Saturday, December 30, 2017

How Accurate is MoCo Tower Committee Approval Process? They think Board of Ed. owns Fire Station?

The Montgomery County Transmission Facility Coordinating Group (Tower Committee) has just released their January 3, 2018, meeting agenda.

According to the Agenda, the Tower Committee will be approving without discussion a proposal to change the antennas on a monopole located at the fire station at 12100 Darnestown Road and owned by the "Board of Education of Montgomery County."

When did the Board of Education acquire a fire station?  According to the public land records for this location, the land is owned by Montgomery County, not the Board of Education.

How accurate is the rest of the Tower Committee's review of cell tower proposals for Montgomery County if they are not even clear on who owns fire station property? 
Answer: The Tower Committee review process is simply a rubber stamp and errors are frequently found in the submissions.   

How is the public to be notified of cell tower construction projects or changes if the only public notice is from a last minute Agenda that is not even proofread for accuracy?  

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Look at Sexual-Harassment and Assault Settlements in Schools

At least 26 public-school districts across the U.S. agreed this year to at least $37 million in settlements stemming from allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault of students, teachers or other employees, according to a tally of payouts by The Wall Street Journal.
The 26 settlements were reached in states from California to Connecticut and ranged from $30,000 to $8.25 million. They came during a year of higher-profile incidents involving allegations of sexual misconduct, including assault, by prominent men in politics, media and entertainment.
In 19 of the 26 settlements, the alleged victims were students; the remaining settlements involved suits filed by teachers and administrators. The Journal tally represents a small sampling of the more than 13,000 school districts in the U.S., and it couldn’t be determined whether the number of settlements are up or down this year compared with previous years because there is no central clearinghouse of such cases...

...“That’s the problem—this whole concealment of sexual misconduct in schools, and not being forthcoming of how much this happens,” said Terri Miller, a volunteer president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, a research group in Las Vegas that focuses on teacher misconduct. “There needs to be a mandated, national clearinghouse, open to the public, to flag people that have committed sexual misconduct against K-12 students. It would include settlements.”...

Friday, December 22, 2017

Council Pres. Riemer Says Council Supports NEW Cell Tower on Blair HS Baseball Field

The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD received the letter below from Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer.  While Council President Riemer purports to speak for the entire Council there is no reference to a public vote of the Council body on this topic.   Did the Council vote in Closed Session to send us this letter and support the NEW cell tower on the Blair High School field?  We do not know.

Council President Riemer responded that the Council supports cell towers "near" local parks.  However this particular cell tower is to be constructed IN a local park on the Blair High School baseball field.  The Blair High School fields are owned by Montgomery Parks.

Council President Riemer also seems to have confused the Blair High School cell tower proposal with other proposals.  There currently is NO CELL TOWER on the Blair High School baseball field.  Park and Planning approved a NEW CELL TOWER for the Blair High School baseball field.  Riemer's statement that the Council (without a public vote) supports the co-location of telecommunications antennas is irrelevant to the Blair High School proposal to put a NEW cell tower on the baseball field.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

proposed budget would be $67.3 million larger than the prior year’s version

MCPS Superintendent Unveils Plan To Increase Spending 2.7 Percent, Enhance Learning Opportunities: School board will consider .59 billion budget proposal

MCPS says "...viewers misjudged the video."

Gaithersburg H.S. staffer expresses safety concerns

A Gaithersburg High School staff member informed local media about concerns for the safety of students and staff members after several fights occurred on school property recently.
Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Derek Turner said he could not confirm reports from NBC 4 of an Instagram account requesting students share videos of school fights.
One video shared on social media last month shows a group of three to five students fighting, with a school security guard caught in the middle. The cluster of people falls to the ground.
Turner confirmed the fight occurred at Gaithersburg High School and that six students were disciplined for the fight. The students were continuing to fight after the security officer intervened, not fighting the security officer himself, Turner said. The security guard was not injured, and an assistant principal nearby also intervened...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Teachers accused of sexual misconduct keep getting jobs in N.J. Here's why [Insert MCPS - same story]

The little girls would hold his hand and sit on his lap.
They would kiss their first-grade teacher, and he would kiss them back.
Keep it a secret, he warned the 5- and 6-year olds. Otherwise, he said, they could get into trouble.
This alarming behavior, according to court documents, was no secret to Montville Township school administrators, who warned the teacher, Jason Fennes, to stop having physical contact with the children. Fennes' "inappropriate interactions with students" even cost him a raise.
Five years after the first documented complaints, Montville suspended Fennes and he resigned. But when a private school 40 minutes away called to confirm Fennes' employment dates, Montville school officials were bound by a separation agreement. They could make no mention of the kisses, the hand-holding or parents' complaints that the first-grade teacher touched their little girls too often.
With that agreement muting his former employer, Fennes got the new job — and subsequently sexually assaulted a first-grade girl less than a year after leaving Montville. It was the culmination of a string of sexual assaults he since admitted, including six victims in the Montville and Butler school districts and at Cedar Hill Preparatory School in Somerset...

Monday, December 18, 2017

MD Education Support jobs have declined while district leader and supervisor jobs have grown at 10 times the rate of teacher positions.

