Thursday, June 30, 2016

Schools Reminded Not To Delay Special Ed Evaluations

Officials at the U.S. Department of Education are raising concerns that school districts are inappropriately holding up or preventing evaluations of kids who may have disabilities.
In a notice sent to state education leaders across the country this spring, the federal agency said that it is worried that some schools “may be using response to intervention (RTI) strategies to delay or deny a timely initial evaluation for preschool children suspected of having a disability.”
That is problematic, the Education Department said, because the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that states and school districts ensure that all children needing special education services are flagged...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

“The incidents of child sexual exploitation has reached staggering proportions,”

238 arrested in “Operation Heartbreak” sting on child predators in California, 1,400 accused perverts busted nationwide

...Officials stressed how important it was for parents to talk to their children about internet safety, especially on social media, where the majority of child predators lurk for victims...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Today on Kojo: Montgomery County Schools Face Discrimination Complaint

Jawando files Civil Rights complaint against MCPS

Former congressional candidate Will Jawando announced Wednesday he filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging inequity within Montgomery County Public Schools.

“The complaint alleges that MCPS has violated and continues to violate Title VI with respect to the manner in which it administers recruitment and selection of students for admission to its highly-popular, language immersion programs at the elementary school level,” Jawando said in a statement Wednesday.
Jawando, an attorney, announced he filed the complaint on behalf of his daughter, “and other similarly situated children.”

The case relates to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights enforcement authority under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Jawando did not return multiple phone calls or emails requesting comment prior to deadline. He planned to host a Thursday afternoon press conference at the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville.

“We have much work to due to ensure true equity in our schools here and nationwide,” said Jawando in a May 17 tweet, in which he said MCPS is “no exception” to a rise in high-poverty, racially isolated schools...

Friday, June 24, 2016

China Vows to Replace ‘Poisonous’ Running Tracks at Schools

From the New York Times, June 23, reporter Owen Guo. To read the full story go here.

BEIJING — Chinese officials have pledged to replace school running tracks made of industrial waste that have reportedly sickened thousands of children, the latest public health scandal in a country already troubled by environmental hazards including air pollution and soil contamination.
The Ministry of Education said late Wednesday that it would coordinate with environmental protection and quality inspection authorities to inspect synthetic rubber tracks in schools across China during the summer break. Substandard running tracks — called “poisonous tracks” by the news media — are to be removed. Anyone who has cut corners in the construction of school sports facilities, the ministry said, will be “severely punished.’’ And it promised stricter oversight over the construction of such tracks.
The CCTV report, which said some tracks were made using recycled tires, cables and wires, provoked angry comments online. Some criticized government officials and school administrators for their lack of supervision.
“What kind of country would treat children’s health and lives as a joke?” a user identified as SoftLipa_cen wrote on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging service similar to Twitter.

Leggett pulls Carver, Westmore sites from bus depot talks

ROCKVILLE -- The Carver Educational Services Center and a County site at 1000 Westmore Avenue will not be used for relocating school buses from the Shady Grove Bus Depot.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced Thursday that public opposition to those sites being used to house more than 100 buses each influenced his decision to take Carver and Westmore off the table.
"Well, it's obvious we have a lot of contention about the sites and we need more time to get something before the public that is more acceptable," said Leggett...

2003: Residents want park to remain spot for recreation

It is now 2016, and the residents, parents, teachers and principal that live, work and play at and around Summit Hall Elementary School still want their park land to remain a spot for recreation.  They still do not want a cell tower in the middle of the fields.  

So why is the City of Gaithersburg Council ramming this construction project through when absolutely no one, not even the cell tower vendor, has publicly spoken in support of this project? 

Residents want park to remain spot for recreation
Aug. 6, 2003
Brooke W. Stanley
Staff Writer
Cell tower proposal fails in fourth attempt

A proposal for a cellular tower at Morris Park is not likely to be approved following a City Council work session last week where several residents criticized plans, saying the tower would eliminate recreation space, reduce the park's natural beauty and pose a potential health risk to residents.

The plan, which calls for a 130-foot tall cell tower and stadium light combination to be added next to the bleachers on the park's upper baseball field, was the fourth attempt by Milestone Communications to bring forward a plan that the community and council would approve. The plans also call for a 25-foot by 50-foot stone shelter to be built around other equipment that would have to accompany the tower. The park is located in the West Deer Park neighborhood.

The tower will help make area cell phone reception better for residents and could bring the city an estimated $10,000 per year for each phone company using the tower, said Len Forkas of Milestone Communications.

But residents did not think the money was worth the intrusion on their life.

"It's going to be an ugly, ugly structure," said Bruce Johnson, a resident of Summit Hall Road.

Johnson said he sees no reason why a tower has to be put at the park.

