Thursday, August 31, 2017

School Board OKs Pay Increase for Superintendent

School Board OKs Pay Increase for Superintendent: Smith’s salary rises to 0K after first year in post

STORM FORCED MOLD REMEDIATION AT SHERWOOD HIGH

 In late July, more than a day of rain dropped more than 3 inches on Montgomery County, subsequently flooding Sherwood High School.
With the water gone, four classrooms were left with mold, and cleanup began immediately, Montgomery County Public Schools spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said Tuesday. After that was completed, 22 other classrooms were found to have mold, and crews completed remediation in those classrooms Tuesday, she said...

Exclusive: PFM analysts charged $275 / hour for flawed Montgomery County minimum wage study

Although they may not have received the entire amount that was charged (due to a cap), PFM analysts billed their time at $275 / hour when developing the flawed Montgomery County minimum wage study.   (The PFM report estimated that the low wage workforce would be reduced by an average of 23 percent if the minimum wage were increased to $15 / hour.)

In addition to PFM of Philadelphia, two consulting companies apparently contributed to the flawed study.   Those companies are MFR Consultants, Inc., located in Philadelphia and TXP, Inc., located in Austin, Texas. 


Researcher’s fight to close achievement gap irked school board for years

Joe Hawkins learned early how much trouble he could get into as an educational researcher, particularly when he reported problems in his high-performing but self-congratulatory school district in Montgomery County, Md.
In 1981, Hawkins, as an evaluation specialist, was the first researcher to identify publicly the district’s black-white achievement gap. When he and a colleague published their results in the College Board Review, a school board member asked why school employees were putting out negative information.
It has been like that his whole career, ending this year at age 68 with his retirement from the position of senior study director for the survey research firm Westat. Few people know his name, but Hawkins has made important discoveries on many issues and been a valuable resource for education writers like me.
He grew up in the Washington area, got a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Boston University and trained as a reading specialist at Howard University. He has an activist’s temperament. Few researchers have stuck their necks out as far as Hawkins has.

He became particularly notorious in 2001, shortly after he moved to Westat, when the Montgomery County Board of Education — for reasons that still make no sense to me — turned down a proposal by Hawkins and several brilliant Montgomery educators for the Jaime Escalante Public Charter School...

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

...The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.
To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now. Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.
Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

School Board to Look At Raising MCPS Superintendent Salary

School Board to Look At Raising MCPS Superintendent Salary: Proposed change to Smith’s contract would add $15,000, putting yearly pay at $290,000

LISTEN to The Kojo Nnamdi Show: How Do We Stop Sexual Abuse At Local Schools?

Several recent cases of child sexual abuse at schools are raising questions about current measures to prevent abuse and properly respond to suspicious behavior.

http://thekojonnamdishow.org/audio/#/shows/2017-08-30/how-do-we-stop-sexual-abuse-at-local-schools/110292/@00:00

2013: Joshua Starr & Others CC on Letter About "Lap Sitting" in John Vigna's Classroom. Did the Mandated Reporters Report?



In Maryland, educators are Mandated Reporters of child abuse.  On Sunday, The Washington Post released a 2013 letter that showed who in MCPS knew about teacher John Vigna's practice of "lap sitting" with female students in his classroom.  The image above shows the names of the then MCPS administrators who were copied on the 2013 letter to Mr. Vigna. 



Who Are Mandated ReportersMandated reporters play an integral role in the protection of children and are often child friendly professionals such as health practitioners, police officers, educators, and human service workers. If you are a mandated reporter you will often be the first to see signs of abuse and neglect. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you have a duty to report it.

Which one of these mandated reporters called Child Protective Services or Montgomery County Police to report the ongoing practice of "lap sitting" in Mr. Vigna's classroom?  Did any of them call?  

Names as shown on the 2013 letter to John Vigna with their positions at that time.  * Shows administrators who are no longer with MCPS.

Joshua Starr*, Superintendent
Larry Bowers,* Chief Operating Officer
Beth Schiavino-Narvaez*, MCPS Deputy Superintendent of School Support and Improvement
Brian Edwards*, Chief Communications Officer
Carole Goodman*, Associate Superintendent, MCPS Office for Human Resources and Development
Unknown Smith
Unknown Alban
Ann L. Bauman*, MCPS Performance Evaluation and Compliance Unit
Melissa Brunson, Principal Cloverly Elementary
Stan Damas*, MCPS Director of Association Relations, (Represent District in negotiations with three employee associations)
Unknown Martinez
Travis Wiebe, Wood Acres Elementary School, Assistant Principal (2013) now at Wyngate Elementary.