Since 2007, Maryland Has Added Just 385 Teachers Despite Gaining 40,500 Students

...That important students-to-teacher ratio? It grew from 14.3 to 14.8. During the last decade, Maryland schools only added one teacher for every 105 students gained in enrollment.
But teachers only make up about half of all school employees in Maryland schools. What about school counselors? There are 44 fewer school counselors now than there were in 2007. That’s not the only important position that has seen real declines despite the state school system taking on 40,500 more students. There are 1,915 fewer support staff positions — building managers, secretaries, food service workers, bus drivers, and many other important roles that make our schools function — in public schools now than a decade ago.
Meanwhile, district central office staff continued to grow while school-level staff stagnated and declined. The number of superintendents, deputy superintendents, program directors, and supervisors in the 24 district offices increased by 109 from 2007 to 2016 — or 10 times the percent increase of teachers during the last decade...

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Nashville Public Schools and #Me Too

Congratulations to Nashville Public Schools. You are now a member of the #Me Too community.

You didn't listen to those of us from up North in Montgomery County Public Schools. We told you that you hired a cadre of administrators who didn't work out in MCPS.

Did you believe us? Apparently not.

Did you conduct any type of background check? Doesn't look like it.

So, it comes as no surprise to us that Mo Carrasco, one of our formerly esteemed administrators WHO WAS REMOVED FROM HIS SCHOOL in 2008 for a whole slew of misbehavior engaged in the same behavior.

You've been Mo Carrasco'd.

And now my PTSD kicks in.

Our issues didn't involve improper touching, although there was a general sense that this occurred as supported by a lawsuit on record in our county. Lucky us.

I just went through my emails from April to June 2008, when my daughter was enrolled in the same school. I see emails where I tried to explain to the County Council what was wrong while the PTSA leaders and faculty defended the principal.

And, I see emails recounting to my friends the number of calls I received on a daily basis, at my office, at home, and on my cell from the principal.

RMHS Principal Moreno Carrasco is under investigation for a possible ethics code violation. <i>Photo courtesy of the American Immigration Law Foundation.</i>

And, I see other emails where I noted my concern for whether my daughter would be able to safely finish her senior year in high school without further incident.

And, the final emails saying Mr. Carrasco had done nothing wrong.


Yes, my child finished, and I have the picture of her shaking the principal's hand at graduation.

But it wasn't a pleasant experience, and I am sorry that another school, another school system had to have this experience.

Please folks - know that an experienced principal or school administrator, or group of administrators, doesn't simply find themselves available, especially as a group, unless something is wrong. Its not as simple as Montgomery County's loss is your gain.

Yes, the internet may have false stories, and its often hard to figure out what is real and what is fantasy.

But - if you don't look, you will never know, until your own school system gets hurt.

Mo Carrasco has announced his retirement from education, and this should be the end of his saga.

Be careful, and do your research, before you find yourself in a similar situation.

Friday, December 15, 2017

$110M lawsuit hits Brentwood, NY school district in MS-13 murder

Long Island, New York school officials knew MS-13 gang members were tormenting a high school student and had threatened her life — but they did nothing, according to the $110 million lawsuit filed by the dead girl’s mother.

For two years, Kayla Cuevas allegedly suffered through misery including taunting, spitting and having her pants pulled in school hallways by students who were known MS-13 gang members.

Yet Brentwood School District officials “refused to take action to rectify the problem of bullying,” according to the Brooklyn federal lawsuit Evelyn Rodriguez filed Monday.

For the full story go here.

When classrooms become a boys’ club

Walk into a Whitman classroom, and most students will appear similar. Students sit at identical desks, use identical Chromebooks and complete identical worksheets. But ask them a question, and a disparity will emerge: the students raising their hands are overwhelmingly male.
Since elementary school, I’ve observed this imbalance, but peers assured me the disparity was all in my head. So, last month, I finally set out to confirm my perception empirically. For one day, I tallied the number of female versus male participants in four of my classes, including AP Calculus BC and AP Comparative Politics, where participation is both frequent and voluntary.
The results were startling: overall, boys participated 3.1 times more than girls, even though the total ratio of boys to girls is essentially equal...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

85 percent of Boston schools will get new start times

In a move that will scramble the daily schedules of families across the city, nearly 85 percent of Boston’s 125 schools will have new start times next fall, school officials announced Thursday night.
The changes aim to let more high school students sleep in and more elementary school students get out before sunset. Boston now joins a small but growing number of school systems in Massachusetts and across the nation that have pushed high school start times later in an effort to get students to school well rested and alert. The hope is that students will perform better academically.
To that end, some 94 percent of students in grades 7 through 12 will begin classes after 8 a.m. next fall, up from 26 percent this year. Among them: students at Boston Latin Academy in the Grove Hall area near the Dorchester-Roxbury line, which will go from having one of the earliest start times, 7:20 a.m., to one of the latest, 8:30 a.m...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

the county’s top 50 taxpayers reported 50 percent less in capital gains in 2016 than in 2015—$1.2 billion in 2015 compared to $600 million in 2016. That drop contributed to $21 million less in county income tax revenue.

