Friday, August 31, 2018

NEW: Longtime MCPS employee accused of sexually assaulting ex-girlfriend, plus violating a protective order she'd taken out against him.




Breaking: More Indictments in MCPS Special Education Bus Driver Case. Now 4 Victims.

Court System: Circuit Court for Montgomery County - Criminal System
Case Number: 134356C Sub Type: INDICTMENT
Tracking Number:
18-1001-51458-4
District Court Number:
0D00386708
Date Filed: 08/30/2018
Case Status: OPEN
Defendant Information
(Each Alias, Address, and Attorney for the Defendant is displayed)
Name: KABONGO, ETIENNE


Count No:1 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-602
Charge Description:SEX ABUSE MINOR
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:2 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-304
Charge Description:RAPE SECOND DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:3 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-307
Charge Description:SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:4 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-604(b)(2)
Charge Description:VUL ADLT ABUSE-HOUSE/FAMILY MEM
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:5 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-304
Charge Description:RAPE SECOND DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:6 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-307
Charge Description:SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:7 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-604(b)(2)
Charge Description:VUL ADLT ABUSE-HOUSE/FAMILY MEM
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:8 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-304
Charge Description:RAPE SECOND DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:9 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-307
Charge Description:SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:10 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-307
Charge Description:SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:11 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-307
Charge Description:SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:12 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-602
Charge Description:SEX ABUSE MINOR
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:13 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-307
Charge Description:SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Count No:14 ArticleSectionSubsection: CR 3-307
Charge Description:SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE
Citation Number:Plea:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Why Did Jack Smith Only Tell Board of Ed. Force Multiplier Had a Name Change? #FBI #ArrestofCEO #CompanyShutDown #NoContract

In June of this year, Superintendent Jack R. Smith submitted a memorandum concerning the school bus camera system to the Board of Education.

In that memorandum, Superintendent Smith said that the Board of Education had a contract with Bus Patrol America (BPA) (formerly Force Multiplier Solutions).  Superintendent Smith made it sound as if the company had changed names.  

June 2018 Memorandum from Superitnendent Jack R. Smith

But in the WTOP report on Monday on the arrest of the Force Multiplier Solutions CEO, the president of Bus Patrol America made it crystal clear that this was not just a name change, but a totally new company with no connection to the previous company.
...David Poirier, who previously worked for Force Multiplier Solutions and is now president of Bus Patrol America, said BPA is not just a name change, but a totally new company.
“It’s a brand-new company and has no connection with any of the previous ownership of Force Multiplier Solutions,” Poirier said...
That means that the Board of Education does not have a contract with the new company.  The Board had a contract with Force Multiplier Solutions and that company no longer exists.

Why didn't Superintendent Smith tell the Board of Education that the previous contract was no longer valid and that a new contract was needed with the new company?

Why is Superintendent Smith hiding the fact that the no bid bus camera scheme went up in smoke?
Shouldn't the Board of Education, the County Council, the County Executive and the public be told the truth?
Shouldn't the Board of Education be evaluating and voting on a new contract?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

MCPS Performance on PARCC Tests Exceeds State Average, But High School Passage Rates Declined

Montgomery County Public Schools students performed above state averages across the board, but the percentage of students passing standardized tests in high school has decreased since 2017, according to new data.
The complete 2018 Maryland assessment results for students across the state were released Tuesday in a presentation before the Maryland State Board of Education in Baltimore.
Statewide, the percent of students attaining a performance level of 4 or 5 on English Language Arts exams in grades three through eight improved 1 percentage point over the last school year to 41.6 percent. The percent of students scoring at performance level 4 or 5 on mathematics in grade three through eight also increased 1 percentage point to 34.1 percent.

The tests are scored on a 650-to-850-point scale, which has been translated into five performance levels, with level 1 set as not meeting expectations and level 5 set as exceeding expectations. Performance level 4 or 5 is considered “proficient” on the assessment by the state board. However, testing into the third performance category is good enough to meet the state’s graduation requirement...