"It's not something that's going to go away for me because I'm going to see it every day," he said...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"One of the things that we don’t feel the [City] Council has done a good job on at this time is educating and engaging the community about the cell tower,” said Oscar Alvarenga, PTA president of Summit Hall Elem.

Gaithersburg pursues more towers 

GAITHERSBURG – The City Council advanced a controversial proposal to permit Verizon to construct a cell tower at Morris Park over the objections of its most junior member and several city residents.

The council passed a resolution Monday to authorize City Manager Tony Tomasello to immediately execute an agreement with Verizon to construct the tower.

Council Member Robert Wu expressed concern about the lack of information regarding several aspects of the proposal.

“I’ll be frank, I’m vexed, and I have a lot of consternation about the way the Council is handling this issue,” Wu said.

“It’s hard for me to say that because I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone on the Council over the last six months and I have the utmost respect for you gentlemen…to be frank, I think you have blinders on here with respect to this issue…I don’t believe this has been explored; I don’t believe you have a firm grasp on the issues related to the cell tower, and that troubles me.”

Wu noted a lack of public notice with regards to the project, saying he himself did not know the issue would be on the calendar until the previous night...

Breaking: Leggett Withdraws Request for Moving MCPS Bus Lot, Removes Carver and Westmore sites from Future Plan

From: Austin, Lisa On Behalf Of Kirkland, Bonnie
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 11:49 AM
To: Floreen's Office, Councilmember <>
Cc: Jablow, Judy <>; Lauer, Linda <>; Pecoraro, Karen <>; Mihill, Amanda <>; Drummer, Bob <>; Hamlin, Joseph <>; Farber, Steve <>; Nurmi, Joy <>; Lacefield, Patrick <>; Dise, David E. <>; Kirkland, Bonnie <>
Subject: Withdrawal of Executive Order 016-15, Disposition of County Service Park East

Dear Council President Floreen,

I am forwarding a memorandum from the County Executive relating to Withdrawal of Executive Order 016-15, Disposition of County Service Park East.  This PDF document is being forwarded to you in advance of the original, hard copy which will be delivered to Council.
Thank you,
Lisa Austin, SEAA
Offices of the County Executive
101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor
Rockville, MD  20850

Martin Rye Brown, 29, of Silver Spring, Md. was charged two counts of prostitution and human trafficking.

Prince George's Co. teacher arrested in prostitution sting



Civil rights complaint alleges discrimination in MCPS language immersion programs

A former Obama administration White House aide has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Montgomery County school system, alleging discrimination against his daughter and other children of color in the district’s highly popular language-immersion programs.
Will Jawando, who also worked for the U.S. Department of Education and recently lost a race for Congress in the Democratic primary, argues in the complaint that the high-performing Maryland school district is violating federal law in the way it recruits and selects its language immersion students.
The school system fails to publicize the opportunities in areas with high percentages of black and Hispanic students — or to “conduct meaningful outreach” — and many parents are unaware that such options exist, according to the complaint, which Jawando filed this week.
“As a result, many of the high-demand language immersion programs enroll disproportionately high numbers of white, non-poor students, while denying benefits of the program to otherwise interested and qualified students of color and those from lower-income families,” it says.
The complaint asks the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate and requests that the school system be required to enter into an agreement to expand access to, and better serve, African American and Hispanic students in elementary language immersion and other special academic programs...

...Jawando plans to gather with other affected families at a news conference Thursday outside school system offices in Rockville...

Rockville demands bus depot input as county mulls options

ROCKVILLE – The city's elected members Tuesday asked Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen (D) for "a seat at the table" during the June 21 work session to discuss the future of the Shady Grove Bus Depot.
Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and the four City Council members signed the June 14 letter requesting the County "formally coordinate with the City on the bus depot relocation discussions."
At stake is where to relocate more than 400 school buses parked at the Shady Grove Bus Depot. The County has to sign off on a Declaration of No Further Need before a residential developer could construct buildings on the site next year.
City Council members and the mayor also asked to be included in an interagency workgroup in order to help County officials "find a solution that is more cost-effective and strategic in location, and will not adversely impact existing neighborhoods."
"The lack of foresight, planning, and public process for this significant undertaking is disappointing," they said in the letter, adding County officials have known about it since at least the time of the 2003 draft of the Shady Grove Sector Plan...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

County Council No Closer to Solving School Bus Parking Controversy

County Council No Closer to Solving School Bus Parking Controversy: Council appears poised to delay process for handing over land of Shady Grove school bus depot

PTA President, Principal & Teachers Ask for Delay in Vote on Cell Tower Next to Summit Hall Elementary

Summit Hall Elementary School PTA President asks the City of Gaithersburg Council to delay any vote on the proposal to put a cell tower in the middle of the field next to Summit Hill Elementary School to allow for the school staff, parents and community to be informed about the proposed cell tower.

