Saturday, March 30, 2019

Then, in 2017, a sexual harassment complaint was filed against one of [Shawn] Joseph's friend, Metro Schools administrator Mo Carrasco. [former MCPS administrators]

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A former human resources administrator for Metro Nashville Public Schools says he faced retaliation and was finally forced to resign for insisting that sexual harassment complaints get proper investigations.
Scott Lindsey, who filed a lawsuit back in December, said he finally decided to speak out about the toxic culture under Schools Director Dr. Shawn Joseph after the district's own law firm recently warned of a morale crisis that threatens Metro Schools' ability to attract and retain good employees.
"It was almost kind of like -- and I'm not making this up -- it's almost as if ISIS took over an HR department. That's the only way I can describe it," Lindsey told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
A highly acclaimed human resources professional, Lindsey rose to become the district's executive director for employee relations.
Then, in 2016, Dr. Shawn Joseph was named Nashville's director of schools.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "So when did you first realize that perhaps things were not going to go well with this new administration?"
"Oh, almost immediately," he answered.
Lindsey said that, when a teacher brought a loaded gun to school and left it in the library, he was puzzled when Joseph did not want to fire him.
"That was a head-scratcher for me," he recalled. "Why would you not terminate that person? He brought a firearm to school. People could have gotten killed, hurt."
And when an Overton High School teacher got into a physical altercation with a student, Lindsey prepared a form that the director was supposed to use for reporting teacher misconduct cases to the state.
He said he expected Joseph's office to submit the form.
"He never did it," Lindsey said. "In fact, he never did any of them because those were his decisions."
The State Board of Education is currently investigating Joseph's failure to report those misconduct cases.
Then, in 2017, a sexual harassment complaint was filed against one of Joseph's friends, Metro Schools administrator Mo Carrasco.
Lindsey put Carrasco on administrative leave...

Friday, March 29, 2019

Delegate, Survivors Push to End Limitations on Child Sex Abuse Claims

Dozens of sexual assault survivors filled the seats of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Thursday afternoon as the panel considered a measure to get rid of the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits. And after emotional testimony from Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles), a survivor of abuse himself, they stood up behind him in silent solidarity.
Some of the survivors, wearing all white, carried pictures of their younger selves. Jena Cochrane held a photo of herself, at 12 years old, wearing a red dress with white lace trim and a flower in her hair. Six months later she would be raped, changing her life forever.
Though she has testified on bills as an advocate for children in the past, this year is the first time Cochrane shared her own story with lawmakers. She wants them to understand why abuse victims may take years to come to terms with what happened before seeking justice in civil courts.
“You as a victim sometimes get a life sentence, while the law protects perpetrators with a statute of limitations,” Cochrane said. “That’s not fair. We want an opportunity so that when we’re brave enough to come forward, we have a platform to speak.”
Wilson has sponsored House Bill 687, or the Hidden Predator Act of 2019. The bill would get rid of the state’s statute of limitations for civil claims against perpetrators of child sex abuse – and would also include a two-year look-back window, a time in which victims could bring claims in cases where the previous statute of limitations has expired...

Delegate C.T. Wilson's Bill to Prevent "Passing the Trash" in Schools has been Unanimously Approved in the Maryland House and Senate!

House Bill 486
Requiring county boards of education, nonpublic schools, and contracting agencies to require an applicant for a position involving direct contact with minors to submit certain information; requiring a county board, nonpublic school, or contracting agency to review the employment history of a certain applicant before hiring an applicant; requiring the county board, nonpublic school, or contracting agency to check certain eligibility of an applicant for a substitute position involving direct contact with minors; etc.

June 2018:  Passing the trash,” enabling teachers who sexually abuse students to pursue another job with no record of their sexual misconduct, is common practice for K–12 school district administrators who fear legal liability and tarnished reputations.

