Thursday, March 30, 2023

Former College Park mayor indicted on child porn charges by Prince George’s County grand jury

A grand jury in Prince George’s County returned an indictment this week against former College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn on 80 counts of possession and intent to distribute child pornography.

Wojahn, 47, was arrested March 2 after a weekslong investigation by Prince George’s County Police into allegations that he had uploaded and shared dozens of pornographic videos to the social media app Kik. The videos depicted explicit sexual acts involving prepubescent boys and adult men...

Former College Park mayor indicted on child porn charges by Prince George’s County grand jury – Baltimore Sun

Monday, March 27, 2023

County Council wants Planning Board member who would push for elimination of single-family zoning & parking requirements.

In 2022, Montgomery County Council's Planning Board appointee James Hedrick posted the following statement on Twitter in response to a Tweet about climate change from Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass.

Council wants Planning Board Member that will Overcrowd Schools: Council's Pick James Hedrick for Planning Board Supports Elimination of Housing Moratoriums in Areas with Crowded Schools.

Richard Montgomery High School parking lot classroom trailers.

More on why Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich would veto the Montgomery County Council's selection of James Hedrick as a member of the Montgomery County Planning Board. 


Elrich to Council: I Matter

...It’s also not surprising that he would veto [James] Hedrick.  I can’t speak to Elrich’s characterization of Hedrick’s temperament and social media statements.  But consider Hedrick’s responses to Greater Greater Washington’s questionnaire.  His positions included:

Wanting to build more than 100,000 housing units by 2040, a larger number than the planning department’s target of 60,000.

Support for the recently passed Thrive 2050 development plan.

Support for legalizing duplexes countywide.

Support for eliminating housing moratoriums in areas with crowded schools...

Elrich to Council: I Matter - Montgomery Perspective

For athletes, new turf infill means old problems "’s still slippery..." "...artificial surface will continue to resemble slippery concrete more than than natural grass..."


Four years, two field closures and one infill replacement later, athletes remain worried that the turf poses a danger to their safety and their athletic careers.

MARCH 24, 2023

In May of 2018, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted seven to one to approve the installation of a $1.3 million turf field at Whitman, despite controversy surrounding its infill material, ZeoFill. At the time, community members expressed concern about the lack of publicly available research on ZeoFill’s safety and durability.

Four years, two field closures and one infill replacement later, athletes remain worried that the turf poses a danger to their safety and their athletic careers.

Last year’s closures and subsequent infill replacement brought hope that the slipperiness, drainage problems and dust clouds that had come to define the artificial field would finally subside. However, some still feel that the field remains unsafe for play.

Since April 2022, Whitman’s athletes have played on BrockFill, a wood particle-based infill that is engineered to provide greater traction, durability and drainage than its competitors. The school district installed BrockFill after officials determined that the field was failing to adequately drain after rainfall. However, according to varsity football player Talan Penberthy, a junior, BrockFill hasn’t proved itself a satisfactory replacement. 

For Penberthy, the engineered wood particles beneath the playing surface are uncomfortable during physically-involved games and practices when the team is commonly on the ground.

“When I first fell, my elbow turned to shreds,” Penberthy said. “The way my cleat would dig into the turf felt off compared to other turf.”..

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Illinois Department of Public Health Launches $30 Million Program to Distribute Air Purifiers in Illinois Schools - 60,000 HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) purifiers to Illinois schools to help reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

IDPH Launches $30 Million Program to Distribute Air Purifiers in Illinois Schools

Press Release - Thursday, March 16, 2023

CHICAGO - Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today that the state is launching a $29.6 million program to distribute more than 60,000 HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) purifiers to Illinois schools to help reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

IDPH is coordinating the program with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). The program is funded by the CDC through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and is targeted for school districts that serve lower income communities and counties that have elevated air pollution counts. IDPH estimates almost 3,000 schools will be eligible for the program, covering 68 percent of school districts in the state. It will cover schools throughout the state, including Cook County, with the exception of Chicago, which has received a separate federal grant.

