Thursday, August 17, 2017

Father upset about quality of [MCPS] summer camp lunch @mocoboe @mcps

..."I was appalled that this is what they offered kids," he said. 
Ferguson sent an email to Montgomery County Department of Recreation, asking for answers. We reached out to them as well. It turns out that the meals aren't actually included in the camp's tuition. According to a spokesperson, the program is part of the Montgomery County Public Schools providing nutritional food to kids during the summer season...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Health and safety concerns raised at Shady Side cell tower meeting

Capital Gazette: 
At a tense meeting Wednesday night, officials who have proposed placing a cellphone tower on the property of Shady Shade Elementary School were met with opposition from neighboring residents worried about the health and safety of children attending the school.
Verizon Wireless and Milestone Communications want to place a 114-foot monopole in the woods behind the school, which they say is needed to improve cellphone reception in the area. Inside Shady Side Community Center on Wednesday, where the meeting was held at 7 p.m., Verizon had a weak 4G signal.
The placement would be part of an agreement that Milestone made with Anne Arundel County Public Schools in 2012, which it renewed this summer, allowing the company to lease portions of school system properties to build telecommunications monopoles.
In addition to health and safety concerns about the radiofrequency radiation emitted from the tower, people at the meeting raised concerns about the transparency in the process and who would have access to the site...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Unsafe to play on, North Harford High artificial turf field to be replaced

The North Harford High School artificial turf athletic field, the first field of its type installed among Harford County's 10 public high schools, will be replaced because it has been deemed unsafe to use, according to county officials...
...Boniface said repairs to the North Harford field were a priority capital project for the school system; an engineering report indicated serious deficiencies.
"We recommend no competition activities be held on this field and it shall only be used for PE class/recreation purposes after the implantation of professional maintenance services or until the field is fully replaced," according to a field evaluation report prepared by Leading Design and Development LLC, of Lovettsville, Va.
The firm worked with Frederick Ward Associates, of Bel Air, to evaluate eight artificial turf fields at high schools and recreation facilities in Harford County for the school system and the county's Department of Parks and Recreation. The report is dated Dec. 19, 2016.
The data on North Harford's field is taken from an LDD field survey conducted June 22, 2016.
"The [turf] fibers are severely deteriorated and are showing signs of UV degradation causing them to be very brittle and laid over," according to the survey. "The deteriorated fibers are causing the infill to accumulate on the surface which is effecting the aesthetics and traction performance on the playing surface."
The field is used daily for sports such as football, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, according to the report.
The engineering review estimated the turf system has less than one year's worth of "anticipated useful life" left for "mild recreational use," however.
"When the independent study results were received, the North Harford High School community was notified that no activities would be held on the synthetic turf field because of potential safety concerns about traction and footing issues," Jillian Lader, manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools, said via email Tuesday...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Montgomery County settles with family of man who died after being shot by Taser - $1.75 Million

Montgomery County officials have settled a civil rights violation claim with the family of a Gaithersburg man who died after county police officers shot him with a Taser during a 2013 arrest.
The county paid the family $1.75 million but admitted no liability, the county’s chief of litigation, Patricia Via, said Thursday. The amount was approved by the finance director and covered by the county’s self-insurance program. It does not require approval by the County Council, she said.
The settlement was reached in June.
The family alleged in a recent letter written to county officials that officers violated Anthony Howard Sr.’s civil rights during the April 19, 2013, arrest...

Exclusive: Complaint in Jane Doe v. Montgomery County Board of Education #SexualAbuse #BrianFrosh #MCPS #MOCOBOE #AppleBallot

Sunday, August 13, 2017

“As a result of the school board’s failure to properly investigate, supervise and protect students in response to actual notice, it needlessly endangered students,” the complaint stated.