Leventhal on Bus Depot and the Shady Grove Sector Plan (VIDEO)

At a County Council meeting today, Councilmember George Leventhal said he will not support putting school buses at the Carver Education Services Center. His remarks were greeted with applause from many residents in the audience.
During his remarks at the dais, Leventhal also said he wishes he didn’t vote for the Shady Grove Sector Plan.
Find out more in this MyMCMedia Extra video:

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rockville Residents Oppose Carver Bus Depot Site (VIDEOS)

The Montgomery County Council held a meeting today about the relocation of the Shady Grove Bus Depot.
In the audience were members of the Carver Coalition who oppose parking school buses at the Carver Educational Services Center.
The residents were not allowed to testify at today’s meeting but they carried signs and wore yellow t-shirts to get their message across.
Find out more in these MyMCMedia Extra videos, below:

Parents Want to Reopen Old Woodward High School to Ease Walter Johnson Capacity Problems

Parents Want to Reopen Old Woodward High School to Ease Walter Johnson Capacity Problems: 155-page ‘Roundtable Discussion Group’ report makes clear preference of PTA groups

School Bus Parking Debate Continues on June 21

Monday, June 20, 2016

Parents Say NO to Cell Tower on Summit Hall Elementary Fields #NoCellTower

This evening at 7:30 PM, the City of Gaithersburg will approve a proposal to put a no bid cell tower on the field next to Summit Hall Elementary School.  Parents and neighbors to this location have spoken in opposition to this construction project.  In fact, Verizon made the same proposal 10 years ago to put a cell tower next to Summit Hall Elementary School and the proposal was rejected back then.

City of Gaithersburg parents want to know why they are having to come back and discuss this proposal again when the community has already rejected a cell tower on these ball fields.

Oh, and the cell tower will be built in a flood plain.

here are pictures of the contract Montgomery County quietly signed to purchase 1000 Westmore Avenue for use as a school bus parking

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Montgomery County Council betrayed you again - wil...: A picture is worth a thousand words - and here are pictures of the contract Montgomery County quietly signed to purchase 1000 Westmore Ave...

Sex offenders shouldn't be allowed to expunge their records

Commentator Sean Kennedy bemoans the fact that the General Assembly authorized expungement of convictions for only 50 crimes in the Justice Reinvestment Act ("Redemption and rewards for felons," June 6).

He does not delineate what these crimes are, nor does he mention the longstanding and common practice of plea-bargaining serious crimes. He also does not mention that these expungements undermine the efficacy of criminal history background check requirements for those who have access to or work with vulnerable children, the elderly and the disabled.

Although a legislator who pushed these expungements had claimed that he had no interest in expunging sexually related crimes, somehow brothel owners and pimps who prostitute children and women were allowed the privilege of having their records expunged.
More problematic is that those convicted of second-degree assault, despite having physically or sexually abused children, can now have their cases expunged.

Expungement means complete obliteration of the record. Should an elementary school teacher who molested four of his young students have the right to completely obscure his criminal history because he was fortunate enough to be convicted of second-degree assault rather than of felony sex abuse charges because the prosecutor did not want to put the children through a trial?

Why should he be allowed to pass a criminal history background check so that he can then get a job working with children in camps, schools and juvenile detention centers or adopt or foster a child without anyone being aware of his past criminal history?

Rather than accusing those who are concerned with the protection children of lacking compassion, perhaps proponents should give more thought to the welfare of those too vulnerable to protect themselves. Rather than passing more expungement legislation next session, legislators instead should amend the Justice Reinvestment Act to preclude the expungement of second degree assault records.

Ellen Mugmon, Elkridge
Copyright © 2016, The Baltimore Sun

Secret Deal Set for Cell Tower for Summit Hall Elementary School Field

Chart shows that 82% of students live in poverty.
Welcome to Montgomery County!

How does our community treat our poorest residents?

We exclude them from participating in public decisions and mark their communities with cell towers on their playgrounds and fields.

On Monday, June 20, 2016, the City of Gaithersburg Council will vote to authorize staff to sign a secret lease with a cell tower company to build a cell tower on the fields next to Summit Hall Elementary School.

The City Council is giving the public absolutely NO INFORMATION about the proposed cell tower construction project.  The lease that is being authorized HAS NOT BEEN MADE PUBLIC.
There are absolutely NO DETAILS about the cell tower.
For example:
  • What HAZMAT materials will be stored at the site?  
  • What type of cell tower will be built? 
  • What type of fencing will be used? 
  • Will there be barbed wire?  
  • Will the cell tower have a light at the top or at the base?  
  • Where will the road be constructed for accessing the cell tower?  
  • Will cell tower workers be prevented from accessing the cell tower during baseball/softball games or will their trucks be freely traveling the field as the games are played?
  • How will the cell tower compound be landscaped? 
  • When is the balloon test?
  • How big will the cell tower site be initially? 
  • Where will the site be expanded as carriers are added?  
  • Will Verizon be paying the property taxes on the cell tower compound?
  • Where will PEPCO be running power to the site?
  • What about flooding at Morris Park?  
We will stop there.

