Monday, September 30, 2019

PUBLIC HEARING: Artificial Turf Stadiums at Julius West Middle School. Mayor and Council of Rockville, Maryland, will conduct a public hearing on Monday, October 7, 2019, at 7:00 p.m #artificialturf #heatislands #climatechange

September 26, 2019 Julius West Middle School stadiums

Notice is hereby given that the Mayor and Council of Rockville, Maryland, will conduct a public hearing on Monday, October 7, 2019, at 7:00 p.m., or as soon thereafter as it may be heard, in the Council Chamber, Rockville City Hall, 111 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland, in connection with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)  regarding the use of the lighted artificial turf fields at Julius West Middle School (JWMS), located at 651 Great FallsRoad.

The MOU is proposed to address a condition of approval of Mandatory Referral STP2018-00340. MCPS and the City of Rockville have created the draft MOU to monitor the impacts associated with traffic, parking, noise, and lighting, and to set the hours of operation. The MOU is also to include joint mitigation measures addressing future impacts that may arise in the areas of traffic, parking, noise and lighting.

The public hearing will be held on Monday, October 7, 2019. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. The agenda and briefing materials will be available beginning Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at the following link:

More detailed information on the above application can be found on file in the City Clerk/Director of Council Operations Office at Rockville City Hall. Persons wishing to testify at the hearing are asked to call (240) 314-8280, before 4:00 p.m. on the day of the hearing to place their names on the speakers' list.

Mayor and Council of Rockville

By: Sara Taylor-Ferrell, City Clerk/Director of CouncilOperations

YouTube’s child viewers may struggle to recognise adverts in videos from ‘virtual play dates’

As child vloggers have risen in fame and fortune, more and more content has been targeted at younger viewers, however research shows that children often struggle to recognise embedded advertising and there have been no attempts to introduce a disclosure system that is more tailored to child audiences, writes Rebecca Mardon. Rebecca is a senior lecturer in marketing and strategy at Cardiff University. Rebecca’s research explores emerging consumer behaviours in digital contexts, in particular ownership and possession in the context of digital materiality and emerging forms of commercialisation within online communities. [Header image credit: M.-Newman-CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0.jpg]
YouTube’s highest earning star in 2018 was a seven-year-old boy named Ryan. That’s right – a child out-earned the likes of the infamous Logan Paul, video game vlogger PewDiePie, and even make-up mogul Jeffree Star. Between June 2017 and June 2018, Ryan is estimated to have earned an impressive US$22m from the platform.
Guided by his parents, Ryan presents his own YouTube channel, Ryan ToysReview, where he unboxes and plays with the latest toys. Since joining YouTube in 2015, Ryan has amassed more than 18.5m subscribers, the majority of whom are, unsurprisingly, children. Discussing the appeal, Ryan’s mother explained that viewers feel like they’re “on a play date with him and going on fun, pretend play adventures”.

Advertising literacy
Ryan’s channel has become a lucrative business, complete with 25 employees, including video editors, writers and production assistants. It achieved initial commercial success by allowing more traditional “pre-roll” adverts to appear before its videos, which mostly saw Ryan playing with toys – which his parents say they buy. The channel later began to embed advertising content for major brands, such as Walmart, within Ryan’s own videos. More recently, the business launched a range of Ryan’s World toys that often feature in his video content.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

the perils of weak oversight in economic development agencies... @mococouncil

Millions of dollars are missing. The sheriff is dead. A small Virginia town wants answers.

FRONT ROYAL, Va. — Before the $21 million allegedly went missing, before the sheriff put his gun in his mouth and fired, before Tuesday’s announcement that the entire top tier of the Warren County government had been indicted, there was the dream.
It was a dream of renewal for this town 70 miles from Washington, which fell on hard times after a rayon manufacturing plant closed in 1989, leaving 1,300 people jobless and 440 acres full of toxic waste.