MCPS, This Is You: ...school districts have an odd bus camera problem on their hands

A Harahan-based company specializing in school bus traffic cameras appears to have stopped operating amid an alleged bribery scandal in Dallas that investigators say could cost taxpayers there tens of millions of dollars.
The FBI has launched a probe, looking at the company's CEO as well as the head of a Texas state agency that bought thousands of its traffic cameras.
Force Multiplier Solutions' fall from grace has left its clients, including about two dozen school districts across the country, in the lurch. East Baton Rouge and Jefferson parishes, which adopted the company’s camera system years ago, are two of them.
On Feb. 7, the Jefferson Parish School Board voted unanimously to terminate its contract with Force Multiplier. East Baton Rouge school officials are considering doing the same.
Both also are considering whether to sign on with a successor company, Canada-based BusPatrol Inc. BusPatrol, which is run by many of the same people, claims it has acquired Force Multiplier’s assets but not its liabilities.
For more than a decade, Force Multiplier, operating under different names, has offered school districts an attractive deal. The company would buy, install and maintain elaborate video camera systems on school buses, systems that would ordinarily cost an estimated $10,000 per bus. The company charged nothing up front. Instead, it reaped a hefty share of the revenue collected from camera tickets paid by motorists caught speeding through bus stops.
Jefferson Parish was one of the company’s first clients, signing on in 2007, back when the firm was called ONGO Live. East Baton Rouge Parish signed on in 2011 when the company was called Busguard.
Now, the company has gone dark. The company’s main website has been down for weeks. Voicemails left at its Harahan office were not returned...
...But the program didn't collect nearly as much as anticipated — there were fewer violators than expected and even fewer who bothered to pay the tickets ...
...East Baton Rouge Parish’s Chief of Student Support Services Gary Reese said the company stopped installing cameras after outfitting almost 250 buses, about 40 percent of the fleet, saying it planned to come back with even better cameras, but it never did.
Reese said the videos taken by Force Multiplier cameras were its best feature. They were useful in sorting out who was telling the truth in student and employee disciplinary issues.
“We used it for that reason more than anything,” Reese said.
But in December, Force Multiplier stopped supplying videos upon request, Reese said. Soon after, a letter arrived from Leonard, a letter that Jefferson Parish also received. It informed them both that Force Multiplier was bowing out and instead "all assets, including our contracts with school districts, have been purchased and will be assigned to BusPatrol America, L.L.C."
In an interview, BusPatrol’s CEO Jean Souliere said that’s not accurate. He said BusPatrol bought only the company’s assets, particularly its “intellectual property,” but not its contracts or its liabilities...
...Since then, Souliere said BusPatrol has continued to service old Force Multiplier accounts “at our expense.” During that time, he and other BusPatrol representatives have slowly been reaching out to former Force Multiplier clients and have signed up five counties in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia...

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Photo Enforcement Company Working with Montgomery County Embroiled in Fraud, Bribery Scandal .@mcps .@mocoboe .@mcpdnews .@MoCoCouncilMD

...Force Multiplier Solutions has attempted to shake the scandal by rebuilding itself as an entirely new company under the name "BusPatrol America" and shedding the Force Multiplier brand.  It’s a brand-new company and has no connection with any of the previous ownership of Force Multiplier Solutions,” BusPatrol CEO David Poirier stated to WTOP.  However both companies listed the address 8540 Cinder Bed Rd., Suite 400 Lorton, VA 22079 as their registered office, and David Poirier had been listed the registered agent for Force Multiplier Solutions, and several other Force Multiplier Solutions employees now work for BusPatrol...

http://www.mddriversalliance.org/2018/08/photo-enforcement-company-working-with.html

Former Balt. County Superintendent Dallas Dance released from jail, Tweets apology

Former Baltimore County Public School superintendent, S. Dallas Dance, has been released from a Virginia jail after serving four months  for perjury charges after failing to report nearly $147,000 of income on his financial disclosure statements. Upon his release early this morning, Dance took to Twitter to apologize...
...But prosecutors found that Dance did not report nearly $90,000 from work he did for SUPES and its sister company, Synesi Associates.  The rest of the unreported income was earned through speeches, professional development and consulting services in other school districts and organizations.
Dance brought a $875,000 contract to Baltimore County schools after he began receiving payments from SUPES and Synesi, records show.
Dance was indicted in January on four counts of perjury for failing to report the income he earned as he led the country’s 25th largest school district. In March, he pled guilty to the charges. In April, he was sentenced to serve six months in a Baltimore County detention center. He was granted a transfer to Henrico County Jail West near his home in Virginia and served four months of the six-month sentence...

