longer sponsor service trips

Every year, students trade the comforts of home to live with high school students abroad. They explore new languages, tastes and cultures as a part of MCPS sponsored exchange programs.

But starting this year, MCPS will no longer sponsor any foreign exchange trips. Schools used to be required to cover costs for any students who couldn’t afford the trips, but due to the heavy financial burden this puts on schools, MCPS cut all programs. The decision will also help MCPS cope with budget cuts because it will no longer have to pay liability insurance for the trips, principal Alan Goodwin said... 


Note the part of the article that has been highlighted.  Who was requiring "schools" to do this? As local schools are not given a budget for this expense, how was a local school supposed to find the money to pay for these trips?  Illegal curricular fees perhaps?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Takoma Park Meetings: Wireless Technology in Schools and Your Child’s Health

Due to strong interest, Safe Tech For School Maryland has set up three more information nights on the issue of Children and Safe Technology. We invite all parents, teachers, PTA officers, community members and MCPS decision makers. The multimedia presentations will be interactive and we aim to answer all your questions in full. 

This video is the trailer from a new film on the issue worth watching

  • Did you know The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on our government to take action on this issue?  
  • Did you know countries are actually banning Wi-Fi for young children because the cost is too great? 
  • Did you know that over 20 countries have set various precautionary policies related to this radiation? 
  • Is the current technology rollout  sustainable and environmentally friendly?
Learn how you can use technology safer at home and at school. 

Come, Be Informed And Ask Questions 

Thursday October 29th Takoma Park Middle School 7:00 PM
Topic: Intro on Wi-Fi in School and Federal Safety Standards

Thursday, November 5th Takoma Park Elementary 7:00 PM
Topic: Review of International Policy and Protections for Children

Thursday, November 12 Takoma Park Elementary 7:00 PM
Topic: Technology and Environmental Sustainability

Safe Tech for Schools Maryland

...Maryland schools see drop in NAEP assessment

After being ranked first in the nation for education for more than a decade, Maryland is seeing its scores in a key national test drop for fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math.
The state's performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress assessment — also known as the "Nation's Report Card" — put Maryland student achievement in the middle of the pack of states nationwide.
In results released Wednesday, Maryland was the only state to have falling scores in both subjects in both grades tested...

...In 2013, Maryland's scores were found to be inflated after it was determined that the state excluded high percentages of special education students from the reading exam. For example, 66 percent of fourth-graders with disabilities were excluded in the reading test in 2013, far higher than the national rate of 16 percent.
This year, state officials reported an exclusion rate of 3.6 percent in fourth-grade reading compared with 12.6 percent in 2013; and only 4.7 percent of eighth graders were excluded, down from 9.2 percent in 2013...

New $225,000 report on Frederick County special education draws criticism

A consultant has recommended changes to Frederick County’s special education program, but the findings and methodology have drawn criticism from some school board members and parents.
Frederick County Public Schools administrators have stressed that changes to special education will take years to fully develop. Parents and other FCPS staff can help alter the recommendations to fit the school district’s vision, administrators said.
The board voted in February to set aside $225,000 for three years of work with the consultant, the District Management Council....

 ...DMC did not respond to five requests for comment for this story...

...About 90 percent of Frederick County Public Schools’ general education students passed state reading assessments in both 2010 and 2014, according to the DMC report. About 70 percent of special education students passed in 2010 and 60 percent in 2014. Superintendent Terry Alban has said she expects PARCC scores to come in low, too, for both general and special education students when they’re released, starting in October...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

FYI: If you contact Councilmember Leventhal, know that he is passing your comments right on to the Board of Education

From the October 20, 2015, Montgomery County Council and Board of Education breakfast meeting we learn that County Council President George Leventhal "does an excellent job" about passing anything he gets about MCPS right on to the Board of Education.

Board of Education member Christopher Barclay says, "We don't know what folks are saying to you.  And, I think it's really important, I think George does an excellent job, anytime he gets something relative to the schools he passes it along very quickly. And, I would encourage everyone to do that." 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Most MCPS Teachers Who Took Survey Oppose Eliminating Final Exams - Bethesda Beat - Bethesda, MD

Most MCPS Teachers Who Took Survey Oppose Eliminating Final Exams - Bethesda Beat - Bethesda, MD

Tues. Closed Session: Council Looking at Property for MCPS Bus Depot

Peter Franchot at Civic Federation Nov 9th Meeting

Please join the Montgomery County Civic Federation for our monthly general meeting.

Speaker: Peter Franchot, Maryland Comptroller
Community Hero: Ricardo Loaiza, Founder of After School Dance Fund

DATE: Monday, November 9th
TIME: 7:45 pm
PLACE: County Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville

Directions here.

MCPS Never Cleans Artificial Turf Fields - Ever. (Fairfax Does Deep Cleaning)

At the October 22, 2015, Montgomery County Council Education Committee meeting, Councilmember Marc Elrich asked MCPS' James Song the following question about artificial turf maintenance:

Elrich:  "Are you doing cleaning and disinfecting?"

Song: "No."

You can listen to the rest of this discussion in this video clip from the meeting.

Why is Fairfax County doing deep cleaning of their public artificial turf fields and MCPS does no cleaning or disinfecting?


