Friday, March 27, 2015

My Two Cents: An Open Letter To The Next MCPS Superintendent

Dear soon-to-be MCPS Superintendent:
Recently, when cleaning out my office, I found a 1983 article I co-wrote about test score differences between black and white Montgomery County students. It might be one of the first published academic articles written about the MCPS achievement gap.

Since 1983, I’ve probably written more about MCPS achievement gaps than any other individual in the nation. I’ve penned letters to editors, countless newspaper columns, a book chapter and endless blog pieces. And so writing what I’m about to write is difficult and a little painful, but it needs saying — and you need to hear it before you buy a home in Montgomery County (maybe you should rent):

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Council to Vote on Kicking MCPS Buses off Site, Forcing Demolition of Usable MCPS School

This is the usable MCPS school that is slated to be demolished.
Urgent Action Needed Now!

Tell the Montgomery County Council: VOTE NO on the "Declaration of No Further Need" for County Service Park East/Jeremiah Park

On March 30th, 2015, the Montgomery County Council's Government Operations and Education Committees will vote on this issue.  If the Council votes to kick the MCPS school buses off the Shady Grove Depot location, the Board of Education will then demolish a perfectly usable public school building on Avery Road in order to have a place to park the school buses.  A private developer wants the current MCPS Shady Grove bus depot for a new housing development, so the MCPS school buses are being forced off the property without any evaluation of the consequences of this plan.

Please call the following County Council members ASAP:
Nancy Navarro: 240-777-7968
Craig Rice: 240-777-7955
Hans Riemer: 240-777-7964
Sidney Katz: 240-777-7906
Marc Elrich: 240-777-7966

• There should be no "declaration of no further need" of the County Service Park East/Jeremiah Park land until a suitable bus depot location is identified-- and not on Avery Road where an entire public school building would have to be demolished.

• We understand the Derwood community's position on relocating the bus depot at Jeremiah Park, but it cannot happen until a suitable location is identified.

Why is this important? Without a suitable, alternate location for the school bus depot, losing the current bus depot at "County Service Park East/Jeremiah Park" would result in even more pressure on the Board of Education to quickly move the Alternative Education Programs (AEPs) to English Manor, demolish the Blair Ewing School, and build a bus depot at that location.

Don't lose County Service Park East/Jeremiah Park until the bus depot issue is resolved and the Avery Road location is off the table.

• NO to a MCPS bus depot on Avery Road.
• NO to demolishing a MCPS school.

Keep Your Promise MCPS Chief Technology Officer Sherwin Collette

Safe Tech for Schools Maryland: Keep Your Promise: An Open Letter to Technology C...: Keep Your Promise  MCPS Chief Technology Officer Sherwin Collette Please Accurately Measure WiFi Radiation In Our Schools We wr...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

T-Mobile Wants More Time To Build Cell Tower Next to Cresthaven Elementary School

At tomorrow morning’s March 25, 2015, worksession, the Montgomery County Board of Appeals is scheduled to address a request for the Board to reconsider a Resolution that grants extra time for T-Mobile to construct a cell tower that would abut Cresthaven Elementary School, on property owned by the West Hillandale Swim Club.  Neighbors and local parents, some who have been fighting the cell tower since 2007, want Special Exception S-2709 to be allowed to expire on April 22, 2015.
Opponents say the Board relied on misrepresentations when it granted T-Mobile an extension of time. Seeking the extension, on February 4, 2015, T-Mobile told the Board that no infrastructure, no pole, and no footprint modifications would be made during the requested time extension, and that T-Mobile would not need to return to the Board to seek authorization for changes to the cell tower. But following the Board’s release of its Resolution, which granted the extension of time, Susan Present sent a letter to the Board, saying, “…I am concerned that T-Mobile may seek to enlarge the telecom facility … and that T-Mobile would try to utilize the time granted through the Resolution to acquire authorization…”  Offering Ms. Present no reassurance, T-Mobile’s reply to the Board states, “Should T-Mobile and/or the West Hillandale Swim Club seek modification of the approval or conditions of same, we trust the Board can consider such a request and make the appropriate decision based on the merits.