Monday, August 27, 2018

Breaking: WTOP: CEO of company that outfitted Montgomery Co. school buses with cameras pleads guilty to federal fraud charges


WASHINGTON — The man behind a business that put stop-arm cameras in school buses from Texas to Maryland has pleaded guilty to fraud in a federal case that included bribery and conspiracy.
Robert Leonard, former CEO of Force Multiplier Solutions, a school bus camera company that had a contract with Montgomery County, Maryland schools, entered his guilty plea in Texas on Aug. 9.
According to the federal plea agreement, Leonard paid $450,000 in a bribe and kickback scheme involving a Dallas City Council member. Leonard also admitted to paying a Dallas County Schools Superintendent more than $3 million in bribes and kickback payments. In return, Leonard’s company, Force Multiplier Solutions, was promoted for contracts with school systems in Texas...

Letter from Nonprofits to DC Mayor and Other Officials About Dangers of Artificial Turf and Playgrounds

Identical letters were sent to members of the DC City Council, the DC superintendent of schools, and other DC officials.
July 10, 2018
Dear Mayor Bowser:
We, the undersigned organizations and businesses, are writing to strongly urge that the District government stop installing synthetic turf and poured in place (PIP) playgrounds in Washington, D.C.  There is a growing body of evidence that these synthetic surfaces endanger children’s health, are harmful to our environment, and are very expensive to install and maintain compared to natural grass.1,2,3,4
  • In the District, children have been endangered by surface temperatures that have been measured in excess of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.5,6,7,8
  • For years, children in the District have been endangered by playing fields that are excessively hard, far out of compliance with any safety standards.  Until last year, the District did not correctly monitor Gmax testing of field hardness (called impact attenuation) to ensure even a minimum safety standard to prevent injuries when children fall.  A score of 165 or higher is considered too dangerous for children by the Synthetic Turf Council.  Dozens of DCPS playing fields exceeding that 165 score remain in service with no remediation at all.8,9,10,11
When products with known risks of injuries from infection, high temperature and hardness are installed, the District has an obligation to provide monitoring and safety standards.  That hasn’t been done in a timely manner,12 and students have been harmed.13,14,15
...

Friday, August 24, 2018

Prince George's Co. Elementary School Closing for Mold Concerns

An elementary school in Prince George's County, Maryland, will be shuttered when the new school year starts due to concerns about air quality and mold, the school district confirmed to News4.
District Heights Elementary School is closing temporarily, and buses will take students to an empty school building instead, the school district said. It is not yet clear how long the school will be closed.
In March 2017, parents raised concerns about the school's air quality and said there was mold at the school...

Thursday, August 23, 2018

“At any given time, there are 50,000 sexual predators online," one investigator told me. “Adults are primarily targeting our 12 to 15-year-olds... 75% being girls, 25% boys.”






ABC7: MCPS leaders meet with concerned parents after bus driver's arrest



https://wjla.com/news/local/parents-answers-school-bus-driver-accused-sexually-abuse-special-needs-student

WDVM: MCPS hosted a meeting on issues concerning the bus driver charged with sexual assault





https://www.localdvm.com/news/i-270/mcps-hosted-a-meeting-on-issues-concerning-the-bus-driver-charged-with-sexual-assault/1389652775

Parents raise questions after Md. school bus driver accused of sex assault

...“There are still a lot of questions that are unanswered,” said Jessica Reynolds, of Rockville, in an interview following the community meeting. Her child was a passenger on Kabongo’s bus, and she  asked school officials when all surveillance video would be reviewed by investigators to learn of any other victims.
“My children have not even entered kindergarten yet, and there’s broken trust. I live in this community for one main reason — the school system,” Reynolds said...