To: "Councilmember Berliner" <>, "Councilmember Elrich" <>, "Councilmember Floreen" <>, "Councilmember Hucker" <>, "Councilmember Katz" <>, "Councilmember Leventhal" <>, "Councilmember Navarro" <>, "Councilmember Rice" <>, "Councilmember Riemer" <>, "county council" <>, 

Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 6:03:24 PM


Dear Montgomery County Councilmembers,

Once again, Mr. James Song, MCPS Director of Facilities, has lied to you about an important fact that you asked him during the Council Education Committee meeting regarding the proposed B-CC Middle School #2 on Monday October 12, 2015. This is fundamental information which has led Montgomery County leaders, including the MCPS BOE, to base their decisions on misinformation.
When asked whether there are any MCPS middle schools on small sites of less than 10 acres not adjacent to parks, and with larger populations, Mr. Song, hesitantly, responded “Yes.”
Not true!
The MCPS FY2016 CIP, Appendix J, which lists all MCPS school properties, shows that all 4 existing middle schools on less than 10 acres are co-located with a park which doubles their property sizes, allowing for all needed amenities, including parking and standard size program spaces within the school. In addition all 4 schools have far less than 1200 student capacity! Here are the true facts:
  • Lakelands Park Middle School - MCPS Capacity 1,122 - 8.1 acres + 11.6 acre Lakelands Park with lighted fields for baseball, softball, soccer and other team sports, a picnic pavilion, and Billy’s Playground, a fully handicapped-accessible play area for young children. Includes a synthetic turf field.
  • Newport Mill Middle School – MCPS Capacity 825 - 8.4 acres + 10+ acres Newport Mill Park with a playground, three softball fields, soccer field, and three multi-use fields, 3 basketball courts, 2 picnic areas.
  • Parkland Middle School – MCPS Capacity 948 - 9.18 acres + 8.5 acre Parkland Local Park with 2 baseball fields and 2 soccer fields.
  • Earle B. Wood Middle School – MCPS Capacity 961 - 8.5 acres + 10+ acres Earle B. Wood Park with one softball field and one baseball field (with a soccer field overlay), two softball fields under construction, tennis courts, basketball court.
Once again, information was manipulated and withheld to sway decisions, and the deceit only proves that they know what they are doing is wrong! Withholding facts in order to manipulate has been the sanctioned MCPS behavior throughout this entire process, including the Site Selection Committee meetings. Repeated lies only engender questions about what other information has been withheld to influence important decisions about this school. You, our elected leaders, cannot make informed decisions in the best interests of your constituents if you are not told the truth!
We thank you for emphasizing the issues about equity and the importance of creating a great school that is differentiated with excellent programs and academic offerings, compensating for its many shortcomings. We truly would love a superior school in the “Eastern” part of the cluster. You are correct that thousands of constituents and parents will be enraged when they discover the school does not deliver comparable academic or athletic programs as its sister school, Westland MS. However, while Mr. Song stated that there are “no bells and whistles” in this school, he failed to explain how an outstanding school can be created when it is missing core spaces, including:
  • Less than required ESOL rooms
  • Smaller classrooms
  • Cafeteria and auditorium 25% too small to support the needs of 1200 Students.
Schoool administrators will be pre-occupied with addressing these shortfalls, and students will pay the price!
During the meeting you mentioned the importance of master planning. MCPS has made a decision with no consideration of the greater good or the County master plan. Instead, they have used lies and deceit to achieve their goals, taking us backward instead of forward. A smarter solution would be to master plan a new school near the Purple Line, giving parents and students alike access to resources throughout the year. It is shameful that a golden opportunity is being missed to create an exemplary, cooperative 21st Century school and park facility that is central and accessible to the greater community, delivering more value for the $55Million cost to taxpayers.
We are looking to you as our leaders! If you continue to be misinformed and lied to by MCPS, how are you going to ensure that this will be an equitable or superior school for our children?? How are you going to ensure that fair and responsible decisions are being made by MCPS??
This school will be a 50-year legacy left to the community by MCPS and the Montgomery County Council. There is no excuse for the actions of elected officials who prioritize development over our children and quality of life, once a core value in Montgomery County. It's high time for Montgomery County leaders to step up to what is right, and not accept lies, deceit, and manipulation.

Susie Cooper, Mary Maday and other future BCC Middle School #2 Parents

Friday, October 23, 2015

Mont. Co. Soccer Coach Charged With Human Trafficking, Prostitution

A Germantown man who runs a soccer academy in Montgomery County was charged this week with prostitution and human trafficking after an undercover sting at a suburban hotel. 
Armand Theinkue Donfack, 35, trafficked a woman from France to work as an escort, advertised her services online and then took a portion of her earnings, according to prosecutors.
Donfack is a soccer coach and the owner of Champions Soccer Academy, which has played at Maryland Soccerplex and Discovery Sports Center...

Pearson shares plunge after education publisher cuts forecasts

LONDON Oct 21 (Reuters) - Pearson shares plunged as much as 18 percent on Wednesday after the world's biggest education publisher said earnings would be worse than expected, partly because fewer students were enrolling at U.S. colleges...

