Monday, October 23, 2017

Week Ahead: MCPS Superintendent to Present Capital Budget Recommendations

Week Ahead: MCPS Superintendent to Present Capital Budget Recommendations: Plus: Community meeting on small cell tower antennas Monday; Nice fall week predicted

Open Letter to Superintendent: MCPS has yet to correct the flaws, loopholes and shoddy implementation of the policy and regulations regarding child abuse and neglect.

From: jennifer alvaro 
Date: Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 10:32 AM
Subject: Child Sexual abuse in MCPS
To: "Smith, Jack" , MCPS of Education
Cc: "Harris, Darlene M" , "Napoli, Sandra L" , "Gray, Martha M" , "Turner, Derek G" , Donna Hollingshead ,


Dr. Smith and County School Board Members,  

Please be aware over the past year,  despite numerous contacts with MCPS (in the form of  personal conversations with Dr. Smith, emails to Dr. Smith and email exchanges with MCPS staff, radio appearances with MCPS staff) MCPS has yet to correct the flaws, loopholes and shoddy implementation of the policy and regulations regarding child abuse and neglect. 

Two recent examples are presented here.   First, the Personal Body Safety Lessons are still not being implemented correctly in schools. One example is last week at Cloverly elementary school the counselor ran a parent meeting to discuss the PBSL.   The counselor  stated numerous times she only had to teach one lesson to each grade.  When a parent read the information below (supplied by your staff),  the counselor continued to assert she had the discretion to change the lessons as she sees fit.

It should be obvious to those who stay informed on this issue, if there is any school in the entire county who should be embracing teaching this program correctly, it should be Cloverly.   John Vigna was only caught due to a brave child reporting her abuse after taking this program.   As you know, MCPS did an internal investigation of his abusive behaviors in 2008, another internal investigation in 2013 and must have reviewed all the information again in 2015 after Dr. Starr's December memo to review all files for suspicious / abusive behaviors.  Yet, despite all that, Vigna was left in the classroom.   

In a school where victim blaming and shaming was rampant in meetings and court, it becomes even more critical for the PBSL and parent meetings to be run with compassion and with fidelity.  

I have asked you before, and I will ask you again, will you please immediately issue a directive to all school staff with specific instructions this program must be taught at all grade levels, every year?    The program itself has serious flaws (for example: at some levels it is a "one and done" which is not best practice, and it is not taught every year to every student as you state) but never the less, you do have clear proof it is keeping children safe.

A second glaring example of the way MCPS is handling abuse is this month alone, two MCPS staff members have been arrested for sexually abusing students.   One of them worked at Carderock Springs elementary school for over a year.   A letter went home to Carderock parents stating parents should share information they have with police.   No such letter went home to parents at Pyle Middle school where former Carderock Springs students are enrolled.  Don't parents of former students deserve to have this information so they may act? 

I have been asking since 2012 for these issues to be addressed appropriately and thoroughly.   I will continue advocating for the flaws, error, loopholes and mismanagement of this to be corrected.   Children are currently being left at risk and will suffer as a result of both your action & inaction.   

I welcome the opportunity to speak to you all further about these concerns. 

Sincerely, 

Jennifer Alvaro 




------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: "Hollingshead, Donna"
To: jennifer alvaro 
Cc: "Napoli, Sandra L" ; "Harris, Darlene M" ; "Gray, Martha M" ; "Turner, Derek G"

Sent: Wednesday, June 28, 2017 5:17 PM
Subject: RE: Follow-up to your Message to Dr. Smith
 
Good Evening Ms. Alvaro:
 
This message is in response to your email to Dr. Smith, in which you requested clarification regarding our personal body safety lessons (PBSL) at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).   As you are aware, in our effort to play an active role in preventing child abuse and neglect, MCPS staff members, in conjunction with partners, developed PBSLs to complement the Comprehensive Health Education curriculum.
 
As noted in the May 31, 2017 response letter to your Maryland Public Information Act request, counselors work under the direction of principals and in coordination with the Office of Student and Family Support and Engagement. They are provided with lessons that they are expected to use in their schools. However, as the December 8 memorandum titled “Action: Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Personal Body Safety Lessons for Students” indicates, counselors in Grades 6-10 have the option of where to implement the lesson.  These options include during Health classes, other classes or in small groups.  I have spoken to Mr. Turner and he regrets if he misspoke during the phone conversation with the students.
 
