Friday, July 29, 2016

New MD State BOE President and his connection to Gates Foundation

The Maryland State Board of Education has tapped an education policy expert who helped found a charter school as its new president.

Andrew R. Smarick, 40, appointed last year by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, was unanimously elected Tuesday by the 12-member policy-making body and will serve a one-year term.

Smarick is a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit that works to improve K-12 education for low-income students, and recently served on the Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments and Testing in Public Schools, which issued recommendations earlier this month.

Soure:  The Washington Post


In November of 2013, the Gates Foundation gave a grant to Bellwether Education Partners.

Bellwether Education Partners, Inc.

November 2013 
to support CoreSpring, an initiative to build a bank of shared Common Core aligned formative item and assessment resources that assure improved discoverability, availability and interoperability 
College Ready 
United States 
Sudbury, Massachusetts

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Former MCPS administrator to Miss. taxpayers: I’m going to Disney World, and you’re paying for it

Mississippi taxpayers paid more than $3,200 for a deputy superintendent in the Department of Education to attend a convention last fall at Florida’s Walt Disney World, according to records obtained by Mississippi Watchdog.
John Q. Porter, the interim chief information officer for MDE, went to the Gartner Symposium IT Expo held at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in October and billed taxpayers for more than $1,890 in lodging at the five-star hotel. His airfare cost $984.20 and his meals added another $336. 
All told, Porter has racked up more than $10,260 in travel expenses this fiscal year, which ends July 1.
In the third quarter alone, taxpayers paid more than $8,000 for Porter to attend conferences in Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., Colorado, Texas and Illinois. The department as a whole has spent more than $1.8 million on travel in fiscal 2016.
Porter charged taxpayers more than $2,700 for a February trip to Phoenix for the National Association of School Superintendents’ annual education conference.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rock Spring Recommendations Provide Array of Options To Address School Overcrowding

Rock Spring Recommendations Provide Array of Options To Address School Overcrowding: Walter Johnson High School is projected to keep growing even without additional development

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Kennedy High School Air Conditioning at 50% for Summer School

It was a bad day to be holed up in a building with a faltering air conditioner, but students and staff at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring braved summer school classes that way despite Monday’s severe heat.
Montgomery school officials said Kennedy’s air conditioning was operating at about 50 percent, with crews working to make repairs.
Temperatures in some classrooms climbed as high as 84 degrees, but many rooms remained at the normal temperature of 76 degrees, said spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala. The summer school day went on as scheduled, ending about 1 p.m., she said...

WTOP: New Montgomery Co. school superintendent plans to close achievement gap #wow

...At a board of education meeting, Smith — who has been on the job for less than a month — referenced a 2014 report that showed disparities which he says falls most heavily on African-American and Latino students, as well as students living in poverty.
Smith said he wants to start by emphasizing cultural competency training for educators, something that is already taking place at schools in the county. Part of the school system’s task, he says, will be making sure the training is working and giving the schools the tools and assistance educators need to help students.
He also plans to use testing and assessment programs already in place along with feedback from teachers on students to get more frequent progress updates on how schools and students are performing...

PG School system adopts new policies after sexual abuse case roils community

...With the board’s action, the school system for the first time has an overarching policy on preventing sexual abuse, one that pushes for better handling of volunteers, background checks, school visitors, social media and abuse reporting. There also will be a mandate for annual staff training and reviews of curriculum content.

 The board also adopted a new policy on reporting abuse and another on inappropriate relationships between students and employees, volunteers and contractors.

The district’s revised volunteer policy got particular attention. That policy — significantly expanded from an earlier version — calls for procedures that will include background checks, training and “clear parameters for a volunteer’s access to and interaction with students at school.”
The policy on improper relationships says that volunteers “shall not date, have sexual relations or have an inappropriate relationship with any student” and directs school officials to create “a clear prohibition” on conduct that falls within that realm, including any communication of a sexual nature, giving students access to an employee’s social networks, or being alone with a student in a closed room or in a personal car....

Monday, July 25, 2016

Exclusive: BOE Spends $75,600 Fighting 1 Child. BOE would rather Litigate than Educate. BOE has No Idea how many Hours Atty Spends on Each Case. #waste #irresponsible

2016 MD State Legislative Audit of MCPS
The Maryland State Office of Legislative Affairs has flagged the Board of Education's contract with an outside attorney for failing to determine if the billing arrangement "obtained the best value".