Today: Board of Ed. Blocks Public from Hearing. Why are almost 20% of teachers at Special Ed. School not Highly Qualified?

96.8 percent of MCPS core academic classes were being taught by teachers designated as highly qualified...
At RICA [a MCPS school for students with special education needs], 19.4% of the core academic classes were taught by a teacher who was not highly qualified.

Date: Fri. Oct 23, 2015

This morning (October 23, 2015), a hearing examiner, appointed by the members of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Board of Education, will begin conducting a three-day teacher termination hearing for a MCPS special education teacher.  This teacher requested an open hearing.  On Wednesday (Oct. 21), the teacher was informed that Attorney Judith Bresler, the outside legal counsel for the MCPS BOE, is not agreeing to an open hearing.  For those of you who may not be familiar with Attorney Bresler, she and/or her law firm Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennett & Scherr LLP, received $622,578 for legal services from MCPS between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

I am choosing to publicize this hearing on McNeeds because during the 2014-2015 school year, this special education teacher was assigned to teach English 9 and Social Studies 7 at the John Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (R.I.C.A.), a separate special education day school operated by MCPS in Rockville, Maryland.  This teacher, whose certification is as a generic special education teacher, was the teacher of record for 3 classes in English and 2 classes in Social Studies.  In January 2015, this teacher was instructing approximately 25 students.

What is extremely troublesome is that the staff in the Office of Human Resources Development (OHRD) and the Office of the Deputy Superintendent of School Support and Improvement (OSSI) knew that this teacher was not highly qualified to teach either Social Studies or English when the teacher was assigned to RICA in June 2014.  This teacher has no formal undergraduate or graduate coursework in either of these subjects, yet MCPS OHRD + OSSI found it necessary to assign her to teach these classes at RICA.

According to the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act  (IDEA 2004), every state must assign a highly qualified teacher and paraprofessional to our country’s classrooms.

The following Teacher Quality Requirements currently appear on the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) website:

1.      Beginning the 2002-2003 school year, all new teachers hired in schools receiving Title I funds must meet the federal government qualification of being “highly qualified.”

2.      Beginning the 2005-2006 school year, all teachers in all schools must meet the federal government qualification of being “highly qualified.”

Please note that even though in the state of Maryland, ALL teachers in ALL schools, not just Title 1 schools, MUST meet the federal criteria associated with the Highly Qualified (HQ) designation, there are exceptions.  In Maryland, this designation is only applicable to teachers who provide instruction in the following core academic subjects (CAS) for which students receive core content credit:

Art, music, dance, drama/theater
Social studies: civics and government, history, geography, economics
Reading or language arts

Maryland teachers who provide instruction in non-Core Academic Subjects (i.e., Agriculture, bookkeeping, accounting, business, cooperative education, health education, health occupations, family and consumer sciences, technology education, marketing education, trades and industry, computer science, driver education, journalism, outdoor education, physical education, psychology, sociology, speech, business data/processing, and library science) are not yet required to meet the federal “highly qualified” requirements.

Because “special education is not a core academic subject under NCLB guidelines”, special education teachers, according to MSDE and NCLB, must meet the federal “highly qualified” standards if they are the teacher of record (responsible for the academic grade) for students in core academic subjects.

The expectations are that the highly qualified teacher (HQT) will be fully licensed or certified to teach and that they demonstrate subject matter knowledge and competence in the core academic subjects that they teach (20 U.S.C. §1412(a) (14), 34 CFR §§200.25, .55, and .56, and 34 CFR §§300.18 and .156).

The IDEA regulations establish requirements for special education teachers in general, as well as those teaching core academic and multiple subjects (34 CFR §§200.56, 300.18, and 300.156). Core academic subjects means English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography (34 CFR §300.10). Being highly qualified means that a special education teacher has obtained full State certification as a special education teacher and holds at least a bachelor’s degree (34 CFR §300.18).

All special educators need to be highly qualified as defined in IDEA, but special educators are not required to demonstrate subject matter competence in any core academic subject, if they are only

(1) providing consultation services to other teachers, such as adapting curricula, using behavioral supports and interventions, or selecting appropriate accommodations for children with study skills or organizational skills,   or

(2) reinforcing instruction that the child has already received from a highly qualified teacher in that core academic subject.

{Source:  34 CFR §§200.56, 300.18, and 300.156 and Questions and Answers on Highly Qualified Teachers Serving Children with Disabilities, United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), January 2007}.

For the purpose of this listserv entry, I include the above information because the certified generic special education teacher who is the subject of today’s teacher termination hearing does not meet the Highly Qualified Teacher status as defined by IDEA 2004 and NCLB .  

What is even more disturbing is that in June 2014 and June 2015, then Superintendent Joshua Starr and Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers, who was the chief operating officer in 2014, respectively communicated in a memoranda to members of the MCPS Board a summary report submitted to MSDE that detailed the “number and percentage of core academic classes in MCPS being taught by teachers designated as highly qualified”.

