Friday, July 31, 2015

Breaking: Parents File for Circuit Court Injunction to STOP Cell Tower on Playground .@MABE_News .@milestonecomm .@AACountySchools .@mocoboe .@pgcps

Case Information
Court System:Circuit Court For Anne Arundel County - Civil
Location:Anne Arundel Circuit Court
Case Number:C-02-CV-15-002363
Title:Colin Murphy Et. Al. vs. Anne Arundel County Board of Education
Case Type:Injunction
Filing Date:07/28/2015
Case Status:Open

Involved Parties Information
Name:Murphy Et. Al., Colin
Attorney(s) for the Plaintiff
Name:O'Kane, Jessica
Address Line 1:

Name:Anne Arundel County Board of Education
Address:C/o P. Tyson Bennett

888 Bestgate Road, Suite 316
City:AnnapolisState:MDZip Code:21401

Document Information
File Date:07/28/2015Close Date:
Filed By:
Document Name:Complaint / Petition
Comment:Complaint for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction and Permanent Injunction

File Date:07/28/2015Close Date:
Filed By:
Document Name:Supporting Exhibits

File Date:07/28/2015Close Date:
Filed By:
Document Name:Supporting Exhibits
Comment:(Proposed Decision)

File Date:07/28/2015Close Date:
Filed By:
Document Name:Case Information Report Filed

File Date:07/28/2015Close Date:
Filed By:
Document Name:Attorney Appearance - No Fee

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Breaking: Judge says that cell towers do not fall in line with Maryland's educational code #milestone .@MABE_News .@milestonecomm .@AACountySchools .@mocoboe .@pgcps

Parents hoping the Maryland Board of Education will permanently halt construction of a cell phone tower in Arnold when it meets this fall are asking an Anne Arundel County judge to stop the work before it can be completed.
Construction on the tower at Magothy and Severn River middle schools is on target to wrap up in early August, more than a month before the state board will consider a preliminary opinion that cell phone towers on school grounds do not meet the state's educational code. The two schools are on the same property on Peninsula Farm Road.

Crews are currently using a crane to put up the tower.
Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said the timeline is to have the project completed by the week of Aug. 10.
Last year, a group of Arnold parents aligned with a state group opposed to putting cell phone towers on school property, filed an appeal with the state board to protest a cell phone tower planned at the middle schools.
Vanessa Haneberg of Arnold said she joined the appeal because she was concerned about many of the same things parents have been concerned with across the county: marring the landscape, property values and safety.
"We couldn't afford a lawyer," she said. "It's a matter of David and Goliath."
The appeal went to Maryland's Office of Administrative Hearings, where Judge Stephen Nichols said that the towers do not fall in line with Maryland's educational code to use schools for the benefit of the public school system...

Schools Warned On Speech Services For Kids With Autism

Federal education officials are reminding schools not to skimp on needed speech and language services for children with autism.
In a letter to states, officials from the U.S. Department of Education say they’ve heard that an increasing number of kids on the spectrum may not be receiving services from speech-language pathologists at school. Moreover, such professionals are frequently left out of the evaluation process and are often not present at meetings to determine what services a child should receive under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the department said.
“Some IDEA programs may be including applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists exclusively without including, or considering input from, speech-language pathologists and other professionals who provide different types of specific therapies that may be appropriate for children with ASD when identifying IDEA services for children with ASD,” wrote Melody Musgrove, director of the Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs, in the guidance sent this month.
Musgrove said her agency is worried that this issue is impacting students in special education programs serving infants and toddlers as well as K-12 schools.
Under IDEA, schools have an obligation to fully evaluate children with disabilities to assess their specific needs. For young kids, the law requires that the person who conducted the evaluation be included in the team determining what services a child will receive. Meanwhile, for school-age children, the individualized education program, or IEP, team must include a professional who can “interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results,” the Education Department guidance said...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Investigation Finds Flaws in Order of Montgomery County Public Schools Renovations

Montgomery County Public Schools will rearrange the order in which its schools are renovated or expanded after an internal investigation showed the district may have botched how it drew up the old list.
Some schools might be rebuilt or gutted years earlier than expected; some years later...

Council Investigation Identified Math Errors in the MCPS School Building FACT Score Calculations

...The calculation of FACT scores included multiple errors; correction of these flaws would alter the results of the 2011 FACT assessments. OLO determined that the FACT scoring: (a) double counted points for the Administrative parameter; (b) used incorrect square footage data in the calculation of maintenance and utility consumption rates for some schools; (c) used Piney Branch Elementary School as the scoring benchmark in the Utility and Energy Efficiency parameter without accounting for the presence of a swimming pool at the school; (d) included a formulaic error in the calculation of relative water consumption rates; and (e) failed to adjust for a clear data outlier in the calculation of relative school maintenance costs. While OLO identified the above five errors, OLO did not conduct a complete audit of all FACT scoring calculations...

