Monday, November 16, 2015

Why is MCPS charging $620 for Technology Class and $310 for Health Education Class? #mdconstitution #freepubliced

Dear Mr. Civin,

The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD, has been informed that MCPS is charging $620 for students to take a 1 credit Foundations of Technology course, and $310 for students to take a .5 credit Health Education course during the school year

The MCPS website shows these fee on the information pages for each class.  The fees are shown for the fall and spring semesters.
As the MCPS General Counsel, you are no doubt familiar with the law with regard to the ability of Maryland public schools to charge curricular related fees, however, we will refresh your memory by restating the law and providing you with the link to the letter on this issue from the Maryland Attorney General's office.

 From the Maryland Attorney General's office:

...we are safe in saying that anything directly related to a school's curriculum must be available to all without charge...

Not only do the Foundations of Technology and Health Education courses allow students to obtain credits, they are also both graduation requirements.

There is no evidence that the $620 curricular fee, or the $310 curricular fee for these classes has ever been approved by the Montgomery County Board of Education, the Maryland Legislature, or that they are authorized under the Maryland Constitution.

Please advise under what authority MCPS is charging students $620 to take a required technology credit course, and $310 to take a required health education credit course during the school year.  Thank you for your assistance.

Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD


  1. Isn't this for students who wish to take an extra course and the course is completed outside the school day? Students who take it during the day do not have a fee.

    1. Is it? When did the Board of Education vote on this fee? Please link to the agenda item and vote.

      Fun excuse, but does your excuse mean that a student could not work on this class during their hour lunch? Would lightening strike?

      How about we get facts. Let's see the BOE vote and the legislature's authorization of this curricular fee.

    2. And, what you are attempting to say is that these classes are offered outside the school day and that NO CREDIT IS AWARDED for these classes, right?

      Sure, MCPS can charge extra-curricular fees, that's been established. As long as there are no credits being awarded, then they are free to charge.

      How many students signing up for the $620 mandatory tech education class do not want to receive high school credit for this class?

    3. It's the same as summer school. Students can just take the classes for free during the school day.
      Do you get tired always being so negative and looking for trouble?
      Our world needs more peace.
      Maybe if you posed your thoughts as questions and truly wanted t o understand, not fight, changes which might meed to be made, could be looked into. Right now, it just seems yhat any good points you might be making are overshadowed by your vitriolic style.

    4. No, it's not the same as summer school, but thanks for the comment MCPS. How much are you getting paid to put out bad information to parents all day long?

      No, students can't just take this class for free during the day, it's an ONLINE class. This ONLINE class is not given in a classroom.

      How about our world needs public school systems that FOLLOW THE LAW? Or do you just prefer a lawless society where bullies reign supreme?

      In Maryland, public school students are entitled to a free public education and that means courses offered during the school year where credit is earned are available for free.

      Got it?

    5. Every course required for graduation is, as you say, "offered during the school year where credit is earned [and] are available for free." These FOT and Health classes ARE offered during the school year during school hours as part of the regular schedule. Some kids like to take other classes instead so they take these online courses on their own time, which yes, could be their lunch time. The face-to-face meetings are 4-8 pm. My kid took FOT in school for free (and Health online) so I know the classes are available for free and I know why kids would want to take them online.


    6. Whiel you are correcting in the fact that ONLINE formatted classes not given in classroom, these classes are ALSO given IN the classroom too. So they ARE free during the school day. My kid took both during the school day. I didn't pay.

  2. Yikes. MCPS charges more per credit than Montgomery College. Kids should just bypass MCPS and take a course at MC for college credit. That's a better investment all around.

    1. They are already bursting at the seams:
      "Montgomery College offers more than 130 degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines - from business to arts, and STEM to humanities - robust workforce development and continuing education offerings, and numerous partnerships with four-year colleges and universities and industry leaders that enable us to help more than 60,000 students meet their educational and career goals."

    2. Tech is a graduation requirement. There is no class offered by MC, no matter how similar in content, rigorous, or more beneficial to students' futures that the State and MCPS will accept in lieu of the approved h.s. Tech class(es); none!
      BTW, though it shouldn't affect the arguments presented in this thread, what MCPS calls on-line classes are really hybrids. Students must actually attend each class on site, multiple times, in addition to engaging in daily work online.

  3. Thank you for writing the Office of the Maryland State Board of Education. Please be advised that this account is not monitored on a daily basis. If you need immediate assistance, please call 410-767-0100. Otherwise, someone will respond to your email as soon as possible. Thank you.

    Maryland State Board of Education
    200 West Baltimore Street
    Baltimore, Maryland 21201
    410-767-0467 (office)

  4. Many kids want to save space in their schedule for other classes that interest them, credits they want to earn, so these Health and FOT classes are offered online as an alternative to taking them in school during their regular schedule (which would be free). You can see here that these courses ARE available during a regular in-school schedule: This site says:

    "Comprehensive health education is taught for a semester of 18-weeks during Grade 10. All students are required to successfully complete this course prior to high school graduation.

    Student can also take the course online or in summer school"

    Face-to-face meetings for these online classes are held from 4-8 pm a couple times throughout the course period - participating in the class on a day-to-day basis is on the students' own time.

    Students are not REQUIRED to pay for Health and FOT as they are offered as part of their regular schedule - just have to pay if they want to take them outside the normal school day.

    1. That is wrong information.

      Again, THERE IS NO CHARGE to take a public school class, in Maryland, for credit, during the school year.

      "Outside the normal school day" is NOT THE LAW. Please do not spread more misinformation.

      Curricular Fees during the school year are ILLEGAL as they violate the Maryland Constitution's Guarantee of a Free Public Education for All.

  5. So what I am beginning to understand your message to be is that these optional online classes should be available during the school year for free, and MCPS can charge for summer school required remedial classes or optional electives, either in-school or online. Is that right?

    1. Correct. The way the Maryland Constitution has been interpreted to date is that the free public education guarantee applies to the school year. There are a number of Attorney General letters on this topic.

      All of these letters are in the possession of MCPS. MCPS and the BOE chose to ignore them and instead make up their own version of Maryland law.

      Parents need to get educated and demand that the Attorney General - Brian Frosh - enforce the law as it stands today.

      If the Maryland legislature wishes to change the law, they are free to do so. But, as of today, a course given during the regular school year, for credit, is to be available to ALL for free.

      The BOE can charge as much as they want for summer school.

      Now, on the issue of summer school fees. Please note that the BOE does VOTE on those fees. However, the BOE has never voted on these online course fees! They are simply fees made up by MCPS administrators without any BOE approval. Why do parents stand for this? The elected BOE is responsible for doing their job and the citizens of Montgomery County should be holding them accountable.

      Allowing random administrators to make up outrageous fees is unconscionable. But, it is what the Apple Ballot supports and the voters of Montgomery County vote these individuals into office year after year after year.

      We put out the law for parents that want to be educated and known their rights.

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