Montgomery County Bracing for Long-Term Revenue Decline: Projected revenue decline attributed to wealthy individuals paying significantly less in income taxes; future job cuts not ruled out

MCPS Ranks High Schools Based on New Data on School Climate

A MCPS teacher took the data and created a list of high schools using the data and sent it to The Washington Post.


...Here is his list of high schools ranked by the percentage of staffers who this year agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “Staff morale is positive in this school.”

Percentage on survey and percentage of low income/FARMS students:

1. Paint Branch, 77.9 percent, 34 percent
2. Walter Johnson, 73.4 percent, 7 percent
3. Whitman, 69.6 percent, 5 percent
4. Northwest, 68 percent, 25 percent
5. Poolesville, 64.6 percent, 6 percent
6. Einstein, 61 percent, 42 percent
7. Wootton, 59 percent, 5 percent
8. Blair, 55.4 percent, 36 percent
9. Watkins Mill, 54.6 percent, 53 percent
10. Wheaton, 51.1 percent, 49 percent
11. Damascus, 49.4 percent, 15 percent
12. Rockville, 48.6 percent, 36 percent
13. Richard Montgomery, 45.9 percent, 20 percent
14. Quince Orchard, 41.9 percent, 23 percent
15. Blake, 41.9 percent, 35 percent
16. Churchill, 39.7 percent, 5 percent
17. Northwood, 35.9 percent, 50 percent
18. Seneca Valley, 33.8 percent, 37 percent
19. Clarksburg, 32 percent, 27 percent
20. Kennedy, 30.4 percent, 51 percent
21. Sherwood, 25.4 percent, 17 percent
22. Bethesda-Chevy Chase, 23.9 percent, 11 percent
23. Magruder, 21.7 percent, 33 percent
24. Gaithersburg, 21.4 percent, 42 percent
25. Springbrook, 17.1 percent, 47 percent

Monday, December 11, 2017

This is social responsibility, and yet the governing body of Montgomery County's educational system, who is "responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system" has chosen to NOT utter a single word in defense of it’s most vulnerable population when they are disparaged and the butt of a joke?

A MCPS parent responds to The Washington Post article:  Md. school official apologizes for reference to people with intellectual disabilities  regarding Judy Docca's use of an offensive term at a public Board of Education meeting in July of 2017. 

To The Washington Post:

My name is Gena Mitchell and I am the parent of three daughters, one of which is a freshman in high school, has Down syndrome and has been a student in Montgomery County Schools since preschool. I am also an advocate for all individuals with disabilities, as the founder of a non-profit providing programs and events for not only the disability community but their communities at large, as well as having served on multiple boards since 2006 such as The Arc Montgomery County, DSNMC (Down Syndrome Network of Montgomery County and KEEN Greater DC. I am writing to you as both a parent of a child with a disability as well as a parent of a typical child in regards to your article about Dr. Judy Docca's use of the R-word. As appreciative as I am to your for bringing a spotlight to this situation, I feel it necessary to share my disappointed with the lack of focus on the failure by our very own Board of Education to lead by example when it comes to social responsibility. I feel that your headline is misleading in that I believe it suggests that Dr. Docca's apology was anywhere near acceptable, when it came four months after the fact, and only after being addressed by a parent in the community. We all make mistakes, say and do things we regret which are sometimes hurtful; but those that take on the responsibility for speaking on behalf of, establishing policy for and representing the special needs community on the Committee of Special Populations for the MCPS BOE should certainly be held to a higher standard. If this is the person voting on behalf of my daughter and all students with disabilities when it comes to their best interests, please tell me how this should not disappoint me. If the BOE states Respect as a core value and "...fair treatment, honesty, openness and integrity are essential; and the diversity of our culture, interests, skills, and backgrounds is an asset that makes us stronger..."; How can I not be disappointed that a flimsy apology was given by a leader on the BOE and did not even respect the population that it was demeaning to by addressing it to them, rather omitting them completely from the apology?

If the BOE states Respect as a core value and "...we will model civility in all interactions and encourage candid conversations..."; How can I not be disappointed with the lack of ownership IMMEDIATELY following her comment in July 2017 when civility was disregarded in the first place?

My daughter and all others with disabilities deserve better; and so do their peers who are typical students. It is not acceptable in a classroom, playground, cafeteria, or anywhere in a school to use the R-word. Principals and teachers across the county are constantly working with school counselors and staff on messaging about treating others with dignity and respect, and that different does NOT equal less, whether that difference is a disability, race, religion, gender, etc. This is social responsibility, and yet the governing body of Montgomery County's educational system, who is "responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system" has chosen to NOT utter a single word in defense of it’s most vulnerable population when they are disparaged and the butt of a joke? In a formal BOE setting no less? I have no words. Imagine this having happened at a singular school- by a teacher or parent at an assembly or meeting. Imagine how quickly a letter or email would be sent to the entire community- most likely by the principal. I am pretty certain it would have been next day at the latest, and would condemn the use of this word in addition to any other derogatory slur. Their message would highlight the values of the community and show leadership. I believe we all make mistakes, myself included. That is why my husband and I have taught our girls that it's not about the mistakes you make- it's about what you do afterwards. That is how the BOE failed its students. How can I not be disappointed that our ten year olds are held to a higher standard than our Board of Education?

