Friday, September 29, 2017

Changes Coming to Board of Education Public Comments Sign-up Process, Phone Calls will not be Accepted.

Beginning Oct. 23, 2017, the Montgomery County Board of Education will be changing the process to sign up to speak at Board business meetings.
Based on feedback from our community and the growing use of technology, we will be asking the community to use a Google form, located on our website, to sign up to speak. Rather than individuals calling into the Board Office on the Monday before a Board meeting, the Google form will be open to use on the Friday morning before a Board business meeting until the following Monday at noon. With this new process, phone calls will no longer be accepted.
Community feedback is essential to informing our decisions and it is critical that we hear and understand the many different perspectives of our community members. We believe that by changing to an online format, we will be able to reach and hear from more individuals within the community. We will use our many outreach platforms to communicate this change with as many people as possible. We will use our website, parent newsletters, social media, and we will be asking school principals to include this new process in their parent newsletters.
Questions may be directed to the Board’s legislative aide, Patricia Swanson, at Patricia_R_Swanson@mcpsmd.org.
To see a preview of what the Google form looks like, see the images below:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

We Now Know the Board of Education has been Keeping Known Child Abusers in Classrooms for Decades. Will Parents Re-Elect Patricia O'Neill Again?

O’Neill Files To Run For Sixth Term on Montgomery County School Board: Bethesda resident could become longest-serving school board member in county history

Ex-Md. school aide sentenced to 100 years in child sex abuse case

Deonte Carraway, 23, a former elementary teacher’s aide at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School, pleaded guilty to 23 counts of sex abuse and child pornography charges stemming from the abuse of children as young as nine and 10 years old.
Some of the abuse took place on school grounds and much of it was recorded via cellphone and social media apps, according to prosecutors. Carraway had been indicted last summer on a total of 270 state counts of child sex abuse and other charges.
At a sentencing hearing Thursday in the Prince George’s Courthouse in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Carraway was sentenced to a total of 395 years, with all but 100 years of that sentence suspended...
...At the news conference after the sentence on the state charges, Alsobrooks called the Carraway case “a miserable failure” for children in the Prince George’s County school system and in the community.
http://wtop.com/prince-georges-county/2017/09/ex-md-school-aide-appear-court-270-sex-crime-charges/

ABC7: Convicted [MCPS] teacher taken off Md. sex offender registry, could possibly teach again



A former Montgomery County teacher, convicted of sexting with a female student, has been taken off the sex offender registry and could be eventually cleared to teach again.
In 2014, Richard Shemer, a former social studies teacher at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, confessed to sending a female student dozens of sexually explicit emails.
Montgomery County Judge David Boynton sentenced Shemer to a year in prison, of which Shemer served a few weeks.
Three years later, and off probation, Judge Boynton allowed Shemer to scrub his name off Maryland's sex offender registry...

October 4th Board of Maryland Public Works Agenda

The October 4, 2017 Board of Public Works Agenda is available.

For Agenda updates, please visit our website regularly. 
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Montgomery County State Delegation Fall Meeting Schedule

Montgomery County Delegation Fall Annual Meeting Schedule for Transportation and Local Legislation
The following four Delegation meetings will all take place at 7pm in the 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Stella Werner Council Office Bldg., 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850. The meetings will be carried live over County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6 on Comcast and Channel 30 on Verizon) and can also be live streamed on County Cable Montgomery's website:

  • Thursday, November 2, 2017 - Consolidated Transportation Program Presentation ("Road Show") by the Maryland Department of Transportation.
  • This is a presentation of the state’s proposed spending plan for transportation. Elected officials are invited to ask questions and the public is welcome to attend.
  • Monday, November 13, 2017 - Joint House and Senate Priorities Hearing.
  • This hearing is an opportunity for the public to respond to the Road Show and to bring other issues of importance for the 2018 Session to the attention of the legislators. Individuals and organizations are invited to testify.
  • Monday, December 4, 2017- Bill Hearing #1 on local/bi-county bills
  • Local bills refer to legislation affecting issues specific to Montgomery County. Bi-County bills refer to legislation that requires the approval of the Montgomery County and the Prince George’s County Delegations.
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - Bill Hearing #2 on local/bi-county bills