Twenty-five years later, with the land cleaned up and Front Royal increasingly attractive to tourists and former city dwellers, officials announced plans for a data center and retail complex that would bring 600 jobs and act as a catalyst for other projects.
The deal was brokered by Jennifer McDonald, a longtime Front Royal resident who directed the Warren County economic development authority. Washington-area developer Truc “Curt” Tran pledged to finance it with $40 million from wealthy immigrant investors and a $140 million federal contract his technology company had secured. As an added bonus, Tran would fund a police training academy overseen by longtime Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron.
But those were lies, documents in Warren County Circuit Court allege.
Tran never had the money to build the data center project on the 30 acres his company bought from McDonald’s agency for $1, a civil lawsuit alleges. And the training academy was one of several hoaxes that, prosecutors and civil lawsuits claim, allowed Tran, McDonald, McEathron and others to siphon away millions in public funds, which they allegedly used to buy properties, pay bills and gambling debts, and enrich relatives and friends...
...The claims against them, industry groups say, reflect the perils of weak oversight in economic development agencies — quasi-public entities that oversee large, complicated transactions, and whose boards often lack the financial savvy and investor scrutiny that protect their corporate counterparts. In Montgomery County, Md., an economic development official pleaded guilty this year to embezzling $6.7 million. The head of economic development in St. Louis pleaded guilty to steering lucrative contracts to the county executive’s political donors. In New Jersey, a grand jury is investigating how $500 million in tax incentives went to firms that, in part, allegedly lied on their applications...

...“Somebody is finally listening,” said Salins, co-founder of the Warren County Coalition watchdog group. “It’s not every day that your entire government gets arrested. It’s so shameful.”..

Friday, September 27, 2019

Students are standing with a banner at the east entrance of the Board of Education office in Rockville. Their rally to demand climate action from MCPS will start soon.

One accused teacher, 8,000 lewd images: A school’s exploitation shows no place is safe from hidden cameras anymore

The teen said she never gave a second thought to the iPhone that Raphael Schklowsky incorporated into his lessons at Herndon High School. But even as he was teaching drama, Schklowsky was allegedly using the device to victimize her.
Fairfax County police detectives showed the 17-year-old girl a shocking display. During just one class in spring 2017, they said, Schklowsky snapped at least a dozen inappropriate photos of her body from different angles and zooms as she sat on a riser.
The images were the tip of a trove of about 8,000 lewd photos and videos that Schklowsky took at the school and elsewhere, police said. They allege the teacher turned Herndon High into his private hunting ground, victimizing “dozens and dozens” of students for more than a year...

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Gaithersburg Man Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography, Extortion Charges

A Gaithersburg man pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges that he received child pornography and threatened to ruin the reputation of at least eight teenage girls in the photos by sharing them online.
Zhi Tian Lang, 23, communicated with at least eight girls ages 13 to 17 between January 2014 and October 2014, using the alias “Seth” as part of an “Internet messaging application,” according to his plea agreement.
The U.S. attorney’s office said in a press release that Lang got the photos by flirting with the victims and looking at their social media accounts. He would then demand that the victims send him nude pictures, or else he would post the pictures he already had online or send them to acquaintances of the victims...

Alert: the Julius West Middle School field lights will be tested on September 26th starting around 7:30 pm and will run as late as 10:00 pm. The test is to check operations and light levels.

School Board Open Office Hours

No, this is not done in Montgomery County.  

But in Arlington County, take a look at how the Board of Education members make themselves available to the public.