Tell Kojo MD Needs Criminal Penalty for Administrators Who Fail to Report! Today: How Do We Stop Sexual Abuse At Local Schools?

Wednesday, Aug 30 2017 • 12 p.m. (ET)
Families at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md. are reeling from the conviction of a teacher who sexually abused four students over 15 years. The news follows similar reports of child sexual abuse at other local public schools in Prince George’s County, Md. and Falls Church, Va. The cases are raising questions about current measures used to prevent abuse within schools and properly respond to suspicious behavior. While the cases have led to substantive policy changes, some professionals say the new preventative measures go too far in punishing teachers for unproven allegations of inappropriate behavior. Kojo explores how local school systems are working to stop sexual abuse within their halls.
WAMU Education coverage is supported in part by American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Guests

  • Kate McGee Education reporter, WAMU; @McGeeReports
  • Jennifer Alvaro Clinical Social Worker; Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider; Montgomery County Public Schools Parent; @jennifermalvaro
  • Giselle Pelaez Executive Director, The Center For Alexandria's Children; @AlexandriasKids
  • Donna Hollingshead Associate Superintendent of School Administration, Montgomery County Public Schools; @MCPS

http://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2017-08-30/how-do-we-stop-sexual-abuse-at-local-schools

Video: Candlelight Vigil for Taylor Walton 4-3-2016



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Breaking News: Playgrounds Saved for Students! PGCPS and Milestone Communications End Deal for Future Cell Towers

PGCPS and Milestone Communications End Deal for Future Cell Towers

| Comunicado del director ejecutivo, el Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell, con respecto a las torres de telefonía celular en propiedades de PGCPS

PGCPS AND MILESTONE PGCPS END DEAL TO CONSTRUCT FUTURE CELL PHONE TOWERS

Dear Parents/Guardians,
Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for students and staff. To this end, we have terminated an agreement with Milestone Communications to place future cell phone towers on school system properties.
We heard your concerns about the potential impact of cell phone towers on student health, questions about the site selection process, opportunities for community engagement and other issues. Therefore, we believe this decision is in the best interest of our schools, students and families.
Milestone Communications, a Virginia-based firm, will continue to manage existing tower locations at seven sites. PGCPS has not made a decision regarding future agreements with telecommunications providers.
We appreciate your continued input and support in ensuring healthy learning environments for all students.
Sincerely,
Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell
Chief Executive Officer
COMUNICADO DEL DIRECTOR EJECUTIVO, EL DR. KEVIN M. MAXWELL, CON RESPECTO A LAS TORRES DE TELEFONIA CELULAR EN PROPIEDADES DE PGCPS
Estimados padres y tutores:
Las Escuelas Públicas del Condado de Prince George (PGCPS) están comprometidas a proporcionar un ambiente de apoyo y seguro para los estudiantes y el personal escolar. Con ese fin, hemos pactado un acuerdo con Milestone Communications para la futura colocación de torres de telefonía celular en propiedades del sistema escolar.
Hemos escuchado sus inquietudes sobre el posible impacto de las torres de telefonía celular en la salud de los estudiantes; las interrogantes sobre el proceso de selección del lugar; las oportunidades para la participación comunitaria y otros temas. Por lo tanto, creemos que esta decisión vela por el beneficio de nuestras escuelas, estudiantes y familias.
Milestone Communications, una firma con sede en Virginia, continuará manejando las torres existentes en siete ubicaciones. PGCPS no ha tomado una decisión en relación a futuros acuerdos con los proveedores de telecomunicaciones.
Apreciamos su apoyo continuo y sus comentarios para garantizar que existan entornos de aprendizaje sanos para todos los estudiantes.
Atentamente,
Dr. Kevin Maxwell
Director ejecutivo

Perhaps the school system should at least consider redoing its deal with Milestone to rule out towers at elementary schools...

Sometimes, even when you have the data on your side, it’s prudent to bow to your neighbors’ concerns, just because they are your neighbors and you need their cooperation for other things.
That’s a point for Anne Arundel County’s school board to ponder as it considers an application by Verizon Wireless and Milestone Communications, a Virginia-based wireless tower developer, to put a 114-foot cellphone tower in the woods behind Shady Side Elementary School.
That plan, as reflected at a hearing last week, has run into heated opposition from the school community, as did Milestone’s ultimately abandoned effort to put a 99-foot tower at Piney Orchard Elementary School four years ago...