According to data compiled by MCPS staff in the Office of Shared Accountability,
96.8 percent of MCPS core academic classes were being taught by teachers designated as highly qualifiedas of December 1, 2013.  Of those classes, 3.2% were taught by a teacher who was not highly qualified.  That same year, 4.3%  of the core academic classes at RICA were taught by a teacher who was not highly qualified.  As of December 1, 2014, 96.9 % of MCPS core academic classes were taught by teachers designated as highly qualified.  Of those classes, 3.1% were taught by a teacher who was not highly qualified.  At RICA, 19.4% of the core academic classes were taught by a teacher who was not highly qualified.  Both of those reports include information for all MCPS schools.  The reports are located at the following links:

Perhaps by refusing to agree to an open hearing, which the special education teacher requested, the members of the MCPS BOE and their legal counsel are attempting to conceal this horrendous practice:

That one of our most vulnerable student populations, our children with special needs, DO NOT warrant a teacher who has the highly qualified teacher designation to teach the core academic classes -- courses that they need in order to obtain a Maryland State Diploma and benefit from post-secondary opportunities.

What I do not want is to leave anyone with the impression that the only individuals who are capable of teaching core academic classes are those with the highly qualified teacher status.  Many capable individuals who may lack the professional education coursework credits required for state certifications do possess credentials and competencies necessary to teach  core academic subjects.  I know this from my own experience when my daughter had a long-term substitute teacher who was employed to teach Algebra 1 because the “teacher of record” was on maternity leave.  The substitute teacher for that 8th grade class was a licensed civil engineer extremely qualified to teach Algebra 1.

When the teacher termination hearing begins on tomorrow, that teacher’s professional certification is going to be scrutinized.  The decisions of the OHRD and OSSI personnel who assigned this teacher to teach those classes at RICA will be closely examined at the hearing.

From my perspective and what I personally know about this matter, this is not the type of information Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers and the MCPS employees who act on his behalf want the public to know.  An open hearing would have allowed interested members of the community to witness firsthand 

1.      MCPS practices that academically harm our children with special needs; and
2.      The “seedy” (fraudulent) side of the MCPS/MCEA Peer Assistance + Review System.

If you are enraged about what I have stated here, contact the members of the Montgomery County Board of Education and demand that they explain why OHRD and OSSI employees find it necessary to assign teachers, especially targeted special education teachers, to core academic classes they are neither competent nor Highly Qualified to teach.  For those of you who want to attend this hearing, voice your disapproval to MCPS BOE members and let them know that this hearing should be open to anyone who wants to come.

If any of you know of parents of children with special needs at RICA and they are not members of this listserv, feel free to distribute this  listserv post to  those parents and any other individuals, organizations, and media outlets who are interested in the academic well-being of ALL children enrolled in Montgomery County Public Schools.

I apologize for the length of this “conversation” and thank you for your assistance.

Former Howard County teacher found guilty of sexually assaulting teen

A public schoolteacher in Howard County, Maryland, has been found guilty of assaulting a 14-year-old boy he met on the Internet.
Christopher Russell Fox, 37, of Randallstown, pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday afternoon, but was found guilty of a 3rd degree sex offense. His sentencing date has been set for Jan. 21, 2016.
Fox initially made contact with the teen in June of 2014, when they met online through a teen dating site. They communicated over KIK, an instant messaging program, and through text messages. Fox used the name “Daniel McCain,” and told the boy he was 16.
Eventually, the two agreed to meet in person. When they met up in July of 2014, at a playground near the boy’s house, the boy realized that Fox was not who he said he was. The boy said he shined his cellphone light into Fox’s face and asked how old he was. Fox told the boy he was in his late 20s.
The teen told police that Fox engaged in a number of sex acts with him, but did not threaten him or use a weapon. Afterward, the boy called the police and reported the incident.
Fox was not arrested until December of 2014, after police were able to use forensic evidence gathered at the scene, as well as evidence of texts and online communication, to identify the man pretending to be Daniel McCain...

B-CC’s New Substance Abuse Policies- Have They Gone Overboard?

Teen drinking and its dangers have long been a perpetual issue for students, parents and administrators alike. As many of you know, with the arrival of our new principal, Dr. Jones, came a flood of new rules and the strict enforcement of many old ones. These policies have had the immediate unintended, or possibly intended consequence of diminishing the bond of trust and safety between students and the staff. Many of these policies include enforcement of substance abuse at school events. While there is certainly no disagreements regarding the fact that alcohol is generally bad, and that underage drinking should not be a social norm, are these new strict policies really necessary? To many students, these policies brazenly say “we do not trust any student.”

