Monday, January 13, 2014

"we need to completely eviscerate Mr. Z. and his report..." - How Leggett & Council Gave Away a MCPS High School in 2010.

Right now, MCPS is running to the State of Maryland legislature and lobbying for school construction money, claiming that they are out of public school classroom space.

But, just a few years ago, in the fall of 2010 to be exact, County Executive Ike Leggett and some on the Montgomery County Council (by a vote of 8 to 1) worked very, very hard to give away an entire MCPS high school to a private entity!

The public high school building sat on 19.5 acres of public school land.
The Montgomery County Board of Education objected to the sale of the high school and site, but the County Executive and a majority of the County Council were unmoved by their position.

How did this happen?  Let's take a look back at how the public school students of Montgomery County lost a 19.5 acre high school site and an entire high school building, just three years ago.  

The Parents' Coalition has obtained e-mails from County Executive Ike Leggett's office.  Here's are two e-mails from November 28, 2010, the day before a County Council joint committee hearing was going to be held on the sale of the Peary High School site.  The e-mails are both addressed to Diane Jones of the County Executive's staff.

Who's who in the e-mails shown below:

Montgomery County Council staff:
Jeffrey L. Zyontz, Legislative Attorney
Michael Faden, Senior Legislative Attorney
Their November 29, 2010, report can be read in its entirety at this link.

County Executive Ike Leggett staff:
Diane Jones

Attorney for private entity wishing to purchase Peary High School site:
Lawrence Stern

At the time of this e-mail, Duchy Trachtenberg was finishing her term as a member of the County Council.


  1. I was there that night, when the County Council gave away prime MC land with a high school on it for $52K an acre. Usually the land would have been worth between $750K to $1M. The MC Council disregarded all data, including the 2006 Sesker report, in which the county paid an independent firm to investigate the viability of the sale. The Sesker report made it clear that the sale of Peary HS was a very bad deal for the county. On the night of the hearing, there was a lynch mob environment for anyone who would dare suggest that the MC Council should continue to lease the land, rather than sell it for pennies on the dollar. And now, less than four years later, the county and MCPS has declared that there is a "capacity crisis."

  2. I was there too. It was a kangaroo court, presided over by Nancy Floreen (D-at-large). People were screaming insults at the speakers and she did nothing, and not one person on the council said a word while this was going on. Typical Montgomery County 'democracy' at work. Congratulations to the Democratic Party. Well done.

  3. Our government, our schools, our kids' education... for sale to the highest bidder. The IG and MD Attorney General need to investigate.

  4. As part of a new campaign by MCPS to reach audiences that do not have children in the school system, Bruce Crispell visited the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda yesterday. He talked about the shortage of classrooms and the urgent need for more construction money. He tried to convince the audience that although there are many needs in the County (e.g. libraries), the school system should be a priority because of its growth. He listed the new schools that MCPS is currently constructing or is planning to build over the next few years that need funding, but failed to disclose that recently MCPS disposed of a valuable school property with the help of the County Council and the County Executive, as evidenced in the above post. The disposition of Peary HS occurred despite strong objections from the community.

    Crispell also complained that the State does not provide MCPS with enough funds for construction because of what he thought was its lack of sympathy for larger jurisdictions. Perhaps it is not the size of the jurisdiction that matters but the decision making of its leaders, and politics as usual in Montgomery County that the State does not like.
    D. Wilson

  5. It should be noted that the Jewish private school that bought the property and its students' families spent a lot of money on maintainance and improvement after they began leasing it. From the time Peary HS was closed (?1984?) until the Jewish school moved in the property had been wholly neglected.

    1. Their risk. Sorry, this was a public school BUILDING on public school LAND paid for by TAXPAYERS. Your choice to risk investment on public school property. As this story turned out, they got the building for FREE. NOTHING that they did justified that result.
      Now, the public school children of Montgomery County pay the ultimate price.

    2. By the way, anonymous, please justify the behavior of the parties in this e-mail. The Berman Academy attorney, Ike Leggett's staffer, and Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg.
      Collusion of these parties to make the County Council attorney look bad on television? That serves the public how? Do all citizens have this opportunity? Can we all set up the County Council staff to look bad on television when we are advocating on public issues?


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