Wednesday, June 21, 2017

In 2013, MCPS COO Larry Bowers Defied State Board of Education Guidance and Left Teacher in Classroom with Multiple Reprimands

MCPS photo of  Larry Bowers
"In this case, the personnel record was filled with reprimands and directives which Mr. Picca did not follow.  It is as if each reprimand stood alone without reference to past directives.  It would be prudent for school systems to review their personnel records to be sure there are no cases, like this one, lurking in their schools."

Maryland State Board of Education Opinion 12-34, Daniel Picca v. Montgomery County Board of Education,

September 25, 2012

Those were the words of the Maryland State Board of Education to Montgomery County Public Schools in the 2012 case of Picca v. Montgomery County Board of Education.

Picca, a former MCPS teacher appealed Montgomery County Board of Education's decision to terminate him to the Maryland State Board of Education.  In the State BOE's decision, the public learned that MCPS had repeatedly reprimanded Mr. Picca to stop specific interactions with students.

The State BOE advised MCPS to review their personnel records to make sure no other cases like this one were lurking in Montgomery County schools.

But another case was lurking.

On June 6, 2017, another former MCPS teacher went on trail for the sexual abuse of MCPS students.  The charging documents show the dates of the incidents were from 2001-2002, and from 2013-2016.
The trial before a jury lasted four days.
There was no media coverage of the trial.
The Cloverly Elementary School teacher, John Vigna, was found guilty on 9 counts.

From the courtroom testimony of Cloverly Elementary School principal Melissa Brunson we learn that:

  • In 2008, Mr. Vigna received a letter of reprimand from Principal Brunson concerning incidents where students were seen sitting on Mr. Vigna's lap. 
  • In 2013, Mr. Vigna received another letter of reprimand.  This one was from MCPS Chief Operating Officer Larry Bowers.  This letter came as the result of an incident that resulted in Mr. Vigna being removed from the classroom for three weeks while the incident was investigated. Mr. Vigna was returned to the classroom.  Again, he was told to not have students sit on his lap.
  • The principal testified that she followed the MCPS protocol which was to report incidents to the MCPS Human Resources Department and have them direct her path. 
  • Due to her concerns, the principal moved Mr. Vigna's classroom from a portable to a room inside the building near the front office.
  • The principal testified that she did not have the power to fire or suspend a teacher.  
After being returned to the classroom with two letters of reprimand in his personnel file, Mr. Vigna was again removed from the classroom in February of 2016 due to new allegations of students sitting on his lap.

Why did MCPS Chief Operating Officer, and later MCPS Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers ignore the advice from the Maryland State Board of Education?

We now know that if Larry Bowers, and then Superintendent Joshua Starr, had followed the 2012 advice of the Maryland State Board of Education most of the victims in the June 6, 2017, trial would never have been victims at all.  Those MCPS children would not have to include giving testimony in a court of law in a sexual abuse case as part of their childhood.


  1. Byzantine Bureaucracy.

  2. And who was on the board in 2008, 2012, 2013, and 2017? Why, Pat O'Neill, re-elected by the voters so many times I've lost count. This is what the voters want.

  3. Daniel Picca: MCPS teacher for 17 years. Schools where he taught: Luxmanor, Kemp Mill, Rachel Carson.

  4. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
    Albert Einstein

  5. Lurking in the crevices
    Of the county services
    Vague dubious guidance
    And bureaucratic cases.

  6. Why does Bowers look like someone who was just thrown into the drunk-tank?

    1. You mean, like the cat that ate the canary.


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