One of these new, aggressively enforced policies include the prohibiting of bags and backpacks from all sporting events, as well as homecoming. While the fact that students tend to carry illegal substances in bags is generally undisputed, the extreme act of complete prohibition of these bags is unnecessary. Mr Rivera, the head of B-CC security, states, “We’re gonna try that, to continue that with no backpacks… again it just makes it easier for security so we don’t have to check, and it’s harder for kids to sneak in substances.” However, banning all backpacks and bags not only brings up new security risks, but also leads students to anger and a sense of violation. Making students leave all their personal belonging out of their reach during school events creates a broken relationship between the administration and students, as they feel that the acts of some should not punish the entire student body. Also, forcing students to leave their bags unattended can be a great opportunity for valuable objects to be stolen. Specifically in regards to homecoming, bags are often necessary. Students bring clothes, extra pairs of shoes, allergy medication, hygienic products and all sorts of other necessary materials. Being forced to part with these items in and of itself causes multiple health risks. In addition, many athletes come to football games directly after their own sports practices, and still have their backpacks and equipment with them. Should these hard-working, spirited athletes really be forced to leave all their belongings unattended, just for wanting to support the team? Definitely not. A less extreme method would be much more effective and comfortable for everyone involved. Simply searching bags, rather than not allowing them at all, would not only be easier for students to consent to, but would eliminate the slew of security issues associated with leaving all the bags unattended outside...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Two 15-Year-Olds Charged in Walt Whitman High School Threat - Bethesda Beat - Bethesda, MD

Two 15-Year-Olds Charged in Walt Whitman High School Threat - Bethesda Beat - Bethesda, MD

Human Trafficking in Montgomery County - Bethesda Magazine - September-October 2015 - Bethesda, MD

Human Trafficking in Montgomery County - Bethesda Magazine - September-October 2015 - Bethesda, MD

In these Charleston, S.C., schools, children are seen, and heard, and always active

CHARLESTON, S.C. — David Spurlock is 63 years old, a former baseball and football coach with a bum shoulder and bad back and right now he’s busy planning a jailbreak. He has spent a lifetime walking the hallways, classrooms and athletics fields all across Charleston, his home town. Those classic images of school-aged children sitting still in desks organized into neat rows? Spurlock calls it “educational incarceration.”

“We put kids in a 2x2 cell and dare them to move: ‘Keep your feet on floor and hands up where I can see them,’” says Spurlock, the coordinator of health, wellness and physical education for the Charleston County School District. “That sounds like being incarcerated to me.”

The educational model is broken, Spurlock says, and the key to fixing it is applying some of the most basic principles of sport and exercise. Students in some Charleston area schools sit on desks that double as exercise equipment, they enroll in “advanced PE,” receive regular yoga instruction and visit specially equipped learning labs each week where the line between education and physical education disappears entirely.
“If you went to anybody who’s in education, you say PE versus instruction, they say instruction every time,” he says. “But what we’re trying to show is that more movement equals better grades, better behavior, better bodies.”

 continues at this link

Letter to the Editor: Invest in more schools, not bigger ones

The Oct. 13 Metro article “County school enrollment tops previous records” brought needed attention to the increased enrollment and crowding of Montgomery County schools. Our neighborhood school, Ashburton Elementary, has capacity for about 650 students. Enrollment exceeds 900 — representing a 57 percent increase since 2007. Unfortunately, the county’s solution to crowding is to build even bigger schools on existing sites. In fact, Montgomery County Public Schools is considering an addition to Walter Johnson High School to bring its capacity to 3,200.
This strategy is in sharp contrast to the “Final School Size Study Report: Impact of Smaller Schools,” published this summer by the Maryland State Department of Education. That report made the following recommendations: elementary schools no larger than 700 children, middle schools capped at a 900-student capacity and high schools to be built for a maximum of 1,700 students. Most schools in our area are larger than these recommendations already, and the county continues to approve new development projects that bring in even more students.  
Unless the county gets creative, schools will continue to suffer from crowding. The long history of high-quality education here will suffer, and so will property values. The county needs to invest in more schools, not bigger ones, before approving more development.
Shannon Ross, Bethesda

Montgomery County State Delegation Calendar

Whitman HS Field hockey field and road vandalized

Last weekend, a group of senior boys sprayed graffiti on the road by the field hockey field and tore up the field by driving on it.

The graffiti referred to one senior boy, though he wasn’t involved. The school will cover the graffiti with silver paint in accordance with Montgomery County Protocol.
It’s unclear whether the graffiti is related the incident on the field hockey field...

Students Call out Principal for Possible Violation of Code of Conduct #bcc

See Page 7:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WTOP: New school enrollment data for local Md., Va. counties show growth

...Surprisingly, the use of portables, or “relocatables,” according to the county, has decreased slightly despite the increasing numbers. Since 2007 the number of portables in use has fluctuated, but hovered around 400, Crispell said.
Last year, students had classes in 404 relocatables, up from the previous year’s 382. This school year, the number dropped back to 381.
Just over 87 percent of these portables are in use at the elementary school level, versus the 7 percent in use in middle schools and the just over 5 percent in high schools.
Howard, Anne Arundel, Frederick and Baltimore Counties are also seeing increasing enrollment, along with several other counties. Prince George’s and Baltimore City both decreased in enrollment, with Baltimore City’s decreases at rates comparable to Montgomery’s increases, according to a report released by Montgomery County.
Four Montgomery County schools are scheduled to open within the next five years to help ease overcrowding in the county: Clarksburg/Damascus Middle School in Clarksburg, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School #2 in Kensington, Richard Montgomery Elementary School #5 in Rockville and Northwest Elementary School #8 in Germantown.
Within the same period of time, 13 schools throughout the county are scheduled for “revitalization/expansion,” according to Montgomery County data.
One of the new schools is causing controversy within the B-CC cluster community. The location of Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School #2, the temporary name for the second middle school in the B-CC cluster, has raised concerns. The school is set to open in August 2017 in Rock Creek Hills Local Park, and construction starts in the next few days.
The new school will be on land formerly used for Kensington Junior High, but the site size raised concerns for some community members.
The land available for the new school is not the same size used for the previous school, because some land is no longer available. The county addressed this concern and others in a letter to the community in May meant to “clear up” citizens’ fears about the new location...