Additionally, I would like to take this opportunity to provide a clarification to your reference of “the full 3 session curriculum.”  Included for your reference below is a chart of the PBSL lessons requirements by grade for the 2016-2017 school year.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hogan then declared, “None of them [school board members] should be re-elected.”

Approximately 150 people gathered Sunday evening to thank Gov. Larry Hogan for his support of the Jewish community in an event sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
Following his remarks at Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, dozens of people lined up to thank him for allocating money to area Jewish agencies, strengthening economic ties between Maryland and Israel, opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and supporting funds for scholarships to private schools.
But when a few people told Hogan they were disappointed he had moved up the starting date for public schools until after Labor Day, thereby causing County school officials to rework their calendar and possibly eliminate days off for Jewish holidays, Hogan’s demeanor changed.
“I’m outraged by the Montgomery County schools making the suggestion,” he said. “That’s nonsense.”
Hogan then declared, “None of them [school board members] should be re-elected.”
There are still 180 school days on the calendar, he said, noting it would be preferable for members of the school board to look at the nine teacher workshop days and “get rid of two of the nine days” instead of eliminating days off for religious holidays.
Following the one-hour event, Hogan said he believed he had a good relationship with the County...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Police said the counselor, Colin S. Black, 33, who has worked at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, had consensual sex with the women and then forced them to perform sex acts they did not want to do.

Counselor at Md. high school arrested on sex offense charges with women he met on Tinder
A counselor at a Maryland high school was arrested Thursday on sex offense and assault charges after allegedly forcing himself on adult women during two incidents, each involving acquaintances he met on the social media app Tinder.
Police said the counselor, Colin S. Black, 33, who has worked at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, had consensual sex with the women and then forced them to perform sex acts they did not want to do.
School Principal James G. Fernandez sent a letter to school families Thursday, informing them of the arrest and noting that the charges did not involve students or minors, or happen on school property. He said student safety remains a top priority.
“These charges are deeply troubling,” he wrote. “This type of behavior does not reflect the principles of MCPS or our community, and it will not be tolerated,” a reference to Montgomery County Public Schools.
In court papers, detectives alleged that one woman went to Black’s Rockville apartment March 24 and that the two had intercourse. Afterward, Black allegedly ignored the woman’s pleas as she repeatedly told him to stop other sex acts, according to documents filed in court.
Police said other allegations also have come to light about an alleged assault from December 2016...

Police Left Counselor in Einstein HS for 6 Months After First Complaint

MCPS UNAWARE OF INVESTIGATION PRIOR TO HS COUNSELOR’S ARREST FOR SEX CRIMES 


Officials from Montgomery County Public Schools said they were unaware police had been conducting an investigation of a local high school guidance counselor for sexual assault allegations until the man was arrested this week. The investigation began nearly seven months ago, according to Montgomery County Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti.
"We just learned of the investigation and arrest yesterday," Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala said.
Colin S. Black, 33, a guidance counselor at Albert Einstein High School, was arrested Thursday morning on charges of second-degree sexual offense and second-degree assault, according to an Oct. 19 MCPD press release...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Police Blotter: Girl with Knife at Wootton High School Arrested

Police Blotter: Burglars Swipe TV from Apartment, Hit Another Car While Driving Away; Girl with Knife at Wootton High School Arrested: Crimes reported to Montgomery County and Rockville police from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

Concealed weapon at Wootton High School
Police arrested a 15-year-old girl accused of possession of a concealed weapon and possession of a dangerous weapon on school property at Thomas S. Wootton High School at 9 a.m. on Oct. 2. She allegedly had a knife.

Kirwan Commission considers large-scale tutoring plan to close proficiency gaps

Maryland has one of the highest household incomes in the U.S., but only 40% of its students met proficiency standards in reading and math on the PARCC assessments in 2017, a Johns Hopkins University researcher told the Kirwin Commission last week.
A $1.46 billion plan using one-on-one and small group and tutoring would help close the gap between top performing students and those who struggle to keep up, Robert Slavin, Johns Hopkins University Director of Research and Reform in Education said.
“Nobody wants more taxes,” Slavin said. “But it’s not to the moon. It’s not something Maryland can’t do. The proposal outlines a statewide approach intended to enable virtually all students in Maryland to reach the proficient level on PARCC.”
The proficiency standard on the standardized test Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which is used in third-through-eighth grades, is defined as a score of 750, Slavin stated. But Maryland’s average score is 740, 10 points below the average...