"There is nothing more important to me than keeping Illinoisans safe and healthy—especially when it comes to our youth," said Governor JB Pritzker. "We know that our children need to stay healthy and study in classrooms that are well-ventilated in order to thrive and succeed. Thanks to this $30 million investment, schoolchildren will experience cleaner air—preventing illness and absenteeism, while improving our children's ability to think and learn."

"I have devoted much of my career to protecting and promoting the health of children," said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra, who is a pediatrician. "Data over these last three years have shown us the critical importance of good ventilation to keep children and adults safe from respiratory illnesses. These HEPA air purifiers are a significant investment in our children, and I am very excited that the State of Illinois can make this impact. They will keep kids healthy and in school, ensuring more opportunities for learning and success for years to come."

"Every Illinois student deserves a safe, healthy learning environment regardless of zip code or income level," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony Sanders. "Improving classroom ventilation with air purifiers is a proven method we can use to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, the flu, and RSV, and, at the same time, reduce absences related to illness. A child's health and attendance is inextricably tied to their ability to learn, and I'm pleased the State is making this vital investment."

IDPH is launching an enrollment process in coordination with ISBE through which schools can submit orders for portable HEPA air purifiers. The administrators of eligible school districts will be contacted directly with information about how many purifiers that their districts are eligible to receive. The portable air purifiers will be delivered to school districts in the coming months. Schools will generally be eligible for one small air filter unit for each 20 students in a school, with a limited number of larger units for districts with more than 1,000 students.

Questions from school administrators should be directed to the IDPH Air Purifier Project Inbox at

Studies show that cleaner air can reduce absentee rates, and improve students' abilities to think, learn, read and solve math problems.

Last year IDPH issued ventilation guidance to educate the community on the impact of ventilation systems and to provide information about low cost and DIY interventions for ventilation upgrades.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Disapproval of the Appointment of James Hedrick to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

More on County Council's selection of James Hedrick for the Montgomery County Planning Board.

Exclusive: Financial Disclosure Forms for James Hedrick: What those Forms Did Not Disclose. #MontgomeryCountyPlanningBoard

Below is the Financial Disclosure Statement filed for Montgomery County Planning Board applicant James Hedrick. 

Mr. Hedrick has been appointed by the Montgomery County Council to take a seat on the Montgomery County Planning Board.  Under Section 15-103 of the Land Use Article of the Md. Code Ann., the Montgomery County Executive must approve or disapprove the Planning Board appointments within 30 days. If no communication is received, the appointments are approved.

Mr. Hedrick's Financial Disclosure Form fails to disclose that he serves as chair of Rockville Housing Enterprises (a public housing agency).

The form also fails to disclose Mr. Hedrick's service on the board of a nonprofit Action Committee for Transit.

Anything else omitted from Mr. Hedrick's Financial Disclosure Forms?  

Montgomery County Council appoints three new Planning Board members - Pending Approval of Montgomery County Executive

March 1, 2023

Shawn Bartley, James Hedrick, and Mitra Pedoeem have been appointed

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is pleased to welcome three new Planning Board members appointed by the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, February 28. The new Planning Board members include Shawn Bartley (R), James Hedrick (D), and Mitra Pedoeem (I). Contingent upon the County Executive’s approval of the appointments, the new Board members could start as early as March 9, 2023.

The outgoing temporary Planning Board members include Vice Chair Amy L. Presley, David Hill, and Cherri Branson. Since their time on the five-member Planning Board over the last four months, the Planning Board has approved 122 development plans, and reviewed and provided guidance on different stages of master plans such as the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan, Pedestrian Master Plan, Fairland and Briggs Chaney Master Plan, the Great Seneca Plan, and the University Boulevard Corridor Plan; the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan Design Guidelines;  and studies such as the Mapping Segregation Project and Wheaton Downtown Study.