Also on February 4th, to demonstrate that T-Mobile was the leaseholder and authorized developer, the swim club president attested to T-Mobile’s ongoing lease and payments of rent. However, opponent Lynn Grodski has told the Board of Appeals, State tax records show that T-Mobile has never established a separate tax I.D. for the parcel that it told the Board of Appeals it has continuously been leasing from the West Hillandale Swim Club…T-Mobile has been advantaged by the County tax-credit that the nonprofit private swim club has annually received as a facility that is used exclusively to provide a recreational outlet to the local community.”

Initial PARCC test reactions mixed in Montgomery

...At the school board’s March 10 meeting, discussion of PARCC tests included questions, concerns and positive reports.
School board member Jill Ortman-Fouse raised concerns about why the testing experience could vary for different students.
One issue, she said in an interview, is that some students taking one version answer questions using sound clips, while other students only look at text.
Ortman-Fouse said she’s concerned about students who receive accommodations different from what they are used to during the test.
“I really question the usability of the data we’re going to be getting,” she said in the interview...

 http://www.gazette.net/article/20150318/NEWS/150319298/1007&source=RSS&template=gazette

Leggett Recommends Slight Increase in Montgomery County Budget

...Leggett recommended a $2.3 billion budget for Montgomery County Public Schools. That number is less than the $2.39 billion requested by the school system. The figure includes $27.2 million to fund MCPS retiree health benefits and represents a 3.8 percent increase in county funding compared to current spending. Leggett noted this meets about 97.6 percent of the Board of Education's request...

 http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/2015/Leggett-Recommends-Slight-Increase-in-Montgomery-County-Budget/

All the Crimes that HB 642 would not cover: Child Pornography, Production of Pornography, Solicitation of a Minor...

CHILDREN - CHILD CARE FACILITIES, PUBLIC SCHOOLS, AND NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS - CONTRACTORS AND SUBCONTRACTORS 
Sponsored by: Delegate Luedtke

SUPPORT BILL ONLY IF AMENDED [Watch Video below at Minute 14:10 for Statement Detailing Reasons for Need for Amendments to this Bill]
Link to written testimony submitted by Ellen Mugmon

Before the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee
March 12, 2015


Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday March 30 County-wide Parent Mtg - Organized by Parents for Responsible Use of Technology in School

Organized by Parents for Responsible Use of Technology in School

How did MCPS plan this notebook rollout?


With computers  distributed to our students (or soon to be), it is time for     parents to come together to learn about this technology, its pros and cons, and to develop a plan of action to help our teachers planning the proper rollout strategy.
Join us for this important meeting.

Date:  March 30, 2015, Monday         
Time: 7pm to 8:30 pm EST
Location: Bethesda Library, 7400 Arlington Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814 Parking available on site.
Agenda
A. Technology in the Classroom.
B.  Preparation— students, parents, teachers;
C.  Testing—PARCC & other testing;
D.  Privacy—data mining by 3rd parties; access to health records;
E.  Security—protection of data collected;
F.  Safety– wireless vs. cable, code of conduct, bullying
G.  Create working groups and a plan of action with measurable goals.


If you cannot join us in person, please log on to join.me/unitedbreakin , type in your name and click on Enter the meeting, click on tel icon (at top) to join audio (download software required)
Any questions before the meeting?
Contact ellen@ellenzavian.com or apascal2003@gmail.com

 Please pass the word around to all other parents.  Thank you.   Media welcome.

Neighbor concerned about resale of home across from middle school cell tower - Top Stories - wbff

A Proposed Cell Tower at Middle School in AACO Under Review - Top Stories - wbff

Today: Support House Bill 727 - Moratorium on Public School Playground Cell Towers

House Bill 727 only puts forward a moratorium on public school playground cell tower construction projects in one county, Anne Arundel, and only for one year.

However, HB 727 sends the message that the issue of commercial companies constructing HAZMAT compounds on public school playgrounds needs to be examined and evaluated before going any further.  