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Residents want land reserved now for future Montgomery Co. schools

WASHINGTON — More public schools eventually will be needed in Montgomery County, and land should be set aside for them today.
That’s what several residents told county leaders at a public hearing Tuesday night.
The Montgomery County Council is considering a plan for new development in a 460-acre, bowtie-shaped area centered near the intersection of Rockville Pike and Montrose Road.
The White Flint 2 Sector Plan recommends changing largely commercial properties, especially shopping centers, into mixed-use centers.
That could lead to as many as 6,000 new homes in the area, and existing residents say more schools are needed sooner than later.
“Two years ago, we testified that a tsunami of students is headed to the Walter Johnson Cluster. It is now arriving,” said Wendy Calhoun.
“Take this opportunity now to reserve land in this plan, and don’t kick the can down the road. We just can’t afford it,” Kip Edwards, president of the Garrett Park Estates-White Flint Park Civic Association, told the council...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Six Out of 10 MCPS High School Seniors Met College, Career Readiness Targets

Report: Six Out of 10 MCPS High School Seniors Met College, Career Readiness Targets: Superintendent presents new round of data on student learning for 2016-2017

MCPS OFFICIALS OFFER RECOMMENDATIONS ON SCHOOL SAFETY

...“I think parents are an important part of the solution and they’re sort of missing from the report,” Huebner said. “So, I’m interested to see if there are any ways we can work more closely with the school on these issues…Sometimes parents are aware of school safety issues that may not be known to the schools. The schools may be aware of school safety issues that the parents aren’t aware of. I think that communication between the two is really critical in making sure that children are protected and feel safe.”...

...Furthermore, MCPS should compile an inventory of and then assess all “school-sponsored prevention and early intervention programs” regarding harassment, bullying and intimidation at the high schools, and then develop “a systemwide approach to implement the most effective programs.”...


Grading revised for some Montgomery Co. students after confusing report cards

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Montgomery County school officials are switching back to a traditional grading scale for most elementary school students after four years of report card confusion.
Starting in the 2013-2014 school year, the county school system replaced elementary school grades using a different system that gave students an ES instead of an A as the highest possible mark. ES stood for exceptional work.
Grades also included P (proficient), I (in progress) and N (not yet making progress/making minimal progress).
At the time, county officials said they implemented the grading system in response to reforms on the state and national levels that called for tougher education standards. The program was piloted in 25 schools for nearly 10 years before Montgomery County adopted it.
As education leaders quickly found out, many parents were not on board...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Breaking: JUDGE BOYNTON ALLOWS FORMER MCPS TEACHER TO REMOVE HIS NAME FROM SEX OFFENDER LIST

A Montgomery County judge that struck a child sex abuse conviction from a former high school teacher's criminal record, will also allow the teacher to remove his name from the state's sex offender registry.
Circuit Court Judge David A. Boynton on Sept. 15 provided former Albert Einstein High School teacher Richard Shemer the written consent needed to legally remove his name.
"Mr. Shemer is no longer required to register as a sex offender and shall be removed from the Sex Offender Registry list," Boynton's court order read.
Montgomery County State's Attorney spokesman Ramon Korionoff said there is no avenue of appeal for the state prosecutor's office. "It is at the discretion of the judge," Korionoff said. 
Korionoff said the State's Attorney office strongly opposed the original defense motion – that Boynton approved Sept. 5 – which allowed Shemer to be granted a lesser charge of the sex abuse violation, known as "Probation Before Justice." The status put into motion Shemer's ability to be taken off the registry...