Howard County High School disbands its varsity football team

Centennial High in Howard County will disband its varsity football team, citing a “lack of sufficient players and concern for student safety,” according to a news release from Howard County Public Schools...
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/highschools/centennial-high-school-disbands-its-varsity-football-team/2017/08/18/f9275c3a-8480-11e7-ab27-1a21a8e006ab_story.html?utm_term=.4d15a5761699#comments

Monday, August 28, 2017

Call to Action: Make MCPS add webpage - list all known abusers and list every school / program they were involved with #transparency #safety

Child Safety Advocate Jennifer Alvaro calls for the Montgomery County Board of Education to add  a webpage that lists all known abusers and lists every school and program that each were involved with.

What is the response from the Board of Education?  
This is not about litigation, this is about facts. 
There is nothing stopping our elected Board of Education from responding to this request.  
Nothing except their desire to protect the convicted perpetrators. 

It's time, actually way past time, for the Montgomery County Board of Education to stand up on behalf of the many victims of sexual abuse that have been victimized in our public schools by staff. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

“You’re this far into cleaning house, and you’re still getting numbers that high?” asked Jennifer Alvaro, a social worker who specializes in child abuse issues and who served on a district-created advisory group. “That’s pretty significant.”

More than 300 employees reported for abuse or neglect in one Md. school district
Child welfare authorities and police received more than 300 reports of suspicious conduct by Montgomery County school employees during the most recent school year, down nearly 9 percent from the year before, according to data from a new report.
Most of the allegations did not result in Child Protective Services investigations, but they often triggered school district action. More than 70 percent led to employee warnings, conferences, disciplinary letters and reprimands, the data from the school system show...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

He was warned about getting too close to students. But this [MCPS] teacher was allowed to stay in the classroom.

...Court testimony and records point to repeated warning signs about Vigna’s behavior over a period of years, raising questions about how well he was supervised, how many incidents are too many and how effective Montgomery is at keeping students safe despite recent efforts to improve child-abuse policy and procedures.
...A top district official reprimanded Vigna in 2013, calling his conduct “indefensible, inappropriate and intolerable.” But the district allowed him to keep teaching, even though state officials months earlier had warned that teachers should be removed from contact with students after repeated and “obvious inappropriate” behavior.
Three of Vigna’s four victims were abused after the reprimand, according to testimony at his trial.

“They were tasked with protecting our children, and in my mind, they failed,” said Angela Edwards, whose children attended Cloverly. She called it “inconceivable” that district officials and the school’s principal did not take more forceful action...

Friday, August 25, 2017

“The events chronicled in this case are shocking, not only because they occurred, but because they occurred over and over again for seventeen years,” the opinion stated.

...Sartucci pointed out that the Maryland State Board of Education scolded the school system in 2012 after reviewing the case of a teacher terminated for misconduct. The Kemp Mill Elementary School teacher had received numerous reprimands but continued to work in the classroom, the state board's opinion stated.
“The events chronicled in this case are shocking, not only because they occurred, but because they occurred over and over again for seventeen years,” the opinion stated.
The state board urged local school officials to comb through their personnel files to identify employees with worrisome patterns of behavior...

Monday, August 21, 2017

Cell Tower President Says Son Had Leukemia in 3rd Grade at School with Cell Tower

Minute 1:00 of this video.  The speaker is Len Forkas, the president of Milestone Communications.  Milestone Communications builds cell towers on public school land.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Lawsuit Claims Teen Died After Gaithersburg High Gym Teacher Denied Request for Inhaler

Lawsuit Claims Teen Died After Gaithersburg High Gym Teacher Denied Request for Inhaler: Mother of student accuses Montgomery County school officials of negligence

Aurora schools superintendent is charged with not reporting child abuse allegation

MOUNT VERNON, Mo. - The Aurora School District superintendent is charged with failure to report child abuse. The Aurora/Marionville Police Department and the Lawrence County prosecuting attorney believe Travis Shaw, 45, should have reported to a state child abuse hotline a tip that he got about one of his district’s teachers. Shaw is scheduled to become the executive director of operations in the Springfield School District on July 1...

http://www.ky3.com/content/news/Aurora-superintendent-not-reporting-child-abuse-allegation-431172093.html

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Father upset about quality of [MCPS] summer camp lunch @mocoboe @mcps