On February 14, 2019, a former MCPS student spoke to the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee in support of House Bill 486.  He said, "...MCPS teacher who sexually abused my classmate had worked at a prior school in MCPS and was credibly accused of doing the exact same thing" 

A football locker room, a broomstick and a sex assault case roil a school #DamascusHS #Rape @mcps @mocoboe

Officials at Damascus High School in suburban Maryland waited more than 12 hours to tell police about credible allegations that several junior-varsity football players pinned a teammate in a locker room, pulled his pants down and sexually assaulted him with a broomstick, interviews and documents show.
The school officials held off despite discussing among themselves in a group text message on Oct. 31 — seen by The Washington Post — the names of a victim and three possible assailants.
Instead of calling police, they launched their own inquiry and on Nov. 1, plucked students one-by-one from class as they questioned suspects, learned the names of three more victims and then took statements from those boys.
None of the victims was sent for medical care. All went back to classes without their parents being called...

...The delay in alerting police also runs counter to years of efforts to change school culture so that any suspicion of sexual abuse at school is quickly reported to authorities, following a spate of school cases, said Jennifer Alvaro, a longtime advocate on issues of sexual abuse prevention who has pushed for better policies in Montgomery.
A similar urgency is crucial amid allegations of sexual assault by students, which should be handled by trained professionals, she said, and schools should never launch their own investigations.
“They say they’re training people to immediately report,” she added. “But clearly that’s not happening.”..

Different Public School System, Same Outside Companies Involved: SUPES Academy, ERDI, Digital Promise, League of Innovative Schools, Broad Academy

Baltimore County 2.0: Parents File Suit Against Washington State School District with Baltimore County Schools’ Ties
..Among the school systems’ similarities are superintendents who worked as consultants for controversial education consulting firms, SUPES Academy and the Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI). Both graduated from the SUPES Academy Richmond cohort, two years apart.
Both districts also have connections to Digital Promise, League of Innovative Schools and professional development company, Modern Teacher, whose founder also created the National Center for Digital Convergence (NCDC).
Watts, and at least two Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) employees have had positions on the NCDC’s advisory board.  BCPS’s executive director for the Department of Innovative Learning, Ryan Imbriale and his wife, director of Enterprise Applications, Jeanne Imbriale, disclosed the positions on their financial disclosure statements, documents obtained by The Baltimore Post.
Some Kent School advocates say they see the relationship between their school district having a Modern Teacher connection, and a superintendent that served on the NCDS’s advisory board, as a clear conflict of interest.
Baltimore County schools has paid out over $1 million to the vendor, which goes by eSchool and various other names, records obtained through a Maryland Public Information Act show. Books by Modern Teacher are required reading for Kent Schools administrators, according to advocates there.

Along with the questionable vendor relations, Mrs. Bettinger said that, with the addition of the Broad Academy where Watts received his superintendent training, that the school system lacks any “evidence that (those companies) bring any type of positivity to our school districts.  I’m not finding a lot of logic and reason in what is happening in our school districts,” she said...

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Delegate C.T. Wilson Before Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Presenting Hidden Predator Act of 2019

Listen to Delegate C.T. Wilson's advocacy on behalf of children who have been sexually abused.

Delegate Wilson is attempting to have Maryland eliminate the Statute of Limitations in civil cases involving the sexual abuse of children, and to allow for a two year "look back" window for these victims.

If you watched the Netflix documentary "The Keepers" you will recognize Delegate Wilson.  He was the Maryland legislator in the final episodes of "The Keepers" who exposed that the Maryland legislature has been covering for the crimes of the Catholic Church for decades by preventing legislation that would aid victims from even being heard or voted on.

Will the Maryland legislature continue to cover for the Catholic Church in 2019?

Delegate C.T. Wilson speaking today before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Advocates For Victims Of Child Sex Abuse Urge Lawmakers To Lift Statute Of Limitations For Reporting Abuse

MoCo Delegate Kathleen Dumais references MD Catholic Conference law firm letter to Oppose bill. Then says she is "not defending the Catholic Church."

