Monday, November 30, 2015

MCPS Chief Communications Officer Brian Edwards reveals that radon document provided last week was fabricated

MCPS demands $339 (or more) to release the real radon test result documents to parents and teachers 

The MCPS radon cover-up continues.

Last week WJLA TV (ABC 7) released a 5 page report from MCPS that summarized the radon test results for most MCPS schools.  The report, which was requested by the Parents' Coalition and shared with WJLA, was obtained through a public information act request seeking the "radon level test reports for Montgomery County Public Schools." 

An additional document received today by the Parents' Coalition reveals that the 5 page report was not the actual radon test report, but was instead a summary that was prepared by MCPS in response to our first MPIA test for radon reports.   (Of course, anyone who has ever done a radon test knows that the test report is at least one page long for each room tested.)

The Maryland Public Information Act manual from the Maryland Attorney General specifically directs agencies to provide actual records and not to create new records to fulfill a request.  As revealed by the letter below, MCPS spent several hours creating the 5 page summary instead of providing the actual test reports or allowing the Parents' Coalition to come into the MCPS offices to review the original documents. 

Following up on our original request, we asked for ALL documents containing test results and records of radon remediation work for the following MCPS buildings:

Damascus Elementary School

Fallsmead Elementary School

Glennallan Elementary School

Redland Middle School

South Lake Elementary School

Springbrook High School

Takoma Park Elementary School

Watkins Mill Elementary School

Westland Middle School

Carver Center (MCPS headquarters)

MCPS is now demanding at least $339 for access to the actual test reports for just the 10 buildings listed above.

Every teacher and every parent with a child in MCPS should be concerned and should ask to review the actual, room-by-room test reports for their children's school. 


  1. Aren't there laws in Maryland about fabricating (falsifying) test results, that could cause imminent harm to children? At the very least, should the Maryland Attorney General investigate this?

    1. Don't make me sneeze.

    2. kidding, right? The MD Attorney General is Brian Frosh, who lives right here in Montgomery County. He won't upset the applecart.

    3. Besides he has other priorities

  2. OK, so let's take up a collection for all of the schools. Who is tech-savvy enough to start a kickstarter campaign? I'll kick in, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

  3. I think it's important that we not try to just have access to the current results, but historical results as well. We need to know whether areas have tested above acceptable levels for multiple tests. In the county's Green Ribbon Schools application from 2012-2013 that I found online, they attest that they follow EPA standards for radon testing and remediation. There are many grants attached to this Green Ribbons School designation.

    1. We posted the link to the MCPS Green Schools application yesterday:

    2. I saw after I posted, thank you. I see references time and time again to following EPA standards, and that is clearly not what is happening here. I'm attending a PTA meeting tonight at Jones Lane Elementary, as my son is in a classroom where levels are above where they should be. Here is the email correspondence received from the principal (clearly canned from the county):

      "This email response is to confirm that I have shared your message of concern with the safety and maintenance officials at MCPs that are responsible for facilities management. At this time there are aware of the parent concerns at our school and other schools and there will be a formal response letter from MCPS to all the parents concerning the situation tomorrow."

      "The letter should be comprehensive in its explanations. The PTA presentation that I was asked to do is on past testing. I will do my best to let parents know where they can go for further information on this topic since I am not an expert on this at all. I also want to assure you that they would not allow us to be in a building that is not safe. So please set your mind at ease."

    3. So what would the readings be if there wasn't air exchange in the room?

      Who is the principal that is now suddenly a radon expert?

    4. She actually says in her comments that " I am not an expert on this at all", and she claimed to our PTA president that she didn't even know about the testing results as of 11/3/15. I have printed several documents to bring with me to the meeting tonight, but I doubt she'll be able to answer any questions, as principals are likely very far down the food chain when it comes to this issue.

    5. Leigh, Thanks for all the information. Please let us know what you learn this evening.

      The principal's statement that she would not be in a building that is not safe is meaningless. Yet, MCPS apparently trains principals to put out those sort of statements, because we hear this type of response time and time again.

      These are the same administrators that were emphatic that crumb rubber was safe a few years ago, even when parents had serious concerns. Fast forward to 2015, and the concerns of MCPS parents are now the concerns of parents across the USA.

  4. I would definitely be "strongly suggesting" to local news media outlets that they request this data. They would also be more able to afford the fees. I agree that the public absolutely has a right to know this information and shouldn't have to jump through hoops to get it.

    As for the fees themselves, this report should be available in a format other than paper-pages-to-be-Xeroxed; it doesn't take 10 hours to send a PDF file.

  5. The Parents' Coalition is continuing to work to obtain the actual reports. We will keep everyone updated.

  6. Everyone, remember that the law changed as of 10-1-2015. When there's a dispute over the fee demanded to fulfill a request, it can be referred to the PIA Ombudsman, who will act as the arbitrator.

    Now that said, the position isn't filled yet.

    But, if your request is dated after 10/1/2015, and you've gotten the gold-plated-Xerox excuse letter, put your matter in the queue by addressing a complaint to the AG's office, and request to be notified when the position is filled.

    As far as I know, Address it to the Office of the AG/PIA Ombudsman and simply enclose copies of your request and the reply with a cover letter saying the fees are excessive and should be waived in the public interest, that is, public health.

    It would take 15 minutes. Then, when the person is hired, your complaint should be in the queue. It's worth a try.

    1. The request might take 15 minutes. If it takes half the time to fill the position as it takes MCPS to hire a superintendent, my 5th-grader will be halfway thru middle school by the time the request is even processed. LOL

      (Let's not even open the school renovation can of worms for her school, which should have been renovated by now. :P)

    2. My question is who is paying for the AG/PIA Ombudsman?

    3. And my question is, which Montgomery County Democratic party crony got that job.

    4. Thank you, Craig. We are building our case. Stand by for updates.


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