Those are just some of the many unanswered questions about the Summit Hall Elementary School field cell tower that will be approved Monday evening.

Now, if this cell tower were being proposed for say, Whitman High School's baseball field would the parents and neighbors have an opportunity to have their questions answered and would they be given the details?
We know the answer to that question.  There already was a cell tower proposed for the Whitman High School baseball field and the cell tower vendor held a meeting for parents.

Affluent = Gets meeting with details and can ask questions.
Poor = Gets zip.

Welcome to Montgomery County!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

After 6-figure salaried County officials fail to find bus depot site; Planning Board chair tells residents to "step up to the plate"

From Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row, Friday, June 17, for the full story go here.

Montgomery County Planning Board commissioners lambasted the County's Department of General Services' plan to acquire the WINX property at 1000 Westmore Avenue in Rockville, before voting to disapprove the acquisition. Their comments followed testimony by Rockville's mayor, residents, and civic leaders, which outlined a questionable process and a lack of transparency by the County. Commissioners were also shocked to learn that the DGS had secretly signed a sales contract with the landowner of 1000 Westmore on April 28, just days before requesting a mandatory referral review by the Board.

"It looks like the horse is already out of the barn," Commissioner Norman Dreyfuss said, after reviewing a copy of the executed contract submitted moments earlier by Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton. DGS, it became apparent, had not even shared the existence of the contract with the Planning Department. "The County is going to acquire this property, or default on the contract," Dreyfuss said.

Under the mandatory referral process, even the disapproval of the Board last night will not prevent the County from moving forward with its acquisition, and expected use as school bus parking for Montgomery County Public Schools. The County is desperately searching for several bus parking sites, so it can sell the existing MCPS bus depot in Shady Grove to a developer in a deal known as the "Smart Growth Initiative."

But powerful testimony by Lincoln Park residents showed the politically-treacherous road ahead for County politicians if they decide to press on with the Westmore plan.

"As far back as I can remember, we have been struggling to live in peace in Lincoln Park, and every few years we are fighting some monster that is threatening our security," said Fran Hawkins, a 69 year resident. "When they closed historic Lincoln Park High School (Lincoln High School opened in 1935 to serve black students shut out of County high schools by segregation), they parked buses there for decades," she noted of the MCPS Stonestreet Avenue property now home to decaying trailers. Those trailers replaced the buses when the County moved the depot to 16651 Crabbs Branch Way in Shady Grove, she recalled.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Shocking Revelation: Leggett Already Bought Westmore Property For Bus Depot

At last night’s Montgomery County Planning Board meeting, Greg Ossont, Deputy Director of the Montgomery County Department of General Services (DGS), declared that it was premature for the Planning Board Staff to make assumptions about the proposed use of the Westmore Avenue property. Ossont insisted that the Planning Board should only consider whether the County could acquire the property and that the mandatory referral for the site plan based on its use was a separate process. Basically, his message was that the County is allowed to acquire property....

...Then Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton was the first to testify and she dropped a bomb shell which came as a shock to everyone.
After stating that she was in attendance with Councilmenbers Virginia Onley and Mark Pierzchala, Newton informed the Planning Board that several facts had come to light. The first was that the County had already executed and signed an agreement to purchase the property on Westmore Avenue without a mandatory referral from the Planning Board. This was obviously news to the Planning Board and they asked for a copy of the document to be submitted to the Staff. Second, the contract was for $12 million and did not contain a contingency clause. This was a done deal unless the County defaulted...

...The Planning Board had much more to learn about the situation. Several community members told them about the other property currently owned by Montgomery County Public Schools in Lincoln Park on North Stonestreet Avenue next to the historic Lincoln High School. Over 150 rusting trailers have sat on this property for years next to a landmark in Montgomery County black educational history, the oldest remaining high school constructed for black students in Montgomery County. As the largest property owner in the neighborhood, MCPS was described by those testifying as already suppressing their property values with this site which was “deplorable” and “an eyesore” and the bus parking will suppress the value even more...

...Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson “didn’t need to pile on” so he encouraged a joint effort to find a solution to the bus parking problem. Stating the development at Shady Grove made sense, he encouraged Rockville and Gaithersburg to help the county figure out where to put some of the buses. He was concerned that if we can’t find the place for 400 buses, there was not hope to find places for the five high schools and their feeder schools which will be needed for the County’s future growth...