Again, I thank you for your article. Without it, Dr. Docca's words would simply be a blip in an archived video of a BOE meeting. Instead, they are loud and clear. Pinpointed at the 41:20 mark in this video of the BOE meeting in July 2017, for all to see.

Warm regards, Gena Mitchell

Friday, December 8, 2017

MCCF Dec. 11th Meeting: Jennifer Alvaro of Bethesda Named MCCF’s Community Hero for December

Montgomery County Civic Federation, December 2017
...Ms. Alvaro wants to be clear that, while some positive changes and actions have been implemented, there is still no transparency in the process.  Abuse can only thrive in an atmosphere of secrecy, and Jennifer Alvaro will continue to advocate for transparency and action to protect our children.  That is why she is our newest Community Hero. Two months ago, even The Washington Post had to admit that another child sex abuse “case appears to be the latest of several in which a Montgomery County school system employee was admonished for repeated incidents of inappropriate behavior with students but stayed on the job and allegedly crossed the line again.”  The mandated reporters—principals and MCPS administrators—repeatedly failed to report incidents to Child Protective Services. Board of Education Members and County Councilmembers are not holding MCPS accountable for these failures to report sex abuse of students to the proper authorities.  Only two States have no penalties for failing to report child sex abuse, and Maryland is one of them.  In this literally lawless atmosphere, it is time the Civic Federation’s voice be heard.  Please see below a draft resolution to join the Parents’ Coalition in support of Ms. Alvaro’s quest for Montgomery County Board of Education to create a Web page that lists all known abusers and lists every school and program that each were involved with...

Recent suicides of 2 Montgomery County students spark discussion of suicide prevention awareness

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Nassar "should never again have access to children."

Michigan doctor gets 60-year prison sentence for child porn 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- A former elite sports doctor whose sexual assault cases have rocked Michigan State University and the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts was sentenced Thursday to 60 years in federal prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography.
It's the first of three prison sentences for Larry Nassar, who will learn his punishment in state court in January after pleading guilty to using his hands to molest girls at his campus office, his home and at a gymnastics club near Lansing, Michigan, sometimes with parents in the room...

Police Blotter: police to charge a 16-year-old boy with public intoxication, public intoxicated endangerment, disorderly conduct and possession of a dangerous weapon on school property for fireworks

Police Blotter: Armed Robberies in Silver Spring Stores; Cars Stolen in Potomac and Rockville: Crimes reported to Montgomery County and Rockville police from Nov. 15-21

When Did Board of Education Disclose They Had $987,313 in Extra Construction Funds?

School Board OKs Adding Classroom Space to New Elementary School in Rockville: MCPS can use project savings to pay for increased capacity

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Docca said she would’ve addressed the situation immediately if anyone had brought it to her attention. “I’ve apologized for the use of the word, which was very common when I was coming up. I’m very old, and it just really slipped out,” said Docca, 78, adding that she thinks her apology “should be the end of it.”

Docca Withdrew from Running for School Board President Amid Fallout from Comment: Board elects Michael Durso to third consecutive term as president

NOTE: A Montgomery County Board of Education member was contacted immediately when this happened, so the Board had notification and decided to do nothing.  That was a choice made by our elected Board of Education.

MCPS Superintendent Wants To Try Extended Academic Year at Two Elementary Schools

MCPS Superintendent Wants To Try Extended Academic Year at Two Elementary Schools: Smith will include recommendation in his operating budget proposal for fiscal 2019

New Legislation Calling for More Transparency in School Cell Towers in Prince George's County

Delegate Alonzo Washington is supporting a Bill on School Cell Towers this session.

This Bill would would ensure that if a cell tower company wants to put a cell tower on a Prince George's County School they must hold a public hearing at the school before the cell tower is cleared to be built...

Pepper Spray Incident at Seneca Valley Sends 13 to Hospital

Somebody sprayed pepper spray in a girls’ bathroom at Seneca Valley High School this on Monday afternoon. The incident sent 13 people to local hospitals suffering the effects of inhaling the pepper spray...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

One Person Taken to Hospital After School Bus, Car Crash

One Person Taken to Hospital After School Bus, Car Crash: Two students were in bus, but were not injured

Council gives SSL Hours and Reception for Students to attend their Town Hall

Montgomery County students could earn Student Service Learning Hours by attending the Montgomery County Council's youth town hall on November 29th.  They were also given a reception prior to the town hall.

Here is coverage of what the students said at this event:

Monday, December 4, 2017

Now on Oracle’s Campus, a $43 Million Public High School

Oracle builds a public charter school for $43million. Tell us again, how much does a public school in Montgomery County cost to build?

Story from The New York Times, reporter Natasha Singer. Full story here.

"Now Oracle, the business software services giant, is trying the opposite tack: bringing a public charter school to the company.
At its lush campus with a man-made lake here, Oracle is putting the finishing touches on a $43 million building that will house Design Tech High School, an existing charter school with 550 students. The sleek new school building has a two-story workshop space, called the Design Realization Garage, where students can create product prototypes. It has nooks in the hallways to foster student collaboration.
And when the school moves here in early January, Oracle employees will be available to mentor students in skills like business plan development and user-experience design.
Putting a charter school — that is, a publicly funded school that has its own school board and operates independently — on the campus of a tech giant is a new twist on the evolving relationship between big tech companies and schools."