If you believe that Maryland public school playgrounds are for the use, education and enjoyment of public school children, and that the issue of cell towers on playgrounds needs to be studied thoroughly before any more cell towers are built, please send a note of support for House Bill 727 to the list of Maryland House Delegates shown below. 

Ask the following Delegates to please support HB727, Anne Arundel County Board of Education - Wireless Telecommunications Towers - Moratorium and Report

 sheila.hixson@house.state.md.us; frank.turner@house.state.md.us; kathy.afzali@house.state.md.us; Darryl.Barnes@house.state.md.us; Jason.Buckel@house.state.md.us; Eric.Ebersole@house.state.md.us; Diana.Fennell@house.state.md.us; Kevin.Hornberger@house.state.md.us; carolyn.howard@house.state.md.us; anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us; Bob.Long@house.state.md.us; eric.luedtke@house.state.md.us; Ric.Metzgar@house.state.md.us; Edith.Patterson@house.state.md.us; Andrew.Platt@house.state.md.us; Teresa.Reilly@house.state.md.us; Haven.Shoemaker@house.state.md.us; Meagan.Simonaire@house.state.md.us; Jimmy.Tarlau@house.state.md.us; jay.walker@house.state.md.us; mary.washington@house.state.md.us; alonzo.washington@house.state.md.us

  Sheila Hixson  sheila.hixson@house.state.md.us    (Chair)
Frank Turner  frank.turner@house.state.md.us           (Vice Chair)
Kathy Afzli  kathy.afzali@house.state.md.us
Darryl Barnes  Darryl.Barnes@house.state.md.us
Jason Buckel Jason.Buckel@house.state.md.us
Eric Ebersole  Eric.Ebersole@house.state.md.us
Diana Fennell    Diana.Fennell@house.state.md.us
Kevin Hornberger   Kevin.Hornberger@house.state.md.us
Carolyn Howard   carolyn.howard@house.state.md.us
Anne Kaiser  anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us
Robert Long  Bob.Long@house.state.md.us
Eric Luedtke  eric.luedtke@house.state.md.us
Ric Metzgar  Ric.Metzgar@house.state.md.us
Edith Patterson  Edith.Patterson@house.state.md.us
Andrew Platt  Andrew.Platt@house.state.md.us
Teresa Reilly  Teresa.Reilly@house.state.md.us
Haven Shoemaker   Haven.Shoemaker@house.state.md.us
Meagan Simonaire  Meagan.Simonaire@house.state.md.us
Jimmy Tarlau  Jimmy.Tarlau@house.state.md.us
Jay Walker   jay.walker@house.state.md.us
Mary Washington  mary.washington@house.state.md.us
Alonzo Washington  alonzo.washington@house.state.md.us

Please share and post this link on all the websites and Faceboook pages affiliated with opposition to Cell towers on public school property.

Channel 45 news coverage:


Board of Education members weigh in on search

 ...President Patricia O’Neill (District 3):
“Sarcastically I would say we need someone who could walk on water, speaks multiple languages, can spin gold from straw, if I could conjure up (one). I think we need a visionary leader, a good manager. I always say I believe we need a superintendent who’s an educator with a businessman in his mind, great communication skills.”
On if he/she should be a minority: “You know, I can’t say. I just want the best candidate for MCPS.”...

...Judy Docca (District 1):
Judy Docca declined to respond to the questions because she did not want to comment on the performance of former superintendent Joshua Starr.
 “I fail to see how I could be more specific about what I am looking for without you asking, Well, didn't Dr. Starr exhibit these characteristics? I am bound by our agreement not to disclose more than you may receive from Dana Tofig or Brian Edwards with regard to the search.”...

 http://www.thesentinel.com/mont/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1764%3Aboard-of-education-members-weigh-in-on-search&Itemid=766

Del. Luedtke's Bill 1033 would only serve to exacerbate the inexcusable mishandling of child abuse cases by MCPS personnel