Maryland official proposes drastically cutting back public school inspections

The Maryland official who oversees public school construction has proposed to drastically cut back inspections of local school buildings, saying that the state does not have enough staff to keep up.
With hundreds of millions of state dollars each year invested in public schools, Maryland has had an aggressive program of inspections. State inspectors aim to visit more than 200 schools a year to check such things as roof condition, electrical and plumbing systems, the upkeep of grounds, recreational equipment and fire safety.
Any problems are reported to the local superintendent with instructions to get them fixed.
David G. Lever, head of the state's Interagency Committee on School Construction, proposed Wednesday that the target for inspections be reduced from this year's 220 schools to 100 during the fiscal year that begins July 1. That would extend the time between inspections from once every six years to once every eight...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Breaking: Planning Board Disapproves of Leggett's Purchase of 1000 Westmore Ave. for Bus Depot

But, at this evening's Montgomery County Planning Board hearing the public learned that County Executive Ike Leggett has already obtained a contract to purchase the Westmore site for $12 million.

The Planning Board's review this evening of the County's proposal to purchase the Westmore site was completely meaningless, as the County Executive has already sealed the deal.

A big Surprise for Lincoln Park residents! 
Westmore site contract already signed by County! 
Bus depot coming to your neighborhood. 

Breaking: Planning Board Staff Recommends Disapproval of 1000 Westmore Ave. as Bus Depot

Man acting like a 'zombie' arrested for trespassing on MCPS school grounds, grabbing girl

A man, acting like a zombie, trespassed onto school grounds at Earl B. Wood Middle School, a Montgomery County Public School, and grabbed a young girl on June 9, police say.
Montgomery County Police say on Wednesday, they were called to the school for a man who entered onto school property without permission around 2 p.m...

"We use students’ nose bleeds to test the quality of the running track”

“Exposed to the burning sun, unregulated plastic running tracks emit toxic gases, pouring into my child’s body,” posted one Weibo user. “Every day after school, my child goes to bed first because of a headache. For my child to grow up healthy, I would rather they use an unpaved, dirt playground.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Nancy Floreen: Cell Towers on Front Lawns will be "well received"

County Council President Nancy Floreen believes that once the public hears about her plan to allow cell towers to be added to residential neighborhoods without public hearings, her plan will be "well received" by County residents.

So let's give Ms. Floreen an example of what she is proposing.  Here is a house without a small cell tower in the front yard (left image).  Through Photo Shop we have added a cell tower to the front yard to show how Council President Floreen's proposal would impact an actual Montgomery County home.

The public hearing on Council President Floreen's proposal will be July 19, 2016, at 7:30 PM.  Sign up to speak at this public hearing by clicking this link.

Below is the video of Council President Floreen introducing her proposed zoning change.  (ZTA 16-05)

Home with cell tower added.

Summit Hall Elementary Getting HAZMAT Cell Tower for Ball Fields #RedZone #HAZMAT #SummitHall #MCPS

Summit Hall ES and fields
Montgomery County Public Schools has stopped putting cell towers on elementary school playgrounds, but the City of Gaithersburg has not.

The City of Gaithersburg will be putting a cell tower on the ball fields next to Summit Hall Elementary School.

As you might be able to guess, Summit Hall Elementary School is a Red Zone school in MCPS.  Red Zone refers to schools with a high poverty rate as measured by the number of students that qualify for free and reduced meals.  

We know that MCPS places cell towers at predominantly high-poverty schools.  Watch the ABC7 report here. 

Summit Hall Elementary School fits the pattern with a Free and Reduced Meals rate of 82%82% of the students at Summit Hall Elementary qualify for free or reduced price meals.  So add Summit Hall Elementary School to the list of MCPS schools where children will play next to a HAZMAT cell tower compound.

The high number of children living in poverty in the Summit Hall Elementary neighborhood makes the community a target for a cell tower on the playground.  Below is a picture of what the kids in this neighborhood will get. 

This will be the start of the cell tower base.
Children living in poverty in Montgomery County get HAZMAT facilities on their playgrounds.  

Green zone children? Here's how the Wootton High School community reacted to a cell tower proposal for their field.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

FieldTurf Uses Montgomery Co. To Sell Plastic Grass. Any Surprise FieldTurf Gets No Bid Somerset Deal?

Update:  FieldTurf has now been selected as the no bid vendor to build the Somerset Elementary School plastic playground.  

March 18, 2016: 
Remember back in 2011, when the Montgomery County Council put out a "report" on artificial turf? That report was put together by County and MCPS staff and included a representative from just one plastic grass manufacturerFieldTurf, the no-bid choice of MCPS, had a representative on the workgroup that put out the Montgomery County report.

Parents were not allowed on the workgroup and neither were natural grass installers. The workgroup met in secret, and there were no meeting dates, agendas, or minutes. 

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Montgomery County "report" is now being used to sell FieldTurf artificial turf.