MCPD and MCFRS in scene at Seneca Valley High School. The school has been evacuated after a number of students have been exposed to pepper spray

Leaders at D.C. charter school are out of jobs after teacher’s sex-abuse case (But Not in @mcps No Administrators are Held Accountable in Montgomery County!)

...In a five-page letter sent to parents this week, the school’s board disclosed that LAMB’s principal, Cristina Encinas, and student psychologist, Rosario Paredes, will leave their posts Dec. 15. The school’s executive director, Diane Cottman, will leave her job at the end of the school year, according to the letter.

“We believe that the administrators in charge failed to respond appropriately,” the board’s letter to parents said.

“Student safety is the most basic priority of any school, and the failure of administration to recognize the inappropriate behaviors as red flags and make appropriate decisions, has lead us to make administrative changes,” the letter stated...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

NBC4: Teen Girl Injured in Fight at Gaithersburg High School, Both Students Charged

Two Maryland high school students have been charged in connection to a fight at Gaithersburg High School in October.
Diana Melendez, 16, suffered a concussion in the fight and said another student started arguing with her in a girls bathroom at the school in October. The argument quickly turned into a fight.
"So she hit me and I hit her and then I remember going into the wall in between the sinks because I didn't want to fall into the sink and I remember hitting the back of my head on the cinder block wall," Diana said.
But the father of the other student told News4 Melendez assaulted his daughter and scratched her face.
He said his daughter was defending herself from Melendez. Gaithersburg police are investigating the fight and said the original report listed Melendez as the victim, but that as they developed more information they decided to charge both students.

On Thursday, a Gaithersburg High School employee leaked videos of fights at the school to News4. Diana's mother, Erika Melendez, contacted News4 after seeing the report...

MCPS Requests Removal of Comments from Parents' Coalition Blog

Here is the original post:

The Montgomery County Board of Education is a member of MABE, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education. Each year our Board of Education members attend the annual MABE convention in Ocean City, Maryland.  MABE and the convention are sponsored in part by vendors who then have exclusive access to our Board of Education members during the convention.  For example, one vendor is BoardDocs.  BoardDocs is now the vendor that is used to put up our local Board of Education's meeting minutes.  Were other vendors considered?

More on MABE:

Remember when it was discovered that a MCPS staff member went to London on a trip through Promethean, another no bid vendor who had begun to supply MCPS will thousands of Promethean Boards?

And there was this cocktail party with outside council:

Our request for expense reports:

Ironic that the Board of Education members want THEIR names removed from our blog on a post where students are requesting that their personal information be removed from MCPS data!

Friday, December 1, 2017

NBC4: Gaithersburg High School Employee Says Student Violence Out of Control

An employee at Gaithersburg High School says fights between students have gotten so out of control that even staff and teachers are at risk.

The employee leaked 10 cell phone videos of student fights, including one that shows students fighting on top of a security guard who tried to break up a brawl. Six students face disciplinary action for the fight, News4 first reported last week.

Full story and video at:

MoCo Fire & Rescue Tips for Parents

Tips for Parents

  • Tell your child to Never reveal personal information online.
  • Encourage your child to let you know of any suspicious Activity. If you are made aware of any crime or suspicious activity, notify authorities immediately.
  • Inform your child the risks of using suggestive names and be firm about not using them.
Children are at a higher risk to be victims of Internet crimes than most parents realize.  Don't be uninformed.  Understand the scope of the problem, facts and figures to identify the benefits of childhood Internet activity and where your child may be in danger online.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Balt. Sun: When disclosing 2016 consulting work, Dallas Dance used company alias rather than firm's name

Former Baltimore County school superintendent Dallas Dance did not have a good track record of reporting paid consulting work as required by the district’s ethics code.
The school system’s ethics panel twice ruled he violated the code by failing to disclose two paying jobs, including one with a firm that had a contract with the district.

The Baltimore Sun reported this month that Dance also failed to report that in 2014 and 2015 he was paid by Education Research & Development Institute, or ERDI. The Chicago company brokers meetings between its paid roster of superintendents and education technology firms that pay to meet privately with the school leaders. Some of the companies had won no-bid contracts with the county school system during Dance’s tenure.
Dance did, however, disclose consulting work for 2016. He did so two weeks after he had announced his retirement on April 18.