“Public bodies may not use behind-the-scenes recesses as a means of shortcutting further public discussion of a matter that they have just been considering in open session,”... #openmeetings

A Frederick County board ran afoul of the state Open Meetings Act in April when discussing a proposal for large events near Sugarloaf Mountain, a state compliance board ruled.
The Frederick County Board of Zoning Appeals violated state law during a 12-minute recess it took before voting at its April 23 public meeting, the Open Meetings Compliance Board wrote in an Oct. 2 written opinion. The board’s opinions are not binding.
State law does not permit the majority of a public body to discuss business outside an open meeting, unless it’s a formal closed session of an allowable topic.
The compliance board found that it’s not clear if a majority of the appeals board met as a group during its recess, but one member definitely spoke to a county attorney and another member, then the board somehow came to a consensus during the break. That violates the act, the opinion stated.
“Public bodies may not use behind-the-scenes recesses as a means of shortcutting further public discussion of a matter that they have just been considering in open session,” the board wrote...

...“From the video, it is clear that, during the recess, the county board effectively continued to deliberate on the matter that it had just been discussing publicly and effectively did so as a group. ... It may have been that only groups of less than a quorum communicated to each other during the recess, but, within that twelve-minute period, a consensus was reached,” the compliance board wrote...


Exclusive Video: Parents Appeal Cell Tower on School Playground to MD State Board of Education

Exclusive video of the September 22, 2015  of the

This video clip shows the oral argument of parents appealing the decision of their Board of Education to build a cell tower on their local public school's playground.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Nancy S. Grasmick State Education Building
200 West Baltimore Street
7th Floor Board Room
Baltimore, Maryland
Oral Argument
Colin Murphy, et al. v. Anne Arundel County Board of Education
Click here for the Proposed Decision that has been issued by an Administrative Law Judge in this matter.  The Maryland State Board of Education heard additional arguments from the parties and then will issue their final Decision based on the Administrative Law Judge's proposed decision.

WUSA9: MCPS parents concerned about wireless routers in school

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Meeting: " Independent Transit Authority - Financial Boom or Bust?"

Montgomery County Taxpayers League Meeting

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 7:00 - 9:00 pm
6th Floor Conference Room, Council Office Building
100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850

Topic: " Independent Transit Authority - Financial Boom or Bust?"


Mark Winston, Chair, Montgomery County Transit Task Force
Rich Parsons, Member, Montgomery County Transit Task Force

Questions sent to both speakers in advance of the meeting:

1. Affordability - Given the huge construction and operating costs associated with the Purple Line, its not entirely risk-free public-private partnership, and the generally rosy cost projections at the beginning of such mega projects, can County taxpayers afford another mega project - the BRT and CCT - which will cost $2.2 billion in capital and $3.5 billion in interest in Phase 1 alone? Do you agree?

2. Borrowing Costs- contrary to the draft report's logic, debt incurred by the proposed Independent Transit Authority (ITA)would have a higher interest rate than that of the county, and would be several percentage points above the state's borrowing rate. ITA debt would incur over $1 billion in extra interest costs, ironically reducing funds available for transit projects, and resulting in a frozen capital market if rates jump. A state infrastructure bank would reduce interest rate risks and costs. Do you agree?

3. Operating Costs- The proposed ITA will receive nominal revenue sources from operations (unlike the WSSC) and will depend heavily on undefined and likely unsustainable Federal and state tax revenues ($40M). This could result in "going concern" issues during economic downturns. Also, shifting current DOT costs to the proposed ITA would have to be offset by property tax credits to avoid using the ITA as an ATM to re-purpose current county revenues. A state infrastructure bank could help smooth revenue issues during a downturn and avoid the need for a separate ITA bureaucracy altogether. Do you agree?

4. Economic Development- planned tax increases on top of the already high and growing county tax burden will undermine economic development. Why increase local taxes when calculated state benefits are many times greater than those of the county? Establishing a state infrastructure bank to finance the projects shifts taxes and risks to the state which has more control over taxes. Do you agree?

5. Ridership projections - The underpinnings of arguments for the BRT have been glowing ridership projections. However, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy in its 2012 Market and Demand Study for the County concluded that the potential peak hour BRT usage on Route 29 is only 66% of the Federal Transit Administration's minimum standard for BRT ridership. Viers Mill Road and Rockville Pike peak hour demands are estimated at about 25% of the minimum. Do you agree with these figures? Is there a credible study of an urban area similar to Montgomery County that shows a sufficient number/percentage of motorists switching to a BRT system that would justify the enormous costs and accompanying tax increases associated with it?

6. Paying the Piper - Who should cover the costs of this large and ambitious venture? The business community that will gain from it? The residents along the route? The riders who will use the BRT? All the taxpayers of Montgomery County? Also, who should be held accountable when costs exceed projections?

