Thursday, October 23, 2014

Exclusive: Family Suing Wootton Principal, Athletic Directors, Coaches and Board of Education #mocofootball

http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/circuitcourt/
On June 27, 2014, a Wootton High School family filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court against Wootton High School principal Michael Doran, Wootton athletic directors Christopher Thompson and Al Lightsey, current and former Wootton coaches Benjamin Tynes, Mark Rabon, Tyree Spinner, and the Montgomery County Board of Education alleging that their student was injured during a football conditioning after school club as a result of "being required to do 125 elevated pushups."

According to the case file the Montgomery County Attorney has alleged that coach Tyree Spinner was not employed by MCPS at the time of the May 2011 incident, but became employed with MCPS a few months later.

The complaint asks for judgment in an amount in excess of $75,000.



City Paper: Karl’s In Charge: Audits Question Bills from Attorney General Candidate’s Law Firm #mocoboe #creditcards #venable

The Montgomery County Board of Education's credit card reviewer in the news: 
...But maybe no one is better positioned to enjoy the new office than Karl Racine, who’s taken a leave of absence from white-shoe law firm Venable to run for the job...

...He’s also loaned or given his campaign $450,000 since the race began, giving him a $40,000 cash advantage over his nearest rival as of Oct. 10...

...While Racine ran the firm, according to the audits, Venable overbilled its clients—including the District—by hundreds of thousands of dollars...

...In 2011, an inspector general looked into whether Venable’s billing to the Treasury Department could be substantiated. Venable submitted bills that were with “vague and inadequate” work descriptions, according to the report, as well as expenses that weren’t allowed under the terms of the contract.
When the inspector general audited $1,027,049 worth of payments to Venable, it questioned $676,840 worth of payments—which amounted to two-thirds of the audited fees. The investigation found many expenses, according to the report, that should have had more documentation...
 ...Venable employees weren’t just remunerated with cash. The audit also found them inappropriately billing for 28 lunch and dinner orders, for a total of $1,737.70 in meals. District taxpayers picked up the check...
 http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/looselips/2014/10/22/karls-in-charge-audits-question-bills-from-attorney-general-candidates-law-firm/

WPost: Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/10/18/poor-kids-who-do-everything-right-dont-do-better-than-rich-kids-who-do-everything-wrong/?hpid=z6

WAMU: What it is like in a Pay to Play Climate

WAMU:   The Cost of D.C. Council’s Power Over Contracts


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Interactive Map: How Much Is Your School District Spending?

http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/Metro-DC-School-Spending-Explorer/

Gazette: Montgomery police planning slow growth for bus camera program

Next phase would require new full-time position

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Breaking: Standing water where "a child could drown" on parking lot of Nix Elementary School in Silver Spring

Open, unlocked pools of standing water on Nix ES parking lot.
Attention Social Justice Warriors:  Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services has now cited the pool on the Roscoe Nix Elementary School parking lot for dangerous conditions that present safety hazards to children at the school. 

The Roscoe Nix Elementary School parking lot abuts a neighborhood pool that has been abandoned for over a year.  The pool property is unlocked and can easily be entered by children.  Inside the property are two pools of standing water.

The Parents' Coalition wrote about this dangerous situation on September 9th.

Would Superintendent Joshua Starr send his children to a school where the parking lot was next to unlocked, abandoned pools of standing water?  Superintendent Joshua Starr wants to drop the terms red zone and green zone.  If that's true, then let's see Superintendent Starr treat Nix Elementary School like it's in the Green Zone! It's time to protect these elementary school children from this dangerous situation.

Note: Access to these pools is only over MCPS parking lots.  The pools do not have a separate entrance.




We ask again:  Would Board members Patricia O'Neill and Shirley Brandman  permit this dangerous condition to exist on the parking lot of any Bethesda elementary school?

MCPS has $1.1 Million in Savings

After maintaining larger fund balances in recent years, Montgomery County Public Schools currently has about $1.1 million in savings, a significantly smaller amount that some school officials say could present a challenge when the next budget season comes around.
At the end of fiscal 2014 over the summer, the school system had $17.04 million left over, creating a total fund balance of $39.34 million, according to the school system. The Montgomery County Council used about $38.2 million to help fund the system’s $2.28 billion budget this fiscal year.

 http://www.gazette.net/article/20141014/NEWS/141019656/1124&template=gazette

CNS Maryland Video: Maryland Coalition to Halt Cell Towers at Schools Report

Correct name of new coalition is Maryland Coalition to Halt Cell Towers at Schools.

This video has excellent pictures of the cell tower at Wheaton High School in Silver Spring.  That cell tower was on the football field, now it is smack up against the school building due to construction.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Cell Tower Requested at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown

[Note: It's Verizon that wants to put a cell tower on the school playground, and the PTA will be presented with the plans on December 9th.  Why didn't the MCPS Public Information Officer didn't have these details?]