The media has not reported on the 2016 State Audit of the Montgomery County Public School system, but the Parents' Coalition did follow up on this issue flagged by the Auditor.  We have obtained invoices from the Board of Education's outside attorney who handles special education litigation from October 2015 through May 2016.

These invoices show that the outside attorney handling Board of Education special education litigation never accounts for the hours spent on a case unless the matter goes to Federal Court.

The billing arrangement that the Board of Education has approved with this outside attorney enables the attorney to take a minimum fee of $3,150 on every case set to go before an Administrative Law JudgeEven if a case is immediately withdrawn or settled, the minimum fee is $3,150.

If a case goes before an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing, the fee is then based on how long the attorney can extend the proceeding.  One day before a Judge earns a $6,300 fee, no matter how much time was actually expended on the case prior to the day of the hearing.

The $6,300 daily fee equates to 26 hours of time based on this attorney's billing rate of $245.

Every day spent before a Judge, earns the attorney another 26 hours of fees, regardless of how many hours have actually been spent on the case.   

In this set of bills we see the following days charged on non-Federal Court matters.  On non-Federal Court matters, from October through April (7 months) this attorney billed the Board of Education for the equivalent of 904 hours or 23 weeks of full-time work.  We know this attorney represents other public school systems in Maryland.

Is the Montgomery County Board of Education obtaining the "best value" for these education dollars?  

Here is a list of the cases shown on the invoices obtained by the Parents' Coalition. For each case (shown by #), we have grouped together the charges shown on the invoices below.  We have divided up the charges by the hourly rate of $245 to shown how many hours would have to have been billed to have earned the charges shown.  The Board of Education has no idea if the charges shown on the invoices are justified, as the BOE does not require the attorney to actually detail the hours spent on each case.  

2015 October  Case withdrawn #29318       $3,150   = 13 hours

2015 October  Attend 1 day   #31838         $6,300    =  26 hours
2015 November 1/2 day         #31838         $3,150    =  13 hours   Total = 39 hours

2015 November  6 1/2 days #28847           $34,650    =  141 hours
2015 December   1 day        #28847             $6,300    =   26 hours
2016 January     4 days        #28847           $25,200    =  103 hours  Total = 270 hours

2015 December    1/2 day    #36487              $3,150     =  13 hours

2015 December    4 days      #35653             $25,200    = 103 hours
2016 January        3 days      #35653             $18,900    = 77 hours   Total = 180 hours

2016 February    Case withdrawn #18051       $3,150    = 13 hours

2016 February    4 days       #41442            $25,200   = 103 hours
2016 March        4 days       #41442             $25,200  = 103 hours
2016 April           4 days      #41442             $25,200  = 103 hours  Total = 309 hours

2016 March      Case withdrawn #05236        $3,150 = 13 hours

2016 March      Case withdrawn #07725        $3,150 = 13 hours

2016 March      Case withdrawn #05278        $3,150 = 13 hours

2016 March      Case withdrawn # 04604       $3,150 = 13 hours

2016 April        Case withdrawn  #08826       $3,150 = 13 hours

Saturday, July 23, 2016

WTOP: memorandum detailing the number of cases in which an employee, contractor of volunteer was suspected of abuse or neglect of an MCPS student

WASHINGTON — Montgomery County’s school superintendent Dr. Jack Smith issued a memorandum detailing the number of cases in which an employee, contractor of volunteer was suspected of abuse or neglect of an MCPS student.

The July 20 memo was posted on the school system’s website on Friday. It shows that while 345 suspected cases of abuse or neglect were reported to the county’s office of Child Welfare Services since June 2015, only a handful, five in all, were deemed to show enough “credible evidence”to lead to action. Three of those staffers no longer work for the school system, and two “are on administrative leave pending final action” according to the memorandum.

Responding to a reporter’s questions about the memorandum, Derek Turner, spokesman for the Montgomery County Public Schools said, “We’re being as transparent as possible by posting the memo to the board and information about our child abuse and neglect policy to our website.”
Jennifer Alvaro, a licensed clinical social worker and a certified sex offender treatment provider doesn’t buy that assertion about transparency. A member of the school system’s Child Abuse and Neglect Work Group, founded after the school system was slammed for its handling of accusations of abuse in 2014, says she had to file a Maryland Public Information Act request to get a copy of the memorandum....