On March 16, 2019, Montgomery County Delegate and Majority Leader Kathleen Dumais attempted to have the Maryland House amend House Bill 687 - Hidden Predator Act of 2019, to remove the provision that would allow past victims to file civil claims under a two year "look back" window.  

In Delegate Dumais' presentation of her amendment she referenced multiple letters from the Venable LLC law firm.  

The Venable LLC law firm wrote to the Maryland Catholic Conference in January of this year on the same topic as Dumais' amendment.  

Delegate Dumais' amendment failed in the House by a vote of 3-131.  In defense of her amendment, Delegate Dumais stated "'s not the Catholic Church. I'm not defending the Catholic Church. I could never defend the Catholic Church, what the Catholic Church has been doing for centuries..."

The video below is the audio from March 16, 2019, with clips of Delegate Dumais' statements with regard to the Venable LLC letters and the Catholic Church. 

Superintendent Jack R. Smith Finds Space for Outside School #MCPS #ClassroomTrailers #Overcrowding

The Georgetown Hill Early School’s Rockville location had a fire last month, and there was a lot of damage. Since then, will be relocating to a nearby MCPS property.
“At the Board of Education meeting on February 25th, the Board approved a request to provide the Georgetown Hill Early School with a short-term lease”, said Montgomery County Public Schools Public Information Supervisor, Gboyinde Onijala.
That short-term lease, officials say will be at two relocatable classrooms at College Gardens Elementary School...

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

2 Montgomery Co. students taken to the hospital after vaping in school bathroom #ChurchillHighSchool

MoCo Senator Susan Lee Wants to Compromise on Student Safety. MCPS Administrators can Escape Criminal Penalty Even if They Suspect Sexual Abuse of MCPS Students Under Her Bill.

Montgomery County Senator Susan Lee wants the Maryland legislature to pass her bill, Senate Bill  568, that would provide for criminal penalties for administrators who fail to report sexual abuse of children only when they have ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE of the abuse.

Senator Lee says this bill is "not as broad" as she would have preferred but that the bill has been written this way because of "anticipated resistance."  [WHO IN MARYLAND IS RESISTANT TO PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL ABUSE?]

Senator Lee says this bill would encourage mandatory reporters to report for the "most obvious incidences" of sexual abuse.  [IF IT ISN'T OBVIOUS, THEY DO NOT HAVE TO REPORT?]

Senator Lee says her bill is a "compromise."  Senator Lee says she "brought the stakeholders together and this was sort of a compromise."  [Senator Lee did not bring the following stakeholders together:  Professor Lynn McLain, Ernest Crofoot, Theresa Lancaster, Jennifer Alvaro, or Ellen Mugmon. None of these stakeholders agree to Senator Lee's compromise.]

Nor did Senator Lee bring to the table any of the victims of sexual abuse in MCPS schools by MCPS teachers John Vigna, Lawrence Joynes or Jose Pineda.  In each of those MCPS cases multiple administrators knew about inappropriate behavior and suspected sexual abuse but did not report that information to the police.  In each of those cases the failure of the mandated reporters to call the police contributed to the victimization of addition children.  Which of those victims have agreed to Senator Lee's compromise?

Senator Lee's bill would do nothing to get MCPS administrators to report suspected sexual abuse of students.  MCPS would continue to be able to cover up these crimes under Senate Bill 568.  Why? Because Senator Susan Lee does not want to impose criminal penalties on administrators who fail to report the sexual abuse of students unless those administrators actually witness the sexual abuse with their own eyes and identify the act that they see as sexual abuse.  

Which of the Vigna, Joynes and Pineda victims who were victims of these sexual predators after those predators were already known to MCPS administrators (as evidenced by letters telling each predator to STOP TOUCHING STUDENTS) agreed to Senator Susan Lee's "compromise?" [NONE!]