Md State Dept. of Ed. Meeting on Dyslexia Education


Public Meeting
Date and Time:
October 23, 2015, 10 a.m.
—1 p.m.; 
November 6, 2015, 10 a.m. —1 p.m.
Center for Technology in Education,
6740 Alexander Bell Dr., Columbia, MD

Add'l. Info:
The Task Force to Study the
Implementation of a Dyslexia Education
Program (Task Force)
was established
through the enactment of H.B. 278, Acts of
2015, by the Maryland General Assembly.
The Task Force is pleased to receive oral
public comments. Please contact Carmen
Brown at 410-767-7197 or via email at at least 24
hours prior to the meeting to register to
speak. Registration will be accepted on a
first-come, first-served basis. To ensure
effective use of the time available for
public comment, speakers are encouraged
to provide multiple written copies of their
comments or any other documents
supporting their oral comments.
Appropriate accommodations for
individuals with disabilities will be
provided upon request. To allow time to
arrange accommodations, 8 business days’
notice prior to the meeting is requested.
This notice is provided pursuant to State
Government Article, §10-506(c),
Annotated Code of Maryland.
Carmen Brown (410) 767-7197

See PAGE 1363

TONIGHT: Parents to Meet to Discuss Industrial Strength Wireless in MCPS Classrooms - Oct. 20th 7 PM Bells Mill Elementary School

Parents to Meet to Discuss Industrial Strength Wireless in MCPS Classrooms - Oct. 20th 7 PM Bells Mill Elementary School

Fairfax, Montgomery officials to share experience delaying school start times

Representatives from school districts in Virginia and Maryland will share insights into delaying high school start times with the Anne Arundel County school board Tuesday.
Fairfax County is spending $5 million to push back school start times by nearly an hour this school year, from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. Middle school students, however, start school at 7:30 a.m., which is about 10 to 20 minutes earlier than last year. And elementary school schedules remain the same.
The Montgomery County school board delayed high school and middle school start times by 20 minutes and elementary school start times by 10 minutes. High schools there open at 7:45 a.m., middle schools 30 minutes later and elementary schools between 9 and 9:25 a.m.
The Anne Arundel Board of Education will conduct a workshop to hear about the logistics of pushing back school start and dismissal times from Jeff Platenberg, the assistant superintendent for facilities and transportation for Fairfax County Public Schools, and Todd Watkins, director of transportation for Montgomery County Public Schools...

Exclusive Video: BOE and Council Eat and Discuss Bell Times, Final Exams and More

The Montgomery County Board of Education and the Montgomery County Council met today to discuss public school issues.  The meeting was held in a small conference room on the 6th floor of the County Council office building.  The meeting was not disclosed on the BOE schedule, yet the entire meeting was spent discussing topics related to the Montgomery County Public Schools.

Under the Maryland Open Meetings Act, this meeting was a public meeting.  The Parents' Coalition attended the meeting and videotaped most of the discussion.  There did not appear to be any member of the press in attendance at the meeting of these two public bodies as they discussed the county's $2.3 billion dollar public school system.

"Whitman gym was deemed unusable for the event due to two big holes in the floor."

Battle of the Classes will be held tomorrow night at Walter Johnson High School, as the Whitman gym was deemed unusable for the event due to two big holes in the floor.
“We were hoping [the gym] was going to be ready, but unfortunately it is not,” principal Alan Goodwin said.
Goodwin coordinated with WJ principal Jennifer Baker, who moved around school events to accommodate Battle of the Classes.
Despite giving students short notice—the location change was announced during 8th period today—Goodwin and leadership advisor Sheryl Freedman believe there will be no major impact on attendance at the event.
“It’s one of the most popular events for the year, so we think we’re still going to get a good turnout,” Goodwin said.
Freedman added that WJ is only three miles away and shouldn’t make too much of a difference.
The location change has created more work for Freedman, who is in charge of coordinating security and sound for the event. Whitman security, WJ security and Whitman’s media services will all have to be at WJ, Freedman said.
Additionally, the leadership team will face the issue of transporting heavy supplies such as tires and hurdles from Whitman to WJ...

Today Oct. 20th: 9:45 AM County Council and Board of Ed Off Camera Breakfast

Monday, October 19, 2015

MCPS: "...we cannot live by a precautionary principle...makes no sense..." [Minute 2:25 of Video - Hear for yourself.]

The following video shows Takoma Park Middle School, Churchill High School, and other MCPS school classrooms and how the wifi access points mounted on their ceilings emit radiation constantly. The video also includes a few news clips about how schools worldwide are removing wireless networks.

In a September 21, 2015, MCPS Board of Education Meeting, MCPS Technology staff [MCPS Chief Technology Officer, Sherwin Collette] stated that MCPS did not need to take precautions right now (that clip is included). [Minute 2:20]
MCPS staff also cited Dr. Carpenter and so we included statements by Dr. Carpenter in this video...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

How California's Largest School District Blamed an 8th Grader for Her Rape #mocoboe #mcps #larrybowers #joshuapstarr #jerrydweast #sexualabusestudents

"...that is to say, an institution with more than 655,000 students kept fighting to probe the sexual history of an eighth grader molested while in its care..."