Friday, July 22, 2016

BOE Keeps Their $170,500 Expense Account, Cancels Back to School Fair

MCPS Cancels Back to School Fair 

MyMCMedia has learned that Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has canceled its annual Back to School Fair, which typically takes place the weekend before the first day of school. Students head back to class on August 29.
Former MCPS interim superintendent Larry Bowers informed the Board of Education of the decision in a memo back on May 4th. Bowers said it was a budgetary decision.
“Funding for the Back to School Fair is not included in the Fiscal Year 2017 operating budget, and hence is not scheduled to take place in August 2016,” Bowers wrote in the memo.  “While the Back to School Fair had significant symbolic value for both our district and our partners alike, it only took place given significant financial and human resource investment from MCPS. As we continue to refine our parent/guardian engagement strategy, we also recognize that the resources and tools that we and our partners want to share are best communicated through the staff members with whom the students and families they serve will interact.”...


FY 2017 Board of Education expense account from MCPS Operating Budget

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Leggett Still Wants to Tear Down Entire School for School Bus Depot

Montgomery County officials are considering more than two sites for relocating hundreds of school buses from the Shady Grove bus depot but they’re only publically acknowledging two of them by name.
Department of General Services Director David Dise said there “may be interim sites” established for the buses but the County Council has asked staff to not select any sites until they decide on a permanent location for the buses, none of which will be named until they’re presented to the County Executive between late July and early September.
According to DGS Deputy Director Greg Ossont, he and other County staffers “need to do our due diligence” while considering sites under the new criteria established by the County Council.
 “We are looking at other sites right now,” said Dise, adding DGS officials have to look at the net buildable area for different sites as well as their environmental impact.
Dise and Ossont said Monday the Blair G. Ewing Center on Avery Road in Rockville and the former Oaks Landfill in Laytonsville are still both potential sites for moving up to 250 buses from the Jeremiah Park location.
“There is no one single site to accommodate all 450 buses,” said DGS Director David Dise.
He said County officials have so far considered more than 200 sites for relocating the buses but have ruled out most of them.
Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said the lack of disclosure about other sites under consideration “speaks to the greater problem of transparency and lack thereof.”...

Tobytown residents asked to weigh in on 2nd bus route option

WASHINGTON — During a hearing next week, another option will be presented for a proposed bus route serving a historic community in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Tobytown, a neighborhood in Potomac, was founded by freed slaves in 1847. Residents have expressed a sense of being left behind when it comes to county services.
Phil McLaughlin, chief of operations planning for Montgomery County’s Ride On bus service, said his department got feedback from residents after the first route was proposed for Tobytown earlier this month. As a result, the county is offering the new option along with the first version at the upcoming hearing, which is scheduled for July 28.
In interviews with WTOP earlier this month, several residents have said the one thing they wanted was bus service that would pull into the neighborhood, so that residents don’t have to stand and wait along busy River Road....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Surprise: Julius West Middle School To Get New Artificial Turf Field #nobid

Yesterday, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) announced that the lawsuit brought against the system by Montgomery Soccer Inc. (MSI) has been settled. The litigation involved the construction of and access to artificial turf fields in Montgomery County.
As part of the agreement, MSI will contribute up to $5.2 million to construct new artificial turf fields at Julius West Middle School (JWMS), Walt Whitman High School, and Albert Einstein High School in exchange for access to the fields. The agreement also clears the way for construction of a new turf field at Winston Churchill High School, as well as a use agreement for the Richard Montgomery High School (RMHS) stadium field. Part of the deal allows RMHS to continue its field use arrangement with Bethesda Soccer.
The field at JWMS will cost as much as $2.4 million. MSI will have access to use these fields for a set number of scheduled hours per year for the next ten years, when they are not being used by the school. The construction of the fields will be contingent on approvals from the county and the City of Rockville....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summary: County Council, Supt Smith Chat Over Catered Lunch while BOE Looks On Silently

Over a catered lunch from Panera Bread, featuring selections of salads, sandwiches, chips, cookies, and soda, the County Council enjoyed a discussion with incoming Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith on Monday, July 18. Mike Durso, current president of the BOE, introduced Dr. Smith and his Chief of Staff, Henry Johnson, and opened up the discussion.

Dr. Smith stated that his first impressions of MCPS were that we enjoy a talented staff and a supportive community. He said that it takes a cohesive sense of mission to have success, and he wants to help every single student have options and choices.