The video below shows Senator Susan Lee presenting her Senate Bill 568 to the House Judiciary Committee on March 27, 2019.  After Senator Susan Lee speaks the Chair of the Committee, Luke Clippinger brought up Ellen Mugmon to speak in opposition to the bill. 

.@SenatorSusanLee "This bill’s use of actual knowledge as well as not including mandated reports of victims after they turn 18, will set safety for our children back, instead of moving it forward. This bill (contrary to proponents’ statements) would not in fact give justice to the [MCPS] children victimized by Lawrence Joynes, Jose Pineda, John Vigna, Mark Yantos or Daniel Picca. All MCPS teachers, all left in the classroom by MCPS officials who knew for a fact they were dangerous and had them on written “restrictions” to stop touching children."

HB 787 / SB 568

Crimes - Child Abuse and Neglect - Failure to Report

April 2019

Written testimony respectfully submitted by
Jennifer Alvaro
Licensed Certified Social Worker – Clinical, MD
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, VA
Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider, VA
Clinical Member, ATSA

For the past several years, I have been advocating for Maryland to fulfill its duty to protect our children, the most vulnerable among us. Having lived in Maryland my entire life, having been a social worker for 25 years, I was deeply disturbed to discover Maryland isone of only two states in the nation without a criminal penalty forfailure to report.
While always hoping professionals will act morally, ethically and legally, it has been a rude awakening to have learned this is not the case many times for those to whom we entrust our children. As a resident of Montgomery County, what I have learned in the past seven years is for decades many mandated reporters in the Montgomery County Public School system and other systems across the state have violated the law by failing to report their suspicions of child abuse. This is not a baseless accusation or unfounded speculation. I say this because advocates and news media have documented proof via court testimony, MPIA requests, interviews and admissions in public meetings. Admissions made by mandated reporters they knowingly chose not to report suspicions of severe cases of abuse to authorities. Their choice not to follow the law by reporting led to the abuse of more children.
Time after time we see systems protecting themselves instead of children because in Maryland mandated reporters have no fear of being held accountable for breaking the law. That is why, as a mandated reporter myself, I have advocated strongly for adding criminal penalties for the egregious cases of failure to report we have seen far too often in our youth serving organizations in Maryland.
Heartbreakingly, I am submitting this testimony to OPPOSE this bill. This bill, though desperately needed, is dangerous as currently written, this bill will not only fail to right a wrong, it will make things worse for children in Maryland.
This bill’s use of actual knowledge as well as not including mandated reports of victims after they turn 18, will set safety for our children back, instead of moving it forward. This bill (contrary to proponents’ statements) would not in fact give justice to the children victimized by Lawrence Joynes, Jose Pineda, John Vigna, Mark Yantos or Daniel Picca. All MCPS teachers, all left in the classroom by MCPS officials who knew for a fact they were dangerous and had them on written “restrictions” to stop touching children.

For those reasons, I am dismayed be forced to oppose this bill and urge you to issue an unfavorable report.   

.@SenatorSusanLee Comment on Your Bill: "psychiatrists who treat pedophiles have looked for a backdoor way to reinstate it. They have found it in SB 568/HB 787 (your bill).

Oppose SB 568/HB 787 Crimes - Child Abuse and Neglect - Failure to Report
Submitted by Ellen Mugmon
March 27, 2019
Former Legislative Chair of the State Council on Child Abuse and Neglect