Family Sues MCPS After Silver Spring Teacher’s Conviction in Sexual Abuse Case
...According to the suit, MCPS is at fault because the system should have done more to address reports of Vigna’s sexual misconduct. The 2008 allegations resulted in a letter of reprimand, while the 2013 allegations prompted officials to remove Vigna from the classroom for three weeks and reprimand him again, according to the suit. After the second report of inappropriate conduct, he was transferred from teaching third-graders in a portable classroom to a fifth-grade class that was inside the main school building, where his supervisors could keep an eye on him, the complaint stated.
But they should have also taken other corrective steps, such as firing Vigna, giving him a long-term suspension or shifting him to a position that didn’t involve interaction with students, according to the plaintiffs...
http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/2017/Family-Sues-MCPS-After-Silver-Spring-Teachers-Conviction-in-Sexual-Abuse-Case/

Friday, August 11, 2017

WUSA9: Herman says he will go after decades of school records, which he says will reveal administrators were aware Vigna was a problem.



SILVER SPRING, MD (WUSA9) - Montgomery County Public Schools is being slapped with a big lawsuit. It centers on Cloverly Elementary School third grade teacher John Vigna. Last week, he was sentenced to 48 years in prison for sexually abusing children.

“The school had red flags that John Vigna was not safe,” said Attorney Jeff Herman, who filed the suit for the family of a 12-year-old girl. She alleges that Vigna repeatedly abused her starting in 2013. She is referred to in the case as “Jane Doe.” The case says that Vigna touched Doe’s genitals...

http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/maryland/montgomery-co-schools-sued-following-teachers-sex-abuse-conviction/463539866

WTOP: Montgomery Co. school board sued for millions over molestation of students

WASHINGTON — The Montgomery County Board of Education is being sued for millions of dollars in connection with a teacher who was convicted of child sex abuse.
In announcing the suit, Jeff Herman, a Florida lawyer who specializes in sexual abuse cases involving children, said Thursday “the school system here has failed miserably at protecting its students” from John Vigna, a former teacher at Cloverly Elementary School, in Silver Spring, Maryland, who was convicted of nine counts of sexual abuse in June and was sentenced to 48 years in prison last week.
Herman said he had filed a Title IX suit on behalf of family of one of the victims, who is now 12. He didn’t specify how much the family was seeking, but said it was in the millions...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Breaking News: Lawsuit Filed Against Montgomery County Public Schools for Child Sexual Abuse by John Vigna

***MEDIA ALERT***
NEWS CONFERENCE TODAY (THURSDAY)
Lawsuit Filed Against Montgomery County Public Schools
for Child Sexual Abuse by John Vigna

WHAT: Jeff Herman, a nationally recognized attorney for victims of sexual abuse,
announces the filing of a lawsuit against MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC
SCHOOLS (MCPS) for child sexual abuse by JOHN VIGNA, a teacher at
CLOVERLY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in Silver Spring, Maryland. VIGNA was
recently convicted and sentenced to 48 years in prison.

According to the Complaint:
• In 2008, Vigna was caught putting little girls on his lap two times in his fifth grade class
and was reprimanded.
• In 2013, Vigna was caught again putting a little girl on his lap in his fifth grade class.
After an investigation Vigna was reprimanded again and transferred to a third grade class.
• In 2013, Vigna was Jane Doe’s third grade teacher. Vigna groomed Jane Doe and began
putting her on his lap daily during lunch and movie time. Vigna sexually assaulted Jane
Doe by fondling her buttocks and vagina over her clothes and rubbed his erect penis
against her.
• Vigna directed Jane Doe to visit him in his classroom during lunch and dismissal time
when Jane Doe was in fourth and fifth grade. Vigna bought Jane Doe books from the
book fair and gave her candy. During these visits, Vigna continued to sexually abuse Jane
Doe and eventually began to digitally penetrate Jane Doe’s vagina.

JANE DOE v. Montgomery County Public was filed in Montgomery County.

“The school had red flags that John Vigna was not safe. This convicted pedophile
should not have been around these children.” said Jeff Herman, the attorney for the
victim in this case.