Craig Rice mentioned that MCPS has many kids of color, lower socioeconomic status, and students with disabilities. He mentioned that he met with young people in the Artstream program.

Smith replied that we have students across 14 different categories (referring to the disability categories in IDEA). Our expectations for them should be individual and unique. If we talk about averages we get in trouble. What are our expectations? He shared his personal story, singling out the few teachers who moved him on past High School. He added that you have to look at the data regularly, and that if you can't read, you have no options. If students are accelerating, "let 'em go...push them on." Equity and excellence are do-able.

Roger Berliner mentioned his interest in growth and development (as in land use, not children). The issue for him is "how do we grow and where?" We need MCPS as a constructive partner. Look at how schools are built. MCPS hasn't done anything any differently. He also stated that there was stigma attached to the vocational program at Edison (??????).

Smith replied that the conversation needs to talk about what spaces are needed, and especially needed are programs for kids who don't "fit" in a comprehensive high school.

George Leventhal stated that he had particular interest in Chinese studies, and students with disabilities. He hasn't read the school choice report yet, but wants to know why we can't assess what the demand is for particular programs (choice, language immersion, etc)and then fill it. He also stated he is enthusiastic about Robotics, and just met with constituents who urge that Robotics be treated the same as athletic activities in terms of support and resources. He asked Smith who the point person is for Robotics, and he replied that families should talk to Maria Navarro and Kim Statham.

Sidney Katz stated that MoCo is proud of their academics but he has concerns. Technical schools used to be a way of involving kids who were not doing well in academics, but if they are not doing well in academics they also get excluded from extracurricular activities.

Dr. Smith responded that he had adopted children from eastern Europe, and that they had to move so that they could make sure one son would get a high school diploma. He said that whether you want to pursue college or go work for the local Toyota dealer, you need to walk out of school prepared to do those things. His son passed two HSAs, and then did Bridge projects, he had a learning disability and and issue with language acquisition. There is no value in handing someone a diploma that only means you are prepared for the lowest wage job. That doesn't help.

Nancy Navarro: Has Montgomery County reached a tipping point, where you can throw money at the problem but it is still too late? The mainstream student is now low income and/or children of color. It is not ok that a percentage of ESOL students are US born.

Smith: NCLB made us look at disaggregated numbers. That was a gift. Are we going to accept that gift? How can we change the performance for different groups? Stewardship of the money is about learning for the students, not about getting awards.

Marc Elrich: I spent 17 years teaching at Rolling Terrace. There has been a failure dealing with african american achievement. It is not where it is supposed to be. We have to get a handle on this. We did not prepare kids for the workforce.

Smith: We need to look at scoring of state tests. Is it legitimate? Society is in need of people in different occupations. Have looked, african american performance is not good, it is uneven in certain school. Don't hang the destiny on the state tests. Most of us have confidence in the AP tests. Just writing new curriculum isn't enough. What happens in 3rd grade? Studies of vocabulary acquisition show decrease. Children of poverty have a literacy gap. I'm confident we can "get there/"

Nancy Floreen: We don't just write the check. We care, deeply.

Craig Rice: Achievement gap-how are we going to measure success? What metrics? What will that look like?

Dr Smith: July 25 we will have a framework. August 17 we will lay it all out. We will have a plan in place at the beginning of the school year. Want to see noticeable increases in achievement in the first year.

Roger Berliner: What is role of Arts and Music?

Smith: I have done a lot of work in Arts Integration. I have directed plays/musicals. What is the opportunity cost? There is not an unlimited pot of money. There is value in clubs, athletics, all serve a purpose.

Floreen: Thank you.

Montgomery County to Consider Alternative Tobytown Bus Route After Public Feedback

Montgomery County to Consider Alternative Tobytown Bus Route After Public Feedback:

New MCPS Superintendent Tells County Council He’s ‘Fairly Confident’ School System Can Improve

New MCPS Superintendent Tells County Council He’s ‘Fairly Confident’ School System Can Improve:

...Smith told council members he is dismayed by the unevenness of the academic performance of black students at different schools across the county. When asked about the belief among some that the quality of the school system—growing at a pace of about 2,500 students a year with many more English as second language speakers—is beginning to erode, Smith said “the data is sobering when you look at it.”
He also spoke bluntly when assessing whether MCPS can make real progress toward significant improvements in students’ educational performance, saying he was “fairly confident, like 75 percent confident.”...