Citizens are welcome to meet with a Board member on a walk-in basis during Open Office Hours.  The School Board generally holds Open Office Hours on Mondays from 5 to 7 PM (unless otherwise noted in the chart below) on days that school is in session at the Syphax Education Center at 2110 Washington Blvd, Arlington VA.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Teachers to mount lobbying campaign to back Kirwan spending

The state’s largest teachers’ union will take to the airwaves and internet to bolster public support for a proposed increase in public school education in Maryland.
The Maryland State Education Association said it plans to spend $500,000 in online, broadcast and cable ads starting Monday morning aimed at highlighting the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission. The announcement comes at the same time that Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, is expected to mount his own public relations campaign opposing the plan to increase public education spending to $4 billion annually within a decade.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to expand career and technical education programs, increase educator pay, better support struggling learners and students with special needs, hire more educators, and more equitably fund schools,” said Cheryl Bost, president of the teachers’ union. “The General Assembly took the first step last year with its near-unanimous, bipartisan vote to pass the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future which adds funding for the next three years. This year we must pass a long-term funding plan that will create lasting educational equity and a more prosperous future for our state.”
The three-week ad run on television, cable and digital platforms comes as a work group moves closer to making recommendations to the Kirwan Commission on how to fund its educations to reform and improve public education and how those costs should be shared between state and local governments.
Included in the plan are recommendations to hire additional teachers statewide and increase salaries...

Monday, September 23, 2019

NPR: The Scientific Debate Over Teens, Screens And Mental Health

More teens and young adults — particularly girls and young women — are reporting being depressed and anxious, compared with comparable numbers from the mid-2000s. Suicides are up too in that time period, most noticeably among girls ages 10 to 14.
These trends are the basis of a scientific controversy.

Parents, Sometimes You're The Problem When It Comes To Tech Use
Parents, Sometimes You're The Problem When It Comes To Tech Use
One hypothesis that has gotten a lot of traction is that with nearly every teen using a smartphone these days, digital media must take some of the blame for worsening mental health.

5 Strategies For Coping With Screen-Obsessed Kids
5 Strategies For Coping With Screen-Obsessed Kids
But some researchers argue that this theory isn't well supported by existing evidence and that it repeats a "moral panic" argument made many times in the past about video games, rap lyrics, television and even radio, back in its early days.

To understand both sides of the debate, I talked in detail to three researchers: one who argues that teens' use of tech is a big problem, one who thinks the danger is exaggerated and an expert in research methodology who suggests the connection may not be so simple.

Very concerned about smartphones

Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, may be the researcher most associated with the idea that smartphones are dangerous to teens. She's the author of the book iGen, whose 27-word subtitle states her thesis: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood — and What That Means for the Rest of Us.

"At first, when I saw these trends in loneliness and unhappiness and depression starting to spike around 2011 or 2012, I really had no idea what could possibly be causing that. It was a real mystery," she tells NPR. Then, she says, she took note of Pew research that showed 2012 was the first year that most cell phone owners had switched to smartphones.

Not only do these two trend lines seem to coincide in time, but Twenge also notes that young people who report spending the most time on smartphones — five to seven hours a day — are twice as likely to report being depressed as those who use their phones for one to two hours a day...

Saturday, September 21, 2019

ABC7: 3 charged [Including Clarksburg HS teen] with robbing Churchill HS teen at gunpoint in THC vape cartridge deal gone wrong

Four days before the Montgomery County Council announced plans to ban e-cigarette shops from operating near certain schools, a group of young men allegedly robbed a Winston Churchill High School student at gunpoint over THC vaping pods.
Multiple police sources tell ABC7 the criminal case highlights the seedy underbelly of vaping, and illustrates how many teenagers are caught in the middle of it.
Around 3:45 p.m. last Thursday, Montgomery County Police were dispatched to the armed robbery along Bunnell Drive in Potomac, near Herbert Hoover Middle School. Officers located the Churchill High School student who explained three men in a silver Honda Accord had pointed a handgun at him and stole his Under Armour backpack. The backpack contained $300 in cash, a USB charger, notebooks and other assorted items...
...Montgomery County District Court Judge Amy Bills granted Williams a $2,000 (post 100 percent) bond. The 16-year-old was released from jail that same day and is being represented by defense attorney Esteban Gergely.
Reached by telephone Friday, Gergely stated his client is a "polite kid" with no criminal record. The 16-year-old Clarksburg High School eleventh grader lives with his mother, two grandparents and 15-year-old brother who is an honor roll student. The family home is along the 23000 block of Sweetspire Drive in Clarksburg...

@ABC7Kevin NEW: A fight broke out during the Paint Branch High School v. Springbrook High School football game last evening requiring dozens of police officers from multiple districts to quell the chaos.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Buffalo, NY: 'See something, say something': 4 City Honors middle-schoolers did

...Hingston, 59, of Amherst, is accused of using a GoPro camera to covertly take pictures or recordings of unsuspecting female students. In one case, a student reported the teacher taking a picture of a girl's breasts. When authorities look...

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Montgomery College Loses Money in Fraud Scheme

Montgomery College sustained a “financial loss” after falling victim to a fraud scheme, the school announced Thursday afternoon.
College and law enforcement officials were mum on details Thursday, but said the incident will not interrupt student activities or operations at the college.
Officials did not specify what happened or disclose how much money was lost. A news release from the college said the crime occurred “earlier this month,” but Marcus Rosano, director of media relations for the college, declined to give a specific date.
Rosano said preliminary investigations show no student or employee data were compromised.

The college’s news release said local authorities and investigators at the Baltimore Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating...

Use of Mega-Field #ArtificalTurf Complex at Julius West Middle School

For those of you who weren't at the MCPS/MSI meeting about the use of the new Artificial Turf mega-fields at Julius West Middle School:

1. There seems to be uncertainty between MCPS and MSI over the issue of BATHROOMS, As in, are they going to be available for use by players and participants, or not?

2. Both MCPS and MSI seemed resistant to the issue of having an actual PLAN for overflow parking. The theme of the evening seemed to be "well we'll talk about it if it happens."

3. No answer about who was responsible for Security. When they have several hundred people at several different games, it would seem to be prudent to have some type of security guard.

4. Uncertainty about whether other people that access the field (adult leagues, etc), will have to follow the MOU concerning lighting, etc.

I urge that the Mayor and Council NOT approve the MOU until the following issues are SPECIFICALLY addressed and RESOLVED to the neighboring communities' satisfaction:

1. Lighting only until 9:00 pm

2. Specific procedures put in place for noise complaints, and resolution mechanisms.

3. Given that there are 60 ft light poles, for safety purposes there should be an early lightning detection system AND a written emergency evacuation plan. (NOT "just go back to your cars. See, for example, Carl Henn).

4. The bathroom issue. MSI seemed to say it wasn't an issue. IT IS AN ISSUE. There must be adequate restroom facilities at all times. If they are planning to have a couple of hundred individuals (people playing soccer, refs, coaches, families, siblings, etc), they must have sanitary facilities. PERIOD.

5. ADA compliance: are wheelchair users just supposed to park themselves on the grass? What about ADA compliant restroom facilities?

6. Ambulance access: can an ambulance get to the fields at the rear of the complex? Who will be responsible for ensuring that the gate/pole thing is unlocked and relocked each time?

7. Parking: there must be a defined overflow parking arrangement. Either MCPS or MSI must pay for a traffic control officer to insure safety of ingress and egress from the parking lots, and to close the lot to further parking once it is full.

The MOU between MCPS and the City of Rockville is NOT ready for Prime Time. There is no reason that the City of Rockville should cave in to MCPS just because the construction is finished, when MCPS pulled a fast one on both the City and surrounding communities to begin with by saying that the "project was dead for this year.' (which of course they denied).

For the safety and reasonable enjoyment of our property by the neighboring communities, I respectfully request that the Mayor and Council DO NOT approve any MOU until the above concerns are resolved to the satisfaction of the surrounding communities.

Lyda Astrove

State To Hold Counties Harmless for School Construction Funding

Last year, the authority to grant funding for public school construction projects switched from the Board of Public Works (made up of the Governor, Comptroller, and Treasurer) to the IAC through the 21st Century School Facilities Act, which passed through the Maryland General Assembly in 2018. During the IAC’s September 12 meeting, the major topic was adoption of Fiscal Year 2021 and Fiscal Year 2022 State Cost Shares. The Commission discussed the table of comparisons for state cost share and there was agreement that this was not the appropriate time to be cutting funding for local LEAs. Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon suggested holding counties harmless and this motion was adopted by the Commission...

...The graphic above  was given to Commission in advance for their consideration. By holding counties harmless, the counties that would have had a negative “difference” (Carroll, Frederick, Harford, and Queen Anne’s) will retain their FY 2019/FY 2020 calculations of funding. Baltimore City was treated separately. While the City was not held harmless from a reduction in it’s state share, the Commission approved a motion to revise the State Cost Share formula to be consistent with the statutory change defining Tier 1 counties, to include a 24-month grace period to factor unemployment rate and income level. As a result of this motion, Baltimore City’s state share percent will actually increase by 3% over the prior year. Counties that were calculated to receive increased funding will still receive the allocated amount of new funding.
The IAC also adopted a common definition of pay-as-you-go funding as required by HB 1738. The need for this common definition is because some counties use sources of local revenue other than General Obligation bonds or traditional PAYGO, such as specific revenues from dedicated sources. To most effectively capture these various funding mechanisms, the IAC issued a letter to the LEAs with the following definition:...

Montgomery County high school scraps 'No Zero' policy after FOX 5 report

A Montgomery County school has been forced to scrap a policy that prohibited teachers from giving students zeroes even if they didn’t do any work.
FOX 5 first reported Wednesday on the policy instated this school year at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac...

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

There. Is. No. Plan. For. Bathroom. Facilities. for Julius West Middle School Artificial Turf Soccer Stadiums #MSISoccer #HoldIt #Trees

With More Student Absences, State’s Attorney Says Truancy Prevention Needs Extra Funding

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy on Monday criticized high numbers of student absences from local schools. He told members of a County Council committee that more funding for truancy prevention could help address the issue.
In 2015-16, the most recent data available, about 18.5% — or 28,000 — of all Montgomery County Public Schools students were chronically absent. That means they missed 15 or more days of school in the academic year, according to school district data.
McCarthy on Monday said he believes 8,000 to 9,000 MCPS students are “habitually truant” each year, meaning they miss at least 18 days per semester for an unexcused reason.
McCarthy pointed to a recent Washington Post article that said at some Montgomery County schools in the 2018-19 school year, more than 40% of students missed 10 to 50 days of classes in a semester.
“I was shocked,” he said. “We’ve changed the grading policy so attendance doesn’t matter and I think that’s crazy. There’s maybe a lack of consistency in the county in regards to a policy about that.”
McCarthy said the county’s truancy prevention program is one of his top priorities when exploring initiatives that could use more funding and expansion.

About 90% of students who participate in the program, which operates at 19 of the county’s 207 public schools, are “black or brown,” McCarthy said...

Las Vegas high school football fields flagged for fouls #artificialturf

LAS VEGAS, NV (KTNV) — High school football players at several local schools are finding one of their toughest opponents isn't the one lining up against them it's the one under their feet.
13 Investigates digs up some serious safety problems with area football fields.

From Pop Warner to the NFL, there's serious talk about concussions and brain injuries. They're re-designing helmets and re-writing the rules of the game to protect players. But what good is all that when the very field your child is playing on isn't safe?
"My concussions had gone up 300%. I think we had like 15 concussions last Fall," says Gabrielle Crawford Rancho High School's assistant principal and athletic director.
"All this stuff just started unfolding like a puzzle that's been waiting to be played," says Ms. Crawford. "And I don't think it's right it took this long."
Rancho's football field is artificial, completed in 2007 by a company called FieldTurf. But the Rams can't even use it this season.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Drug investigation leads to child porn charges for former Quince Orchard assistant wrestling coach

A former Quince Orchard assistant wrestling coach is facing a host of child pornography charges after a drug investigation led police to search his home.
According to documents obtained by FOX 5, police were alerted to Dake Williams of Ellington Boulevard in North Potomac in October 2017 when customs officials found a package containing MDMA at JFK Airport in New York and notified Homeland Security in Baltimore...
...When investigators found child pornography on the devices, they requested a second search warrant and found more than 1,000 files.
The images and video included children as young as 5 or 6 in various sexual situations with adults and animals. 
After investigators examined the files, they arrested Williams, charging him with 10 counts of possession of child pornography...

From Quince Orchard High School:

Dear Quince Orchard Students, Staff, and Families,
I am writing to inform you of the arrest of Dake Williams, a former Quince Orchard High School volunteer wrestling coach. Mr. Williams is charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography. These charges, which stem from a 2017 incident, appear to be unrelated to his role as a volunteer coach. Mr. Williams served as a volunteer wrestling coach at Quince Orchard from 2015–2018.
MCPS was just made aware of Mr. Williams’ arrest. His alleged behavior is extremely concerning and these charges represent a violation of our school’s core values and the values of our Montgomery County community.
We are committed to the well-being of all of our students. A support team of school psychologists, counselor and pupil personnel workers from MCPS will join with our staff this week to provide counseling and support to students upon request.
Ensuring a safe learning environment for our students is our top priority. If you or your child have any information that may be helpful to the investigation, I ask that you call the Montgomery County Child Exploitation Unit at 240-773-5400.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at 240-740-3600 if you have any questions.
Elizabeth L. Thomas

Student assault and fire alarm coincide, cause confusion

The Black & White has confirmed with several sources that this morning a Whitman student stood up in his classroom, walked to an adjacent table and began attacking another student with a frying pan he had brought to school. Sources say the attacker was not provoked today in any way, and he was arrested by the Montgomery County police following the incident.
Later, after several announcements telling students and staff to remain in fourth period, a fire alarm went off, prompting confusion.
Administration was not available for comment, though principal Robert Dodd confirmed the assault and subsequent response in an email to the Whitman community through the MCPS app. In the same email, he also stated that “safety and security are our first priority,” and referred to the attack and the alarm as “two separate incidents.”
The class was held in one of Whitman’s portable classrooms built to accommodate overcrowding during the ongoing planning and construction of a new wing at Whitman. Prior to the incident, students in the Health class were taking notes on the different types of stress.
At the start of the attack, the teacher instructed the other students to leave and seek shelter. They ran to the main office and informed administrators that an assault had occurred. Administration and security responded and called 911...

Montgomery Co. Council member repeats support for school bus camera program

...During the meeting of the council’s Education and Culture Committee, council member Craig Rice voiced his continuing support for the camera program.
Rice mentioned a recent report by the county’s inspector general that raised questions about the financial arrangement and said he’d been asked about the deal on social media.
“I don’t care if we get a single dime out of this. What I do hope is that we don’t have any children who are hit or killed as the result of somebody passing a school bus,” Rice said...

Monday, September 16, 2019

Weds Sept 18 at 6:30pm at #JuliusWest MS. Meeting on use of mega-field, stadium lights, noise, trash, security, parking, bathrooms. ⁦@Rockville411⁩ #artificialTurf. Be There!

Montgomery’s Agricultural Reserve has a dark side #PoolesvilleHighSchool

...High school students also are suffering from the lack of county investment. The core building at Poolesville High School is nearing 70 years old. Recently assessed by a new evaluation system, the school rated “red” on an overall basis and had one of the lowest overall ratings in the county.

Even before this latest assessment, Poolesville was repeatedly put on the county’s modernization list only to be bumped because of “limited funding.” Even as recently as the county’s fiscal 2017 capital improvements plan, the school was in the queue for funding and modernization. It never happened, even though several other schools in line for modernization around the same time have since been substantially rebuilt.
The Fair Access for Western Montgomery County Committee has been pointing these problems out to county officials, and it has proposed a novel solution that is innovative, saves money and land and is a great fit for the Ag Reserve: a new high school co-located with a community/senior center, clinic and wellness center, and a police satellite station. County Executive Marc Elrich (D) has proposed a study of the services needs of the western county, and the school system has recommended that Poolesville High School be considered as a “major capital project.”..

MCPS Says It Will ‘Hold Firm’ on Fees for Public Records

An increasing volume of public records requests has prompted Montgomery County Public Schools to “hold firm” on charging fees instead of granting waivers, a district official said.
The change in philosophy was included in a district response to a Bethesda Beat request to see public records — credit card receipts for 12 months for school board members and the superintendent.
The Maryland Public Information Act says government bodies must make public records available and may charge a “reasonable fee” to search for, gather and provide copies of records. The first two hours of labor must be at no charge.
The law also says the government body may waive the fee for information if the waiver is “in the public interest.”

In response to the Bethesda Beat public-records request last month, MCPS spokesman Derek Turner wrote that the school system would charge a $115.56 fee to provide the information...

Friday, September 13, 2019

Thursday, September 12, 2019

MCPS Board of Ed Forces Student to Cross Six Lanes of Traffic. 6 cars and a RIDE ON BUS Pass Stopped Bus. Camera Will Not Protect Children when Bus Stops are Extremely Dangerous.

This video released by Montgomery County Police.  While the video is supposed to show how drivers ignore stopped school buses, what it also shows is that MCPS is putting students in extreme danger by forcing them to cross to the opposite side of roads for their bus stop.  In the past, MCPS did not allow these types of bus stops. Clearly, the Board of Education has decided that safety is not a priority.  Instead of keeping children safe by making sure children never have to cross 6 lanes of traffic to get home, the Board of Education has chosen to simply video these inherently dangerous bus stops, as if a video can correct irresponsible behavior by adults. 

Gaithersburg HS Student Collapses on Artificial Turf (Heat Island), Left on Field. Meanwhile Gaithersburg HS center of lawsuit over teen who died after denied inhaler in PE class.

Gaithersburg High School football player says he was left on field after getting sick during practice

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: Board of Ed. Contract for Cameras on School Buses from Company Shut Down After FBI Arrests/Convictions #ForceMultiplierSolutions #BusPatrolAmerica #NoBid #NoRFP #SecretContract

For the first time in 3 years, the public can read the contract that was entered into by Larry Bowers, MCPS Interim Superintendent on June 30, 2016, his last day as Interim Superintendent.  The contract was never presented to the Board of Education and was never included in the Board of Education minutes.

The contract was discussed in the Montgomery County Inspector General's July 23, 2019, Report on the MCPS bus camera deal. However, the Inspector General did not make the contract public as part of his Report.

In the contract, we learn that the "deal" required that after 18 months the parties would enter into a "revenue sharing plan."  That, as we know from the Inspector General's Report did not happen. The contract is now 3 years old and still no revenue sharing plan has been established.

MCPS has redacted the numbers in the contract that show the cost of these cameras, as if that is some sort of a secret.  Those numbers have been discussed and were also part of the Inspector General's Report.

Why did the Board of Education enter into this deal without any public process? Why no Request for Proposals?  Why no bids from competitors?  Why was this one company selected without public discussion.

As we know, in June of 2017, the FBI stepped in and began arresting individuals conntected to Force Multiplier Solutions, Inc, including the man that met with MCPS and police staff to "sell" them on the program.  5 people are now in federal prison connected to the bribes, kickback, wire fraud, and tax evasion scheme associated with this company.  Yet as of today, the Board of Education has still not addressed the dissolution of this company.

The exterior bus cameras remain on MCPS school buses and 100% of the fines being paid by car owners go to a house in Louisiana.

College Board abandoning SAT ‘adversity score’ after criticism

The company that administers the SAT college admissions test is replacing the so-called adversity score with a tool that will no longer reduce an applicant’s background to a single number, an idea that the College Board’s chief executive now says was a mistake.
Amid growing scrutiny of the role wealth plays in college admissions, the College Board introduced its Environmental Context Dashboard about two years ago to provide context for a student’s performance on the test and help schools identify those who have done more with less. The version used by about 50 institutions in a pilot program involved a formula that combined school and neighborhood factors like advanced course offerings and the crime rate to produce a single number.
But critics called it an overreach for the College Board to score adversity the way it does academics...

Monday, September 9, 2019

19 MCPS employees fired after internal investigations

...During fiscal year 2019, there were 307 cases of alleged abuse or neglect reported to Child Protective Services or local police involving MCPS employees, contractors and volunteers resulting in the termination of 19 employees, according to the report, which will be presented to a school board committee this week...

‘Why don’t we get the field?’: Use of playing field pits an elite private school against D.C. public schools

An elite private school has been granted special access to a public playing field in Northwest Washington in exchange for funding upgrades to the site. But the deal with D.C. officials has some residents and politicians calling foul on a move they say shortchanges public school students.
The deal between the Maret School and the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation allows Maret exclusive use of the field at the Jelleff Recreation Center during the hours of highest demand, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., on weekdays for the next decade, according to Marjo Talbott, Maret’s head of school. In exchange, the school is spending about $950,000 to improve the turf field, add a fence and renovate the recreation center building, Talbott said.
In response, a coalition of public school parents, elected officials and area residents is petitioning Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) to reverse the deal...

FBI News: Putting a Stop to Public Corruption Dallas Officials Lined Pockets with Proceeds from Stop-Arm Bus Cameras @mcps @mcpnews @mococouncilmd

Several years ago, the school transportation provider in Dallas added stop-arm cameras to their school buses to keep students safer and bring in revenue from traffic tickets.

Taxpayers ended up paying millions of dollars for the cameras—but they brought in little revenue.

The school transportation provider continued to buy the cameras because the camera company lined the pockets of multiple public officials. And as a result of an FBI and Internal Revenue Service investigation, those involved in the scheme are now serving prison sentences.

Robert Leonard Jr., CEO of the company that manufactured the cameras, paid several bribes to benefit his company, including $450,000 in multiple cash payments, trips, and other gifts to Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway. In exchange, Caraway cast votes on the council in favor of the cameras.

“They needed an ordinance to ticket drivers who were caught passing the camera,” said Special Agent Erik Tighe, who investigated this case out of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office. “Caraway was instrumental in making that ordinance happen. He accepted bribes to continue the program.”

Tighe and the investigative team used a combination of human sources and financial analysis to unravel the network of bribes.

“They just kept using taxpayer funds as a piggy bank.”
Erik Tighe, special agent, FBI Dallas

Caraway pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion charges and was sentenced in April 2019 to 56 months in prison. Leonard pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges and was sentenced in May to seven years in prison.

Ultimately, the taxpayer-funded transportation provider paid the camera manufacturer $70 million for the cameras. They continued to pay even though the cameras were bringing in less revenue than they cost.

According to court documents, the program caused “significant and ultimately debilitating debt” for the transportation provider, which eventually closed due to that debt, forcing schools to find another transportation option for students.

“They just kept using taxpayer funds as a piggy bank,” Tighe said. “It had a huge impact on the community. Thousands of people were affected by this corruption.”

Friday, September 6, 2019

Calculations for The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Senate Bill 1030)

June 6, 2019 To Local Superintendents of Schools:

Attached for your information are the FINAL Calculations for The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (SB1030). These calculations have not changed from the draft calculations that were sent to you on May 24, 2019.

Please note that the Supplemental Prekindergarten Grant shown in the attached document reflects only the additional school systems eligible for this grant under the expanded definitions per SB1030. The four school systems that qualified for this grant prior to the enactment of this legislation are shown in the Major State Aid release, which is also being sent to you today under separate cover.

The Maryland State Department of Education will be releasing these grant awards as funding is officially made available. Grant awards for those portions of this funding requiring applications (Teacher Salary Incentive Grant, Teacher Collaborative Grant, and Transitional Supplemental Instruction for Struggling Learners) are also subject to approval of the applications...