Current Planning Board Chair Jeff Zyontz and current Planning Board member Roberto Piñero will continue to serve on the Planning Board in their positions until June 2023, and until the County Council appoints their permanent replacements.

“I welcome Shawn Bartley, James Hedrick, and Mitra Pedoeem to serve on the Planning Board and congratulate them on their appointment by the Council,” said Planning Board Chair Jeff Zyontz. “I look forward to their expertise and perspective as we continue the important work of planning for the future of Montgomery County. I also offer my heartfelt gratitude to my colleagues, Vice Chair Amy Presley and Commissioners Cherri Branson and David Hill for generously giving their time, attention, and able advice over the last several months.”

Each newly appointed Planning Board member will serve the unexpired terms of the previous Planning Board members who resigned last October 2022. The terms for the newly appointed Planning Board members are:

  • Shawn Bartley (R) until June 14, 2024.
  • Mitra Pedoeem (I) until June 14, 2025.
  • James Hedrick (D) until June 14, 2026.

Under Section 15-103 of the Land Use Article of the Md. Code Ann., the Montgomery County Executive must approve or disapprove the Planning Board appointments within 30 days. If no communication is received, the appointments are approved.

View the Montgomery County Council press release.

Detectives Arrest Gaithersburg Man for Attempted Kidnapping at @mcps Bus Stop

 For Immediate Release: Monday, March 20, 2023

Gaithersburg, MD – Detectives from the Montgomery County Department of Police – Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID) have arrested 31-year-old Jamaal Germany, of Gaithersburg, for an attempted kidnapping that occurred this morning, Monday, March 20, 2023.

SVID detectives are asking for anyone who believes that they may have been a victim of Germany to call 240-773-5400.

At approximately 7:54 a.m., the Community Engagement Officer (CEO) of Redland Middle School responded to the school for the report of an attempted kidnapping.

The victim stated that they were standing at the bus stop in the 17600 block of Towne Crest Dr., at approximately 7:20 a.m., when the suspect allegedly grabbed the child and pulled them toward an apartment building. Several students who were standing at the bus stop attempted to intervene and the victim was able to break free. When the school bus arrived, all the students boarded the bus and the incident was reported to school staff.

Through the course of the investigation, detectives identified Germany as the suspect. He was arrested and transported to the Montgomery County Central Processing Unit, where he was charged with attempted kidnapping and second-degree assault. Bond information is not available at this time.

Jamaal GermanyJamaal Germany (Original Image)

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Whitman High School Letter: "serious incident involving antisemitic graffiti that was reported today"

March 23, 2023

Dear Walt Whitman High School Community Members.

I am writing to make you aware of a serious incident at our school today, Thursday, March 23 and how it was addressed.

Two students found a swastika carved into the surface of a wooden stool in a science lab. This is a hateful symbol of antisemitism and is prohibited under MCPS Policy ACA Nondiscrimination, Equity, and Cultural Proficiency. Per established protocols, we immediately notified the Montgomery County Police, the Office of School Support and Well-Being, and have filed the appropriate reporting forms for this matter. As always, this type of behavior is deeply troubling and it requires that we immediately begin an investigation. If we are able to identify any student who may be responsible, that individual will face consequences in accordance with the MCPS Student Code of Conduct.  

Yet again, I have to write and let our community know about another instance of behavior that is antisemitic. We have done so much as a school community to call out this type of activity and to educate our students while still addressing and healing from past incidents of antisemitism. Subsequently, having to write another letter is very distressing for me and profoundly upsetting for our Jewish community. While it feels like a gut punch to find another example of antisemitic hate, we remain undeterred and will forge ahead with our efforts. Unfortunately, the increase in incidents we’ve experienced at Whitman are on par with a disturbing trend in Maryland. An audit released today by ADL shows a 98% increase in antisemitic incidents in Maryland in 2022. 