House Bill 1033
 
Delegates Luedtke, Kaiser, Zucker, Barkley, Gutierrez, Kelly, Korman, and Smith

PUBLIC AND NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS - SEXUAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE NOTIFICATION AND PREVENTION

OPPOSE

Submitted by Ellen Mugmon

Before the House Judiciary Committee

March 19, 2015


HB 1033 purports to provide certain solutions to serious problems that have been uncovered during the longstanding and continuing Montgomery County Public School System’s (MCPSS) child sexual abuse and assault scandal. Its focus appears to be on notification of parents. But it unreasonably restricts the crimes that are supposed to be disclosed, the time limits for disclosure, and the number of schools to which disclosure should reasonably apply, irrespective of the facts of each case.

Most egregiously, the bill undermines Maryland’s reporting law. School personnel would be designated to receive certain child abuse reports instead of the police and departments of social services. In addition, superintendents of a public schools and the principals of a nonpublic school would be able to override requests by local law enforcement agencies or local state’s attorneys to delay notification to parents even if this would compromise the investigation. Thus, this proposed legislation would only serve to exacerbate the inexcusable mishandling of child abuse cases by the MCPS personnel. Legislation which obstructs reporting to the police and social service by diverting reports to school systems and private schools would serve to ensure that children’s safety would be jeopardized.

The cause of the scandal is not so much the failure of the police and social services to alert superintendents of public school systems or principals of private schools that an arrest has been made, as HB 1033 implies. The cause of this scandal is, first and foremost, the failure of school system personnel to report to the proper authorities when they suspect that a teacher or other employee has abused a student. While other agencies are not without fault, procedures need to be worked out among agencies in a collaborative way in a memorandum of understanding, not in a legislative power play which really has little to do with the protection of children.

The operative policy in the MCPS appears to have been to conduct internal investigations prior to reporting, in violation of a significant Attorney General’s opinion. The operative policy also meant that employees failed to report directly to the police and social services when required. Moreover, inexpert investigations prior to police and social services investigations gave the alleged abusers the ability to destroy evidence, and abscond or inappropriately gather information after multiple in-house interviews of child victims or witnesses. For example, a special education teacher fled the country in 2013 after school personnel did an internal investigation in which they determined nothing had happened. There was no need, according to them, to call the police. The police, after their investigation, however, decided to arrest the teacher for the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old autistic child after his parents subsequently reported directly to them.

This operative policy was fostered by totally inadequate child abuse and neglect policy and procedures, which are still not corrected. Moreover, MCPS administrators had never heard of the most pertinent document it should have consulted: 76 Opinions of the Attorney General___ (1991) [Opinion No. 91-056 (December 17, 1991)]. A child advocate recently provided administrators with a copy of it as well as the Howard County Child Abuse Policy and Procedures. (see http://www.hcpss.org/f/board/policies/1030.pdf)

Interestingly, in the first half of the bill, teachers and other employees under the bill, as opposed to contractor, subcontractors, and paid employees, are subject to different crimes reportable to parents. This makes no sense.

The definition of “REPORTABLE OFFENSE FOR AN EMPLOYEE OF A LOCAL SCHOOL SYSTEM OR A NONPUBLIC SCHOOL” is underinclusive. Definition of “REPORTABLE OFFENSE FOR A CONTRACTOR, SUBCONTRACTOR, OR PAID LEADER OF A SCHOOL ACTIVITY is both underinclusive and made up of different crimes.

Section 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article has a very limited number of crimes that do not reflect all the other crimes that teachers and other personnel have committed against vulnerable students, although the name of the statute, “Crimes of Violence,” would lead one to believe that all violent crimes are listed. That is hardly the case. There is also another list of violent crimes in Section 5-101 of the Public Safety Article. Both lists are not the same. Moreover, merely adding Section 3-307 and a third degree sex offense and 3-602, in the Criminal Law Article, is grossly insufficient because the proposed legislation does not include other crimes particularly related to the protection of children. The absence of section 3-308 of the Criminal Law Article in particular is glaring. Pedophile activist groups in Maryland contend that a 4th degree sex offense involving a child, though a crime, is not harmful to children and should eventually be legalized. Unfortunately, this list of crimes inadvertently sanctions their disordered thinking.