..."I was appalled that this is what they offered kids," he said. 
Ferguson sent an email to Montgomery County Department of Recreation, asking for answers. We reached out to them as well. It turns out that the meals aren't actually included in the camp's tuition. According to a spokesperson, the program is part of the Montgomery County Public Schools providing nutritional food to kids during the summer season...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Health and safety concerns raised at Shady Side cell tower meeting

Capital Gazette: 
At a tense meeting Wednesday night, officials who have proposed placing a cellphone tower on the property of Shady Shade Elementary School were met with opposition from neighboring residents worried about the health and safety of children attending the school.
Verizon Wireless and Milestone Communications want to place a 114-foot monopole in the woods behind the school, which they say is needed to improve cellphone reception in the area. Inside Shady Side Community Center on Wednesday, where the meeting was held at 7 p.m., Verizon had a weak 4G signal.
The placement would be part of an agreement that Milestone made with Anne Arundel County Public Schools in 2012, which it renewed this summer, allowing the company to lease portions of school system properties to build telecommunications monopoles.
In addition to health and safety concerns about the radiofrequency radiation emitted from the tower, people at the meeting raised concerns about the transparency in the process and who would have access to the site...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Unsafe to play on, North Harford High artificial turf field to be replaced

The North Harford High School artificial turf athletic field, the first field of its type installed among Harford County's 10 public high schools, will be replaced because it has been deemed unsafe to use, according to county officials...
...Boniface said repairs to the North Harford field were a priority capital project for the school system; an engineering report indicated serious deficiencies.
"We recommend no competition activities be held on this field and it shall only be used for PE class/recreation purposes after the implantation of professional maintenance services or until the field is fully replaced," according to a field evaluation report prepared by Leading Design and Development LLC, of Lovettsville, Va.
The firm worked with Frederick Ward Associates, of Bel Air, to evaluate eight artificial turf fields at high schools and recreation facilities in Harford County for the school system and the county's Department of Parks and Recreation. The report is dated Dec. 19, 2016.
The data on North Harford's field is taken from an LDD field survey conducted June 22, 2016.
"The [turf] fibers are severely deteriorated and are showing signs of UV degradation causing them to be very brittle and laid over," according to the survey. "The deteriorated fibers are causing the infill to accumulate on the surface which is effecting the aesthetics and traction performance on the playing surface."
The field is used daily for sports such as football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, according to the report.
The engineering review estimated the turf system has less than one year's worth of "anticipated useful life" left for "mild recreational use," however.
"When the independent study results were received, the North Harford High School community was notified that no activities would be held on the synthetic turf field because of potential safety concerns about traction and footing issues," Jillian Lader, manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools, said via email Tuesday...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Montgomery County settles with family of man who died after being shot by Taser - $1.75 Million

Montgomery County officials have settled a civil rights violation claim with the family of a Gaithersburg man who died after county police officers shot him with a Taser during a 2013 arrest.
The county paid the family $1.75 million but admitted no liability, the county’s chief of litigation, Patricia Via, said Thursday. The amount was approved by the finance director and covered by the county’s self-insurance program. It does not require approval by the County Council, she said.
The settlement was reached in June.
The family alleged in a recent letter written to county officials that officers violated Anthony Howard Sr.’s civil rights during the April 19, 2013, arrest...

Exclusive: Complaint in Jane Doe v. Montgomery County Board of Education #SexualAbuse #BrianFrosh #MCPS #MOCOBOE #AppleBallot

Sunday, August 13, 2017

“As a result of the school board’s failure to properly investigate, supervise and protect students in response to actual notice, it needlessly endangered students,” the complaint stated.

Family Sues MCPS After Silver Spring Teacher’s Conviction in Sexual Abuse Case
...According to the suit, MCPS is at fault because the system should have done more to address reports of Vigna’s sexual misconduct. The 2008 allegations resulted in a letter of reprimand, while the 2013 allegations prompted officials to remove Vigna from the classroom for three weeks and reprimand him again, according to the suit. After the second report of inappropriate conduct, he was transferred from teaching third-graders in a portable classroom to a fifth-grade class that was inside the main school building, where his supervisors could keep an eye on him, the complaint stated.
But they should have also taken other corrective steps, such as firing Vigna, giving him a long-term suspension or shifting him to a position that didn’t involve interaction with students, according to the plaintiffs...
http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/2017/Family-Sues-MCPS-After-Silver-Spring-Teachers-Conviction-in-Sexual-Abuse-Case/

Friday, August 11, 2017

WUSA9: Herman says he will go after decades of school records, which he says will reveal administrators were aware Vigna was a problem.