Police Blotter: Teen Had Two Knives at Richard Montgomery High School

Police Blotter: Three Motorcycles Stolen from County Parking Garage in Bethesda; Teen Had Two Knives at Richard Montgomery High School: Crimes reported to Montgomery County and Rockville police from Sept. 6-12

Weapons at Richard Montgomery High
A 16-year-old boy at Richard Montgomery High School was reported to police for having concealed dangerous weapons on school property on Sept. 5. He had two knives with him at school.

Montgomery Co. starts work on Md.’s largest high school

WASHINGTON — Construction crews in Germantown, Maryland, officially started work this week on a massive project to build a new Seneca Valley High School, eventually tearing down and replacing the current facility, which dates back to 1974.
The new high school, which is expected to open by the fall of 2020, will be the largest in the state in terms of its size.
“It will have space for 2,400 students,” said Jack Smith, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools. “It will help the Germantown-Clarksburg area because of the tremendous growth that exists.”
Enrollment at the current school is about 1,300...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

“He had been warned to cease any personal relationship or acting in an overly friendly manner with a student,” she said.

Maryland [MCPS] school security chief was warned about inappropriate conduct but kept in post

The top security official at a Maryland high school was warned several times in writing about inappropriate contact with a student, but was kept in his position and ultimately charged with sexually abusing the 17-year-old, according to details that emerged in court.
Mark C. Yantsos, 58, the former head of security at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, pleaded guilty to a count of sexual abuse of a minor at a hearing last week.
His 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.
It raised further concerns because Yantsos was responsible for student safety and his arrest came amid a district effort to improve procedures for recognizing and reporting suspicious conduct in schools.
Yantsos was accused in April of befriending the teenager, texting her about graphic sex acts, giving her gifts and taking her to a hotel for intercourse...

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hogan balks at education plan required by feds

Gov. Larry Hogan will not sign a state education plan required in order for Maryland to continue receiving federal education funding.
Hogan, in a letter Tuesday to Maryland State Board of Education President Andy Smarick, blamed passage of a bill he vetoed for his decision to not sign the plan.
“Unfortunately, due to the decision of the Maryland General Assembly to overturn my veto of the misleadingly-titled ‘Protect Our Schools Act,’ I cannot in good conscience sign the state plan,” Hogan wrote in a letter the governor released Thursday to reporters. “I strongly believe that this misguided legislation dramatically limited the ability of the board to include the type of educational reforms anticipated by the (Every Child Succeeds Act), and therefore, I do not believe it represents enough of a positive step forward for Maryland students.”...

Fremont: City sues company that sold it turf fields ‘certain to fail’

Fremont is suing a company it claims sold the city three artificial turf fields that were flawed and deteriorated faster than promised.
FieldTurf USA, Inc., a Florida corporation, “sold Fremont artificial turf fields it knew were defective and certain to fail,” according to the complaint filed Aug. 30 in U.S. District Court in Oakland.
Fremont joined other cities, counties and school districts that sued the same company contending they were similarly burned...

FYI from 2014: MoCo Board of Ed President's DC Charter School shut down

Leaders of Hospitality High, a D.C. charter school backed by some of the Washington area’s largest hotel companies, have decided to relinquish their charter to join the city’s traditional school system.
The unusual move — it is the first time a D.C. charter school has converted into a traditional school — allows Hospitality to avoid potential closure by the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which is responsible for approving new charters and closing those that underperform.
“Our choice to merge with D.C. Public Schools was in the best interest of our students and the commitment that we’ve made to the District of Columbia to expose them to the wonderful industry that is hospitality, which is the largest industry in the city,” said Hospitality board member Solomon Keene, president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C...
...Officials with the public school system said they have no concern about a conflict of interest since she is no longer directly involved in Hospitality. Hospitality’s board is now chaired by Durso’s cousin, Michael A. Durso, a longtime educator and president of the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Students’ request for screen-free time included in Cumberland schools’ new strategic plan

Students’ request for screen-free time included in Cumberland schools’ new strategic plan: CUMBERLAND – Cumberland High School students, tired of spending too much time looking at electronic screens, are asking for “screen-free days” in the future, and school officials say they’re inclined to oblige.The request from students is a key takeaway from a new three-year strategic plan unani

"There is something sneaky going on here."