Work group looks to streamline Md. school construction

ANNAPOLIS — Members of a Maryland legislative task force want to streamline the school construction process by removing the oversight of one government agency.
A work group that is part of the 21st Century Schools Facilities Commission voted to recommend to the full commission eliminating a requirement that school systems submit construction or renovation plans for review by the Department of General Services. Supporters of the recommendation say that such efforts are often either redundant or increase costs by slowing down approvals needed to start projects that must be completed before schools re-open...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ponce Flores is in 11th grade at Thomas Edison High School

MS-13 Members Stabbed Man More Than 80 Times in Silver Spring Park, Prosecutor Says: One suspect charged with murder was victim’s best friend, mother told police

Einstein High School Guidance Counselor - Suspect Charged With Committing Sexual Offenses Against Two Adult Female Victims

Detectives from the Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID) have arrested Colin Sime Black ,age 33, of Clemson Court in Rockville, for committing sexual offenses against two adult women.  Black is a guidance counselor at Albert Einstein High School in the Kensington area.

http://www.mymcpnews.com/2017/10/19/suspect-charged-with-committing-sexual-offenses-against-two-adult-female-victims/

Oct. 23rd County Meeting on Cell Towers: County Seeks to Remove Public Notice and Public Hearings

The county says "the proposed ZTA (Zoning Text Amendment) is intended to allow providers to provide service while protecting the character of both our residential neighborhoods and commercial areas by regulating how and where these antennas can be placed, and how they should be screened or camouflaged"  however all the ZTA does is make sure the microwave antennas are camaflouged. 

The proposed zoning ordinance removes
 public notice and public hearings. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is requesting public input on a draft Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) to revise the County’s zoning code to address deployment of small antennas on streetlights and lower-height buildings. A community meeting for this input will be held from 7-9 p.m. on Monday, October 23 at the Stella B Werner Council Office Building located at 100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd Floor Hearing Room in Rockville. The meeting will be carried live on County Cable Montgomery on Verizon channel 30 or Comcast/RCN channel 6, Facebook and YouTube.

Because wireless technology is evolving, Montgomery County has recently received an unprecedented number of applications to deploy small cell antennas in residential neighborhoods as well as commercial areas around the County. Federal law is clear that Montgomery County cannot pass zoning laws that would have the effect of prohibiting service throughout the County. Therefore, the proposed ZTA is intended to allow providers to provide service while protecting the character of both our residential neighborhoods and commercial areas by regulating how and where these antennas can be placed, and how they should be screened or camouflaged.

The ZTA, an interactive map, and links to submit public comments can be found at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/antennaZTA.
 - View this from Paperless Airplane blog - 


Community Meeting Information 

Monday, October 23, 2017 Stella B Werner Council Office Building 100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd Floor Hearing Room Rockville, MD 20850 7pm – 9pm 

Please be aware of the following: The Council Office Building has new security measures in place for your safety. All visitors will pass through a metal detector and hand-held items including but not limited to bags, briefcases, cell phones, containers, laptop computers, and purses, will pass through an X-ray machine. Individuals who are unable to go through a metal detector will be screened by security personnel using a hand-held electronic wand. If you have health issues that prevent you from passing through a metal detector or coming in close contact with an X-ray machine, please alert security personnel. During public hearings and meetings attended by many visitors, you may experience a line to enter the building, so please plan accordingly. Parking Information Council Office Building Garage Entrances: E. Jefferson St & Monroe St. - Rates: $1 first hour; $2.50 per hour after - Hours requiring payment: Mon – Fri 8 am - 6 pm Jury Lot Entrance: Monroe St. - No restrictions after 930 am

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

OCT. 23RD MEETING SET FOR PUBLIC INPUT ON SMALL CELL ANTENNAS

A community meeting has been set for Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett to receive public comments on small antennas on streetlights and lower-height buildings.
The meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, in the Third Floor Hearing Rom at the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville.
The meeting will focus on a proposed zoning text amendment that would revise the county zoning code to address small cell antennas and microtowers....