No State or the Federal Government Has a Law Like This
The purpose of SB 568/HB 787, as amended, is to take the child abuse reporting penalty issue off everyone’s plate and at the same time protect from accountability powerful professional groups and institutions by establishing an impossible evidentiary standard under Maryland law, ”actual knowledge,” and secondly, by overruling a significant 1993 Attorney General’s opinion that requires the reporting of child abuse after the victim turns eighteen. See Md. Op. Atty. Gen. 189 (Dec. 3, 1993). The bills also have a one year statute of limitations, which means that if the failure to report is not found out by authorities within a year, there could not be a prosecution.
Then Attorney General Curran stated the following: “If we accept the proposition that no reporting were required if the victim is now an adult, we would be saying that there would be no duty to report if an eighteen year old had been subject to recent abuse and had younger siblings at home in the care of the abuser. That would be an untenable construction of the statute, one that we cannot imagine the General Assembly intended.”
As the Baltimore City State’s Attorney noted in her written testimony in 2018 on SB 132/ HB 500, the same bill as SB 568/HB 787, except for the penalty: “It is nearly impossible from a legal perspective to prove that an individual had “actual knowledge” of abuse, especially if the mandatory reporter contends that they did not see the abuse occur and did not believe the child’s disclosure.”
Requiring “actual knowledge” of the abuse before a mandatory reporter could be prosecuted for failure to report it is a higher standard of knowledge than beyond a reasonable doubt. Jurors do not need to witness a crime as it is occuring in order convict an individual for committing it.
Thus, this bill is NOT a compromise as proponents claim. It is NOT a small step forward either. Rather, it is a complete and harmful capitulation to the Maryland Catholic Conference and powerful professional groups which once and for all want to end the pressure to bring Maryland law into the mainstream with legislation that that could actually result in convictions.
To argue about the differences in a penalty that will never be applied egregiously misses the point. The Committee has a moral obligation to acknowledge all the defects in this bill and then reject it.
Those Who Don’t Know History Are Doomed To Repeat It.
The Maryland Catholic Conference has for 26 years attempted, whenever the opportunity arose, to get out from under 78Md. Op. Atty. Gen. 189 (Dec. 3, 1993). In the face of this third explosion of the horrific clergy abuse scandal, it would be unconscionable for the Committee to agree to the restrictions in this bill, which would be unique to Maryland.
While the Committee should be commended for voting favorably on HB 687, which remediates a statute which was supposed to remediate the previous statute of limitations law, it is understood that it is not likely to make it out of the Senate. The passage of SB 568/HB 787 will be another slap in the face to the survivors who supported that bill and equally oppose this one.
After the SOL bill was enacted during the 2017 session, the press, advocates and survivors mistakenly hailed its passage. They did not realize that the extension of the time period to allow a suit to be filed was meaningless because the bill had been drafted behind the scenes to make it impossible for survivors to prevail.
It would be wrong for any legislator to claim a so called victory for child protection, should this bill pass, knowing full well that it is unworkable and that the “[i]nclusion of subsection (c) in proposed Crim. L. 3-602.2 could well be read by the courts to mean that the General Assembly has now taken a policy view counter to that of the of the A.G.’s Opinion-- that reporting when an identified victim has reached the age of majority is unimportant. Such a reading would leave at risk innumerable children in an abusers sphere.” (Professor Lynn Mclain, February 26, 2018)
Since the notorious Berlin pedophile exemption (unique to Maryland) was repealed in 1989, psychiatrists who treat pedophiles have looked for a backdoor way to reinstate it. They have found it in SB 568/HB 787. Disclosures by pedophiles do not meet the “actual knowledge” standard, the highest form of knowledge in law. Pedophiles do not rape children in front of those providing treatment to them. In the pre-1993 handling of his cases, Dr. Berlin refused to report when a relative molested his niece because she was nineteen even though she had a younger sister at risk. This bill would not penalize him if he did so again
Attorney General Frosh is currently investigating the Catholic Church in Maryland. Why is this Committee jumping the gun to provide new protections from accountability for the hierarchy when it fails to report? The Committee should not rely on Bishop Lori’s reforms, which call for parishioners to report child sexual abuse to the Church, first and foremost, rather than to the authorities. Setting up internal investigations prior to reporting to determine credibility by the Church’s own standards, thereby compromising police and social services investigations, is a self serving procedure which will not lead to the truth. Bishop Lori, while usurping governmental functions in plain sight, is supporting these bills.