We are committed to ensuring that all students, including Jewish students, are safe, valued, and can thrive in our school. This week, our PTSA hosted a session called Creating a Community of Care for parents in the Whitman cluster. As such, we will continue to intensify our efforts to use education and our partnerships with community organizations to engage our students, staff, and parents in conversations about respecting and celebrating our diverse community. On April 12, we will be holding student town hall meetings by grade level to review the MCPS Student Code of Conduct and share the school system’s new protocols for addressing specific incidents of hate/bias and discrimination. Furthermore in May, we will be partnering with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) to provide students with the opportunity to hear from children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. Finally, in August, we are again partnering with JCRC and ADL to provide our staff with a comprehensive training on the experience of Jewish students in schools and antisemitism and its manifestation in schools.     

We encourage families to have conversations with their students about respecting and showing acceptance to all people and demonstrating understanding of our differences. I also can’t emphasize enough that parents must talk to their children about the serious school consequences associated with engaging in hateful or discriminatory behavior. Please see these resources for how to talk to your children about antisemitism:

  • 5 Tips for Talking with Children About Antisemitism - JSSA 

  • Parents’ and Caregivers’ Guide to Countering Antisemitism - Nickelodeon and USC Shoah Foundation

Thank you to the students who reported this incident. If you have any information in regard to it, please contact the main office at 240-740-4800.  


Robert W. Dodd, EdD


Walt Whitman High School

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

What is lacking from the @mcps school, however, is an awareness campaign that educates students on fentanyl dangers, overdose statistics and the increased use of fentanyl in teenagers.

Quince Orchard High School Student Overdoses During Lunch Hour

This Tuesday, March 21, 2023, a Quince Orchard High student was found unconscious in McDonalds’ bathroom, during lunch hour, and was administered narcan by emergency personnel. For those that are not aware, narcan is used to reverse opioid overdose, restores breathing, and generally prevents overdose death.

As customary in these cases, a letter went out from the principal, describing the event and stating that counselors are available to students. What is lacking from the school, however, is an awareness campaign that educates students on fentanyl dangers, overdose statistics and the increased use of fentanyl in teenagers...

Quince Orchard High School Student Overdoses During Lunch Hour | Gaithersburg, MD Patch

@mcps @mocoboe Montgomery County High School Student Uses Narcan to Save Classmate from Overdose at McDonald's - Five Montgomery County students have died from overdoses this school year alone, officials said.

Seven Locks Elementary Holds Town Hall to Address Incidents at the school, changes "follow-up" structures.

Good evening 4th grade families, 

Based on the outcomes of this afternoon's Town Hall, our follow-up structures have changed, and we will no longer be having small group meetings. Dr. Bingham sought out several of you this evening, who she will be speaking with directly, and that information will be shared with the larger team as we move forward. If you did not connect with Dr. Bingham, someone else who was a part of our panel today or would like to meet with me, please reach out directly. Our goal is to listen to your concerns and address each of them with care and attention. Additionally, Dr. Crews has coordinated additional counseling services to be on-site tomorrow and through the week. If you would NOT like your child to have any support from a school counselor, please reach out to me directly. I look forward to continuing to partner to support our students' safety and well-being. Respectfully, Mrs. Carr 

Ilana Carr Seven Locks Principal 

Supreme Court unanimously rules for deaf student in education case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday for a deaf student who sued his public school system for providing an inadequate education. The case is significant for other disabled students who allege they were failed by school officials.

The case the justices ruled in involves Miguel Luna Perez, who attended public school in Sturgis, Michigan. Perez’s lawyers told the court that for 12 years the school system neglected the boy and lied to his parents about the progress he was making, permanently stunting his ability to communicate.

The justices ruled that after Perez and his family settled a complaint against the school system — with officials agreeing to pay for additional schooling and sign language instruction — they could pursue money damages under a different federal law. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in an eight-page opinion for the court that the case “holds consequences not just for Mr. Perez but for a great many children with disabilities and their parents.”..