Why the difference?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

MCPS: Remove student names from data collection

...But there’s one place where students still expect confidentiality: the counselor’s office.
MCPS is threatening this privacy with a countywide initiative this year to collect data about how students use the counseling office. The counselor’s office now requires, due to a MCPS mandate, students to sign in with their student ID number and the reason for their visit...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

“We’ve been carrying a lot of debt for a long time,” Rice said, adding the County needs to go on a diet on how much it borrows

...“The bottom line is that’s a school you can’t just (put a) band-aid easily,” Kloblukowski said.
He said Wheaton, Damascus, Magruder and Wootton are in similar situations because MCPS’ Superintendent removed them from the MCPS CIP.
“Capacity is a lousy excuse for not taking care of business,” Kloblukowski said, at which point many of the 35 audience members broke into applause.
Rice said Poolesville High School, which MCPS Superintendent Smith temporarily shelved from construction (according to his proposed six-year capital improvements plan for MCPS) will not likely earn an expensive capital construction project soon due to how the school board and county select capital projects to fund. The issue is MCPS long-range planning department did not project overcrowding issues (more than 120 percent of the number of students it can hold) for the school in the next six years.
Rice said Poolesville High School – already one of the older buildings in the county – is at a disadvantage because MCPS does not project significant enrollment increases there.
“Normally a lot of our schools that are aged – are also aged and have a capacity issue,” Rice said.
Kloblukowski said the superintendent seemed to be unfairly favoring overcrowded schools to schools that are old...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Online payment portal fails to charge credit cards, MCPS asks parents to make transactions a second time

MCPS financial officers are asking those who made purchases on the Online School Payment portal Sept. 13 to Sept. 30 to re-enter their credit card information due to an error by the vendor, Online School Management Systems.
The problem arose after an OSMS employee accidentally switched the software into testing mode for an upgrade, causing the credit cards to not be charged even though the order requests went through. To compensate for the lost revenue, the vendor has since privately reimbursed the affected schools.
Though OSMS informed parents of the situations, many expressed skepticism of being asked to re-enter their credit card information.
“I got a bunch of calls from parents who were concerned about the possibility that it was a scam, asking if this was a legitimate email and something that they should be doing,” MCPS Administrator of Financial Operations Robert Reilly said...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Police Blotter: Car Stolen at Walter Johnson High School; Boy Caught with Knife at Richard Montgomery

Police Blotter: Car Stolen at Walter Johnson High School; Boy Caught with Knife at Richard Montgomery

Baltimore County school leaders Verletta White, Dallas Dance were paid by tech industry group

For four years, interim Baltimore County school superintendent Verletta White worked as a consultant for a company that promotes education technology firms without disclosing the payments to the school system or the public, an investigation by The Baltimore Sun has found.
White repeatedly filed required county disclosure forms stating she earned no outside income while working as the school system’s chief academic officer, the position she held from 2013 until she was named interim superintendent this year.

Her predecessor as superintendent, Dallas Dance, also failed to disclose income the same company says it paid him in 2014 and 2015, county records show. Dance declared receiving income as an adjunct professor at the University of Richmond, but did not mention payments for consulting work with the Chicago-based Education Research & Development Institute in 2014 or 2015.
Dance did report receiving income from the company in 2016 in a form he filed in April of this year -- two weeks after he told the county school board he was quitting as superintendent. The form did not say how much he was paid...

Monday, November 20, 2017

"she said it as a joke and as a derogatory joke. So, that, I think, is worse,”

School Notes: Docca Apologizes for Using the Word ‘Retarded’ During Public Meeting
...Bethesda mother Gena Mitchell said the comment was “disappointing,” especially coming from someone who’s in a school system leadership position and sits on a committee that deals with policy for special-needs populations.
“She didn’t just say the R-word in reference to our children, but she said it as a joke and as a derogatory joke. So, that, I think, is worse,” said Mitchell, whose 15-year-old daughter has Down syndrome. “It’s not OK to make that population the brunt of a joke. … It hurts.”
Mitchell said she understands that people make mistakes, and elected leaders who are often in the public eye are no exception. However, she said the school board should have addressed the comment right away rather than waiting four months. Docca’s apology also sounded somewhat “flip” to Mitchell, since she didn’t direct it to the special-needs population or acknowledge the term’s impact, she added...
“Make us believe that it actually matters,” Mitchell said of the apology.

7 ON YOUR SIDE: DC-area schools spend most in U.S. on administrators

Newly released numbers showing how much money school districts spend on administration is creating calls for change in Prince William County.
The U.S. Census Bureau numbers break down per student spending on administration, including principal and superintendent salaries...
...Montgomery County ranks 8th nationwide, spending $1,099 per student on administration...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Richard Montgomery Student Taken to Hospital After Bus Rolls Over Her Foot

Richard Montgomery Student Taken to Hospital After Bus Rolls Over Her Foot: Police spokesman said incident was minor


Earlier this month, Dr. Judy Docca filed to run for a fourth term on Montgomery County School Board, as first reported by Bethesda Beat. This touched off a controversy over a statement Docca made in July during a board meeting. She referred to herself as “retarded” while describing herself as forgetful. The term is considered derogatory to people with intellectual disabilities.
Parents’ groups called for an apology from Docca. The Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County posted this video from the board meeting in July.

As superintendent, Dallas Dance spent more than a third of 2016 school days traveling out of state

Former Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance spent more than a third of the school days in 2016 traveling to out-of-state education conferences at a cost of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, public records show.
During his five-year tenure, Dance hopscotched from city to city and coast to coast, traveling far more often than other superintendents in the region, according to records obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a Maryland Public Information Act request. Dance made the trips with the approval of a series of county school board chairs.
At many stops — from New Orleans to New York, Miami to San Diego — Dance gave speeches touting his initiative to give all students in Baltimore County laptops. In one case, an event sponsor paid Dance $5,000 for a speech, compensation he did not report on financial disclosure forms, according to other records. The school system’s ethics panel twice reprimanded Dance for failing to disclose other part-time work...