WHEN/WHERE: TODAY (THURSDAY), August 10th, 2017 at 1:30 pm  4 PM in front of
Montgomery County Public Schools
850 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, MD 20850

CONTACT: Krisel McSweeney; kmcsweeney@hermanlaw.com

Appellate Court Finds State Whistleblower Laws Do Not Cover Rockville Teacher

Appellate Court Finds State Whistleblower Laws Do Not Cover Rockville Teacher: Richard Montgomery teacher alleged MCPS penalized him for speaking to press

Pearson to Ax 3,000 Jobs, Slash Dividend #mcps #mocoboe #pearsonforward #achievementgap

LONDON—Education company Pearson PLC on Friday said it plans to cut around 3,000 jobs and would slash its dividend, as tough conditions in the industry are forcing it to reshape its business.
The job cuts are the latest as part of a restructuring program as the London-listed...

https://www.wsj.com/articles/pearson-to-axe-3-000-jobs-pretax-loss-narrows-1501830070

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

“The circuit court judge who presided over this case made a comment in court today, he thought the jury got it right, and so do we,” McCarthy said.

Former Silver Spring schoolteacher gets 48 years for sexual abuse

...For over 20 years at the school, Vigna had also taught fourth- and fifth-grade students. During trial, he testified that he never had intentional inappropriate contact with students.
Before a sentence was given, the father of one of the victims called Vigna “a monster which deserves to be in a cage.” The same parent also said Vigna stole his daughter’s innocence and “murdered her soul.”
“Some of these kids are really having emotionally hard times, really emotionally hard times, tough times sleeping, issues about suicide,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy...

Members of the Montgomery County Council say they’re taking notice after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Gov. Larry Hogan.

ROCKVILLE – Members of the Montgomery County Council say they’re taking notice after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Gov. Larry Hogan.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges that Hogan’s staff members deleted comments and blocked constituents from viewing his Facebook page.
“The highest purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the right of Americans to engage in political speech and to petition the government to address their concerns," said Deborah Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland in a statement.
The ACLU says Hogan’s social media staff deleted critical comments and blocked people from viewing the governor’s Facebook page and that this violates the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech.
“The immediate access people have has changed so rapidly over the past few years it is hard to keep up with it,” said County Executive Ike Leggeett. “We need to come up with a uniform policy that that public can understand.”
Leggett said there should be different standards for public and private social media pages, saying the County’s official social media accounts are publically funded pages and are held to the same standards as the rest of County government. Leggett said he keeps a personal Facebook page, but said he does not block people or delete comments even though he said his private account is mainly for personal use.
As Leggett does, Council member Tom Hucker (D-5), said he generally does not block people or delete comments. Hucker said he could not remember an instance when he blocked someone or deleted a comment, but said he is not opposed to it completely if it crosses a line...
...“I think he crossed the line by a long way this was just simply a commenter who just disagreed with his policies, they weren’t disparaging, they weren’t vitriolic…they were simply disagreements,” said Riemer of the comments deleted from Hogan’s Facebook page...

Monday, August 7, 2017

WTOP: Supporters of sexual abusers send damaging, confusing message to kids

WASHINGTON — More than two dozen people showed up at the sentencing of a teacher convicted of sexually abusing children at the school where he worked.
But they weren’t there to support the children.
They were there to support 50-year-old John Vigna, who’d just been sentenced to 48 years behind bars. They wore white T-shirts that said “#VignaStrong.”
Jennifer Alvaro, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked treating child sex offenders, said that kind of demonstration of support for an accused (and even a convicted) abuser is not uncommon, especially in high-profile cases.
“When prominent people are found to have committed child sexual abuse, there’s often supporters who come out to support the offender, not the victims.”
Alvaro said that people who abuse children put themselves in positions where they have access to children, and they work to gain trust. “The way people get access to children is by grooming the adults around the child. Making people believe they’re a good person, they’re a kind person, they’re a helpful person, they’re safe to have around children.”
The more prominent a person is in a community, the less likely it is that people will believe the victims, and the more likely it is that people will believe the offender, Alvaro said...

Sunday, August 6, 2017

[Judge] Boynton said. “I couldn’t have agreed more with the verdict in the case.”