Monday, July 27, 2015

School is out for the summer

, ,  , and no one is in the MCPS offices at Carver to respond to requests for information.

How do we know that?

This weekend, one of our bloggers filed a request under the Maryland Public Information Act, and the response was returned as "Undeliverable."

The blogger checked the MCPS website - and sure enough, she had used the proper address.

Does this mean that without a real superintendent in charge, MCPS systems go unanswered?

What is up at MCPS?  Is anyone home?

And, more importantly, will anyone be able to get a timely response from the Board of Education Offices while school is out of session?


.@Mocoboe Submits Expense Report: Still Spending $ on Overnight Travel, Ticketed Events, Dues

Where are your tax dollars going?

In many instances, they are going to pay for Board of Education members to go on out-of-town junkets and black-tie "galas."

And then, there are the dues paid by the taxpayers to the Maryland Association of Boards of Education- to the tune of $52,000. And what benefit to the students receive from that money? Never seen a report on that!

Read the Board of Education report submitted by Roland Ikheloa HERE.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

In April, a former Montgomery County substitute teacher pleaded guilty to groping two middle school girls. A month later, a county music teacher pleaded guilty to abusing 15 minors.

WASHINGTON — In April, a former Montgomery County substitute teacher pleaded guilty to groping two middle school girls. A month later, a county music teacher pleaded guilty to abusing 15 minors. Many of the incidents took place in classrooms during school hours.
While there seems to be a spike in these occurrences, there’s no data to confirm that.
“My sense is that we see more reporting,” says Carol Shakeshaft, an educational leadership professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. “As people have become more aware of it and it’s in the papers more, people are willing to step up and report.”...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Walter Johnson: New Development Planning at Rock Spring

The Rock Spring property across the street (north) from Walter Johnson is now the subject of the master plan planning process and intensive development is likely.  There will be an open-house-style meeting for the public on September 1st, at 7pm at Walter Johnson.

According to the Montgomery County Planning Department,

Rock Spring Park is part of the North Bethesda/Potomac office submarket. It accounts for 48 percent of office inventory in North Bethesda and 7 percent of office space Countywide. The current office vacancy rate in Rock Spring is 19.3 percent, much higher than in the wider North Bethesda submarket (14.7 percent) or the County (13.5 percent). The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has vacated approximately 159,731 square feet of leased office space in Rock Spring for a new location in Twinbrook. Rock Spring has 63 percent of North Bethesda’s vacant office space and 10 percent of all vacant space in the County.
The challenges of developing the proposed Master Plan amendment focus on reevaluating a typical suburban office park with an automotive-oriented street network and large parking garages and surface parking spaces. The proposed amendment will examine opportunities for a new street network; public use spaces and amenities; residential and non-residential uses; sustainable environmental measures; infrastructure needs for the area; and linkages to the proposed transitway. 

The Planning Department has put out a post requesting property owners, i.e., real estate developers, to contact them to set up individual meetings in July and August.  For the rest of us, not so much.

There will be a 'open house'-style meeting on September 1, at WJ, beginning at 7pm.

To find out more contact 
Kristin O’Connor: 301.495.2172,
Don Zeigler: 301.495.4638,

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Breaking: AA BOE Defies State Board - Builds Cell Tower Before Appeal Decision Released

Make no mistake about it.  Your children do not matter in Maryland. 

Maryland public schools can and will defy even the Maryland State Board of Education in their quest to appease private corporations.  What are the school administrators getting out of this? Please ask them.

Parents from Anne Arundel County appealed the decision of the Anne Arundel Board of Education to build a cell tower on the Magothy River Middle School playground to the Maryland State Board of Education.  The parties brought their case to an Adminstrative Law Judge, as directed by the Maryland State Board of Education, and the judge's decision has been transmitted to the Maryland State Board of Education.

And, guess what?  The parents have a very good chance of winning their appealYet, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education is permitting the construction of this cell tower to proceed before the Maryland State Board of Education releases their decision.  

The cell tower will be up in a few days and the parents who have played by the rules and followed the appropriate administrative procedure will be steamrolled.  The cell tower will be up.

What's the lesson here for our children?  Cheat, lie and scam the people you serve.  Get away with anything you can when you are a public school administrator or Board of Education member.  We look forward to seeing our children carry this lesson from their role models with them out into the world. This is what we want in young adults, right?

The pictures below were taken today, July 23, 2015, and show the construction of a cell tower on the Magothy River Middle School playground despite the fact that the Anne Arundel Board of Education knows that the decision to build this cell tower has been appealed to the Maryland State Board of Education, that the parents have a high likelihood of prevailing, and that the Maryland State Board of Education has not released their final Opinion.  