A communications company has requested a cell tower at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown.
 
Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Dana Tofig confirmed that a company has approached that school at 18808 Waring Station Road as a potential site for its communications equipment. He did not have specifics about the type of equipment or the name of the company...

 http://www.mymcmedia.org/cell-tower-requested-at-roberto-clemente-middle-school-in-germantown/

PG CoEx Rushern Baker: Credit card expenditures by county school board "very disturbing.. should be a wake up call"


BOE Candidates Talk Budget, Math Curriculum, Westbard

With only one scheduled candidates forum left, the eight people up for four county Board of Educations seats on Nov. 4 made clear Wednesday that there are differences in opinion when it comes to some pressing MCPS issues.
Candidates differed on maintenance of effort, disagreed on whether the school system should institute its own inspector general and shared different views on the importance of later start times. Two candidates challenging incumbents criticized the Board and Superintendent Joshua Starr for what many teachers claim has been a disjointed rollout of the county’s new math curriculum.
The non-partisan Board of Education election pits four pairs of candidates against each other for three district seats and one at-large seat. Every voter in the county gets to vote for every board member, no matter the district.

 http://www.bethesdanow.com/2014/10/16/boe-candidates-talk-budget-math-curriculum-westbard/

Starr Wants Cell Tower on Another Middle School Playground

The school is surrounded by homes on 3 sides.


The Parents' Coalition has learned that Superintendent Joshua Starr is now proposing a cell tower for the Roberto Clemente Middle School playground.  The proposal will be presented to parents at the November PTA meeting.

By our count, this is the 7th cell tower that Superintendent Starr has proposed for a MCPS playground since he became superintendent.
  • Has Superintendent Starr ever made a public statement on why he is pushing for cell towers on MCPS playgrounds? No.
  • Has Superintendent Starr ever made a public presentation to the Board of Education about his 7 cell tower construction projects? No. 
  • Better question, has the Board of Education ever publicly ASKED about Superintendent Starr's 7 cell tower proposals? No.

If cell tower compounds on public school playgrounds are such a super cool awesome deal, then why all the secrecy?

 

Let's hear the Board of Education and Superintendent Starr discuss these plans in public at the next Board of Education meeting!  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

WPost: Montgomery County school board, critics at odds over $140,000 legal bill

First there was public uproar about how members of Montgomery County’s Board of Education used their district-issued credit cards. Now comes fallout regarding the $140,000 in legal bills that piled up as the records for those credit cards went under review and investigation.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/montgomery-county-school-board-critics-at-odds-over-140000-legal-bill/2014/10/18/c792f2e0-47cc-11e4-891d-713f052086a0_story.html?hpid=z2

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"this county needs a cultural earthquake to occur on the current Board of Education"

Gazette Letter: 
...I ask the voters of Montgomery County to vote for Kristin Trible, Laurie Halverson, Larry Edmonds and Jill Ortman-Fouse because this county needs a cultural earthquake to occur on the current Board of Education. We need a new breed of leaders who will be accountable to the parents, teachers, students and taxpayers, will be open and transparent with the allocation of $2.3 billion and will respond to constituents emails, telephone calls and questions instead of being ignored or brushed aside.

Furthermore, I ask residents in Montgomery County to vote against the Apple ballot and MCEA’s monopoly of thought that has pervaded MCPS for too long...
 http://www.gazette.net/article/20141017/OPINION/141019216/1014/support-for-school-board-challengers&template=gazette

Friday, October 17, 2014

WPost: Report finds wide disparities in local per-pupil spending

...Montgomery County Public Schools, for example, regularly rates among the top-performing districts in Maryland and spends $12,649 per student, according to Fordham, far less than the public school system in the District, which spent $15,743 per student but ranks poorly nationwide...

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/report-finds-wide-disparities-in-local-per-pupil-spending-dc-charters-spend-most/2014/10/14/f8b94b8c-53cd-11e4-ba4b-f6333e2c0453_story.html

Gazette: Rockville, county at ‘stalemate’ on stormwater fees #mcps

Rockville serves as the center of Montgomery County’s government, housing the offices of the county executive, county council, several of the county’s courthouses and other county facilities.
But for more than five years, the city and the county have been engaged in an ongoing dispute over whether the county should pay stormwater management fees for its properties in the city...