ALERT: Nancy Floreen Wants To Permit Cell Towers Within 30 Feet of Your Home

Mont. Co. Cell Tower

County Council President Nancy Floreen wants to put a cell tower in your front yard.  She also wants to eliminate your opportunity to give public comment on a proposed cell tower in your front yard.  

TODAY, Nancy Floreen is introducing a change to current zoning that would allow a cell tower to be placed within 30 feet of your home, and her zoning change would eliminate your ability to give public comment on such a plan.

As some Montgomery County residents have already learned, small cell towers (DAS antenna) are the hottest new thing in cell tower construction.  The cell towers go right in your front yard.  The image to the left shows a small cell tower already installed in front of a Montgomery County home.  

Below is a letter from one Montgomery County resident to the Montgomery County Council requesting that Ms. Floreen's proposed zoning change be rejected.  

To:  Honorable Members of the Montgomery County Council,

Please vote AGAINST ZTA 16-05. It would create adverse visual impacts and diminish property values. It furthermore would unfairly and unwisely curtail affected residents’ access to due process.
The size limitations upon cell towers offered in the ZTA are illusory.  Section 6409(a) of the Spectrum Act overrides County zoning law. Once the County permits their installation, the Spectrum Act authorizes cell sites to be expanded. In public rights-of-ways cell sites can increase in height by an additional 10 feet; those not in public rights-of-ways can increase in height by an additional 20 feet. In both circumstances the Act allows additions to the widths or protrusions of up to 6 feet, and it allows additions of cabinets or cabinet sizes. In other words, the ZTA’s size limits are mere starting points.

The introductory explanation provided for this ZTA discusses the need for poles for small cells in public rights-of-ways where utility lines have been buried. Although I cannot imagine any acceptable explanation, no explanation is furnished as to why this ZTA also proposes to reduce the setback from single-family homes for cell sites on existing structures (Section 3.5.14) from 60 feet to the dangerously low setback of only 30 feet.

Access to the Conditional Use processes should remain available to affected residents whose homes and neighborhoods become threatened by prospective cell site installations.  Please foresee the problems that ZTA 10-05 would create and vote NO.


Sue Present

As a reminder, here is what residents of the City of Gaithersburg think about the City's proposal to put small cell towers in their front yards.

City of Rockville: Comprehensive Overview of MCPS Shady Grove Bus Depot Replacement Saga

The City of Rockville, City Manager has put together a comprehensive overview of the events that have occurred in the last few years concerning County Executive Ike Leggett's attempt to move the MCPS Shady Grove bus depot to make way for developers to build housing.  The City Manager's memo discusses the four most recent sites that have been proposed for some or all of the Shady Grove bus fleet and includes concerns that have been brought up by the public.

...Following completion of their presentation MCPS opened the meeting to public comment and questions. All of the speakers voiced opposition to the project and expressed several concerns related to the proposal. The following is not an exhaustive list of all concerns expressed, but is a summary of general themes presented:

  • noise impacts associated with the operation of the proposed bus depot at this location, given its adjacency to residential uses;
  • health concerns given the concentration of over 100 buses at a single location and resultant air quality impacts;
  • traffic impacts on the intersection of Mannakee Street and MD355;
  • multiple buses utilizing neighborhood streets in the vicinity of the proposed depot;
  • impact upon the adjacent historic district and Carver High School building; and,
  • incompatibility of the proposed bus depot with the surrounding neighborhood.

MCPS staff indicating that there would be a follow-up meeting on the subject, however no date was provided...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Montgomery County Police Officer Arrested in Underage Sex Sting

Montgomery County Police Officer Arrested in Underage Sex Sting: Police in Virginia charged Bethesda-based officer with responding to Craigslist ad posted by undercover officer

Durso said lowering all schools by two students would be an exaggeration.

ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Council president said reducing the achievement gap among public school students was a major part of the council’s budget but she did not explain how the council would spend money to address it.
County Council President Nancy Floreen (D) referred to a letter she said Montgomery County Public Schools chairman Michael Durso (District 5) wrote in which he explained how the board would address the gap in academic performance between different groups of students.
“The detail is in Mr. Durso’s letter and it hasn’t been fully spelled out yet,” said Floreen...

Friday, June 10, 2016

It is Criminal To Falsify Health and Safety Information" Testimony on MCPS to the Maryland State Board of Education

On May 20, 2016 Thea Scarato testified to the State Board of Education about MCPS continuing to post "false" information on their website about radio frequency radiation exposure to students from the W-Fi system.

Somerset ES Parents Fail to Raise Cash Needed for Plastic Grass, Will Get Plastic Anyway. Same Thing Happened at Wootton HS.

This is now twice that parent "foundations" have said they would raise the funds needed to pay for plastic grass playgrounds/fields, and twice the parents have not been able to raise the needed funds.

Somerset Elementary School was to raise $550,000 to pay for a green plastic playground for their school, but the actual cost of the field is far above that number.