Md. school volunteer indicted on 270 counts of child pornography

GLENARDEN — A grand jury has indicted a former elementary school volunteer in Prince George’s County on 270 counts of child pornography and related charges.
The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office announced the indictment against 22-year-old Deonte Carraway on Wednesday.
Prosecutors say Carraway abused or recorded children performing sexual acts at Judge Sylvania W. Woods Elementary School or at the Glenarden Community Center where he ran a local youth choir. According to the indictment, Carraway also recorded children performing sexual acts inside their homes...

Monday, July 18, 2016

New Independent Free Service for MCPS Special Needs Families

I am the parent of a child with special needs in MCPS and an advocate for people with disabilities. Many parents come to this forum (editorial note:  this refers to a countywide special needs listserv) to look for information about specific schools. 
In order to offer parents a more organized way to collect and browse this information, I have created a website (completely FREE to use) where parents can share information about their own experiences at individual schools and look up what others have said about each specific school in MCPS. Posted comments are completely ANONYMOUS..
This FREE service is hosted at, and offered through R2M Innovations, LLC on behalf of parents and it is not affiliated with Montgomery County Public Schools. This service is completely free and is aligned with the broader mission of R2M Innovations, a startup with the goal of developing solutions to improve the life of people with disabilities. 
This service has the SOLE purpose of offering a free and useful tool to parents, and has no commercial purposes. The reason R2M is mentioned is because it is sustaining the cost of developing and maintaining the service.
Any suggestions for improving this service are welcome.

Max A.

A Look at the MCPS Trailer Dump at the Historic Lincoln High School

How would you feel about old rusting tractor trailers gracing the entrance to your neighborhood? The residents of Lincoln Park have been forced to deal with it for decades.
At the June 16, 2016, Montgomery County Planning Board meeting on the County Executive’s purchase of the Westmore property for a bus depot, residents of Lincoln Park testified about their current situation. They explained that for years, over 130 rusting trailers have decayed around the historic Lincoln High School.
Many on the Planning Board expressed surprise that the neighborhood had been dealing with such a situation for years and the MCPS system was responsible...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Monday: Supt Smith to Meet with Montgomery County Councilmembers Off Camera


Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Jack Smith is scheduled to informally meet with Montgomery County Councilmembers on Monday, July 18th.

According to a news release, this will be Smith’s first time meeting with Councilmembers since he officially took office on July 1st.

The meeting will take place on the sixth floor of the County Council Building at 12:00 p.m. and is open to the public, but will not be televised.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cell Tower Planned for Morris Park/ Next to Summit Hall Elementary

At the June 20 Mayor and City Council meeting, the City Council authorized the city manager to execute an agreement with Verizon Wireless to install a cellular tower at Morris Park, which is located near Summit Hall Elementary School. The resolution passed 4-1, with Councilmember Robert Wu voting against.
During the public comment period, Gaithersburg residents and Janis Sartucci with the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland spoke in opposition to the cell tower. Among the issues raised were lack of adequate notification of residents and Summit Hall Elementary officials, placement of the cell tower between two ball fields and near an elementary school, the safety of hazardous materials used in the cell tower, the location of the cell tower on a flood plain, and potential health concerns arising from radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by the tower...

Prince George's Ex-school janitor stole MacBooks, iPads meant for students, sold them online

A former elementary school janitor has been sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty to stealing laptops from the campus where he worked.
Kenneth Foster, 34, was sentenced in Prince George’s County Circuit Court on Thursday and ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution with five years probation, prosecutors announced in a statement.
Foster worked at Vansville Elementary School in Beltsville, Md., at the time of the theft, according to the Prince George’s County state’s attorney’s office. The school received about $30,000 worth of MacBooks in January 2014 and put them in storage, but when officials went to retrieve them months later, they found that the equipment had disappeared, prosecutors said.
Foster had left the school system on medical leave shortly after the laptop delivery and was still on leave when authorities discovered that the computers were missing, prosecutors said. Authorities later learned that Foster was working in a North Carolina school district when several iPads went missing and while he supposedly was still on medical leave from Prince George’s, prosecutors said.
Investigators later found that Foster was selling the iPads and MacBooks on Craigslist....

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Floreen wants Cell Towers in Front Yards

On July 14, 2016, the Montgomery County Planning Board will discuss Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen's plan to change County zoning laws to allow cell towers to be built in front yards of homes without public hearings. 