Football Practice on Artificial Turf. Natural Grass can be 75 degrees Cooler than Artificial Turf.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

MCPS Superintendent Smith Leaves Loopholes in Employee Code of Conduct

MCPS Superintendent Jack R. Smith has issued the Employee Code of Conduct for the 2018-2019 school year.  However, Superintendent Smith has left two major loopholes in the Code of Conduct.  Superintendent Smith and the Board of Education were notified that these loopholes existed in March of this year.  Yet, these two major loopholes are still present in the 2018-2019 Employee Code of Conduct.   

As noted in Jennifer Alvaro's Critical Changes Needed to Correct MCPS’ Flawed Response to Prevent & Interrupt Abuse of MCPS Students (shown below) the following two loopholes are still in the MCPS Employee Code of Conduct.  

o Current loopholes which must be changed: 

o MCPS is not documenting all violations.
MCPS has written a loophole into this section. Note the word, “may”. “In some circumstances, a supervisor or manager may determine that an employee’s conduct does not warrant formal disciplinary action but does warrant a clarification as to expectations regarding future conduct. In such cases, the supervisor or manager may provide written guidance   
o Recommendation: delete the word may. Insert must.
o Change the “nice guys get a pass and jerks get disciplined” loophole.
 Currently: “In making a determination as to the appropriate level of disciplinary action in each case, consideration of mitigating factors (such as an employee’s long history of good service with a clean record or an indication of less culpability on the part of the employee) or aggravating factors (such as placing others at risk of serious injury, demonstrating intentional wrongdoing, or indifference to the effect of an action or the outcome on others) may be considered.” 
1. As a Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider (VA) I can assure you, offenders who are “nice” and have a clean record of good service are inevitably the ones who have a far higher number of victims then the guys who are jerks. This section demonstrates whoever wrote this has no understanding of how offenders groom other adults prior to grooming children for abuse. It is exactly this type of sentiment, “he’s so nice, he was teacher of the year, etc” that allowed so many MCPS offenders to operate for so long. See Vigna & Blair magnet math teacher. 



Report: Chicago Public Schools 'failed to recognize' extent of systemwide sexual abuse problem

August 17, 2018
Broad failures at all levels of Chicago Public Schools kept officials from preventing and responding to sexual abuse suffered by students in the nation’s third-largest school system, according to a prominent law firm’s early review of problems documented this summer in a Tribune investigation.
The report by the law firm Schiff Hardin identified repeated “systemic deficiencies” in training, incident reporting, data collection and trend tracking that pervaded city schools, the system’s downtown headquarters and a school board controlled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Employees were not consistently trained on district policies and procedures involving sexual misconduct, according to the report authored by Schiff Hardin partner Maggie Hickey and released Friday. CPS also did not ensure that those policies were being implemented or that they were effective, the report said.
The report describes how understaffed and underfunded CPS investigators struggled to process reports of potential sexual harassment, notifications sent to the Department of Children and Family Services, employee misconduct allegations and altercations between students and staff — thousands of reports during the 2016-17 school year alone.


Hickey noted that the district’s incident-reporting software, known as Verify, “is almost universally viewed by principals as cumbersome and inefficient.” CPS is moving to a new system next year, the report said.
Investigators also used “deeply flawed” methods of tracking their work, according to the report.
“CPS did not collect overall data to see trends in certain schools or across geographies or demographics,” Hickey wrote.
“Thus, CPS failed to recognize the extent of the problem.”..
CPS has made a point of giving principals broad autonomy to control their schools, a practice that provides significant benefits, the report said. “But, for preventing sexual misconduct, it does not,” it said...

Parade of Pollution: Aug. 3rd Dumpster Overflowing with Plastic, Crumb Rubber Clogged Storm Drain, MDE Inspection After Heavy Rain #ArtificialTurfPrivilege

Part 9: 

These pictures show what Richard Montgomery High School (RMHS) looked like on August 3, 2018.  This is now 16 days after the artificial turf field was supposedly removed from RMHS according to the letter distributed by Council President Hans Riemer.  The pictures show what appears to be a 4th dumpster full of used plastic grass, crumb rubber and trash.