Wootton High School parents also claimed they were going to raise funds to complete the purchase of a green plastic field at their school and they also fell short.  They fell short by $205,178.

BOE to REJECT Bids to Ensure Chevy Chase School Gets FIELDTURF Green Plastic Playground

MCPS put out a request for bids for the installation of a green plastic playground at Somerset Elementary School.

3 companies bid on the project.

On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers will tell the Board of Education to REJECT the competitive bids and, instead award the contract to MCPS' favorite NO BID plastic grass installer, FieldTurf.

Note that FieldTurf DID NOT PUT IN A BID for this project.  Yet, they will be given the contract anyway.

Don't you just love the way the good ol' boy network works?$file/FY16%20Supp%20Approp%20Somerset%20ES%20Turf%20Install.pdf

BOE Attire at Graduations Differs

Stephen Knolls graduation 2016 - Patricia O'Neill

Phil Kauffman at Longview Graduation

RICA Graduation Jill Ortman-Fouse

#MCPS Spends $64,673 In One Month Fighting Families of Students with Disabilities

Special Education Legal Expenses

Special education legal fees for outside counsel for March 2016 totaled $64,673. The year-to-date
total of $265,519 is $46,843 (21.4 percent) more than the same period in the previous year.

In addition, total year-to-date special education legal costs of $265,519 are $95,345 (26.4 percent)
less than the budgeted amount of $360,864 through this time period.

The Jeffrey A. Krew bill for March 2016 totaled $64,673.

we're prescribing 259 million prescriptions for opioids every year — that's one for every adult American

"Our culture has gotten to a culture of excess, where we're prescribing 259 million prescriptions for opioids every year — that's one for every adult American. We are 5 percent of the world's population, but 80 percent of the world's opioid prescriptions. There's a bigger issue of culture that has to change."
— Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore's health commissioner, in an interview with The Daily Record.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Development Could Soon Be Tied to Park Payments, Extra Affordable Housing (Not School Capacity)

Downtown Bethesda Development Could Soon Be Tied to Park Payments, Extra Affordable Housing: Latest Planning Board proposal provides new method for developers to grab bonus density

BOE 2 Hour Closed Session Friday to Discuss Collective Bargaining Negotiations

The Board of Education of Montgomery County will conduct a closed session on June 10, 2016, in Room 120 of the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Maryland, from 3:00 p.m. to approximately 5:00 p.m

The Board of Education will receive a briefing by staff and discuss ongoing collective bargaining negotiations and matters that relate to the negotiations.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Police Press Release on Arrest of BCC High School Teacher

High School Teacher Arrested for Sexual Abuse of Minors; Took Photographs of Juvenile Girls During Class

Todd Scriber, age 38, of Gaithersburg, has been arrested and charged by Montgomery County Police – Special Victims Investigations Division detectives with three counts of sexual abuse of a minor.  At the time of the offenses, Todd Scriber was a Montgomery County Public School Teacher at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (B-CC), located at 4301 East West Highway.  The three female victims were Scriber’s students.  During the incidents related to these charges, Scriber took photographs of fully-clothed female students while they were in his classroom.  Some of the photographs emphasized various areas of the female anatomy.  The photographs were taken without the victims’ permission or knowledge.

On October 5, 2015, a 14-year-old female reported to police that she was a student of Scriber’s.  She stated that on October 2, she was completing an exam in his classroom after school.  When the student approached Scriber to ask a question about the exam, she noticed that he was holding a cellular phone and appeared to be taking photographs underneath her skirt.  She jumped back and created distance between Scriber and herself.  She completed the exam and went home and told her family what had occurred.  This student’s report launched an investigation.

On October 6, a detective spoke with Scriber about the incident with the 14-year-old student.  Scriber agreed to allow the detective to view photographs on his cellular phone.  While looking at the photographs on the phone, the investigator observed photographs of juvenile females who appeared to be in a classroom; the subject of the photographs was specific areas of the females’ bodies.  Once Scriber realized that the detective was viewing those photographs, he attempted to grab the cellular phone.  At that time, the detective seized the phone and obtained a search warrant to search the phone for evidence.

Montgomery County Schools cooperated fully with Montgomery County Police during the investigation.  After this initial police interview with Scriber, Montgomery County Public Schools placed Scriber on leave and he is no longer employed with the school system.
Through investigation, detectives were able to identify three female students in the photos: two 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old.

Detectives obtained a warrant for Scriber’s arrest, charging him with three counts of child sexual abuse and earlier today, he turned himself in.

Anyone who believes she may have been victimized by Scriber in a similar way should call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400.

Breaking News: BCC teacher arrested on 3 counts of sexual abuse of a minor

Breaking: Planning Board Staff Recommends Disapproval of 1000 Westmore Ave. as Bus Depot

On May 9, 2016, the Parents' Coalition broke the news that County Executive Ike Leggett wanted to purchase property in Rockville for use as a bus depot.  Leggett wanted the review of this land acquisition by the Montgomery County Planning department to be purely administrative. 