In addition, Section 5-101 of the Public Safety Article lists second degree assault as a crime of violence. Generally, it is considered a Domestic Violence crime which is, of course violent. But it is not a crime of violence in Section 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article. Most importantly, it is a crime that is too often a plea bargain down from sexual crimes. A Rockville teacher was convicted of second degree assault, which has no sex- offense component to it. He was originally charged with child sexual abuse and a 4th degree sex offense, which again is not a “REPORTABLE OFFENSES.”

Other offenses which are deemed “UNREPORTABLE” include child pornography possession, distribution, and manufacture. Moreover, a building service worker was retained by the MCPS after he was arrested for surreptitiously spying on little girls in school locker room. Because of that he was moved to a warehouse and then convicted of unnatural and perverted sex practices.

The following crimes, for example, are also presumed in the bill to be irrelevant: sexual relationships with high school students off-campus off-time; indecent exposure; statutory rape; sex trafficking; stalking; trespass which is associated with stalking, peeping Tom, and malicious destruction of property, all crimes not included; sexual solicitation of a minor; child physical abuse in the first and second degree and child neglect; sexual and physical abuse and neglect of a vulnerable adult; harassment; false imprisonment; presence of a minor in sight and hearing of a crime of violence; allowing or encouraging a child to engage in obscene photography, films, poses, or similar activity; reckless endangerment; indecent, lewd conversations and texting with minors; illegally carrying a concealed firearm on school property; and animal cruelty. There are other significant crimes not listed here.

The definition of “REPORTABLE CRIMES” with regard to a contractor and subcontractor, or paid leader of a school activity is insufficient. It does include 4th degree sex offense and certain additional crimes which are not included for employees. The question is why are they different? Moreover, why are notifications from the police about contractors, subcontractors, and paid leaders time limited and concern only a particular school at the time of the offense, when one contractor who sexually assaulted girls worked in 58 schools? See section (A)(II) on page 2. Also, why are subsequent notifications to parents of students and employees 5 business days later similarly limited? See section (C)(I)(II) on page three. Thus, HB 1033 calls for disclosure to parents, on the one hand, and limits the information disclosed on the other.

In addition,Section (B)(1) on page 3 leaves out the one day notification for parents of the victim which is supposed to be the purpose of the bill. Furthermore, this provision is contrary to another Attorney General opinion which states that the local department of social services must notify the parents of the victim within 24 hours. ( See 82 Opinions of the Attorney General___(1997) [Opinion. No. 97-023 (September 19, 1997)].

But two of the most troubling provisions of the bill concern the usurpation of the police, state’s attorney and DSS roles in child abuse investigations. In section (D) on page 4, HB 1033 would allow the public school superintendent or principal of a nonpublic school to reject a request by police, DSS and state’s attorney to delay the notification of parents in order to prevent compromising their investigations. The bill also calls for the designation of a contact person within the local school system or nonpublic school for parents and employees to receive reports of incidents of abuse that may be related to the arrest along with information on how to report sexual abuse to the county board, and school administration. Thus, reporting incidents of abuse to school entities may or may not be related to the arrest. Either way, this end run around the reporting law in the midst of a scandal is especially outrageous. Clearly, the purpose of this bill is not to protect children, but the school system and its employees.

The literal language of the child abuse reporting law and the Attorney General’s opinion make it clear, notwithstanding HB 1033, that ‘the [school system’s] personnel investigation must not take place until after the alleged abuse has been reported and is subject to whatever limitations are imposed by the local DSS or the police….One overriding requirement of the Child Abuse subtitle is immediate reporting of instances of suspected abuse. Thus, under no circumstances may a school system delay reporting….” Given all of the above, I respectfully ask that the Committee give HB 1033 an unfavorable report.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why Does MCPS Oppose Improving School Food?