There is a Community Meeting tonight from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Montgomery College in Germantown about Montgomery County and wireless companies’ controversial plans to install small cell antennas on utility poles in residential neighborhoods.
   There was another meeting last night in Silver Spring. Did you hear about it? Neither did the Germantown Pulse, which is odd. The Pulse receives hundreds of press releases from Montgomery County about various events, meetings, and happenings in the County. Admittedly, we don’t report on all of them. Our rule is that if it isn’t taking place in the Germantown/Clarksburg/ Up-County area, we don’t include it in our coverage unless there is an extenuating circumstance. While some Germantown residents may be interested in the Planning Board’s decision on the White Oak Project, we don’t believe it is Germantown news.
 However, a Community Meeting about a plan to put more than 45 cell towers in the Waters Landing neighborhood. That is news. We’d report that. Folks in Germantown, especially those in the Waters Landing neighborhood are going to want to know about it that meeting.
   Especially, when the last time the County and wireless companies held such a meeting, it was broadly contentious and very well attended. That meeting was held in October 2016 at Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg. There were over a hundred people at that meeting. As one attendee of that meeting said, “Nobody wants it.”...

Chinese language programs link students to culture

POTOMAC, Md. — Ever since Beibei Sun moved to the United States to attend college, she knew she wanted to hold on to her Chinese roots.
Now that she has two children, she has found the best way to do that is by teaching them how to speak her first language.
Sun, who lives in Potomac, is one of many parents in the Montgomery County area who want their children to learn another language not only for future employment and travel opportunities, but also to keep their heritage alive.
“When you learn a new language, especially in Chinese, you have to learn where the words come from so you learn a lot about the Chinese culture,” Sun said.
Thirty-four percent of Montgomery County’s population is foreign-born. Of the seven districts that make up the county, two are more populated with Chinese-born people than any other nationality, according to a Capital News Service analysis...

Archdiocese of Baltimore is still declining to make documents public related to the late priest at the center of “The Keepers” Netflix documentary.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore is still declining to make documents public related to the late priest at the center of “The Keepers” Netflix documentary.
The Baltimore Sun reports the archdiocese has responded to the organizer of a petition, saying it took the request “very seriously.”
Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine wrote the request wouldn’t provide the clarity and closure petitioners are seeking.
The petition requests records on A. Joseph Maskell, a chaplain and counselor at a high school during the 1960s and 1970s. Multiple people have accused him of sexual abuse...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hogan Appointed State Board of Education Hires Controversial Former HoCo Superintendent

Renee Foose, who resigned in May as Howard County’s school superintendent after months of publicly feuding with members of a politically divided school board, was hired Tuesday by the Maryland State Department of Education...

...A power struggle between Foose and the school board erupted last spring after three new board members were elected on a platform opposing her. She was left her with a minority of the board’s support. Foose eventually sued the school board claiming, among other things, that they were trying to usurp her authority. Under a settlement reached with Howard County and signed May 2, Foose agreed to drop her lawsuit and both sides agreed to cease making disparaging comments about each other. The terms of the settlement were criticized by legislators and parents at the time as being excessive and a waste of taxpayer money. Her opponents had said she was dictatorial and ignored issues that were important to parents.
The hiring of Foose by the state education department angered state Del. Warren Miller, a Howard County Republican.
“She received well over a million dollars. Now we are rewarding her with a state job?” he said. “I think the biggest issue is that this is someone who sued the taxpayers of Howard County. We never found out in court what would have happened. ….I think this is a tremendous liability for the state taxpayers.”...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Montgomery Co. starts work on Md.’s largest high school

From today's WTOP. For the whole story go here. Reporter: Nick Ianelli.