The Montgomery County Planning Board is recommending that Ms. Floreen's zoning change be approved, however, Planning Board staff note the problems with Ms. Floreen's proposed zoning change, include the issue of setbacks from homes.

MSI Gets 3 MCPS Fields, Has $5.2 Million to Spend on Plastic Grass #nobid

Three Montgomery County schools will get new artificial turf athletic fields as part of a legal settlement that will provide field access to the county’s largest recreational youth soccer organization.
Montgomery school officials announced the agreement Thursday, saying Montgomery Soccer Inc. will contribute as much as $5.2 million toward the construction of fields at Walt Whitman High School, Albert Einstein High School and Julius West Middle School.
In return, MSI, a nonprofit with more than 900 teams and nearly 15,000 youth players countywide, will get access to the fields when the schools are not using them...

...The plan comes two years after MSI sued the school system, claiming school officials used a flawed and unlawful process to grant the use of fields “to elite clubs that serve only a limited fraction — the wealthiest — of the County’s youth.”...

Monday, July 11, 2016

MoCo 911 outage another sign of growth outpacing i...

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: MoCo 911 outage another sign of growth outpacing i...: The failure of Montgomery County's 911 emergency system last night and early this morning is another indication that infrastructure i...
...And a damning 2016 State of Maryland audit of Montgomery County Public Schools uncovered a staggering number of cybersecurity weaknesses, leaving student information easily accessible to hackers. Cyber intruders, the audit revealed, could access "any destination on the MCPS network." Eighty-six business partners of the school system improperly have "network-level access to the entire MCPS network." And the installed version of the database holding student information hasn't been supported by its developer since January 2012. Oh, and did I mention that 75% of the workstations tested by auditors didn't have the current security updates downloaded?...

MoCo 911 System Back Up & Running After 2-Hour Outage

MoCo 911 System Back Up & Running After 2-Hour Outage: Montgomery County's 911 system is back up and running Monday morning after going down for two hours, authorities said.

@mocoboe Spends $32K in April Fighting Families of Special Needs Kids. Will New Supe Smith Continue Trend?

Special Education Legal Expenses

Special education legal fees for outside counsel for April 2016 totaled $32,713.

The year-to-date total of $298,232 is $61,685 (26.1 percent) more than the same period in the previous year.

In addition, total year-to-date special education legal costs of $298,232 are $102,725 (25.6 percent)
less than the budgeted amount of $400,957 through this time period.


How many hours of 1:1 tutoring would $32,713 buy?
Does this expenditure of $32,713 do ANYTHING towards closing the "achievement gap?" I'm guessing NO.
The Montgomery County Board of Education just keeps throwing good money after bad.
Can't wait to ask Superintendent Jack Smith whether he thinks spending over thirty thousand dollars in one month to enforce denial of special education services is a prudent use of money. You're an educator, Dr. you want this to be your legacy?

New MCPS superintendent promises to keep students safe

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WUSA9) – The new Montgomery County superintendent promises to keep all 157,000 student safe.
Dr. Jack Smith is a former teacher, principal and superintendent of Calvert County schools.
“Education excites you,” asks WUSA9 Reporter Andrea McCarren.

“Tremendously. It’s just the best thing in the whole world,” Dr. Smith responds.
Dr. Smith’s enthusiasm is infectious.
“We expect students to learn, we expect to keep students safe and secure in our buildings. We expect to be efficient and good stewards of taxpayer money,” he said.
We asked Dr. Smith about a wide range of issues, including racial and economic inequality.
He vows to eliminate disparities.
“If a student isn’t learning, we have the capacity, we have the expertise, we have the understanding on how to help that student,” Dr. Smith said.
Underage drinking?
“In any way that we can prevent it, we should. Any way we can talk with parents, we should,” Dr. Smith said. “The goal is not punishment. The goal is to have students know and understand the very real, natural, logical consequences.”
Alleged sex offenders in the classroom?
“I take the responsibility of the safety and security for every child very seriously. I really do. I have five children and four grandchildren,” said Dr. Smith.
He promises a team effort to ensure a good reporting system is in place and strong protocols are implemented in every one of Montgomery County’s 204 schools.
“Around any sort of abuse, around any sort of inappropriate sexual activity, and around all the other things that are real risks to students,” Dr. Smith said.
It’s his third day on the job and he is wildly optimistic.
“We are a very, very fortunate community and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Dr. Smith said.
Montgomery County Public Schools offer an Extended Learning Opportunities - Summer Adventures in Learning (ELO - SAIL) program to give students in kindergarten, first and second grade a chance to practice their reading, math and language arts skills. 