Longtime Maryland teacher sentenced to 48 years for child sexual abuse
...A jury in June found Vigna guilty of four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense in an investigation that began when an 11-year-old, who had taken a “body safety” class that taught students to identify signs related to good, bad and confusing touches, reported Vigna had been inappropriately touching her for 18 months.  His conviction involved four victims, prosecutors said.
“I’ve seen many, many good people come before me who have done really bad things,” Boynton said. “I couldn’t have agreed more with the verdict in the case.”
Boynton said Vigna had been given verbal and written reprimands to change the way he interacts with children.
Vigna taught at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring for more than 20 years before he was put on administrative leave in 2016...

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fox5: Ex-Montgomery County elementary teacher gets 48 years in sexual abuse case



 - A former Montgomery County elementary school teacher convicted of sexually abusing multiple female students has been sentenced to more than four decades behind bars.
John Vigna, of Silver Spring, was convicted on four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense back in June.
After an emotional hearing, one in which the parent of one of Vigna’s victims called him a “soul murderer,” the 50-year-old was sentenced to 48 years in prison on Friday...

Friday, August 4, 2017

MCPS teacher faces sentencing on child sexual abuse charges

By The Associated Press
ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — A former Maryland elementary school teacher is facing sentencing after being convicted of child sexual abuse charges involving inappropriate touching of several students.
Friday’s sentencing for 50-year-old John Vigna follows his conviction in June on four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Friday: Sentencing of Cloverly ES Teacher on Sex Abuse of Minor and Third Degree Sex Offense Verdicts, Still on MCPS Payroll in March

For 4 days in June, a long time Montgomery County Public School teacher was on trial for sexual abuse of 6 elementary school students over a period of 16 years.  The trial was held before a packed courtroom with an overflow crowd standing in the hallway. A prayer circle was held in the hallway outside the courtroom.  

After midnight on the last day of the trial, the jury returned verdicts of guilty on:
COUNT 1: CHILD ABUSE SEXUAL- GUILTY

COUNT 2: SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE- GUILTY. 

COUNT 3: SEX ABUSE MINOR- GUILTY. 

COUNT 4: SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE- GUILTY.

COUNT 5: SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE- GUILTY. 

COUNT 7 :SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR- GUILTY. 
COUNT 8 : SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE- GUILTY. 
COUNT 9 : SEX OFFENSE THIRD DEGREE - GUILTY. 
COUNT 10: SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR - GUILTY. 

The testimony presented at the trial revealed that the teacher had two reprimands in his personnel file for having students sit on his lap. The reprimands were from 2008 and 2013. Students testified that he was their favorite teacher and popular in the school. The teacher testified that he loved his students and that if he had to stop hugging them and allowing them to sit on his lap he did not want to be a teacher. 

The Board of Education did not remove this teacher from the classroom, even though there were multiple complaints about his practice of permitting female students to "lap sit."  The Cloverly Elementary School principal testified that she had followed Board of Education protocol.

We know from recent MCPS salary information that this teacher was still on the MCPS payroll as of March 2017, almost a year after his first arrest on these charges. 


March 2017, MCPS Payroll 

The Parents' Coalition has been providing the public with notes from the trial as the the trial was not covered by any media. 

Sentencing is scheduled for August 4, 2017, at 1:30 PM in the Montgomery County Circuit Court.  The Defendant's Motion for New Trial will also be heard at that time.  The teacher could face 25 years in prison for each count of sex abuse of a minor and 10 years for each third degree sex offense.



Westbard lawsuit adds MoCo Housing Opportunities Commission

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Westbard lawsuit adds MoCo Housing Opportunities C...: Plaintiffs suing Montgomery County over the validity and impacts of the Westbard sector plan have amended their complaint to add the Count...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

MCPS to Keep Opioid Overdose Medication on Hand at Every School

MCPS to Keep Opioid Overdose Medication on Hand at Every School: School system, county health officials will share 15,000 cost of buying naloxone

MCPS teacher suspended from work at the Blair G. Ewing Center, in Silver Spring, a school with programs for students with academic and behavioral problems.