Fairfax County Superintendent Robert Spillane Dies

From the New York Times: Robert Spillane, Who Retooled Boston’s Schools, Dies at 80

Peter Baker, July 20, 2015 

Robert R. Spillane, who helped revive Boston’s troubled schools as superintendent in the 1980s and went on to become one of the nation’s leading education innovators as head of a large suburban district outside Washington, died on Saturday in Boston. He was 80. 

His wife, Geraldine Spillane, said he died from complications of pulmonary disease while being treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Over a long career, Dr. Spillane was superintendent of five school districts, including Glassboro, N.J.; Roosevelt, on Long Island; and New Rochelle, N.Y. He was also a state deputy education commissioner for New York and a runner-up for chancellor of the New York City schools in 1989. (Joseph A. Fernandez, of Miami-Dade County, got the job.)
As superintendent of schools in Fairfax County, Va., just outside the nation’s capital, Dr. Spillane received wide attention for pushing for merit pay for teachers, longer school days for children and more rigorous standards for both. President Ronald Reagan visited to praise his work and President Bill Clinton went shortly after Dr. Spillane’s departure to hail the district’s handling of immigrants and diversity.

To read the full story go here.

74 percent of Montgomery County students failed Algebra 1 final

From the Washington Post, by Donna St. George, July 22, 2015

As Maryland’s largest school district rethinks its long practice of giving final exams, new data show that steep exam failure rates persist in math, with three out of four high school students flunking the June test in Algebra 1.
Montgomery County school officials say the results reflect a long-standing problem with math exam performance but show an improvement in Algebra 1 from last year, when outcomes were so poor that the district added 15 percentage points to all semester exam grades in that course.

Extra points were not added this year, said Erick Lang, Montgomery’s associate superintendent for curriculum and instructional programs. He said teachers had professional development and a second year’s experience with a more rigorous Algebra 1 curriculum based on the Common Core State Standards. He added that individual schools also took on improvement efforts.

To read the full story go here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Judge strikes down Montgomery County’s ‘rain tax’

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge on Wednesday struck down the county’s stormwater fee, saying it is unmoored by the county’s cost of providing runoff protection as required by state law.
Absent a successful appeal, Judge Nelson W. Rupp Jr.’s decision will likely compel the county to redraft its Water Quality Protection Charge to mirror its costs for providing the environmental service.
Rupp’s ruling is most directly a victory for developer Paul N. Chod, whom the county had socked with an $11,000 stormwater charge related to his 34-acre commercial Shady Grove Development Park in Gaithersburg. The judge found that Chod’s company, Minkoff Development Corp., provided its own stormwater protection and therefore owes nothing to the county under the WQPC, derisively referred to as a “rain tax” by its opponents.
Rupp’s ruling addressed the scope of Section 4-202.1 of the Maryland Environmental Article, which established the WQPC.
The section provides that counties that assess the stormwater remediation fee “shall” charge an amount “based on the share of stormwater management services related to the property and provided by the county or municipality.”
Rupp rejected Montgomery’s argument that the section’s language permits the county to charge a fee greater than its out-of-pocket costs...

 Article continues here.

Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Del. Ariana Kelly - Bethesda Beat

Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Del. Ariana Kelly - Bethesda Beat

Publci School Parents Show Increased Satisfaction

...In the District, families can apply to enroll in traditional public schools and more than 100 charter schools through a citywide enrollment lottery.
After decades of declines, enrollment has increased in D.C. public schools for the past three years, a turnaround that school officials are hoping to continue. Many schools still struggle with low enrollment amid steep competition. Charter schools enroll 44 percent of the city’s students, and many employ sophisticated marketing strategies...

How much mold is too much?

In the weeks since Superintendent Renee Foose acknowledged that Glenwood Middle School has had a recurring mold problem, teachers and parents of students have started to come forward with stories of health issues that they believe were caused by mold in the building.
One teacher told of dizziness and heart palpitations at work. Another had breathing problems that led to an emergency room visit. Multiple teachers reported students with nosebleeds, sinus infections and bronchitis. A parent said a mysterious illness that caused her son to miss 16 1/2 days during his sixth-grade year was finally starting to make sense.
The stories paint a picture at odds with assurances from Howard County Public School System officials, who say the middle school's problems have been minimal and were promptly remedied...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Serious disciplinary action against daycares hidden from public view |

...For one Montgomery County mom, placing her two young daughters in someone else's care was an act of trust that was betrayed. The woman, who 7 On Your Side is not identifying in an effort to protect juvenile victims of a sex crime, tells ABC7, “I was just shocked and horrified and very angry.”
The woman says her daughters were molested by a man named David Zarayasi, who records show was charged in the incidents later convicted in 2013 of a third degree sex offense. He served time and now takes up space on Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry. But two years ago, Zarayasi was helping his wife run a daycare out of the couple’s home in Montgomery Village.
“I think she should have been shut down immediately,” the victim’s mother said.
Elsa de Perea's daycare is now legally open for business without Zarayasi. She declined comment to ABC7. But after her husband was charged, records obtained by the 7 On Your Side I-Team show Maryland's Office of Child Care briefly suspended de Perea's license and moved to revoke it, saying her failure to protect children in her care violated state code. That's something you'd never know without 7 On Your Side...

