Thursday, June 30, 2016

Schools Reminded Not To Delay Special Ed Evaluations

Officials at the U.S. Department of Education are raising concerns that school districts are inappropriately holding up or preventing evaluations of kids who may have disabilities.
In a notice sent to state education leaders across the country this spring, the federal agency said that it is worried that some schools “may be using response to intervention (RTI) strategies to delay or deny a timely initial evaluation for preschool children suspected of having a disability.”
That is problematic, the Education Department said, because the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that states and school districts ensure that all children needing special education services are flagged...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

“The incidents of child sexual exploitation has reached staggering proportions,”

238 arrested in “Operation Heartbreak” sting on child predators in California, 1,400 accused perverts busted nationwide

...Officials stressed how important it was for parents to talk to their children about internet safety, especially on social media, where the majority of child predators lurk for victims...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Today on Kojo: Montgomery County Schools Face Discrimination Complaint

Jawando files Civil Rights complaint against MCPS

Former congressional candidate Will Jawando announced Wednesday he filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging inequity within Montgomery County Public Schools.

“The complaint alleges that MCPS has violated and continues to violate Title VI with respect to the manner in which it administers recruitment and selection of students for admission to its highly-popular, language immersion programs at the elementary school level,” Jawando said in a statement Wednesday.
Jawando, an attorney, announced he filed the complaint on behalf of his daughter, “and other similarly situated children.”

The case relates to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights enforcement authority under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Jawando did not return multiple phone calls or emails requesting comment prior to deadline. He planned to host a Thursday afternoon press conference at the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville.

“We have much work to due to ensure true equity in our schools here and nationwide,” said Jawando in a May 17 tweet, in which he said MCPS is “no exception” to a rise in high-poverty, racially isolated schools...

Friday, June 24, 2016

China Vows to Replace ‘Poisonous’ Running Tracks at Schools

From the New York Times, June 23, reporter Owen Guo. To read the full story go here.

BEIJING — Chinese officials have pledged to replace school running tracks made of industrial waste that have reportedly sickened thousands of children, the latest public health scandal in a country already troubled by environmental hazards including air pollution and soil contamination.
The Ministry of Education said late Wednesday that it would coordinate with environmental protection and quality inspection authorities to inspect synthetic rubber tracks in schools across China during the summer break. Substandard running tracks — called “poisonous tracks” by the news media — are to be removed. Anyone who has cut corners in the construction of school sports facilities, the ministry said, will be “severely punished.’’ And it promised stricter oversight over the construction of such tracks.
The CCTV report, which said some tracks were made using recycled tires, cables and wires, provoked angry comments online. Some criticized government officials and school administrators for their lack of supervision.
“What kind of country would treat children’s health and lives as a joke?” a user identified as SoftLipa_cen wrote on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging service similar to Twitter.

Leggett pulls Carver, Westmore sites from bus depot talks

ROCKVILLE -- The Carver Educational Services Center and a County site at 1000 Westmore Avenue will not be used for relocating school buses from the Shady Grove Bus Depot.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced Thursday that public opposition to those sites being used to house more than 100 buses each influenced his decision to take Carver and Westmore off the table.
"Well, it's obvious we have a lot of contention about the sites and we need more time to get something before the public that is more acceptable," said Leggett...

2003: Residents want park to remain spot for recreation

It is now 2016, and the residents, parents, teachers and principal that live, work and play at and around Summit Hall Elementary School still want their park land to remain a spot for recreation.  They still do not want a cell tower in the middle of the fields.  

So why is the City of Gaithersburg Council ramming this construction project through when absolutely no one, not even the cell tower vendor, has publicly spoken in support of this project? 

Residents want park to remain spot for recreation
Aug. 6, 2003
Brooke W. Stanley
Staff Writer
Cell tower proposal fails in fourth attempt

A proposal for a cellular tower at Morris Park is not likely to be approved following a City Council work session last week where several residents criticized plans, saying the tower would eliminate recreation space, reduce the park's natural beauty and pose a potential health risk to residents.

The plan, which calls for a 130-foot tall cell tower and stadium light combination to be added next to the bleachers on the park's upper baseball field, was the fourth attempt by Milestone Communications to bring forward a plan that the community and council would approve. The plans also call for a 25-foot by 50-foot stone shelter to be built around other equipment that would have to accompany the tower. The park is located in the West Deer Park neighborhood.