The new high school, which is expected to open by the fall of 2020, will be the largest in the state in terms of its size.
“It will have space for 2,400 students,” said Jack Smith, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools. “It will help the Germantown-Clarksburg area because of the tremendous growth that exists.”
Enrollment at the current school is about 1,300.

“I look forward to watching this building grow up out of the ground, four stories tall and 440,000 square feet of teaching, learning and opportunity,” Smith said.

Dr. Kirwan To Education Commission: ‘We’ve Reached The Beginning Of The End’

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its most recent meeting today in Annapolis. Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the Commission is charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures.
Dr. Kirwan opened the meeting with a message to the Commission, saying, “we’ve reached the beginning of the end and are beginning to end… Up until now, we’ve been at the 30 thousand foot level with our discussions, we have to come down to 15 thousand feet, then 10 thousand feet, then 5 thousand feet, and then hopefully have a smooth landing in December.”...
...The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, October 12, 2017; 9:30 am-5:30 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.
Click here to view today’s meeting materials.

Monday, September 18, 2017

County Prepares to Open Supervised Visitation and Children Exchange Center

County Prepares to Open Supervised Visitation and Children Exchange Center: Ex-partners with protective orders can safely hand over or visit their children at facility

11 D.C. Fields Fail Safety Test As A Local Debate Over Artificial Turf Begins To Heat Up #FieldTurf #GMAX

About 22 hours before D.C. Public Schools welcomed children back to the classroom, the principal at Janney Elementary School in Tenleytown sent an email to parents notifying them that the school's artificial turf field would be replaced "due to safety concerns around student injury."
After children played on the field all spring and summer, officials attached the sign to the field's fence on Aug. 19. Contact sports would be prohibited until the turf was replaced, the notice said, explaining that the field had failed a hardness test.
Neither the letter to parents nor the sign, however, detailed that more than four months had passed since the field first failed the safety test. It didn't explain why the field wasn't replaced before it crossed a critical safety threshold. Nor did the Department of General Services tell the community that ten other fields at local schools and parks had received dangerously out-of-compliance scores during a recent round of testing.
The test failures come as many of the city's fields are reaching the end of their lifespans, and as a larger debate in D.C. about the safety of crumb rubber and other artificial turf materials is brewing.
And amidst all that, city officials seem to be caught unaware that the maker of three-quarters of the city's artificial turf fields, including Janney's, has been named in more than a dozen fraud lawsuits in the United States and Canada...
http://dcist.com/2017/09/turf_30.php

Saturday, September 16, 2017

72 Hour Notice: Montgomery County Surprises Public with Two Small Cell Tower Meetings

Community Meeting Scheduled
Montgomery County Zoning Text Amendment on Small Cells
Community Meeting
September 18 and 19 7pm to 9pm

Neighborhood Street Lights Are To To Be Replaced With Mini Cell Towers
Montgomery County is Hosting Two Community Meetings

Monday September 18th
Silver Spring Civic Center
1 Veterans Plaza
Silver Spring MD 20910
7pm-9pm

Tuesday September 19th
Montgomery College- Germantown Campus
20200 Observation Dr.
Germantown MD 20876
7pm - 9pm


The Montgomery County County Council is considering a new Zoning Text Amendment on cell antennas in residential zones:
  • Neighborhood streetlights to be replaced with mini cell towers: All street lights in all Montgomery County neighborhoods can be  converted to mini cell towers called small cells- without notice & public hearing.
  • Eliminates setbacks to single family homes: The  300 -foot residential setback for small and large cell towers in residential zones is eliminated.
Eliminates public notice and due process:  mini cell towers can be built without giving notice to homeowners and without a hearing or due process for the community.

Click here to see Draft of the Montgomery County ZTA, 
Click here to see Montgomery County Summary
Click here to see Montgomery County Civic Association Analysis 

What can I do? 

  • Contact The Montgomery County Council NOW
  • Come to the community meeting next week. 
The County did not inform the public about this meeting. We - a coalition of Montgomery County citizens - informed you. Where is the transparency? 

We have written the County asking for proper public notice for this meeting.