Thursday, November 16, 2017

MoCo Planning Board Puts Cell Tower on Public School Playground, No Parent Input, Student Safety Not Evaluated @CaseyAndersonPB @natalifani

Daly Elementary School cell tower compound.
The last time MCPS put a cell tower on a public school playground was in 2006.

Since then, Montgomery County parents have spoken loud and clear that they do not want commercial telecommunications structures and compounds on their local public school playgrounds and fields.

Remember these attempts to put cell towers on public school playgrounds?

Sligo Middle School parents said no to a cell tower.

Parkland Middle School parents said no to a cell tower.

Wootton High School parents said no (twice) to a cell tower. 

Northwest High School parents said no to a cell tower.

Julius West Middle School parents said no (twice) to a cell tower.

Whitman High School parents said no to a cell tower.

And the list goes on.

So what did the Montgomery County Planning Board do in order to build a new cell tower on the Blair High School baseball field? 

The Montgomery County Planning Board did not ask parents their position on this project, did not hold a community meeting to present the plans, and withheld the actual construction plans from the public.  

And so today in a 4 to 1 vote, the Montgomery County Planning Board voted to do what the Board of Education has not done since 2006.  The Planning Board voted to add a cell tower to the Blair High School baseball field.  Details of the construction plan were not presented to the Planning Board and they did not ask staff to present the actual plans.  The Planning Board did not seek out parent input and did not care that none had been received.

Thanks to Planning Board member Tina Patterson for caring about public school students.  Ms. Patterson voted against this construction project and attempted to get a delay of today's vote.  

MCPS Staff Gave Superintendent Data with Error for Boundary Decision

Public To Weigh in on Alternative Attendance Maps for Future Rockville Elementary School: Community concerns, incorrect numbers have complicated boundary-setting process
After this proposal was presented in October, Montgomery County Public Schools staff members discovered an error in the FARMS projections, and Smith withdrew his recommendation.“I wouldn’t have selected it had I known the numbers were wrong,” Smith said.

Former PTA treasurer charged with embezzlement in Maryland

The former treasurer of a PTA group in Maryland’s largest school system has been charged with embezzlement and has agreed to plead guilty in November, according to court records.
The treasurer, Lisa Betts, 45, intends to repay the $39,015 that was misappropriated from the countywide council of PTAs, which represents PTAs in Montgomery County’s public schools, the records state...
...“Ms. Betts’ claim is that the funds stolen from [the countywide PTA] were used to cover her theft from two local PTAs at which she served as president and treasurer,” Harris wrote in a message to PTA board members Thursday. “Unfortunately, due to the nature of her thefts from those two PTAs, it is impossible to determine whether or not they have been made whole.”...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

ABC7: Only 2 states have no penalties for failing to report child sex abuse. Md. is one of them.

“There is no penalty if you fail to report,” said Maryland Senator Susan Lee (D-Bethesda). “I think we’re letting down the children that we’re trying to protect against abuse and neglect.”

Park Rules Prohibit Cell Towers in Local Parks, But Planning Board Staff Recommends One Anyway

See highlighted section below for discussion of Montgomery County Planning Board's review of the placement of a new cell tower at the Blair Local Park located next to Blair High School. 

William E. “ Rick” Meyer
North Potomac, MD
On behalf of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers (MC4T)

In the Matter before Planning Board:

None of the three structures under consideration can be considered routine matters with minimal impact. We strongly encourage the Planning Board to further evaluate the unique circumstances surrounding each and all three sites that would restrict and/or prohibit the proposed modifications:

1.     Sligo Creek Radio Tower –  (TFCG application #201612-05 recommended for six 72” inch antenna on December 7, 2016 and subsequently refiled for second recommendation for twelve 72” antenna which was issued on March 6, 2017)

This red and white lattice tower is one of the oldest, if not THE oldest radio broadcast tower in the Washington DC region, and may have been standing for more than 70 years. The tower is part of the very colorful and fascinating history linked to the commercial development of AM radio broadcasting in Montgomery County, and particularly to the growth of predecessor stations of WTOP and WFED, which have long been based in Wheaton.  As such, we believe the Sligo Creek Radio tower is historically and culturally significant, and any decisions regarding potential modifications to this structure should first carefully evaluated, as such.

Strapping on twelve 72’  antennas mid-section at the 120’ level to his radio tower would SUBSTANTIALLY alter the physical design and structural loading upon the  247’ tall tapered lattice work. The tower was  originally  built for the sole purpose of holding  slender antennae at the very top. The estimated age of this structure would call into serious  question its ability to support approximately  ½ ton additional weight of twelve new antenna, cabling  and fastener hardware. A thorough structural and wind analysis by a certified tower engineer  should be required and carefully evaluated.

Further, bolting on  twelve 72” tall panel antenna to the lattice grid the 120’ foot elevation would be high above the tree line, and would dramatically transform the aesthetics and appearance of the radio tower making it both obtrusive, bulky and clumsy and far different than its sleek needle design. The twelve box antenna would be visible from most of the gold course and surrounding as such.