There is also a RMHS storm drain completely clogged with crumb rubber showing that the "filters" that Superintendent Jack R. Smith and MCPS COO Andrew Zuckerman have said were keeping the crumb rubber out of the Cabin John Watershed had completely failed.

Note that the day before these pictures were taken, August 2nd, the storm drains around RMHS were inspected (See page 7 of document) after a heavy rain by the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE).  The inspection did not find crumb rubber in the system outfall, but noted that MDE would be back at a later date to inspect the "staging area" when the contractor "demobilizes" from the site.  The "staging area" is shown in the pictures below.  Apparently, MDE does not inspect "staging areas," even one's that are actively polluting a watershed.



Sand delivery for new artificial turf field.
Crumb rubber tire tracks are still seen
all over the RMHS property.

































See Parade of Pollution posts documenting the pollution to our stormwater and environment from the removal of this one artificial turf football field at this link.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

High levels of lead found in water at some Montgomery County schools

Petition: New Statute of Limitations law for child sexual abuse survivors must be changed!

Revise the new bogus SOL law!  Help child victims of sexual abuse by changing this SOL law.
Teresa Lancaster

Please spread the word!!! Write to Governor Hogan and Archbishop Lori and anyone else you can think of. Time is running short for this important SOL issue. Thanks
Hope, but false hope. The Archdiocese of Baltimore won a significant hidden victory in a new Maryland law extends the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse to age 38.
While extending the statute of limitations from 25 to age 38, the law adds a requirement for victims suing a rapist's employer to meet the gross negligence standard. Before this law, a sexual abuse victim had to show ordinary negligence by the employers. But with this new law, victims suing culpable employers, such as the Archdiocese of Baltimore in priest-rape cases, must prove the employer was acting with thoughtless disregard of the consequences without the exertion of any effort to avoid them. Maryland's courts describes this standard as "an amorphous concept, resistant to precise definition." And there is a long line of Maryland cases that say even some of the most egregious conduct meeting the negligence standard would not pass the gross negligence test.
Even an EMT declaring a person dead, when the person was in fact alive, does not amount to gross negligence. In McCoy v. Hatmaker, 135 Md. App. 693 (2000), an EMT first drove to the wrong location, went back to the station, finally arrived to the still alive victim and then declared the victim dead. The problem was that the victim was still alive, and the EMT did not provide treatment. Even with this set of circumstances, Maryland’s courts found that the EMT did not commit gross negligence.
In short, while it may appear like victims can receive compensation from a court of law, the increase in the standard of proof to the gross negligence standard all but insulates the Archdiocese of Baltimore from the responsibility it is due to the many people it failed.
This is unacceptable and should be changed to the next session of the General Assembly.

Parade of Pollution: July 30 , 2018, Smith and Zuckerman Do Not Want to Discuss What Happened to Used Plastic Grass and Crumb Rubber #ArtificialTurfPrivilege

Part 8:

At the July 30, 2018, Montgomery County Board of Education meeting Superintendent Jack R. Smith had MCPS Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman read a prepared statement about the removal of the artificial turf at Richard Montgomery High School.  In the statement, Superintendent Smith called the discussion around the removal of the artificial turf a "distraction from core mission."

The statement read in part:
...It is unfortunate that there is a small group of individuals attempting to mislead and misinform our community about this issue. This behavior distracts from our core mission of teaching and learning. I am particularly troubled by the fact that in this case we are fielding questions about a paintball facility’s reuse of artificial turf in White Marsh, Maryland when here in Montgomery County locally we are focused on creating opportunities for all students to learn and achieve at high levels...
Unbeknownst to Superintendent Smith and MCPS COO Andrew Zuckerman an individual had traveled to the White Marsh, MD location that Smith and Zuckerman were claiming was an artificial turf recycling facilty.  That person posted their pictures of what they found to Facebook and Twitter.

Does this look like a "storage facility" to you?  Does it look like anything other than a paint ball field with used artificial turf and crumb rubber dumped all over it?

From Twitter: 






See Parade of Pollution posts documenting the pollution to our stormwater and environment from the removal of this one artificial turf football field at this link.