 ...Testifying against the Sugar-Free Schools Act were Kate Heinrich, president of the Maryland School Nutrition Association (MSNA) and Marla Caplon, chair of MSNA’s Nutrition Committee. Mrs. Heinrich is employed as the assistant director, Division of Food and Nutrition Services (DFNS) for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Mrs. Caplon is employed as the director of DFNS for MCPS. Mrs. Heinrich and Mrs. Caplon also testified against the Thirty Kids Act and the Chemical-Free Schools Act. MCPS is the largest school district in Maryland with over 150,000 students...

 http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/news/2015/mar/18/letter-why-oppose-improving-school-food/

NBC News4 I-Team: Cold in the Classroom; Schools Need Repairs



http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Cold-in-the-Classroom-Schools-Need-Repairs-296965011.html

Leggett Lives on 5 Acres, But Wants 4 acres for Elementary Schools

Sardines
From the Sentinel article on County Executive Ike Legget's plan to develop the current MCPS Shady Grove bus depot for housing, we learn that the elementary school site for this future development will be just 4 acres of land!

4 acres? When did Montgomery County citizens decide that the 12 acre standard that they prefer should be trashed in favor of 4 acres?  They didn't.  The decision to smash our school children into the smallest sized lots possible is being made by our Apple Ballot elected officials without public input.

County Executive Ike Leggett lives in a single family house on 5 acres.  Can we invite 700-1,000 elementary school kids over to his house one day so that he can get a feel for what that many kids on 4 acres would feel like? (We can rope off the tennis courts to make the site smaller.)

Back in 1986, Montgomery County citizens actually participated in the formation of a Long Range Planning Policy for Montgomery County Public Schools.  In that Policy, the size of elementary school sites was to be 12 usable acres of land.

In 2005, the Montgomery County Board of Education shredded that Policy without input from the public.

Montgomery County parents and guardians are now left without a Policy that sets minimum school site sizes.  The size of our school sites is being set by elected officials and developers that seek to put as many children as possible on the tiniest parcel of land, smashing them in like they are sardines.

You can read the lost Long Range Planning Policy at this link and learn about what parents, guardians and citizens in Montgomery County wanted for a long range public school planning policy.

County still looking for a new MCPS bus depot

ROCKVILLE – As the county considers how to make room for smart growth in Shady Grove, the selected developer has not found a solution for a key part of the development: the current Montgomery County Public Schools bus depot on the site.

 http://www.thesentinel.com/mont/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1755:county-still-looking-for-a-new-bus-depot&Itemid=766

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cell Tower Company Wants School Cell Tower Meetings at "Neutral" Location

Wouldn't you think that if a private, for-profit commercial vendor wanted to build a HAZMAT facility on a public school playground the meeting to discuss the project would be held at the public school where the commercial compound would be located? 

When it comes to the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) partner, Milestone Communications, the meetings to discuss cell tower projects for public school playgrounds are intentionally held at places other than the actual public school where the cell tower will be built.

MABE's partner, Milestone Communications, only wants to hold community meetings to discuss cell tower playground projects at "neutral" locations.  Their word as seen in the e-mail shown in the image below. 

MABE's partner, Milestone Communications, certainly does not want to make meetings about playground cell towers accessible to actual public school parents!  No, they want to make the meetings as hard to attend as possible.  They want the least amount of participation. 

Remember that YOUR tax dollars pay to support MABE!

Yes, your Maintenance of Effort public school dollars go to keep MABE in business.  Every Board of Education in Maryland pays "dues" to be a member of MABE.  MABE then partners with no bid vendors like Milestone Communications.  The result?  Your local school gets a cell tower compound!  If you are in Prince George's County or Anne Arundel County your local school is getting 3 cell towers per playground.  And, the meetings to discuss these projects will be held as far away from your neighborhood as possible so that you can not attend. 


Next week a meeting will be held at a "neutral" location to discuss another public school playground cell tower project.  