They blamed the Gaithersburg teen for the death of their clique’s leader,

MS-13 members threatened to cut off teen’s fingers and burn her, prosecutors say. Then she was killed.
One MS-13 member clicked a cigar cutter open and closed with a metallic ring, while another told the 15-year-old they would cut her fingers off, the prosecutor said. Another gang member asked where the gasoline was so they could burn the girl up.
Ten members and associates of MS-13 lured Damaris A. Reyes Rivas to a Springfield park in January because they wanted revenge. They blamed the Gaithersburg teen for the death of their clique’s leader, Christian Sosa Rivas, whose body had been dumped in the Potomac about a week earlier.
Venus Romero Iraheta, 17, who was Sosa Rivas’s girlfriend, told Damaris her fate would be the same.
“Venus told her she was going to die that day as Christian did — in the cold,” Fairfax County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Katherine Stott said in a Fairfax County courtroom Tuesday...
...Damaris’s killers were remorseless, capturing her final minutes in gruesome cellphone videos...
...There was no mention of MS-13 on Thursday, but fear of the gang, known in El Salvador as Mara Salvatrucha, was everywhere. At least six Gaithersburg police cars were positioned around the St. Rose of Lima church. Plainclothes police attended the funeral — their guns bulging beneath suit jackets — and uniformed officers watched over the burial from a distance.
Perhaps because of the fear of violence, the pews were mostly empty. About 50 people attended, primarily family members plus a few of Damaris’s friends and teachers from Watkins Mill High School...

TWO ARRESTED #MCPS #MOCOBOE

Police arrested two Montgomery County Public Schools staff members last week in separate incidents involving child sex abuse charges. 
Police charged Cory Boatman, 27, a teacher and an assistant football coach at Montgomery Blair High School, Oct. 6 with sexual abuse of a minor for an alleged sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student...

‘Excessive force’: Judge rules in favor of children who were handcuffed at school

A Kentucky sheriff’s deputy who handcuffed an 8-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl at school violated the children’s constitutional rights, a federal judge ruled, labeling the move “excessive force” and an unnecessary reaction to their misbehavior.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on the children’s behalf, said last week’s ruling vindicates its position that schools should not use police officers to deal with misbehaving students, particularly children with disabilities. The children who were handcuffed had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition that made it difficult for them to focus and follow instructions.
“This judge drew a line in the sand and said this conduct is unconstitutional, and we think that this is helpful in our efforts to advocate against the criminalization of children,” said Claudia Center, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU. “It’s a terrible policy from our view, particularly in elementary schools.”...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

4th Circuit rejects bid to turn Rockville zoning spat into constitutional claim #MaryvaleElementarySchool

Saying a zoning dispute does not create a constitutional crisis, a federal appeals court ruled Friday the Rockville City Council did not violate a self-storage company’s due-process and equal-protection rights by enacting an ordinance barring the construction of a facility near an elementary school.
In its published 3-0 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Siena Corp.’s constitutional challenge as “yet another attempt to circumvent the state’s legitimate interest in zoning law and land use policy.”
The ordinance, spurred by local opposition to the planned facility, prohibits self-storage buildings from being constructed within 250 feet of a public school lot. Siena argued the ordinance was unconstitutional because it was targeted specifically at the company, which was the only one planning to build such a commercial storage facility in Rockville.
But the 4th Circuit said Siena had ample opportunity to protect its interests as the ordinance was reviewed and debated before city agencies amid safety concerns about having one of the company’s ezStorage facilities near Maryvale Elementary School...

Monday, October 16, 2017

MCPS is #8 in Nation - Maryland Public Schools Lead Nation in Admin Costs

The State of Maryland appears to have a spending problem, when it comes to paying public school administrators.
The below list was assembled by Project Baltimore after analyzing a 2017 U.S. Census report on the nation’s 100 largest school systems. The list comprises America’s top 10 for per student spending on administration costs. That is, money that does not go to the classroom. It’s not buying books, computers or science equipment. Rather, it’s going to the administrators. The principals, assistant principals and superintendents who run the schools.
Do you notice anything about this list?
Baltimore City, MD: $1,630
Boston, MA: $1,297
Atlanta, GA: $1,182
Howard County, MD: $1,143
Anchorage, AK: $1,134
Baltimore County, MD: $1,132
Prince William County, VA: $1,155
Montgomery County, MD: $1,099
Anne Arundel County, MD: $1,059
Prince George’s County, MD: $1,049
Six of the top 10 are in Maryland.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Md. DOT takes over agency’s procurement after irregularities found

ANNAPOLIS — State transportation officials said they are taking more direct control of contracting within the Maryland Transit Administration after the discovery of dozens of contracts that lacked formal approval or instances in which vendors were paid for services for which there was no contract...

http://thedailyrecord.com/2017/10/04/procurement-irregulaties-mta-maryland/


[How many Montgomery County Board of Education vendors get paid but do not have a contract?]