SILVER SPRING, MD (WUSA9) - Montgomery County Public Schools is being slapped with a big lawsuit. It centers on Cloverly Elementary School third grade teacher John Vigna. Last week, he was sentenced to 48 years in prison for sexually abusing children.

“The school had red flags that John Vigna was not safe,” said Attorney Jeff Herman, who filed the suit for the family of a 12-year-old girl. She alleges that Vigna repeatedly abused her starting in 2013. She is referred to in the case as “Jane Doe.” The case says that Vigna touched Doe’s genitals...

http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/maryland/montgomery-co-schools-sued-following-teachers-sex-abuse-conviction/463539866

WTOP: Montgomery Co. school board sued for millions over molestation of students

WASHINGTON — The Montgomery County Board of Education is being sued for millions of dollars in connection with a teacher who was convicted of child sex abuse.
In announcing the suit, Jeff Herman, a Florida lawyer who specializes in sexual abuse cases involving children, said Thursday “the school system here has failed miserably at protecting its students” from John Vigna, a former teacher at Cloverly Elementary School, in Silver Spring, Maryland, who was convicted of nine counts of sexual abuse in June and was sentenced to 48 years in prison last week.
Herman said he had filed a Title IX suit on behalf of family of one of the victims, who is now 12. He didn’t specify how much the family was seeking, but said it was in the millions...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Breaking News: Lawsuit Filed Against Montgomery County Public Schools for Child Sexual Abuse by John Vigna

***MEDIA ALERT***
NEWS CONFERENCE TODAY (THURSDAY)
Lawsuit Filed Against Montgomery County Public Schools
for Child Sexual Abuse by John Vigna

WHAT: Jeff Herman, a nationally recognized attorney for victims of sexual abuse,
announces the filing of a lawsuit against MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC
SCHOOLS (MCPS) for child sexual abuse by JOHN VIGNA, a teacher at
CLOVERLY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in Silver Spring, Maryland. VIGNA was
recently convicted and sentenced to 48 years in prison.

According to the Complaint:
• In 2008, Vigna was caught putting little girls on his lap two times in his fifth grade class
and was reprimanded.
• In 2013, Vigna was caught again putting a little girl on his lap in his fifth grade class.
After an investigation Vigna was reprimanded again and transferred to a third grade class.
• In 2013, Vigna was Jane Doe’s third grade teacher. Vigna groomed Jane Doe and began
putting her on his lap daily during lunch and movie time. Vigna sexually assaulted Jane
Doe by fondling her buttocks and vagina over her clothes and rubbed his erect penis
against her.
• Vigna directed Jane Doe to visit him in his classroom during lunch and dismissal time
when Jane Doe was in fourth and fifth grade. Vigna bought Jane Doe books from the
book fair and gave her candy. During these visits, Vigna continued to sexually abuse Jane
Doe and eventually began to digitally penetrate Jane Doe’s vagina.

JANE DOE v. Montgomery County Public was filed in Montgomery County.

“The school had red flags that John Vigna was not safe. This convicted pedophile
should not have been around these children.” said Jeff Herman, the attorney for the
victim in this case.

WHEN/WHERE: TODAY (THURSDAY), August 10th, 2017 at 1:30 pm  4 PM in front of
Montgomery County Public Schools
850 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, MD 20850

CONTACT: Krisel McSweeney; kmcsweeney@hermanlaw.com

Appellate Court Finds State Whistleblower Laws Do Not Cover Rockville Teacher

Appellate Court Finds State Whistleblower Laws Do Not Cover Rockville Teacher: Richard Montgomery teacher alleged MCPS penalized him for speaking to press

Pearson to Ax 3,000 Jobs, Slash Dividend #mcps #mocoboe #pearsonforward #achievementgap

LONDON—Education company Pearson PLC on Friday said it plans to cut around 3,000 jobs and would slash its dividend, as tough conditions in the industry are forcing it to reshape its business.
The job cuts are the latest as part of a restructuring program as the London-listed...

https://www.wsj.com/articles/pearson-to-axe-3-000-jobs-pretax-loss-narrows-1501830070

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

“The circuit court judge who presided over this case made a comment in court today, he thought the jury got it right, and so do we,” McCarthy said.