None of the Penn State officials convicted of failing to report Sandusky to authorities could have been convicted in Maryland under the “actual knowledge” standard in this bill. None of them had “actual knowledge” of Sandusky’s abuse. That is why this bill is a pretense.
The Congressional bipartisan federal law enacted after the USA Gymnastics scandal states: "When a mandatory reporter learns of facts that give reason to suspect that a child has suffered an incident of child abuse ... and fails to make a timely report as required by subsection(a) of that section, [the mandatory reporter] shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than year or both."
Why should it be that Maryland children in USA Gymnastics programs are better protected than all other Maryland children under SB 568/HB 787?
Without the 1993 opinion, the shocking disclosures of the notorious Maskell Case would never have come to light, as chronicled in the Netflix series, The Keepers. The Baltimore Archdiocese concedes this point in its response to the Keepers on its website. (See also in this regard: “Catholic Officials Knew of Teacher’s Abuse, Court Files Indicate,” by Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun, November, 25, 2012 and“U-Md. Lawyers Didn’t Tell Police That Swim Coach Rick Curl Had Abused a Teen Girl,” by Amy Brittain, The Baltimore Sun, May 29, 2013.
Scandals in Maryland now include the cover-ups and failure to report by the Catholic Church, the ongoing scandals in the Montgomery County Schools, the Ron Price scandal in Anne Arundel County, the Deonte Carraway scandal in Prince George’s County, and more recently the scandal in the Baltimore Orthodox Jewish Community. These scandals will continue until there are successful prosecutions for failure to report, which cannot happen under this legislation.
Do Not invoke the #MeToo Movement in Support of This Bill
Proponents claim that SB 568/HB 787 is in line with the goals of #MeToo which are to increase the power of victims to be believed, to increase the protection of women and children, and to expand the possibility of justice. But this legislation is actually antithetical to the movement because it would automatically discount disclosures of abuse by child and adult victims alike, since these disclosures most assuredly would not meet the “actual knowledge” standard.
Absolutely no one, especially Rachael Denhollander, an activist and survivor of Larry Nassar’s whom proponents invoke, nor any other of the more than 250 victims of the USA Gymnastics scandal, would ever consider coming to Maryland to testify for such a backward bill. Ms. Denhollander was the first victim to come forward publicly. She was 31-years-old when she disclosed her victimization when she was 15-years-old. A mandated reporter under this bill could say that she was too old to require a report and that her disclosure did not provide the requisite “actual knowledge,” either.
It is appalling that SB 568/HB 787 mirrors provisions in the USA Gymnastics’ policy which caused the decades long cover-up of a terrible scandal. Steve Penny, the former director of USA Gymnastics, did not report the abuse because he deemed disclosures by victims and even allegations by other coaches as second or third hand information which did not prove to him that the abuse actually occurred. Moreover, his investigator stated that she did not report complaints by gymnasts who had turned eighteen because they were no longer children. It did not matter that they were children when they were abused or that other children were in the hands of a prolific 54-year-old pedophile. What mattered was the policy which protected the reputation of the organization.
Sending The Wrong Message - Undermining Maryland’s Reporting Law
Proponents insist that the bill would not undermine the underlying civil reporting law since the language of the civil reporting law would not be changed. This is false. Two reporting standards muddy the obligation to report suspected abuse and complicate and confuse training. Because there would be no criminal penalty based on the "reason to believe" standard, why would mandatory reporters follow the civil law, especially those not subject to professional penalties? Consequently, this bill would delay or have an overall chilling effect on reporting. It would encourage reporters to wait until they knew for sure that abuse has occurred or eventually fail to report at all. It would also encourage administrators such as those in Montgomery County continue to keep secret lists of possible perpetrators and perform internal investigations prior to reporting instead of reporting immediately. This endangers children.
Child Protection Lip Service
Supporters of this bill are up front. They admit that the bill is intended to protect mandatory reporters. They state that the bill “would be the most lenient toward adults, i.e. mandatory reporters, than any other law in the entire United States or its territories.” During a meeting prior to the session, it was stated that the Committee in 2018 had concerns about the “actual knowledge” language and it was out for this session. Why must we now accept the nonsensical mantra from proponents that something is better than nothing, when this legislation is worse than nothing?

Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect is the very foundation of the child protection system. But this bill is so flawed that if it were enacted, the safety and protection of children would be compromised far more than it is under current law. For these reasons, I request 568/HB 787 be given an unfavorable report. 

ABC7: Counselor sues MCPS alleging school leaders violated Maryland Public Information Act #SherwoodHS #JackRSmith @mocoboe

A high school guidance counselor is suing the Montgomery County Board of Education and Superintendent Jack Smith claiming school leaders violated Maryland's open records law.
ABC7 learned Erin McKenna and the Maryland Teacher's Union are suing Smith and the board.
McKenna requested documents most notably a memo in her personnel file, according to a civil court filing. She made the request via the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA)...

From 2010: Forgotten Study: Abuse in School 100 Times Worse than by Priests

WASHINGTON, DC, April 1, 2010 ( – In the last several weeks such a quantity of ink has been spilled in newspapers across the globe about the priestly sex abuse scandals, that a casual reader might be forgiven for thinking that Catholic priests are the worst and most common perpetrators of child sex abuse.
But according to Charol Shakeshaft, the researcher of a little-remembered 2004 study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, "the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."
After effectively disappearing from the radar, Shakeshaft’s study is now being revisited by commentators seeking to restore a sense of proportion to the mainstream coverage of the Church scandal.
According to the 2004 study “the most accurate data available at this time” indicates that “nearly 9.6 percent of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.”..

A New Northwood with the Same Problems

Over the course of the next six years, Montgomery County will fund an expansion project for Northwood High School to increase the building's student capacity from 1,500 to 2,700 seats. According to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) projections, the project will be completed in 2024, two years after the school is expected to exceed its population capacity. This reflects a broader trend of overpopulation prevalent throughout MCPS. Walter Johnson, Poolesville, Gaithersburg, Kennedy and Montgomery Blair High School are also estimated to surpass their current student capacity limit within the next decade.
The population of Montgomery County has been steadily increasing ever since 2008 and the implications of this expand beyond tangible problems such as space and building size. While the number of students in MCPS has increased, the rate of new teachers hired has not risen proportionally. This has resulted in the average class size increasing by 7.49 students from the 2017-2018 school year to present day . Blair junior Yenny Jiron reflects on how class size has affected her education. "Teachers are overwhelmed with students so there is a lack of one on one time. I find myself hating even days because in my eighth period there are around 40 students. The class is exhausting," Jiron described.
Studies have shown that larger class sizes have an effect on the quality of education students are receiving. Research by the 2015 Public Policy Department at Berkeley University revealed that the average student in a small classroom (15-20 students) has a reading and math score nearly nine percent higher than a student in a medium-sized class (20-26 students)...

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

States like Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, are ahead of the State of Maryland when it comes to protecting children. SB 568, as presently constituted, makes Maryland a laughing stock. @SenatorSusanLee

The Hon. Luke Clippinger, Chair
The Hon. Vanessa E. Atterbeary, Vice-Chair
Judiciary Committee

Hearing: March 27, 2019 – 1:00 p.m.

Written Testimony of Ernest A. Crofoot, Attorney

Think about this: ALABAMA, ARKANSAS, and MISSISSIPPI!!!

Good afternoon. I am Ernest A. Crofoot. I am an attorney, graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law, a Fellow of the Maryland Bar Foundation, member of the Peer Review Committee of the Attorney Grievance Commission, and an Ethics instructor for the Academy for Excellence in Local Government. My written and oral testimony on this bill are my own personal assessments and do not reflect the position of any group, organization, board or commission. I recently began providing assistance on this topic to other advocates.