The meeting will not be held at the actual public school where the cell tower compound will be built.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Del. Luedtke's Bill 642 will lead employers and school personnel to hire and retain individuals with histories of sexual misconduct and violence against vulnerable populations

CHILDREN - CHILD CARE FACILITIES, PUBLIC SCHOOLS, AND NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS - CONTRACTORS AND SUBCONTRACTORS 
Sponsored by: Delegate Luedtke

SUPPORT ONLY IF AMENDED

Submitted by Ellen Mugmon

Before the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee

March 12, 2015


HB 642 was prompted by the still unresolved sexual abuse scandal in the Montgomery County Public Schools. It adds certain contractors and subcontractors to the entities that must request fingerprint based federal and state criminal history records for their employees who work in schools and thus have access to children. This portion of the bill should receive the approval of the Committee.

The significant problem with the bill is related to the the definition of an “APPLICABLE OFFENSE.” The list of crimes is significantly under-inclusive and will lead employers and school personnel to hire and retain individuals with histories of sexual misconduct and violence against vulnerable populations. This would imply that if an offense is not applicable, it must not be a serious problem.

Moreover, one of the contractors who testified at the Senate hearing for the crossfiled bill, SB 508, did not acknowledge that his employee had been previously convicted of second degree assault for groping three women, a crime not considered an “APPLICABLE OFFENSE.” So one should rightly ask why second degree assault is not listed as an APPLICABLE OFFENSE in the bill. This technician worked in 58 Montgomery County schools and subsequently groped students. How does this list solve this problem? It does not. It makes it worse.

Section 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article has a very limited number of crimes that do not reflect all the other crimes that teachers and other personnel have committed against vulnerable students, although the name of the statute, “Crimes of Violence,” would lead one to believe that all violent crimes are listed. That is hardly the case. There is also another list of violent crimes in Section 5-101 of the Public Safety Article. Both lists are not the same. Moreover, merely adding Section 3-307 of the Criminal Law Article, which is a third degree sex offense, as well as section 3-602 of the Criminal Law Article, is grossly insufficient because the proposed legislation does not include other crimes particularly related to the protection of children. The absence of Section 3-308 of the Criminal Law Article in particular, is glaring. Pedophile activist groups in Maryland contend that a 4th degree sex offense involving a child, though now a crime, is not harmful to children and should eventually be legalized. Unfortunately, this list of crimes inadvertently sanctions their disordered, self-serving thinking.

In addition, Section 5-101 of the Public Safety Article lists second degree assault as a crime of violence. Generally, it is considered a Domestic Violence crime which is, of course, violent. But it is not a crime of violence in Section 14-101 of the criminal Law Article. Most importantly, it is a crime that is too often a plea bargain down from sexual crimes. A Rockville teacher was convicted of second degree assault, which has no sex- offense component to it. He was originally charged with child sexual abuse, a 4th degree sex offense, which again is not one of the “APPLICABLE OFFENSES”. So an employer or human resource director could hire or retain an individual who molests children under the assumption he did not commit a sexual crime. As a result this scheme does not protect children sufficiently. It never has and never will.

Other offenses which are deemed inapplicable include child pornography possession, distribution, and manufacture. This applies when certain educators collect child pornography or have taken explicit pictures of students, or photoshopped them and then distributed them on the internet. Moreover, a building service worker was retained by the Montgomery County School System after he was arrested for surreptitiously spying on little girls in school, and then was convicted of unnatural and perverted sex practices. Both crimes are not listed [in Bill 642].

Please note also that the following crimes are inapplicable

crimes [not included] according to this bill;
  • sexual relationships with high school students off-campus off time: 
  • indecent exposure; 
  • statutory rape; 
  • sex trafficking; 
  • stalking: 
  • trespass (Trespass is associated with stalking, peeping Tom, and malicious destruction of property. Children have been the victims of these crimes.); 
  • sexual solicitation of a minor; 
  • child physical abuse in the first and second degree and child neglect; 
  • sexual and physical abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult; 
  • harassment; 
  • false imprisonment; 
  • presence of a minor in sight and hearing of a crime of violence; 
  • allowing or encouraging a child to engage in obscene photography, films, poses, or similar activity; 
  • reckless endangerment; 
  • indecent, lewd conversations and texting with minors; 
  • illegally carrying a concealed firearm on school property; 
  • and animal cruelty which in the literature is specifically correlated with child abuse; and as mentioned above 4th degree sex offense and unnatural and perverted sex practices.