Prince George's school board member under criminal investigation in free lunch controversy |

Prince George's school board member under criminal investigation in free lunch controversy |

S.E.S.A.M.E.: All students deserve to have educators who are held to high standards of ethical professionalism.

Non-touching and verbal sexual harassment by school staff should never be ignored. Such inappropriate behaviors are the "red flags" that trained administrators must take seriously. These same "minor" boundary violations may signal the beginnings of the grooming (seduction) process -- or may be indicative of past extensive abuses of power. "A seemingly minor incident of sexual touching by a close and trusted adult can have a profound and lasting impact." (Protecting Our Students: Ontario Attorney General's Report, 2000, p. 134) Report all incidents to the designated Title IX official at your school. Repeating your complaint to the highest ranking administrator as well might be discouraged but it is to your best benefit. A call to your state's Department of Educator Professional Practice or Teacher Misconduct Office should be made also. All students deserve to have educators who are held to high standards of ethical professionalism. All teacher credentialing units hold a public mandate to be vigilant in their oversight of all who hold certification to teach their state's children.

Read more at:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Brookeville, Maryland (CNN)As a special education teacher, Richard Bienvenue worked with many troubled teenage boys.

  Is this the solution to 'throwaway kids'?

Brookeville, Maryland (CNN)As a special education teacher, Richard Bienvenue worked with many troubled teenage boys. For years, he observed the toll their surroundings took on them.
"The kids in my classes were from some pretty horrendous situations: dysfunction at homes, foster care, and abuse," said Bienvenue, who taught carpentry classes. "The tears you would see, the anguish they would go through, I saw a real need."
For more than two decades, Bienvenue has been helping struggling young men rebuild their lives. And he's using some unlikely tools: hammers and nails...


Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Plan: 300 Buses to Crabbs Branch Way, 100 Buses to Rt. 355

 ABC7's Kevin Lewis has learned more about the new behind closed doors plan for 400 MCPS buses being evicted from the Shady Grove Depot.

The new plan is to put 100 MCPS school buses on Rt. 355 at 850 Hungerford Drive and another 300 buses on Crabbs Branch Way (Isn't this the property that has to be vacated for the developer?).  Even the County Council didn't know about this plan when they took their "vote" on Monday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Board of Education Agrees to Ditch Final Exams in County Middle Schools - Bethesda Beat

Board of Education Agrees to Ditch Final Exams in County Middle Schools - Bethesda Beat

MCPS Eliminates Middle School Final Exams

...Under the plan presented Tuesday, centrally developed end-of-semester exams in middle school courses would be eliminated in the coming school year (2015-2016). Further discussion will be held on Bowers’ plan for high school exams, which would eliminate end-of-semester exams in the second semester of next school year in subjects for which there are already Maryland state end-of-course tests—Algebra 1, English 10, Biology, and Government. Bowers’ plan would eliminate all end-of-semester exams in high schools the following year (2016-2017) and would instead use in-class assessments that are given throughout the school year, including unit tests, essays, projects, document-based questions, and more.
In the coming weeks, the Board’s Policy Management Committee will begin reviewing the impact that eliminating exams in high school would have on Board policies and district regulations. Public feedback will be gathered on any substantial changes to these policies...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Report: District 16 Del. Ariana Kelly Charged With Indecent Exposure, Trespassing - Bethesda Beat

Report: District 16 Del. Ariana Kelly Charged With Indecent Exposure, Trespassing - Bethesda Beat

@MoCoBOE Spends $31K in March Fighting Families-Enough To Pay Paraeducator's Salary!

Special Education Legal Expenses

Special education legal expenses for outside counsel for March 2015 totaled $31,385.

The year-to-date total of $218,676 is $26,462 (13.8 percent) more than the same period in the
previous year.
In addition, total year-to-date special education legal costs of $218,676 are $142,188
(39.4 percent) less than the budgeted amount of $360,864 for this time period.

The Jeffrey A. Krew bill for March 2015 totaled $30,896, all of which related to four
administrative hearing matters.

The Carney Kelehan bill for March 2015 totaled $489, all of which related to an Office of Civil
Rights complaint.