When “M.S.” was 13, her math teacher at Edison middle school in Los Angeles invited her to be friends online. Soon, according to a California appeals court, the same teacher started sending her sexually explicit messages. That winter, he called the 8th grader into a classroom and told her to shut the door. The teacher, Elkis Hermida, kissed and hugged the student. In March, he drove M.S. (as she’s referred to in court records, to protect her privacy), then 14, to a motel, where, according to the court, “they had sexual intercourse.” On a second occasion, “they … had sexual intercourse” in Hermida’s classroom.
“The next time they had sexual intercourse was on a Saturday at a motel,” the court records say. “Hermida told her that they were not in a relationship but were just having sex.” At that point, M.S. “wanted to stop having sexual intercourse with Hermida, but did not feel that she was free to do so.” At their next encounter, the teacher wanted anal sex. M.S. objected. “Hermida inserted something into her anus anyway,” the court said.
That May, a friend of M.S. alerted another teacher to the relationship. That teacher reported Hermida, who was quickly arrested, charged, and sent to prison for three years. M.S.’s family sued the Los Angeles Unified School District [LAUSD] for negligence.
This is the story of the LAUSD’s depraved defense...[in the civil trial]

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Peek Inside the WestEd Parents' Focus Group

Now that the Board of Education has released the results of their $150,000 special education survey, let's look back at the comments from a MCPS parent who participated in one of the focus groups. 

A Peek Inside the WestEd Parents' Focus Group

Sentinel: Drainage problems at Magruder athletic field

DERWOOD - For the second sports season in a row, some of Magruder High School’s outdoor sports teams won’t have an open stadium to call their own until at least mid-November.
Consistent drainage problems at Magruder Stadium created inches-thick mud on the playing field during the spring sports season and continued into the summer.
That forced the Montgomery County Public Schools system to spend thousands of dollars to replace the Bermuda grass on the field in Derwood while working out other repair issues.
So while contractors work on replacing the stadium’s drainage system, Magruder’s football and soccer teams will be hosting their home games on the artificial turf at Gaithersburg High School, located about five miles to the west.
It’s a familiar situation for Gaithersburg just a few years after construction projects at the school forced its sports teams to play home games at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.
The same thing also happened not too long ago to Paint Branch High School.
Meanwhile this season, Magruder isn’t alone in playing its home games away: Montgomery Blair High School is serving as Wheaton High School’s temporary home too for its stadium sports.
Magruder Stadium, which seats up to 4,000 people, is slated to reopen Nov. 15.
Originally, Magruder officials targeted Sept. 30 as a potential opening day but construction delays pushed the projected opening date back by one and a half months.
“And when we saw it in the summer, it wasn't progressing as fast as we hoped,” said Magruder athletic director Karl Heimbach, later adding, “You have to work with what you have. There [are] a lot of players involved in doing a big project like this and all the pieces have to come together to get it completed.”
Construction work included laying new Bermuda grass, redoing the field’s irrigation system, reattaching the irrigation system to the other fields tied into it and replacing both the draining system and the track around the football field...

Officials: Body cameras in schools aren’t a big deal

Parents shouldn’t be alarmed by police officers wearing body cameras in local schools, Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice says.
There’s already a slew of cameras in the buildings, capturing images of students and staff on school property.
At a meeting of the Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee, Brian Acken, the police department’s director of information management and technology, said the images captured on body cameras are uploaded to a secure site....

Supes Academy in the news: Federal authorities have been investigating one of those contracts — a $20.5 million no-bid deal for principal training, the largest in recent memory

Even before she was hired to run Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett set up a scheme to get a 10 percent kickback on all the CPS contracts she could steer to a former employer, in part to set up a college fund for her twin grandsons, authorities said Thursday.
The feds found damning, detailed emails between her and her ex-boss, Gary Solomon — apparently so damning that Byrd-Bennett will plead guilty in the case involving $23 million in CPS contracts. U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, in an unusual move, announced Byrd-Bennett’s intention to plead as he announced the charges.
“I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit (:” the feds say Byrd-Bennett wrote in one of many emails discussing the alleged kickbacks.
 Byrd-Bennett, 66 — who was handpicked to lead CPS in October 2012 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel — was charged Thursday with wire fraud and mail fraud in a 43-page indictment. Also charged were the owners of two businesses that got more than $23 million in no-bid CPS contracts — Solomon, 47, of Wilmette, and Thomas Vranas, 34, of Glenview. They also face charges of bribery and conspiracy to defraud the United States, and two of their companies, The SUPES Academy LLC and Synesi Associates LLC, were indicted, too.
 Byrd-Bennett becomes CPS’ first chief executive officer to face criminal charges in connection with her job. Federal authorities have been investigating one of those contracts — a $20.5 million no-bid deal for principal training, the largest in recent memory — for more than a year. The investigation came to light in April when subpoenas landed at CPS, forcing Byrd-Bennett out. By then, CPS had paid SUPES all but $7.7 million.
...By June 2013, weeks after Byrd-Bennett closed 50 neighborhood schools, saying the district couldn’t afford them, she presented the $20.5 million no-bid deal for principal training to the board. It was unanimously approved by six present members...