The tower will help make area cell phone reception better for residents and could bring the city an estimated $10,000 per year for each phone company using the tower, said Len Forkas of Milestone Communications.

But residents did not think the money was worth the intrusion on their life.

"It's going to be an ugly, ugly structure," said Bruce Johnson, a resident of Summit Hall Road.

Johnson said he sees no reason why a tower has to be put at the park.

"It's not something that's going to go away for me because I'm going to see it every day," he said...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"One of the things that we don’t feel the [City] Council has done a good job on at this time is educating and engaging the community about the cell tower,” said Oscar Alvarenga, PTA president of Summit Hall Elem.

Gaithersburg pursues more towers 

GAITHERSBURG – The City Council advanced a controversial proposal to permit Verizon to construct a cell tower at Morris Park over the objections of its most junior member and several city residents.

The council passed a resolution Monday to authorize City Manager Tony Tomasello to immediately execute an agreement with Verizon to construct the tower.

Council Member Robert Wu expressed concern about the lack of information regarding several aspects of the proposal.

“I’ll be frank, I’m vexed, and I have a lot of consternation about the way the Council is handling this issue,” Wu said.

“It’s hard for me to say that because I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone on the Council over the last six months and I have the utmost respect for you gentlemen…to be frank, I think you have blinders on here with respect to this issue…I don’t believe this has been explored; I don’t believe you have a firm grasp on the issues related to the cell tower, and that troubles me.”

Wu noted a lack of public notice with regards to the project, saying he himself did not know the issue would be on the calendar until the previous night...

Breaking: Leggett Withdraws Request for Moving MCPS Bus Lot, Removes Carver and Westmore sites from Future Plan

From: Austin, Lisa On Behalf Of Kirkland, Bonnie
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 11:49 AM
To: Floreen's Office, Councilmember <>
Cc: Jablow, Judy <>; Lauer, Linda <>; Pecoraro, Karen <>; Mihill, Amanda <>; Drummer, Bob <>; Hamlin, Joseph <>; Farber, Steve <>; Nurmi, Joy <>; Lacefield, Patrick <>; Dise, David E. <>; Kirkland, Bonnie <>
Subject: Withdrawal of Executive Order 016-15, Disposition of County Service Park East

Dear Council President Floreen,

I am forwarding a memorandum from the County Executive relating to Withdrawal of Executive Order 016-15, Disposition of County Service Park East.  This PDF document is being forwarded to you in advance of the original, hard copy which will be delivered to Council.
Thank you,
Lisa Austin, SEAA
Offices of the County Executive
101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor
Rockville, MD  20850

Martin Rye Brown, 29, of Silver Spring, Md. was charged two counts of prostitution and human trafficking.

Prince George's Co. teacher arrested in prostitution sting



Civil rights complaint alleges discrimination in MCPS language immersion programs

A former Obama administration White House aide has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Montgomery County school system, alleging discrimination against his daughter and other children of color in the district’s highly popular language-immersion programs.
Will Jawando, who also worked for the U.S. Department of Education and recently lost a race for Congress in the Democratic primary, argues in the complaint that the high-performing Maryland school district is violating federal law in the way it recruits and selects its language immersion students.
The school system fails to publicize the opportunities in areas with high percentages of black and Hispanic students — or to “conduct meaningful outreach” — and many parents are unaware that such options exist, according to the complaint, which Jawando filed this week.
“As a result, many of the high-demand language immersion programs enroll disproportionately high numbers of white, non-poor students, while denying benefits of the program to otherwise interested and qualified students of color and those from lower-income families,” it says.
The complaint asks the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate and requests that the school system be required to enter into an agreement to expand access to, and better serve, African American and Hispanic students in elementary language immersion and other special academic programs...

...Jawando plans to gather with other affected families at a news conference Thursday outside school system offices in Rockville...