A Maryland public school teacher faces robbery charges after police say she chatted up two men at a bar, learned they were in the jewelry business and lured them into a parking garage where minutes later a masked gunman appeared.
“Give me the watches,” he said, making off with time pieces valued at $6,000 and $8,450, according to court records filed Tuesday.
The events, as described in the court records, unfolded in and around the Old Town Pour House in Gaithersburg in the early morning July 15. The teacher, Lakeisha Burrison, 33, was arrested this week and remains jailed on no bond status.
She has been suspended from work at the Blair G. Ewing Center, in Silver Spring, a school with programs for students with academic and behavioral problems. Burrison had been a teacher and recently held the title of a community and career liaison, according to Derek Turner, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Public School System. She joined the system in November 2014, Turner said...

MCPS Salaries $142,197 - $149,807 Principals, Directors, Coordinators, Consulting Principal, Supervisors, Payroll, and Chief Investment Officer

These charts do not include benefits and perks.
First column shows salary for employees on spreadsheet. Example: $275,000 is base salary for Jack R. Smith.
Consultants are not included on these charts. 





Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MCPS Information demonstrates readiness gaps based on student demographics

MCPS Rolls Out New Data on Student Math, Reading Proficiency: Information demonstrates readiness gaps based on student demographics

Afternoon of Day 3: Trial of MCPS Cloverly Elementary School Teacher John Vigna - Cloverly ES Principal Testifies: What She Knew, What She Told Vigna, Referral to Counseling in 2008, She Followed Protocol

The trial of MCPS Cloverly Elementary School teacher John Vigna was not covered by the media. The Parents' Coalition is providing the public with notes from the trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court.  
This is not a transcript.  
The trial was before Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge David Boynton. 

Here are notes from day three of the trial, June 8, 2017.

Trial resumes 1:15 PM  

Judge and parties discuss whether video from SnapChap can be entered into evidence.  This discussion took place with out the jury in the courtroom.

Jury returns at 1:32 PM

State calls Melissa Brunson
Principal, Cloverly Elementary School 


She has been the principal at Cloverly since January of 2007, 10 and 1/2 years.  She was a principal intern in 2006.  Mr. Vigna has been a teacher at the school more than 20 years.  When she arrived he was a 5th grade teacher. 
Brunson is asked if she knows witnesses #1, #2, #5, and #6. She says she does.
Brunson was asked if there was an incident where the defendant (Vigna) had a student in his lap. She said the incident was referred to her.  Most recent incident was in 2013.  Administrative action was taken against defendant based on that incident.  Letter of reprimand from Chief Operating Officer, Larry Bowers with Mr. Vigna's name on it was entered into evidence.  
2008 incident involving defendant Mr. Vigna and another student sitting on his lap. Brunson was involved in that investigation.  She wrote an official letter of reprimand to Mr. Vigna. The letter was signed by Mr. Vigna on June 2, 2008. 
June 2008 letter discusses two incidents.  Brunson is familiar with incidents.  Both involved students sitting on Mr. Vigna's lap.  Brunson gave Vigna a verbal warning and counseling after February 2008 incident.  She told him to "not do that anymore." 
Did Mr. Vigna clearly understand what Brunson was asking him not to do?  Brunson says yes. 
February 2008 letter says that incident was a male student.  Fire Marshall spoke to her about that incident.  It was after school hours and the Fire Marshall came to her office to report an incident of a student sitting on Mr. Vigna's lap.  
After 2013, Brunson does not recall speaking to Mr. Vigna about his interactions with students. 
After 2008, was Mr. Vigna referred to MCPS Employee Services for services to address interactions with students. 
Brunson was part of investigation of 2013 incident.  Information was presented to her.  Believes there was another recommendation for Employee Assistance.  Did not see final report from MCPS on that incident.