However, the full Planning Board will be taking up Leggett's plan in a public hearing on June 16, 2016, at 8:05 PM.

The Planning Board staff has just released their recommendation for Leggett's plan and their recommendation is that the Planning Board not approve the placement of a MCPS bus depot on Westmore Avenue in Rockville.

The Planning Board staff notes that Leggett's plan for this site has no specifics with regard to the number of buses that would be transferred to this site, nor did Leggett supply the Planning Board any site selection study or analysis. 

untold number of [MCPS] buses would head to 1000 Westmore Avenue [Rockville]

...County officials are also considering another site off of Crabbs Branch Way, separate from the current Shady Grove site along the same road.
"I'd be happy to talk to anybody with private property that's available to consider as part of this process," said Ossont. “They all involve the potential for property acquisition... We've vetted many, many sites over the years. Some are public lands. Some are private.”...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Should developers get tax cuts as County faces "perfect storm" of development, school overcrowding?

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Should developers get tax cuts as County faces "pe...: The first public discussion of two proposed massive tax cuts for developers took place before the Montgomery County Planning Board last n...

MCPS forecaster says new ES needed for Rock Spring, White Flint 2 school capacity

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: MCPS forecaster says new ES needed for Rock Spring...: Bruce Crispell, Director of the Division of Long Range Planning for Montgomery County Public Schools, gave his forecast last night for ho...

Principal Alan Goodwin has taken a tough stance on underage drinking, and one teenager who broke the rules will be sitting out. #graduation #mcps #mocoboe #doublestandard

When seniors at Walt Whitman High School cross the stage during graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, at least one student will be missing. Principal Alan Goodwin has taken a tough stance on underage drinking, and one teenager who broke the rules will be sitting out.
“The message is out there that there will be consequences,” Goodwin said. “If they drink at prom or post-prom, they don’t walk at graduation.”
Such hard-line approaches at Montgomery County’s public schools have prompted heated debate this graduation season following the superintendent’s decision to overrule another principal who took a similar position.
Donna Redmond Jones, principal at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High, had told students for months that if they drank or used drugs on prom night they would lose their chance to participate in commencement. Jones disciplined six seniors who drank on the school’s prom night, May 6.
But as the school’s June 1 graduation day approached, interim superintendent Larry A. Bowers overturned Jones’s decision to bar them from graduation ceremonies...

Monday, June 6, 2016

Current Councilmembers Who Gave Away an Entire MCPS High School for Free: Floreen, Leventhal, Berliner, Navarro, Elrich #educationfirst #MaybeNot

Is your local Montgomery County Public School overcrowded? Are your children spending their days in classroom trailers instead of school buildings?

Peary High School, Rockville, Maryland
You can thank the Fabulous 5 that are still on the Montgomery County Council for the loss of public school classrooms.  As recently as 2010, current Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, Roger Berliner, Nancy Navarro and Marc Elrich all voted to give away an entire MCPS high school building for free.

State Delegate Ben Kramer and State Senator Roger Manno were instrumental in shepherding this sweetheart deal through the Maryland Board of Public Works.

And let's not forget the person behind this deal, County Executive Ike Leggett who made sure that public school children were robbed of classrooms at a time when MCPS was using over 400 classroom trailers.  The deal that County Executive Ike Leggett sealed called for the buyer to only pay for the land and get the entire public high school building (a building that was bought and paid for with your property taxes) for free.



 Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010

Montgomery County government will sell the former Robert E. Peary High School to the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy despite protests from the county's Board of Education...
...The County Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday to allow the sale, which is expected to become official in the next several weeks.
Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg voted against the sale, saying the site in Aspen Hill could be needed for a public school in the future.
The council's decision ratifies a deal proposed by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) to sell the 19.5-acre site in Aspen Hill for $1.9 million. It includes a provision making it possible for the county to repurchase and occupy the site five years after a judge decides the county needs it for a school.
The state's Board of Public Works, which is composed of Maryland's governor, comptroller and treasurer, must sign off on the deal...
However, Leggett's plan has drawn criticism from those who say the price is too low and from the county school board, which says the move is ill-advised given public school enrollment is growing, and large tracts of land are scarce in the downcounty area.
Those claims were disputed Tuesday by some council members who said the school system has 51 unused school buildings and no immediate need for the Hebrew Academy site.
"The school system is accustomed to having it all," said Councilman George L. Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park. "The school system wants everything. It wants its cake and to eat it, too."
Council Vice President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring said Monday the school system was not persuasive in making its case for the school. Ervin is expected to be sworn in as council president next week...

...Leventhal said it was not convincing to hear school officials say they don't need the site now, but might at some unspecified date...