Rockville demands bus depot input as county mulls options

ROCKVILLE – The city's elected members Tuesday asked Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen (D) for "a seat at the table" during the June 21 work session to discuss the future of the Shady Grove Bus Depot.
Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and the four City Council members signed the June 14 letter requesting the County "formally coordinate with the City on the bus depot relocation discussions."
At stake is where to relocate more than 400 school buses parked at the Shady Grove Bus Depot. The County has to sign off on a Declaration of No Further Need before a residential developer could construct buildings on the site next year.
City Council members and the mayor also asked to be included in an interagency workgroup in order to help County officials "find a solution that is more cost-effective and strategic in location, and will not adversely impact existing neighborhoods."
"The lack of foresight, planning, and public process for this significant undertaking is disappointing," they said in the letter, adding County officials have known about it since at least the time of the 2003 draft of the Shady Grove Sector Plan...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

County Council No Closer to Solving School Bus Parking Controversy

County Council No Closer to Solving School Bus Parking Controversy: Council appears poised to delay process for handing over land of Shady Grove school bus depot

PTA President, Principal & Teachers Ask for Delay in Vote on Cell Tower Next to Summit Hall Elementary

Summit Hall Elementary School PTA President asks the City of Gaithersburg Council to delay any vote on the proposal to put a cell tower in the middle of the field next to Summit Hill Elementary School to allow for the school staff, parents and community to be informed about the proposed cell tower.

Leventhal on Bus Depot and the Shady Grove Sector Plan (VIDEO)

At a County Council meeting today, Councilmember George Leventhal said he will not support putting school buses at the Carver Education Services Center. His remarks were greeted with applause from many residents in the audience.
During his remarks at the dais, Leventhal also said he wishes he didn’t vote for the Shady Grove Sector Plan.
Find out more in this MyMCMedia Extra video:

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rockville Residents Oppose Carver Bus Depot Site (VIDEOS)

The Montgomery County Council held a meeting today about the relocation of the Shady Grove Bus Depot.
In the audience were members of the Carver Coalition who oppose parking school buses at the Carver Educational Services Center.
The residents were not allowed to testify at today’s meeting but they carried signs and wore yellow t-shirts to get their message across.
Find out more in these MyMCMedia Extra videos, below:

Parents Want to Reopen Old Woodward High School to Ease Walter Johnson Capacity Problems

Parents Want to Reopen Old Woodward High School to Ease Walter Johnson Capacity Problems: 155-page ‘Roundtable Discussion Group’ report makes clear preference of PTA groups

School Bus Parking Debate Continues on June 21

Monday, June 20, 2016

Parents Say NO to Cell Tower on Summit Hall Elementary Fields #NoCellTower

This evening at 7:30 PM, the City of Gaithersburg will approve a proposal to put a no bid cell tower on the field next to Summit Hall Elementary School.  Parents and neighbors to this location have spoken in opposition to this construction project.  In fact, Verizon made the same proposal 10 years ago to put a cell tower next to Summit Hall Elementary School and the proposal was rejected back then.

City of Gaithersburg parents want to know why they are having to come back and discuss this proposal again when the community has already rejected a cell tower on these ball fields.

Oh, and the cell tower will be built in a flood plain.

here are pictures of the contract Montgomery County quietly signed to purchase 1000 Westmore Avenue for use as a school bus parking

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Montgomery County Council betrayed you again - wil...: A picture is worth a thousand words - and here are pictures of the contract Montgomery County quietly signed to purchase 1000 Westmore Ave...

Sex offenders shouldn't be allowed to expunge their records

Commentator Sean Kennedy bemoans the fact that the General Assembly authorized expungement of convictions for only 50 crimes in the Justice Reinvestment Act ("Redemption and rewards for felons," June 6).

He does not delineate what these crimes are, nor does he mention the longstanding and common practice of plea-bargaining serious crimes. He also does not mention that these expungements undermine the efficacy of criminal history background check requirements for those who have access to or work with vulnerable children, the elderly and the disabled.

Although a legislator who pushed these expungements had claimed that he had no interest in expunging sexually related crimes, somehow brothel owners and pimps who prostitute children and women were allowed the privilege of having their records expunged.
More problematic is that those convicted of second-degree assault, despite having physically or sexually abused children, can now have their cases expunged.

Expungement means complete obliteration of the record. Should an elementary school teacher who molested four of his young students have the right to completely obscure his criminal history because he was fortunate enough to be convicted of second-degree assault rather than of felony sex abuse charges because the prosecutor did not want to put the children through a trial?

Why should he be allowed to pass a criminal history background check so that he can then get a job working with children in camps, schools and juvenile detention centers or adopt or foster a child without anyone being aware of his past criminal history?