“Tremendously. It’s just the best thing in the whole world,” Dr. Smith responds.
Dr. Smith’s enthusiasm is infectious.
“We expect students to learn, we expect to keep students safe and secure in our buildings. We expect to be efficient and good stewards of taxpayer money,” he said.
We asked Dr. Smith about a wide range of issues, including racial and economic inequality.
He vows to eliminate disparities.
“If a student isn’t learning, we have the capacity, we have the expertise, we have the understanding on how to help that student,” Dr. Smith said.
Underage drinking?
“In any way that we can prevent it, we should. Any way we can talk with parents, we should,” Dr. Smith said. “The goal is not punishment. The goal is to have students know and understand the very real, natural, logical consequences.”
Alleged sex offenders in the classroom?
“I take the responsibility of the safety and security for every child very seriously. I really do. I have five children and four grandchildren,” said Dr. Smith.
He promises a team effort to ensure a good reporting system is in place and strong protocols are implemented in every one of Montgomery County’s 204 schools.
“Around any sort of abuse, around any sort of inappropriate sexual activity, and around all the other things that are real risks to students,” Dr. Smith said.
It’s his third day on the job and he is wildly optimistic.
“We are a very, very fortunate community and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Dr. Smith said.
Montgomery County Public Schools offer an Extended Learning Opportunities - Summer Adventures in Learning (ELO - SAIL) program to give students in kindergarten, first and second grade a chance to practice their reading, math and language arts skills.

BOE to Hide Behind Closed Doors to Discuss Study of Choice and Special Academic Programs

The Board of Education will use the Maryland Open Meetings Act as an excuse to hide behind closed doors tomorrow and discuss the recent Choice Study.  

Do MCPS parents care about what is going to be discussed?  There's nothing confidential about the results of a public study, but that will not stop the BOE from hiding behind closed doors to discuss the Choice Study.

BOE Taxpayer Paid for Party and Vacation List for 2016-2017

On July 12, 2016, the Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) will approve their taxpayer paid for vacation and party plans for the 2016-2017 school year.  The Parents' Coalition has previously documented the public school education dollars that are diverted to the entertainment and lodging of BOE members and MCPS administrators. 

MCPS parents would rather see education dollars being spent on these vacations and parties than on classroom teachers, and so this vacation and party list will be approved unanimously by the current Board of Education.

Note that at most, one or two of these events include actual MCPS public school students. 

In addition, this is only a partial list of vacations and parties for the year.  Additional events can and will be approved without any public notice.  See the note at the bottom of the second screenshot.

Board of Education Taxpayer Funded Vacations for 2016-2017

 Board of Education Taxpayer Funded Parties for 2016-2017$file/Annual%20Ticketed%20Event%20and%20Meeting%20List%20for%2016-17.pdf

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Yet another MCPS software blunder

MCPS Chief Technology Officer Sherwin Collette, a gentleman with a degree in English and no credentials whatsoever in information systems management, has committed yet another amateur software configuration blunder.

Due to misconfiguration, MCPS employees and retires are not able to access any information stored on the PenPoint system.  The system is currently 100% down.

Many users get the following error screen immediately after entering their userid and password.   Even the most rudimentary testing would have prevented this situation from occurring.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Montgomery Co. teen, lured to the woods and stabbed, becomes latest victim of gang-related killings

Members of the violent MS-13 street gang enlisted a 19-year-old girl to lure another teenager into a darkened Montgomery County park where he was stabbed more than 40 times and killed, according to police accounts of the county’s 10th gang-related killing in the last 10 months.
The accounts, filed this week in Montgomery District Court, underscored the horror of the slaying, with at least three assailants — one of them just 16 years old — who either held down the victim or repeatedly stabbed him.
“We really are seeing an unprecedented level of gang-related homicides,” said Capt. Paul Liquorie, director of the Montgomery Police Department’s Special Investigations division.
In one of the suspected MS-13 killings last year in the county, assailants allegedly threw heavy rocks down on the victim as he crawled away from an attack toward a stream, according to court records. In another, the victim was told, “Get on your knees,” before being shot in the face, neck and shoulder while in the woods.
In the latest case — the June 16 death of Cristian Antonio Villagran-Morales, 18, in Malcolm King Park in Gaithersburg — police arrested two suspects late last week, and are looking for two more...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Union Robocall Urges Calls to Nancy Floreen Re: Funding for School Nurses, Says "Mismanagement Must be Stopped"

The following robocall was received by Montgomery County residents today. 
The robocall ends by saying that it was funded by UFCW Local 1994 - MCGEO.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Md. top court: Hosts can be held liable in underage-drinking cases

A parent or other adult who “knowingly and willfully” hosts an underage drinking party can be held civilly liable for the death or injuries sustained or caused by an intoxicated attendee — such as in a drunken-driving crash, Maryland’s top court unanimously ruled Tuesday.