Let me say first that I support, encourage, and beg the Legislature to pass legislation in this area – one with teeth, one with effective protection for child abuse victims, and one that values children victims over the concerns of highly funded special interest groups.

Senate Bill 568 is a half-hearted, flawed, and short sighted attempt to create an incentive for the timely and compassionate reporting by statutorily required reporters of suspected child abuse. Unfortunately, its shortcomings swallow any meager benefits it may otherwise offer.

First, and most importantly, SB 568 sets an impossible evidentiary standard by, in effect, requiring that one must have “actual knowledge” before one is required to report child abuse. In other submitted testimony, you will see that none other than Professor Emerita LynnMcLain, University of Baltimore School of Law, the author of the“gospel” on Maryland Evidence, has maintained consistently the “actual knowledge” is an impossible standard under Maryland law. In effect, it would require witnessing the actual abuse before requiring a subject person to make a report of child abuse. Professor McLain taught many of the members of this body the rules of evidence and I give the utmost deference to her interpretations and opinions. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have standards that can be generally described as “reasonable suspicion.” NONE have an “actual knowledge” evidentiary standard. This means that states like Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, are ahead of the State of Maryland when it comes to protecting children. Only Wyoming and Maryland lack the more than generally accepted standard. Only Wyoming and Maryland lack criminal penalties.

The actual knowledge standard is a higher standard than that required for a search warrant and, in fact, a higher standard than that which would be used to convict someone of child abuse. How can this be? It does work, however, if one’s intention is to protect special interests groups and curry favor with certain key legislative officials.

Last fall, this writer, together with about twenty other persons on both sides of this issue, was advised by a key member of this committee that whatever bill language might come about, “actual knowledge” would be out. As Paul Simon said, “All lies in jest.”

Any attorney worthy of the name knows that the actual knowledge standard is a red herring of gigantic proportion. It purpose is only to give lip service to this issue so that one may say “we did something,” when, in fact, it/they/you do nothing.

Second (actually a “tie” for first), is that this bill refuses to acknowledge the historic, longstanding, and pathetic record of the clergy in this area – not only in participating in child abuse but using church practices to cover up rampant child abuse, physical and sexual. Any serious bill addressing the underreporting of child abuse MUST include the clergy and members of all religious orders and sects as required reporters.

Third, the bill does creates another “will do little, if nothing” provision. The bill provides for a very short one-year period for charging the offense. That is the same period for spitting on the sidewalk or failing to obtain a permit. Often, the salient facts are not known within one year of the failure to report, e.g., as abusers often “shop” their victims from doctor to doctor to avoid detection or otherwise conceal abuse. A more reasonable standard is to have the limitations period run the same length of time for an abused person to bring charges (or, at a minimum, file a civil action). The seriousness of the failure to report on a child warrants the same charging period of limitations as felonies, i.e., NONE.

Fourth, the elimination of any provision requiring reporting after an abused child becomes an adult is ludicrous. There is a significant, logical, and compelling need for a required reporter to report even when the patient, etc., is an adult because the abuser may be victimizing persons other than the person undergoing treatment. For example, a twenty year old patient may report that her father abused her up until she reached puberty. That father, though, may be abusing other pre-pubescent children, and not requiring a report would further endanger those children.

We must protect children, not special interest groups. The clergy, educators, and doctors will all tell you that they are doing a great job as they conduct their own investigations. Look only to events in the Catholic Church, Wicomico County Schools, Key School in Annapolis, and elsewhere to see that this is definitely not the case.

I strongly urge this committee to give SB 568 an unfavorable vote or, in the alternative, to amend SB 568 in a manner consistent with the above. SB 568, as presently constituted, makes Maryland a laughing stock.

Thank you.


Ernest A. Crofoot