...If the government agencies were subject to the fee, MCPS would owe $236,861 for fiscal 2015, Montgomery College $100,374 and Montgomery County $126,281, according to a memorandum from Rockville city staff...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pa. House approves 'Pass the Trash' bill to stop abusive teachers from relocating to another school

Legislation designed to prevent abusive teachers from relocating to another school district will go to Gov. Tom Corbett for enactment after being unanimously approved by the House on Wednesday evening.
Corbett is likely to sign it, said the governor's spokesman Jay Pagni.
The bill would bar schools from entering into contracts that suppress information about investigations of abuse and sexual misconduct, as well as prevent schools from transferring problem teachers from school district to school district, a practice called "pass the trash."
House Bill 1816, which was approved 195-0, was introduced in the wake of a raft of lawsuits and revelations of widespread abuse in the school system.

 http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/10/pa_house_unanimously_approves.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Breaking News: Deasy Out After Failed iPad Project

Former Prince George's County Public Schools superintendent John Deasy in the news:

Deasy, 53, has led the district for 3.5 years. During that time, he has faced much scrutiny and criticism, especially over two technology projects, one of which would have spent more than $1 billion to provide an iPad to every student, teacher and administrator at Los Angeles USD schools.

 http://ktla.com/2014/10/16/embattled-lausd-superintendent-john-deasy-expected-to-step-down-get-60k/

Blair opens Chrome accounts for all students and staff

Montgomery Blair's media center created Chromebook accounts at the start of the school year for the school's staff and students. The accounts function as online workspaces for teachers and students through novel file sharing capabilities.

Blair's Chromebook accounts form a closed and secure cloud-based platform for classroom use. Media center specialist Andrea Lamphier was the liaison through which Montgomery Public Schools distributed the Chrome accounts to Blair. "Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) central officers started importing student and staff records. I certainly knew by July 11 and already access them by that moment," she said. The accounts provide an alternative to traditional file-sharing methods. "It will definitely help resolve file sharing. Students making presentations won't have to log off and won't have to email or [use] flash-drives," Lamphier said.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/12649

WSJ: "One in 10 sites violates the rules" #celltowers

Cellphone Boom Spurs Antenna-Safety Worries
 
...Federal rules require carriers to use barricades, signs and training to protect people from excessive radio-frequency radiation, the waves of electric and magnetic power that carry signals. The power isn’t considered harmful by the time it reaches the street, but it can be a risk for workers and residents standing directly in front of an antenna.
One in 10 sites violates the rules, according to six engineers who examined more than 5,000 sites during safety audits for carriers and local municipalities, underscoring a safety lapse in the network that makes cellphones hum, at a time when the health effects of antennas are being debated world-wide...
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thursday on the Kojo Nnamdi Show: MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr

In Maryland's largest school district, growing enrollment and shifting demographics continue to stretch the capacity of school buildings and boost the need for ESOL classes and subsidized meals. Superintendent Joshua Starr joins Kojo to talk about project-based learning, the need to balance social and emotional learning with college and career readiness and a new discipline policy that cuts down on suspensions.

Guests

Joshua Starr
Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools (Md.)

"...one of the most dynamic and visionary school leaders in Maryland, Joshua Starr..." #nobid #gallup

This article has now been reprinted in a New Hampshire newspaper.
...Compare this view with one of the most dynamic and visionary school leaders in Maryland, Joshua Starr, who is attempting to be a model disrupter by sponsoring the Gallup organization’s survey of students’ dreams. The thinking is that if educators can know and understand young people’s dreams for their futures, then the curriculum and instruction provided through schooling can be designed to support their manifestation.
Now that is 21st-century thinking...
http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/13705302-95/my-turn-19th-century-education-model-not-what-21st-century-students-need

Sponsoring? Is that what we call no bid surprise contracts these days?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sentinel: Family sues MCPS for $3 million for teacher's sexual abuse

ROCKVILLE – A high school student and her mother are suing Montgomery County Public Schools for $3 million for the inappropriate and sexual actions of the student’s teacher, who was convicted of sexual abuse in June.
Potomac resident Richard Shemer, 51, who taught history at Albert Einstein High School, received a 20-year sentence for sex abuse of a minor with all but one year suspended. As of Sept. 25, the court released him to his home under electronic monitoring. He had exchanged a number of sexually inappropriate emails with his student, who plaintiff’s attorney Norman Schneider names as Jane Doe in the complaint...

...Schneider said the school allegedly had warning signs of Shemer’s inappropriate behavior.
“There were numerous people in the school who had complained about him and were told by the counseling staff that this is the way he is with everybody,” Schneider said. “Certainly Einstein’s administration knew that he was somebody who acted inappropriately at times and probably should have monitored him a little closer just on that basis.”
Shemer also allegedly sent many explicit emails from his MCPS email address or on school computers, according to Schneider...


MD special-ed students can't serve coffee at school

The Baltimore Sun:

Patapsco special-ed students can't serve coffee at school, will now sell slushies