Supreme Court unanimously rules for deaf student in education case | PBS NewsHour

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

UPDATE: Quince Orchard High School is across the street from where the teen was found at the McDonald's.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Restorative Justice: An In-Depth Look in Response to Alleged Hate-Bias Incidents at B-CC

 “Until every student feels the school genuinely wants to help them and is willing to hear them without simultaneously passing personal judgment, the adults have not succeeded—both in the school and the larger family community.”

...After reporting the incident to administration, the students were brought into an RJ circle on January 9, with some students unaware that the circle was happening: “I thought we were about to take a test. The fact that [RJ] was taking place was a complete surprise,” a student reveals. Prior to the circle, an email sent by Administrator Rebecca Sutton to students and parents in the class stated that “we [B-CC administration] are still investigating the incident and working on restorative measures we can take to support the class.” Sutton shared with 
The Tattler, “we open all circles by expressing that they are voluntary, but have recently heard from students that they were unclear on how to excuse themselves, so we are working on improving the language around that to make it more clear as to how they excuse themselves.”..

Restorative Justice: An In-Depth Look in Response to Alleged Hate-Bias Incidents at B-CC – The Tattler (

Sunday, March 19, 2023

MCPS superintendent exempt from Elrich's proposed 10% property tax increase

Superintendent McKnight

Practically everyone has heard by now that Montgomery County Executive Elrich has proposed a 10% property tax increase. If approved by the County Council, the tax increase will impact nearly every resident of Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is proposing a $6.8 billion budget that fully funds the public schools’ request for an increase of $296 million. That would put the operating budget for Montgomery County Public Schools at $3.2 billion.

However, Superintendent McKnight (with a salary of $320,000 + over $50,000 in benefits) is exempt from any Montgomery County property tax increase.  In fact, McKnight is exempt from all Montgomery County property taxes. She is also exempt from paying Montgomery County income tax, which is 3.2% of income.  McKnight is also exempt from Montgomery County energy tax and Montgomery County cell phone tax.  

McKnight's exemption from Montgomery County taxes stems from the fact that she is a Prince George's County resident.

As a Prince George's county resident, the only tax that McKnight likely pays to Montgomery County is sales tax.  Does McKnight shop in Montgomery County?  Maybe to grab lunch, but that's about it.

McKnight's employment contract requires her to reside in Montgomery County by July 1, 2023.

The contract released Tuesday requires McKnight to relocate to Montgomery County as soon as possible but no later than June 30, 2023. The board will pay up to $15,000 in relocation costs. Her family currently resides in Prince George’s County.

McKnight still owns her home in PG County and there's no indication that she is moving anytime soon.  Her home is not listed for sale with any real estate agent and SDAT records show that McKnight's PG County home continues to be claimed as her primary residence.  

Will McKnight move to Montgomery County by July 1, as required by her contract?  Or will the Board of Education give her an extension?  Or will she rent temporary housing to subvert the contract requirement?  And if she rents, will she inform SDAT that her PG County home is no longer her primary residence?  Will she list Montgomery County as her residence on her income tax return so that her county income taxes will be forwarded to Montgomery County instead of PG County? 

Stay tuned for the answers to these questions and more as we approach July 1.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Elrich Doubles Down on Hiring Former County Council Member

One of last month’s most read stories was Elrich Wants to Create a New Job for Term Limited Council Member.  That post revealed that the county executive sent over legislation to create a new job for work on broadband and named the intended recipient: former Council Member Craig Rice, whose tenure in office was ended by term limits.  That was supposed to be a secret but Elrich’s assistant let it slip through an email.

Well, it’s a secret no longer as Elrich made it official on Friday.  He sent the council a formal packet naming Rice and enclosing his resume.  I am not printing Rice’s resume because I refuse to dox him, but here are extracts from the packet proving that this new job is being created for him...

Elrich Doubles Down on Hiring Former County Council Member - Montgomery Perspective