Adults facing potential liability in these cases cannot defend themselves by arguing that the underage person was contributorily negligent by having consumed the alcohol, the Court of Appeals said.
The high court’s ruling marked the first time it has recognized the potential liability of party hosts for the alcohol-related harm caused by their guests under the legal drinking age of 21.

The Court of Appeals based its landmark decision on a Maryland criminal law that makes it illegal to serve alcohol to underage individuals outside of immediate family or a religious service.
Section 10-117(b) of the Criminal Article, with its goal of protecting youngsters from the evils of alcohol, intrinsically contains a civil cause of action for people harmed by the adult who violated the law by permitting the underage drinking, the court said.

“[W]e hold that there exists a limited form of social host liability sounding in negligence – based on the strong public policy reflected in CR Section 10-117(b), but that it only exists when the adults in question act knowingly and willfully, as required by the statute,” Judge Sally D. Adkins wrote for the court.

“We view CR Section 10-177(b) as a recognition by the General Assembly, based on convincing evidence, that children under 21 are often less able to make responsible decisions regarding the consumption of alcohol and, as a result, are more susceptible to harming themselves or others when presented with the opportunity to drink in excess in a social, peer-pressured setting,” Adkins added. “It therefore carved out that specific class for special protection against adult social hosts who knowingly and willfully allow consumption of alcoholic beverages on their property.”

The Court of Appeals’ decision revived two lawsuits victims of drunken-driving incidents brought against adults who hosted parties leading to the underage intoxication.

Nancy Dankos’ claims her 17-year-old son, if sober, would not have accepted a ride in the back of a pickup drunk from a drunk partygoer at Linda Stapf’s Ellicott City home. When the truck crashed, Steven was thrown from the back of the vehicle and killed.

In the other lawsuit, Manal Kariakos suffered fractured vertebrae and a lacerated kidney when she was struck in Cockeysville by drunk driver Shetmiyah Robinson, an 18 year-old who had allegedly been served vodka shots by Brandon Phillips.


‘Alex and Calvin’s Law’

The high court’s decision follows the General Assembly’s strengthening last session of the criminal law by permitting adults to be jailed for up to one year for knowingly and willfully providing alcohol to or hosting drinking parties attended by those under age 21 who become impaired and seriously injure themselves or others in driving from the event.

The amendment, dubbed “Alex and Calvin’s Law,” was spurred by the deaths of two recent high school graduates who were killed in a drunken-driving crash after attending an underage drinking party. Supporters of the legislation called it obscene that the adult who hosted the party, Kenneth Saltzman, was merely assessed a $5,000 fine and faced no potential jail time under current law.
Alex and Calvin’s Law, which Gov. Larry Hogan signed May 19, goes into effect Oct. 1.


The Court of Appeals rendered its decision in the consolidated cases, Manal Kariakos v. Brandon Phillips and Nancy Dankos et al. v Linda Stapf, Nos. 20 and 55, September Term 2015.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Companies Find Hiring Those On The Spectrum Has Vast Benefits

Doug Williams started noticing the signs when his son was 6 months old.
The absence of facial expressions. The drift of his gaze. Eventually, the agitation.
The official autism diagnosis came more than a year later, along with the whirlwind of figuring out schools and therapies. Not until his son, Hayden, reached high school and Williams glimpsed him as an adult did a fresh wake-up call hit.
What happens next?

Williams, CEO of suit-maker Hart Schaffner Marx, hopes to help answer that question for the many families worried about the same thing.
An estimated 50,000 individuals with autism graduate from high school every year, entering an adulthood without the supports they enjoyed in childhood.
More than a third find themselves not working or attending school in their early 20s, according to a report last year from the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute at Drexel University in Philadelphia. They are said to step off a "services cliff," with half receiving no life skills or vocational training during that transitional young adult period...