Defense Cross Examination of Melissa Brunson:
Brunson got to be a principal by being careful in her reporting of incidents.  2008 report says incident involved a male.  
Attorney:  Was any student ever removed from Mr. Vigna's class after any reprimands in 2008 and 2013? Brunson: no.
Attorney: Was Mr. Vigna's position changed after those two reprimands?  Brunson: Not necessarily. 
After 2008 reprimand, he moved from 5th grade class to 3rd grade class.
Attorney:  Would it be a fair statement that you didn't have any particular concerns about Mr. Vigna being around 3rd grade or 4th grade students or you wouldn't have moved him back to the 3rd grade, correct? Brunson: "Actually, I did have that concern."  Attorney: But you still moved him back there.Brunson: "Well, actually, he was outside and then he was moved in the building and that was one of the classrooms closest to the main office area."
Brunson, clarified that in 2008 letter also included an incident in May of a student sitting on his lap. 
Attorney there were two incidents in 2008.
Brunson:  "Yes, it was a progressive discipline a warning, counseling and then when the second incident occurred it became a letter of reprimand, which he confessed to that the lap sitting did occur.  There is no question about that."
Attorney:  As a result of these incidences did you contact the Department of Social Services?    
Brunson:  "As a result of those incidences I contacted the Office of Human Resources Department."
Attorney:  Right, my question was different though.  My question was did you contact the Department of Social Services?Brunson:  "I didn't, but that doesn't mean that OHRD did not."Attorney:  Did I ask you about that?Brunson:  "I am just adding." 
Attorney:  So you did not contact the Department of Social Services, is that correct?Brunson:  "I did not contact the Department of Social Services."
Attorney:  You did not, but as a principal you have a legal obligation if you believe there was an incidence of child abuse that had been reported, isn't that correct?   Brunson:  Well, if it was identified as such, yes.
Attorney:  Yes, but you did not identify it as such. Brunson:  I did not identify it as child abuse. 
Attorney:  Right and you did not report it to any of the respective agencies such as CPS, even though under the law, you understand as an administrator you are a mandatory reporter, isn't that true? Brunson:  Absolutely, if it was suspected child abuse or neglect. But our protocol at that time was to contact the Office of Human Resources and then they helped to direct our path and so if they made a contact, I am just not aware of it. 
Attorney:  But, in any event, Mr. Vigna we can agree, perhaps, was not removed from the school, was not removed from the classroom, and the students were not removed.Brunson:  He was not removed, however, are you referring to which incident? 
Attorney:  Any of the 3 incidents.Brunson:  Well in 2013, there was a space where we had to conduct an investigation and Mr. Vigna was out for approximately 3 weeks.   
Attorney:  Right, let's go over my question again. Are you finished what you wanted to tell the ladies and gentlemen?Brunson:  I am not exactly sure what you are referring to when you say that. 
Attorney:  He was not removed from the classroom, correct?  Brunson:  He had administrative leave.
Brunson:  He was not re-assigned to another school and that would not be my jurisdiction. 
Attorney:  I did not ask if it was your jurisdiction.  Were any of the students reassigned to another classroom or another school? Brunson: Not that I recall for those incidents you are naming, because there...there are for the recent one...Attorney:  We are not talking about the recent ones, I am talking about 2008, 2013, can we stick on that?

State's Re-Direct:


State's attorney asked if she was concerned about defendant's behavior. Why were you concerned?  Brunson:  I was. Yes, because just by virtue of lap sitting,...it just... I am concerned because it was inappropriate in my eyes to have that level of closeness with students you know as a professional that level of distance wasn't practical to have children sitting on your lap. So, yes I was concerned. 
State's attorney asked about removal from class, about firing defendant.Brunson:  Not within my jurisdiction... 
State's attorney asked if she can suspend a teacher.  Brunson:  Not fully.  I can recommend it. I'll have to work with... OHRD ...but it has to be a collective decision... I can only do things that I think would be in what I believe would be the right ... at the time.   So move to another classroom... might be one of the ways we would do it, or have the teacher keep the door open, just kinda keep alert and keep an eye.
State's attorney in 2008 did you follow the appropriate protocol when those incidents occurred?Brunson:  YesState's attorney:  In 2013 did you follow the proper protocol when that incident occurred?Brunson:  Yes

...

The State ended their case at this time.