I am aware that sections 2-206.1 and 6-113 of the Education Article are current law. But the public policy of picking and choosing crimes in this way in legislation has clearly turned out to be a dangerous mistake when evaluating individuals in positions of public trust concerning vulnerable children. In fact, it serves to protect certain offenders rather than school children. Therefore, I respectfully request that the Committee amend out of the bill the two sections above, and instead ask MSDE to develop guidelines in consultation with national experts on screening. If the Committee wishes to continue with a list, it should at least add to the meaning of “APPLICABLE OFFENSES” the additional crimes listed above for the safety and well-being of Maryland’s children The Committee must know, however, that while this approach is an improvement, it is still inadequate because the list in this testimony is incomplete.

In my view, these cases need to be examined individually. Employers need to ask for charging documents and an explanation from employees concerning their convictions. This procedure acknowledges plea bargains and lenient way the court system handles sexual crimes against children, as the Committee can see from the attached articles and summary prepared by a member of the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County.

As a longstanding child advocate, I therefore ask that you give HB 642 a favorable report only if amended. Thank you for considering my views.

VA Gov. signed new law that reins in the use of seclusion and restraint as methods of controlling children in public schools.

...The measure was prompted by complaints from parents about their disabled children being restrained by several adults, strapped into chairs and locked away in segregated rooms, sometimes emerging with bruises and broken bones...

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/governor-oks-regulating-seclusion-restraint-in-va-schools/2015/03/16/6858a4a2-cc27-11e4-8730-4f473416e759_story.html

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Search Underway for Dog Who Bit First Grader Outside Flower Hill School

A Rockville mom is looking for the dog who bit her son as he arrived at Flower Hill Elementary School in Gaithersburg March 9, to make sure her son was not exposed to rabies.
Rakiya Grant says her six-year-old first grader was outside the front of the school on March 9 when a medium-sized brown, black and white dog jumped up on him and nipped his cheek. Grant said her son went to the nurses’ office to report the bite. There, she said the nurse cleaned the wound and called her. But, she said she believes the school should be doing more...

 http://www.mymcmedia.org/search-underway-for-dog-who-bit-first-grader-outside-flower-hill-school/

Do Parents Want To Be Notified of All Arrests or Only Some?

Delegate Eric Luedtke is the lead sponsor of a House Bill that was filed on February 13, 2015.

House Bill 1033 appears to be an attempt on the part of a number of Montgomery County Delegates to respond to the many arrests of public and private school teachers and staff for incidents involving sexual abuse, pornography, rape, and related crimes involving students over the last 3 years. 

The goal of HB 1033 appears to be to create a law that would require that parents be notified after school employees or other specified adults are arrested for child sexual or physical abuse.

The concern about this legislation is that in it's rush to address serious incidents does it help or hurt student victims?
  • HB 1033 appears to create reporting requirements that would supersede existing Maryland child abuse reporting law in a way that could negatively impact criminal investigations.
  • HB 1033 creates a "contact person" in the local school system or the nonpublic school for reporting of incidents of abuse that may be related to the arrest.  "Contact persons" have been the problem with existing policies and procedures.  Any suspected child abuse should be reported directly to the police or child protective services.  Creating layers of "contact people" or "liaisons" circumvents existing law and threatens to prevent reports of child abuse from being handled by the appropriate authorities.
  • HB 1033 limits the types of offenses where reports would be made to parents and guardians by limiting the list of crimes included.  Do parents and guardians only want to be notified when school staff are arrested for certain crimes involving child sexual abuse or for all crimes involving child sexual abuse?
HB 1033 appears to have a goal that parents and guardians would support, that of notification of staff arrests, but the devil's in the details.