Former Silver Spring schoolteacher gets 48 years for sexual abuse

...For over 20 years at the school, Vigna had also taught fourth- and fifth-grade students. During trial, he testified that he never had intentional inappropriate contact with students.
Before a sentence was given, the father of one of the victims called Vigna “a monster which deserves to be in a cage.” The same parent also said Vigna stole his daughter’s innocence and “murdered her soul.”
“Some of these kids are really having emotionally hard times, really emotionally hard times, tough times sleeping, issues about suicide,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy...

Members of the Montgomery County Council say they’re taking notice after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Gov. Larry Hogan.

ROCKVILLE – Members of the Montgomery County Council say they’re taking notice after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Gov. Larry Hogan.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges that Hogan’s staff members deleted comments and blocked constituents from viewing his Facebook page.
“The highest purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the right of Americans to engage in political speech and to petition the government to address their concerns," said Deborah Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland in a statement.
The ACLU says Hogan’s social media staff deleted critical comments and blocked people from viewing the governor’s Facebook page and that this violates the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech.
“The immediate access people have has changed so rapidly over the past few years it is hard to keep up with it,” said County Executive Ike Leggeett. “We need to come up with a uniform policy that that public can understand.”
Leggett said there should be different standards for public and private social media pages, saying the County’s official social media accounts are publically funded pages and are held to the same standards as the rest of County government. Leggett said he keeps a personal Facebook page, but said he does not block people or delete comments even though he said his private account is mainly for personal use.
As Leggett does, Council member Tom Hucker (D-5), said he generally does not block people or delete comments. Hucker said he could not remember an instance when he blocked someone or deleted a comment, but said he is not opposed to it completely if it crosses a line...
...“I think he crossed the line by a long way this was just simply a commenter who just disagreed with his policies, they weren’t disparaging, they weren’t vitriolic…they were simply disagreements,” said Riemer of the comments deleted from Hogan’s Facebook page...

Monday, August 7, 2017

WTOP: Supporters of sexual abusers send damaging, confusing message to kids

WASHINGTON — More than two dozen people showed up at the sentencing of a teacher convicted of sexually abusing children at the school where he worked.
But they weren’t there to support the children.
They were there to support 50-year-old John Vigna, who’d just been sentenced to 48 years behind bars. They wore white T-shirts that said “#VignaStrong.”
Jennifer Alvaro, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked treating child sex offenders, said that kind of demonstration of support for an accused (and even a convicted) abuser is not uncommon, especially in high-profile cases.
“When prominent people are found to have committed child sexual abuse, there’s often supporters who come out to support the offender, not the victims.”
Alvaro said that people who abuse children put themselves in positions where they have access to children, and they work to gain trust. “The way people get access to children is by grooming the adults around the child. Making people believe they’re a good person, they’re a kind person, they’re a helpful person, they’re safe to have around children.”
The more prominent a person is in a community, the less likely it is that people will believe the victims, and the more likely it is that people will believe the offender, Alvaro said...

Sunday, August 6, 2017

[Judge] Boynton said. “I couldn’t have agreed more with the verdict in the case.”

Longtime Maryland teacher sentenced to 48 years for child sexual abuse
...A jury in June found Vigna guilty of four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense in an investigation that began when an 11-year-old, who had taken a “body safety” class that taught students to identify signs related to good, bad and confusing touches, reported Vigna had been inappropriately touching her for 18 months.  His conviction involved four victims, prosecutors said.
“I’ve seen many, many good people come before me who have done really bad things,” Boynton said. “I couldn’t have agreed more with the verdict in the case.”
Boynton said Vigna had been given verbal and written reprimands to change the way he interacts with children.
Vigna taught at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring for more than 20 years before he was put on administrative leave in 2016...

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fox5: Ex-Montgomery County elementary teacher gets 48 years in sexual abuse case



 - A former Montgomery County elementary school teacher convicted of sexually abusing multiple female students has been sentenced to more than four decades behind bars.
John Vigna, of Silver Spring, was convicted on four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense back in June.
After an emotional hearing, one in which the parent of one of Vigna’s victims called him a “soul murderer,” the 50-year-old was sentenced to 48 years in prison on Friday...

Friday, August 4, 2017

MCPS teacher faces sentencing on child sexual abuse charges

By The Associated Press
ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — A former Maryland elementary school teacher is facing sentencing after being convicted of child sexual abuse charges involving inappropriate touching of several students.
Friday’s sentencing for 50-year-old John Vigna follows his conviction in June on four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense...