Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Guest Post: Superintendent's plan to bus FARMS students away from Seneca Valley's Vocational Programs

Upcounty MCPS parent comments:

The soon to be completed Seneca Valley High School expansion will have a fantastic array of Career and Technical Education programs which include automotive technology, health professions, child development, construction, cyber technology, hospitality and law enforcement.

These programs are the exact type of educational program which could benefit many FARMS students.

But in his Upcounty Boundary Study recommendation, the Superintendent is proposing to send FARMS students who live near Seneca Valley High School to Clarksburg High School. The Superintendent's plan sends FARMS students from Fox Chapel ES and Captain Daly ES to Clarksburg High School.

The question is why? The answer is FARMS rates. The Superintendent and Board of Education now have a singular focus on decreasing disparities in FARMS rates between schools. As the Superintendent stated in his report:

“ My goals in developing my recommendation were to minimize the FARMS disparities at both the high school and middle school levels.”

The answer may be, their goal is as much ideological as educational: to break up what they see as privileged schools, even though many of these schools are racially diverse, such as Rocky Hill Middle School.

…. [former Board of Education member] Jill Ortman-Fouse.....criticized the idea that "when you buy a house, you buy a school. ..." Jeannette Dixon added that "an easy commute to school" should not be a criteria for school assignment.

Board member Judith Docca explicitly called out the "W school" clusters, and said that busing of students must include those students from more affluent families....

Improving academic performance among students at high FARMS rates schools is an important objective, and the Board of Education is correct to be concerned about this issue.

The problem is how the Board of Education is going about trying to address this problem, the possible unintended consequences of their actions, and the complete lack of public hearings on their plan to decrease disparities in FARMS rates.

The Superintendent's boundary plan will not only harm FARMS students, it will also harm the Clarksburg students he wants to bus out of their community, and the five elementary schools he wants to split articulate to different middle and high schools.

School apps track students from the classroom to bathroom, and parents are struggling to keep up

...Some schools, like those in the Montgomery County public school district in Rockville, Md., are more receptive to parents policing their children’s technology. Ellen Zavian, a lawyer and professor at George Washington University Law School, has cleared her middle-school aged son to use Google’s education software, but not ClassDojo.
“At the beginning of every school year I send the principal what my son’s allowed to be on and what he’s not allowed to be on, and thus far my local schools have been incredibly supportive and have been willing to learn from me as I have been willing to learn from them,” Zavian said. “My goal is to give my child the smallest footprint possible, to give him the largest opportunity possible.”..
...Privacy attorney Brad Shear has two elementary-age kids in the Montgomery County schools. He has been vocal about parental privacy rights and successfully lobbied the district to adopt an annual “data deletion week.” Now, the school purges any unnecessary data about students from tools like Google’s education suite, keeping essential information such as grades.
However, if the district does decide to test e-Hallpass in more schools, Shear and other parents are ready to mobilize against it.
“I will not allow this app to be utilized in my kids’ schools, period. If the app ends up getting rolled out I will make sure that I get the PTA involved,” Shear said. “This is bathroom big brother.”

Long-Range Plan for Woodward High [Now] Includes Athletic Stadium

By the time Charles W. Woodward High School reopens in 2025, it will have an athletic stadium, an auditorium and a second gymnasium, according to preliminary plans presented to the school board.
Community members raised concern about the renovation of the school on Old Georgetown Road when Montgomery County Public Schools’ staff members presented initial plans that excluded the stadium, a standard amenity at county high schools.
At a meeting on Monday, staff members showed updated plans for the roughly $120 million project that will serve about 2,700 students.
The new plans show two phases of construction. The first will include renovating the building for use as a temporary school for Northwood High School students from 2023 to 2025 as Northwood undergoes an extensive renovation. Then, in 2025, Woodward will reopen as a new MCPS high school, complete with athletic facilities.

“There’s a very real need for this school as a holding school for Northwood,” Superintendent Jack Smith said. “There are things that will happen in phase two that are very, very important, but first, the most important conversation is around phase one to ensure there is an educationally sound and effective space for Northwood while their school is being redone.”..

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

NCSL: State School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Laws

A growing number of states are attempting to catch and punish motorists who pass stopped school buses by allowing cameras to be placed on the outside of the bus to record such illegal passing. At least 21 states have school bus stop-arm camera laws.
In 2019, Indiana, Maine, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee authorized localities or school districts to use school bus stop-arm cameras. Pennsylvania did so in 2018, and in the 2017 legislative session, Arkansas and Utah passed legislation to allow school bus stop-arm cameras. In 2016, Alabama enacted a law allowing for exterior school bus cameras, expanding a program initially created in 2015 in Mobile County. In the 2014 legislative session, South Carolina and Wyoming enacted such laws. In the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington enacted such measures...

Monday, October 28, 2019

Guest Post: MCPS, stop playing tricks with Kelley Park. Give Gaithersburg the treat you gave Bethesda residents — NO new schools at parks!!!

What happens when @MoCoCouncilMD and @mocoboe only pretend to be concerned about environmental issues. #PollutionStories @sierraclubmd @SierraClub

Two School Board Members Plan to Run for Re-Election

Two members of the Montgomery County Board of Education said on Wednesday they plan to run for re-election in 2020.
The terms of Shebra Evans, Rebecca Smondrowski and Jeanette Dixon expire in 2020. Evans and Smondrowski said that they plan to run for another four-year term, while Dixon said she has not decided.
Nobody has officially filed for candidacy with the Montgomery County Board of Elections, but Evans and Smondrowski said they plan to soon. The filing deadline is in January...

Friday, October 25, 2019

State with lowest per-pupil spending has highest-paid state superintendent [Former MCPS Special Ed Director]

Former MCPS Director of Special Education Carey Wright in the news. 

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright is the highest paid state schools chief in the country, according to an analysis by Education Week.
With a salary of $300,000, Wright, who was appointed in 2013, ranked first in the trade publication’s review of state superintendent salaries.
Education Week reported on average state superintendents are paid $174,000.
In a state with one of the nation’s lowest per-pupil spending rates, Wright’s salary stands out as somewhat of an outlier.
That might be partly because of an unofficial precedence set by a former state law mandating that the state education chief’s salary be 90% of what the state’s commissioner of higher education makes.
That law was phased out at the time of Wright’s appointment. And state Board of Education members haven't quite kept up with the trend. Commissioner Glenn Boyce makes $358,312.50, meaning Wright’s salary would have to be $322481.25 in order to align with the former statute...

Thursday, October 24, 2019

California becomes first state to mandate later start times at public schools

California is set to become the first state to require later start times for some public schools after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation into law Sunday.
The new law will be implemented over time and will eventually mandate middle schools to start no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools to begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m., according to the Los Angeles Times.
The new start times must be in effect by the start of the 2022-2023 school year or when a school’s three-year collective bargaining agreement with its employees comes to an end, depending on which comes first.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D) applauded Newsom’s signing of the bill, saying research has shown later start times benefit students.
"Newsom displayed a heartwarming and discerning understanding of the importance of objective research and exercised strong leadership as he put our children’s health and welfare ahead of institutional bureaucracy resistant to change,” Portantino said, according to the news outlet.
“Generations of children will come to appreciate this historic day and our governor for taking bold action. Our children face a public health crisis. Shifting to a later start time will improve academic performance and save lives because it helps our children be healthier,” he added.
A legislative analysis from July found about half the public schools in the state will be forced to push back their start times by 30 minutes or less in order to be compliant with the new law...

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Happening in Montgomery County: What Is Sextortion? How to Keep Your Teen Safe from Online Predators

It can happen in a matter of minutes, but the trauma can stay with victims forever. Unlike cyberbullying, which most parents know about and discuss with their teens, sextortion isn’t on a lot of parents’ radars, leaving kids unguarded and vulnerable to attacks.
According to the FBI, sextortion occurs when one person, using threats or manipulation, coerces another person into sharing sexually explicit images over the Internet or a cell phone. Even if the perpetrator doesn’t do physical harm, teens can still experience emotional and psychological damage. Their images could also find their way onto the Internet and the dark web. Sextortion victims have committed suicide because they were so ashamed of being exposed to their friends and families.
Sextortion is particularly dangerous because many parents don’t realize their child is at risk. But the statistics tell us a different story:
  •       According to the FBI, sextortion cases are up 60 percent in the last five years
  •       71 percent of all sextortion victims are minors
  •       78 percent of sextortion victims are girls, with an average age of 15
  •       83 percent of sextortion cases involve social media manipulation
  •       1 in 4 minors victimized by sextortion sought medical or mental health care...

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Many teachers have considered leaving education, union says [Tiny Informal Survey]

...He and another member of the union recently visited three schools. They gathered all the educators into one room during pre-service and asked how many had considered leaving education during the summer. Wilson estimated that a majority, about 80%, of each of the three school’s educators raised their hands...

Monday, October 21, 2019

There’s good reason for jitters about Maryland’s massive school spending plan

MUCH OF Maryland’s political establishment, meaning Democrats who dominate the General Assembly in Annapolis, embraced the recommendations of a commission that urged massive new spending on the state’s generally lackluster public schools. As the dollars and cents come into sharper focus, however, some lawmakers may be blanching — and if they’re not, their local counterparts on county councils certainly are.
A proposed formula that would apportion some $4 billion in new annual spending by 2030 — the amount endorsed by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education — has produced jitters in parts of the state. Democrats in Baltimore and some counties have balked at the prospect of major increases in public school funding — read: higher taxes — to supplement new state spending...

Superintendent’s Recommendation on the Boundary Study for the Clarksburg, Northwest, and Seneca Valley Clusters

Friday, October 18, 2019

Monique Felder on the Move, Again

Orange County Board of Education Names New Superintendent
(en español)

The Orange County Board of Education is thrilled to announce the selection of Dr. Monique Felder as the next superintendent of the Orange County Schools.  Dr. Felder will take office on November 1, 2019.

During its search for a new superintendent, the Board carefully reviewed applications from a diverse field of thirty qualified candidates and engaged in a thorough interview, background check, and reference check process.  Of the many excellent candidates who applied, the Board believes that Dr. Felder’s experience, leadership, and dedication to students make her the best choice to serve Orange County students, staff, and the community for years to come.  The Board was particularly impressed by Dr. Felder’s commitment to making educational equity a reality for all students, teaching students to become positive citizens of the world.  The Board is confident that she will lead the school system to even higher achievement in its effort to ensure that all students graduate prepared for college, careers, civic engagement and productive lives.

Dr. Felder has enjoyed a long and successful career in public education spanning more than twenty-five years in Maryland and Tennessee.  Most recently, she has served 86,000 students as Chief Academic Officer for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in Nashville, Tennessee.  Prior to assuming her most recent position, Dr. Felder served as an executive director to the deputy superintendent for the Prince George’s County Public Schools (Maryland’s second largest school district with 130,000 students).  She also previously served as a director, a supervisor, a principal, and an assistant principal for the Montgomery County Public Schools (Maryland’s largest school district with 162,000 students). Dr. Felder began her career in public education as a classroom teacher in Rockville and Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Dr. Felder has received many recognitions for her success across her career and has published important academic works in the education field.  For example, when she was serving as a principal her school was awarded the International Reading Association’s Exemplary Reading Program Award for the State of Maryland. She also was named a finalist for the Washington Post’s Outstanding Leadership Award. Additionally, she is a co-author of the book Increasing Diversity in Gifted Education: Research-Based Strategies for Identification and Program Services.

Dr. Felder has an impressive academic background as well.  She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from York College in Jamaica, New York.  She went on to earn a master’s degree in elementary education from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and a doctorate (Ph.D.) in educational leadership and policy studies from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Dr. Felder has a strong family to support her.  She has three adult children and five grandchildren, ranging in age from eight to seventeen years old. Her eighty-seven-year-old mother lives in Florida.  Both of her maternal grandparents were born and raised in North Carolina, so she has deep roots in the State.

“I am absolutely honored and humbled to be the next superintendent of the Orange County Schools,” said Dr. Felder.  “Serving all students and supporting their education has been my life’s work for twenty-eight years.  I look forward to collaborating with our stakeholders—students, staff, families, community members, and the Board—to improve outcomes for all students.  I can’t wait to get started!”

Please join the Board in congratulating and welcoming Dr. Monique Felder as the new superintendent of the Orange County Schools.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Last year, tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused — more than double what they found the previous year.

The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?

Online predators create and share the illegal material, which is increasingly cloaked by technology. Tech companies, the government and the authorities are no match.

The images are horrific. Children, some just 3 or 4 years old, being sexually abused and in some cases tortured.
Pictures of child sexual abuse have long been produced and shared to satisfy twisted adult obsessions. But it has never been like this: Technology companies reported a record 45 million online photos and videos of the abuse last year.
More than a decade ago, when the reported number was less than a million, the proliferation of the explicit imagery had already reached a crisis point. Tech companies, law enforcement agencies and legislators in Washington responded, committing to new measures meant to rein in the scourge. Landmark legislation passed in 2008.
Yet the explosion in detected content kept growing — exponentially...

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

From 2012: I want Barclay to “Lance Armstrong MCPS.”

I want Barclay to “Lance Armstrong MCPS.”: Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland

Armed Robbery Prompts Shelter In Place Order For Blair High School

MCPS: Personal student information, test scores breached

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — A school district in Maryland says a student improperly downloaded personal information and test scores of more than 1,000 students from a college preparation program.
A Montgomery County Public Schools statement says the data breach happened Oct. 3 and impacted 1,344 Naviance accounts tied to Wheaton High School in Silver Spring. Naviance is an online program that enables students to prepare for college and careers.
District spokesman Derek Turner told The Washington Post that the student wrote a program or algorithm that tried various combinations of usernames and passwords to gain access...

“Clearly, the system holds them back and restricts their opportunity to thrive,” [Christopher] Barclay said. “That level of neglect must and can be addressed.”

Community Calls for Education Equity for ‘Black and Brown’ Students
Group makes list of recommendations to address achievement gap
The coalition said that to eradicate the achievement gap, MCPS needs to:
• provide incentives to recruit and retain strong teachers and principals in high needs schools
• increase access to professional learning
• ensure minority students have access to advanced-level courses
• engage families in their students’ education

• work closely with education equity advocates to quickly implement services...
Christopher Barclay was a Montgomery County Board of Education member from December 2006 to 2016. 
Montgomery Co. school board member pays back almost $1,500 in unauthorized expenses
The Washington Post
May 22, 2014

Montgomery County Board of Education member and County Council candidate Christopher S. Barclay has reimbursed the school system for nearly $1,500 in unauthorized expenses since 2012, including restaurant meals and purchases from an online travel site, records show.
The expenses were charged to a board-issued credit card that members and other senior school officials may use for meals, travel and lodging related to official business. School system spokesman Dana Tofig said Thursday that the personal expenses on Barclay’s card were flagged during a monthly review of card use. He said Barclay has fully repaid the school system.
The reimbursements were first disclosed by the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County, a watchdog group that presses the school system for greater transparency. The information came in response to a public records request, and WJLA (Channel 7) reported on the expenses Wednesday...

MCPS Drops Plan to Build Schools on Parkland [Not MCPS' Land to Use!]

Former Bethesda Music Teacher Indicted on Child Pornography Charges

A former music teacher from Bethesda who state police arrested in May has been indicted on federal child pornography charges.
Charles Victor Kopfstein-Penk, 74, was indicted Thursday in U.S. District Court, the United States Attorney’s office said in a press release.
Kopfstein-Penk was arrested May 23 after state police searched his home on Lone Oak Drive. They said they recovered numerous electronic devices that contained child pornography. The state police obtained a search warrant after they started investigating Kopfstein-Penk in February.
Kopfstein-Penk, who gave music lessons out of his home, had images that included the sexual abuse of children, including one of child pornography that involved a pre-teen, according to the indictment.
The indictment also seeks “the forfeiture of any property traceable to profits from the offense or used to commit the offense, including a desk top computer and five external hard drives.”

He could face up to 20 years in prison...

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Wed. Oct. 16th -Children, Cell Phones & 5G: A Parent Education Session

Children, Cell Phones & 5G: A Parent Education Session

When: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 7 to 9 PM
Where: Room #205 Takoma Park Elementary School 7511 Holly Ave,
What: A multimedia presentation with Q and A for parents and community members. 
Please join us for a community information session on how to make technology safer in your home. Did you know over 18 smartphones have been pulled from the market or software updated because of excessive radiation in Europe? In the USA, popular cell phones also emit radiation exceeding US law but no action has been taken. In addition, Montgomery County is pushing new 5G cell towers forward despite scientists calling for precaution. Several cities have banned 5G. Countries have banned cell phones and Wi-Fi in classrooms.
Curious about the potential health effects? Want practical tips and resources you can use? Please join us!

Topics covered:

- 5G in Montgomery County
- The latest research on children
- Doctor recommendations on cell phones
- Tips to minimize health effects at home
- Strategies to support sleep and learning
Click here to download a flyer for the event

Theodora Scarato is Executive Director of Environmental Health Trust, a scientific think tank focused on environmental health. Scarato was director of an intensive special ed therapy program in Montgomery County Schools and instrumental in the Prince George’s County School System move to address drinking water lead contamination. Scarato has presented at National Institutes of Health, University of CA San Francisco, Albert Einstein Institute for Advanced Study at Hebrew Medical School and has coordinated medical conferences and published research on technology and health impacts.

After decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, U.S. needs more tradespeople

Maybe the Montgomery County Board of Education should stop charging students class fees to attend Edison High School? 


All throughout high school, they made it sound like going to college was our only option.” Derrick Roberson, who is training to become an electrician

FONTANA, Calif. — At a steel factory dwarfed by the adjacent Auto Club Speedway, Fernando Esparza is working toward his next promotion.
Esparza is a 46-year-old mechanic for Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks that makes juices and smoothies. He’s taking a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages.
It’s a pretty safe bet. The skills being taught here are in high demand. That’s in part because so much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades that many fields like his face worker shortages.
Now California is spending $6 million on a campaign to revive the reputation of vocational education, and $200 million to improve the delivery of it...

Charges filed from fight that broke out during the Paint Branch High School v. Springbrook High School football game. Injuries to MCPS Staff Detailed.

Special education battle continues in Prince George’s County


PFAS CHEMICALS HAVE been identified in synthetic turf, according to lab tests performed on several samples of the artificial grass that were shared with The Intercept. The presence of the chemicals, members of a class that has been associated with multiple health problems, including cancer, adds to growing concerns about the grass replacement that covers many thousands of acres in parks, schools, professional sports stadiums, and practice fields around the U.S.

In one set of tests, the PFAS chemicals were detected in the plastic backing of two samples of the turf. In another, in which the “blades” of the artificial grass were analyzed, scientists measured significant levels of fluorine, which is seen as an indication of the presence of the chemicals.
“We’re seeing unexplained levels of fluorine-based compounds in all of the eight samples of turf grass blades we’ve looked at,” says Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental research group based in Michigan that tested the turf blades. The samples of the blades that tested positive for fluorine were made by two different companies, Shaw Industries and Turf Factory Direct...

Monday, October 14, 2019

“I think we’re better off when we can all sort of listen to each other,” he said. But Del. Luedtke Blocks on Twitter and Facebook. @EricLuedtke

October 14, 2019

“Two careers that I love”: This UMD professor teaches public policy and creates it

When Eric Luedtke graduated in 2002 from the University of Maryland after studying government and politics and history, he didn’t know what he wanted to do.
He first got a job running a county council race, and eventually returned to Maryland for his masters in education. From there, he taught social studies in Montgomery County Public Schools for a while. And he said it was at this job that he was sucked into another world altogether: the world of policy.
Today, Luedtke goes from the corridors of Tawes Hall to the chambers of the Maryland House of Delegates — splitting his time between teaching public policy and creating it.
In the fall, Luedtke teaches classes with an average of about 35 students, but in the spring, he represents more than 120,000 constituents stretching from Olney to Damascus as a representative for District 14 in the Maryland General Assembly, a position he’s held since 2011.
“I happen to have found two careers that I love,” Luedtke said. “When it’s the spring and I’m fully in session and I don’t normally teach, I miss teaching. When it’s the fall and I’m teaching, I miss session.”..

Former Einstein High School Counselor To Serve 20 Years for Raping Two Women

A former Montgomery County high school guidance counselor was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday for raping two women he met through the dating application Tinder.
Colin Sime Black, 35, of Rockville, was found guilty on June 28 of second-degree sexual offense charges for raping a woman on March 24, 2017, according to court documents.
He was also found guilty on July 8 of sexual-degree sexual offenses for raping another woman on Dec. 31, 2016, according to court documents. The two convictions happened in separate trials.
On Friday, Montgomery County Circuit Judge David Boynton issued two consecutive 20-year sentences for the two convictions. Boynton suspended five years of the sentence for the June conviction and he suspended 15 years of the sentence for the July conviction, leaving 20 years for Black to spend in prison.
As part of his punishment, Black must register as a sex offender.

Black, who worked at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, got together with one woman through Tinder on Dec. 16, 2016, when they engaged in sexual activity, according to court documents...

The Board of Education wants to Divest Lyttonsville of Their Open Space Land, Again. #AntiaircraftArtilleryBattalion

MCPS already designed a school for the Coffield Rec site.
Once again, the Board of Education has put the parkland next to the Coffield Recreation Center in Lyttonsville on a list of potential school sites.  

Back in April of 2011, the Board of Education was told by the Montgomery County Department of Parks that park land is not up for grabs for the placement of school buildings.  See the April 27, 2011, letter from Montgomery Parks to the Board of Education below. 

In 2011, the Board of Education was specifically told they could not have the land next to the Coffield Recreation Center for a public school, yet here that park is again on a list of potential school sites and the Board of Education has even gone so far as to pay for a possible building design for the proposed schoolSee image from MCPS presentation. 

Not only is the Park land next to the Coffield Recreation Center the property of Montgomery Parks, but the land that became part of the fields at Rosemary Hills Local Park was probably the site for an Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion in the first half of the 1950s, as part of a group of such sites that ringed the Washington, DC region before the advent of Nike missile sites after the Korean War.

Because the land was purchased by Parks and Planning before there were federal and state environmental laws that mandated due diligence into toxic materials and other past land uses that could pose a threat to water quality or health and safety, the screening process to assess threats was very superficial, limited, for example, to noting whether a dump or other substandard structures were on site.

This site would need to be investigated thoroughly before any construction could commence and as the long time residents of Lyttonsville know, this past use of this land has prevented other construction projects from taking place on the existing fields. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Parents sue Fairfax schools, allege improper seclusion and restraint of students with disabilities

Parents and disability rights groups are suing the largest school system in Virginia, alleging students with disabilities experience discrimination, trauma and physical harm through the excessive and improper use of seclusion and restraint in Fairfax County Public Schools.

The parents, Jennifer Tidd, Pamela Ononiwu and Ashley Thomas, are accusing the 189,000-student school system of using the practices to “silence, detain, segregate, and punish students with disabilities,” according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Fairfax school officials said they have completed a thorough and independent review of seclusion and restraint guidelines, and added staff, increased training and appointed an ombudsman for special education. The school system also created a task force to look at best practices for restraint and seclusion. The parents who filed the lawsuit lambasted that task force as a “public relations ploy.”
"We acknowledge that the use of restraint and seclusion is an especially sensitive and challenging issue and is appropriate only when less restrictive alternatives fail," Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in statement released late Tuesday. "We will continue to base our procedures and practices on that guiding principle."
Tidd’s son was secluded on at least 745 occasions and excluded from class several hundred more times over seven years, according to court papers. Tidd said she did not receive notice or documentation of the instances of seclusion within 24 hours, despite school system guidelines that say she should have been notified in that time frame.
“We have really no way of knowing what the total is,” Tidd said. “Our trust has been breached.”
The parents, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of four students, are asking the federal court to bar the school system from using either of the closely related practices on students with disabilities until an alternative system is implemented...

It's National Coming Out Day!

Happy National Coming Out Day to all our kids, parents, aunts, uncles, family, friends, students, teachers, and staff. Because everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. And because we love our kids.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

MCPS Report: Only Talked to One Focus Group at Damascus HS and 9 Other High School Students

Comment on MCPS report on hazing and rape at Damascus High School:
A total of 2 student focus groups, one at DHS and another with 9 high school students (not sure where they came from).
Regardless, I would have spoken to way more kids than this.  And given the nature of the inquiry and sensitive questions, I probably would have interviewed a lot of kids one-on-one.  I love focus groups.  But in one it is easy for individuals not to reveal things because they don't want the others in the group to know what they know or what may have happened to them.  In all honesty, in a focus group, do "we" actually think a macho football player is going to say, "Yeah, they hazed me and raped me with a broom."  Not happening.  ~ Joseph Hawkins

...The report’s authors acknowledged that no comprehensive, historical review was done of unreported incidents and that no districtwide survey was conducted for the analysis.

Five high schools were examined in the sprawling suburban system, which has 25 high schools and is the largest in Maryland.

Still, it said, “the few extracurricular-associated hazing and bullying incidents of which we became aware appeared to be isolated events, rather than part of a larger, continuing pattern.”..

..."We conducted interviews and focus groups at DHS and at a sampling of other MCPS high schools. At DHS, we interviewed 29 individuals, including administrators, staff members, coaches, parents, and after-school activity sponsors. In addition, we conducted a student focus group. Beyond DHS, we conducted focus-group discussions at four other high schools in different areas of Montgomery County: Seneca Valley High School, Montgomery Blair High School, Walt Whitman High School, and Walter Johnson High School. Those discussions included principals, assistant principals, business administrators, athletic directors, coaches, and extracurricular sponsors. We also conducted four focus groups with staff from across the district: two with MCPS athletic directors (eleven athletic directors in total), one with seven MCPS principals, and one with nine MCPS high school students. Additionally, we spoke with key administrators from the MCPS central office, including Superintendent Smith, members of the District’s senior leadership team, the Chief Safety Officer, the Director of Systemwide Athletics, and representatives from the Office of School Support and Improvement. We also met on two occasions with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney and members of his Office to inform them of the scope of our review and our preliminary findings. We did not interview any victims from the DHS incident, any of the alleged perpetrators, or any of their families (though we did review documents related to the criminal prosecutions), and we otherwise strove to keep our review separate from the investigation by the State’s Attorney’s Office."..