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Heat Wave Makes for Muggy Schools After Air-Conditioning Is Switched Off

Heat Wave Makes for Muggy Schools After Air-Conditioning Is Switched Off

Seneca Valley Student Struck by Vehicle While Walking to School

...5th District Commander Mark Plazinski confirmed that an 18-year-old male student was running across Middlebrook Road at the intersection of Crystal Rock Drive, when he came in contact with a vehicle. Plazinski said the investigation seemed to indicate contributing factors from both the driver and the pedestrian. He said both the driver and victim remained at the scene and were very cooperative. While in the student was in the crosswalk at the time of the incident, according to Plazinski, the student ran into the side of the vehicle as it was making the turn onto Middlebrook Road. Police are unsure of the status of the light at the time of the incident. No charges are expected in this case, said Plazinski...

https://www.germantownpulse.net/single-post/2017/10/10/Seneca-Valley-Student-Struck-by-Vehicle-While-Walking-to-School

Breaking: Justice Department Settles with Montgomery County, Maryland, After School Program to Ensure Compliance with the ADA

The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with Bar-T Year Round Programs for Kids (Bar-T), located in Montgomery County, Maryland, to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, including child care centers, from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and those associated with them.  Bar-T is the largest provider of before and after school programs in Montgomery County, operating at approximately 30 Montgomery County public school locations.    

The department investigated whether Bar-T discriminated against a student with a disability, specifically Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and her parents when it expelled the student on the basis of behaviors associated with ASD, without properly considering whether Bar-T staff could implement reasonable modifications to permit the student to remain enrolled.  The settlement agreement requires Bar-T to adopt a nondiscrimination policy; designate staff at each operating location to address ADA issues; implement a process for parents or guardians of children with disabilities to request reasonable modifications and for Bar-T to conduct an individualized assessment of each request; provide ADA training to staff; and report on compliance with the agreement.  Bar-T will also pay $13,500 in compensatory damages to the student and her parents.

 “Through this agreement, Bar-T is taking important steps to make sure that all children in its programs, including children with disabilities, will be given the opportunity to have a positive and successful experience in a supportive after school environment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. 

 “Children with disabilities deserve equal opportunities to attend after school programs.  The policies Bar-T has agreed to implement will ensure that its programs provide an inclusive environment for all students,” said Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning.

To read the settlement agreement or for more information on the ADA, visit www.ada.gov.  For more information about the ADA, including how to file a complaint, call the Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.


Bar-T Settlement Agreement

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

At ribbon-cutting rally, Hogan called it “shining example of public-private partnerships” #NewportMillMiddleSchool

Newport Mill Middle School Unveils New Fitness Center: At ribbon-cutting rally, Hogan called it “shining example of public-private partnerships”

Prosecutors Say Substitute Teacher Was ‘Mentor’ to Student He Allegedly Abused

Prosecutors Say Substitute Teacher Was ‘Mentor’ to Student He Allegedly Abused: Defense attorney argues sexual contact appears consensual

Police: Former MCPS Employee Apologized for Touching 10-Year-Old, Said She Was ‘Flirting’ With Him

Police: Former MCPS Employee Apologized for Touching 10-Year-Old, Said She Was ‘Flirting’ With Him: Roy “Andy” Simmons was released on bail Friday

Md. Comptroller Franchot questions Washington County Public Schools collections proposal

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot weighed in Wednesday on the proposal by Washington County Public Schools to use a collection agency to recover some $45,000 in unpaid charges for student meals.
The topic came up as the Maryland Board of Public Works agreed to let the Washington County Commissioners dispose of the former Conococheague Elementary School.
Franchot used it as an opportunity to comment on a Herald-Mail Media article about the school system "considering a proposal to contract with a collection agency to go after parents whose children have negative balances in their school meal accounts."
"Being humiliated and harassed … by collectors are the last thing families who are experiencing financial hardship need," he said, "and I sincerely hope that the children are not being denied meals or going hungry in schools simply because their parents are not, or are unable to settle up their school meal debts."...