This is now, and has always been a radio tower, which is defined and  treated completely separately by the County zoning ordinance Section 3.5.2. Communication Facility,  B.   Media Broadcast Tower.  The County zoning ordinance ONLY permits radio towers up to 199 feet tall  as “limited use” – anything higher is treated as conditional use!  While the Sligo Creek Radio tower  was probably built long before zoning standards, today it nonetheless falls within the conditional use standards, Further, that same zoning ordinance states that “change to any use within the conditional use” would require permitting through an OZAH hearing. 

2.     Wheaton Regional Park Maintenance Yard Monopole(TFCG application 2016-05 submitted November 11, 2016 and recommended on December 7, 2016.)

The Wheaton Park Yard monopole is one of the most popular with wireless providers in the County because it is  located on one of the highest and most prominent elevations with total  height  of the tower and antenna at  approximately 590’ above sea level.  Accordingly, it   is already loaded (and perhaps overloaded) with dozens of  various collocated antennas from multiple wireless providers.  It has become a bloated, extremely unsightly  contraption that resembles a collection of old crab traps on a giant stick, which is  visible from most of the otherwise serene trails within the park. The aesthetics of this assemblage are far out of character with all other carefully managed aspects of this important Regional Park.

As with the Sligo Creek radio tower, a comprehensive structural and wind analysis by a certified tower engineer  should be required and carefully evaluated before any additional weight is added to the structure.

This Wheaton Park monopole was built in 1997 under Special Exception S-2304. Therefore, any modifications to that Special Exception, including prior requests for additional antennae as added over the past 20 years should have required approval through OZAH hearings.  No such hearings were conducted and the validity of the multiple subsequent modifications should be questioned.

3.     Blair Local Park Light Pole:  (TFCG application 201610-57 submitted September 7, 2016, resubmitted April 11, 1997 and recommended with conditions on May 16, 2017.)

While it is still unclear as to how and why a wireless telecommunications monopole was approved in Blair Local Park in 1997-98, such a facility  is absolutely is NOT permissible today under Montgomery Parks Telecommunications Facility Siting Administrative Procedures, which are attached to the agenda briefing packet.  The reason for this prohibition is simple:  Large telecommunications towers overwhelm the physical dimensions and characteristics of small, local parks - just as the current 128’ pole looms above the outfield fence of Thunderbolts Park.

Section 7.6(f) of the Administrative procedure specifically and clearly states that Local Parks (such as Blair) “ shall not be considered for use for telecommunications sites.”

While other sections of the  administrative procedure allow for exceptions to place wireless facilities in active recreation areas, (and even refers to modification of ball park lights) the language is clear that this exception  is ONLY applicable in Regional and Recreation Parks.  No  such allowances are  made for Local Parks, where telecommunications facilities are  “not to be considered.” There is no provision  in the administrative procedure to allow Planning Board to overrule of this Local Park exclusion.

The pole was abandoned by the prior wireless carrier at expiration of lease in 2015, and has remained under  sole and exclusive use as a Local Park  light pole ever since. We have requested, but not yet received a copy of the original lease.  However, if that lease  was written in conformance to Montgomery County COMCOR, the  lease would have REQUIRED the wireless operator to immediately remove the pole, and all related equipment at expiration of the lease.  This was apparently not done, for reasons as yet, not fully understood.  Regardless, at such point of lease expiration and abandonment in 2015 the pole became a light fixture and nothing more. Accordingly, all remaining appurtenances under the prohibition of telecommunications facilities in Blair Local Park contained in  section 7.6(f) above, INCLUDING the pole should immediately be REMOVED,

As a final note, the circumstances surrounding the Blair Local Park Light Pole and the Sligo Creek Radio Broadcast Tower have been  mischaracterized as “existing cell tower(s) in the park system” in the  official update  soliciting public input.  This gives false and misleading impression that proposed modifications are routine matters with minimal impact. There are NO approved wireless antennas currently on the Sligo Creek Radio Tower  structure. This is NOT and has never been an existing cell tower. There are NO approved or existing wireless antennas on the Blair Local Park Light Pole. This is NOT an existing cell tower.

In closing, Planning Board as  landlord of our public parks needs to fully understand and fully  exercise its proprietary rights as granted by the FCC, when evaluating wireless telecommunications facilities lease requests for property under your control.  These proprietary rights are separate and distinct from regulatory limitations imposed upon local government entities by Federal Communications Commission regulations.

We urge the Planning Board to withhold action on all three of these proposed modifications until each of these issues and questions can be thoroughly examined and validated.

The Montgomery County Coalition to Control Cell Towers (“MC4T”) is comprised of concerned County residents, including representatives from homeowner’s associations and civic organizations. MC4T was formed  during the Fall, 2016 in response to Zoning Text Amendment (“ZTA” ) 16-05, which was eventually withdrawn. 

The mission of MC4T is to preserve and enhance the character and aesthetics of all County neighborhoods by minimizing adverse impact of telecommunications facilities, protect our homes and communities from unsafe towers and poles, and assure full transparency, due process and fair representation in all decisions on wireless infrastructure. (