Rather than accusing those who are concerned with the protection children of lacking compassion, perhaps proponents should give more thought to the welfare of those too vulnerable to protect themselves. Rather than passing more expungement legislation next session, legislators instead should amend the Justice Reinvestment Act to preclude the expungement of second degree assault records.

Ellen Mugmon, Elkridge
Copyright © 2016, The Baltimore Sun

Secret Deal Set for Cell Tower for Summit Hall Elementary School Field

Chart shows that 82% of students live in poverty.
Welcome to Montgomery County!

How does our community treat our poorest residents?

We exclude them from participating in public decisions and mark their communities with cell towers on their playgrounds and fields.

On Monday, June 20, 2016, the City of Gaithersburg Council will vote to authorize staff to sign a secret lease with a cell tower company to build a cell tower on the fields next to Summit Hall Elementary School.

The City Council is giving the public absolutely NO INFORMATION about the proposed cell tower construction project.  The lease that is being authorized HAS NOT BEEN MADE PUBLIC.
There are absolutely NO DETAILS about the cell tower.
For example:
  • What HAZMAT materials will be stored at the site?  
  • What type of cell tower will be built? 
  • What type of fencing will be used? 
  • Will there be barbed wire?  
  • Will the cell tower have a light at the top or at the base?  
  • Where will the road be constructed for accessing the cell tower?  
  • Will cell tower workers be prevented from accessing the cell tower during baseball/softball games or will their trucks be freely traveling the field as the games are played?
  • How will the cell tower compound be landscaped? 
  • When is the balloon test?
  • How big will the cell tower site be initially? 
  • Where will the site be expanded as carriers are added?  
  • Will Verizon be paying the property taxes on the cell tower compound?
  • Where will PEPCO be running power to the site?
  • What about flooding at Morris Park?  
We will stop there.

Those are just some of the many unanswered questions about the Summit Hall Elementary School field cell tower that will be approved Monday evening.

Now, if this cell tower were being proposed for say, Whitman High School's baseball field would the parents and neighbors have an opportunity to have their questions answered and would they be given the details?
We know the answer to that question.  There already was a cell tower proposed for the Whitman High School baseball field and the cell tower vendor held a meeting for parents.

Affluent = Gets meeting with details and can ask questions.
Poor = Gets zip.

Welcome to Montgomery County!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

After 6-figure salaried County officials fail to find bus depot site; Planning Board chair tells residents to "step up to the plate"

From Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row, Friday, June 17, for the full story go here.

Montgomery County Planning Board commissioners lambasted the County's Department of General Services' plan to acquire the WINX property at 1000 Westmore Avenue in Rockville, before voting to disapprove the acquisition. Their comments followed testimony by Rockville's mayor, residents, and civic leaders, which outlined a questionable process and a lack of transparency by the County. Commissioners were also shocked to learn that the DGS had secretly signed a sales contract with the landowner of 1000 Westmore on April 28, just days before requesting a mandatory referral review by the Board.

"It looks like the horse is already out of the barn," Commissioner Norman Dreyfuss said, after reviewing a copy of the executed contract submitted moments earlier by Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton. DGS, it became apparent, had not even shared the existence of the contract with the Planning Department. "The County is going to acquire this property, or default on the contract," Dreyfuss said.

Under the mandatory referral process, even the disapproval of the Board last night will not prevent the County from moving forward with its acquisition, and expected use as school bus parking for Montgomery County Public Schools. The County is desperately searching for several bus parking sites, so it can sell the existing MCPS bus depot in Shady Grove to a developer in a deal known as the "Smart Growth Initiative."

But powerful testimony by Lincoln Park residents showed the politically-treacherous road ahead for County politicians if they decide to press on with the Westmore plan.

"As far back as I can remember, we have been struggling to live in peace in Lincoln Park, and every few years we are fighting some monster that is threatening our security," said Fran Hawkins, a 69 year resident. "When they closed historic Lincoln Park High School (Lincoln High School opened in 1935 to serve black students shut out of County high schools by segregation), they parked buses there for decades," she noted of the MCPS Stonestreet Avenue property now home to decaying trailers. Those trailers replaced the buses when the County moved the depot to 16651 Crabbs Branch Way in Shady Grove, she recalled.