Thursday, April 19, 2018

Former MCPS School Bus Driver Sentenced To 11 Months for Inappropriately Touching Female Students

Former MCPS School Bus Driver Sentenced To 11 Months for Inappropriately Touching Female Students: He will also serve five years of probation and register as a sex offender

Enough, Murphy says, as he signs law to keep N.J. schools from hiring teachers accused of sex abuse

A historic law giving school administrators sweeping new powers to warn other districts about teachers accused of sexual abuse was signed Wednesday by Gov. Phil Murphy.
"Ensuring our children are safe when they go to school every day is our number one priority," Murphy said. "By requiring public, charter, nonpublic schools and contracted service providers to perform a detailed investigation of prior employment histories of applicants who are applying for jobs entailing regular contact with students, this common-sense legislation will begin to fill a serious gap in our hiring system."
The landmark legislation becomes law four months after NJ Advance Media published an extensive investigation, highlighting a system that allows problem teachers to easily get another public school job even after accusations of sexual misconduct. Known as "passing the trash," the cycle continues because administrators in an effort to avoid lawsuits, often have remained silent about teachers under investigation.
The law requires schools to ask teachers' previous employers if they were under investigation for sexual misconduct at the time they resigned. Districts would be required to share complaints against former teachers unless the cases were proven false or unsubstantiated....

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

MCPS school bus driver has been sentenced to 11 months in prison for inappropriately touching 11-year-old girls on his bus

Erin's Law Passed in 2016, But Has Not Been Implemented

In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly passed House Bill 72, Erin's Law.  
Erin's Law required:
Maryland schools to implement an “age-appropriate” sexual assault and abuse awareness and prevention program for grades K-12.Capital News Service, 2/4/2016
As passed, House Bill 72 states:
SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That this Act shall take effect July 1, 2016. Approved by the Governor, May 19, 2016. 

Yet, as of today, April 18, 2018, the Maryland State Board of Education has not adopted any Regulations to carry out the provisions of the bill. 

On March 1, 2018, in a hearing before the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee, Delegate Luedtke mentioned that "it had already been too long since we passed Erin's Law for it to be implemented in the schools" and that he did not want a new bill on sex abuse education to give "a new dictate to MSDE [Maryland State Department of Education] that would then delay further the implementation [of Erin's Law]."  Video of this statement is below.

Does the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the Maryland State Board of Education have the best interest of children as their goal? Does MSDE and the Maryland State Board of Education follow Maryland law?

A Maryland bill passed to help keep students safe from sexual abuse and assault has not been implemented two years after passage, and the failure to implement that law caused legislators concern this year about passing additional laws to keep children safe.

Brain-damaging lead found in tap water in hundreds of homes tested across Chicago, results show

A Tribune analysis of the results shows lead was found in water drawn from nearly 70 percent of the 2,797 homes tested during the past two years. Tap water in 3 of every 10 homes sampled had lead concentrations above 5 parts per billion, the maximum allowed in bottled water by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration...

...Lead is unsafe to consume at any level, according to the EPA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ingesting tiny concentrations can permanently damage the developing brains of children and contribute to heart disease, kidney failure and other health problems later in life. A peer-reviewed study published last month in The Lancet, a London-based medical journal, estimated that more than 400,000 deaths a year in the U.S. are linked to lead exposure — or 18 percent of all deaths.
There is no federal standard for the amount of lead found in tap water at individual homes, but studies have reported harmful effects when concentrations exceed the FDA’s standard for bottled water. In a recent peer-reviewed study, EPA scientists cautioned that when children under age 7 drink water containing more than 5 ppb of lead on average, the amount of the metal in their blood can rise above CDC health guidelines...
...“Chicago’s testing blows out of the water one of the foundations of (federal regulations), namely that current lead-in-water monitoring requirements yield reliable information about the extent and severity of contamination across a service area,” Lambrinidou said...

Why does MCPS Board of Ed put Students on Plastic Fields That are so Much Harder than Natural Grass?

...The Synthetic Turf Council, an industry trade group, recommends 165 as its G-max limit. And manufacturer warranties for turf fields typically spell out their maximums at well below 200.
By comparison, a well-maintained natural grass field typically ranges from 80 to 140 on the G-max scale, depending on soil moisture and weather conditions, according to a brochure from the Sports Turf Managers Association...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Superintendent Jack R. Smith Sends Countywide Letter on New Arrest of Somerset ES Parent

Friday, April 13, 2018, 6:34 PM

Dear MCPS Community:

I am writing to share disturbing news that impacts our community. Today, April 13, 2018, we were informed that federal agents arrested Jonathan Oldale, a Montgomery County resident and parent, on charges of production of child pornography. While the charges are connected to Mr. Oldale’s private residence, they involve dozens of school-aged children, many of whom attend MCPS schools. It is alleged that Mr. Oldale videotaped children during parties that he hosted at his home.

As you may remember, Mr. Oldale was arrested by the Montgomery County Police Department in October 2017 for conducting visual surveillance of an individual at a local gym without his/her consent. After being made aware of this arrest, MCPS immediately conducted a search of the schools where Mr. Oldale had students enrolled.  No cameras or surveillance devices were found. Additionally, we issued a no trespass order banning Mr. Oldale from all MCPS property.

According to law enforcement, Mr. Oldale has been detained.

I am outraged by this behavior and I know that our community finds the allegations in the charging documents as disturbing and upsetting as I do.

Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We will have Student Services staff available to provide counseling and support to students and families as needed.

Please contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 410-265-8080 should you have any questions or information that may be helpful to the investigation.

Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Monday, April 16, 2018

Jennifer Alvaro on Kojo Nnamdi Show Tuesday April 17th at Noon

Both Maryland and Virginia have passed a law to prevent sexual abuse in schools and educate kids on consent, boundaries, and identifying inappropriate behavior. But what does this training really look like? And what more can be done to protect our kids?


  • Michele Booth Cole Executive Director, Safe Shores: The DC Children's Advocacy Center; @Mboothcole
  • Jennifer Alvaro Clinical Social Worker; Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider; Montgomery County Public Schools Parent; @jennifermalvaro
  • LaTonsha Pridgen Founder, Stomp Out the Silence; @LTPridgen

Federal prosecutors say Maryland dad secretly filmed children in his bathroom

A Maryland father of two hid video cameras in his bathroom and secretly recorded at least 30 young girls as they took off their clothes or bathing suits, took showers and got dressed, federal officials said Friday.
Jonathan Oldale, 54, was accused of recording hundreds of videos, and a criminal complaint said some of the girls were recorded after playing in “splash” parties in his back yard.
“Mr. Oldale told the children that they needed to take showers before they left,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Baldwin said in court Friday.
Oldale appeared Friday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to face a charge of production of child pornography. He faces at least 15 years in prison and up to 30 years, authorities said.

During a hearing that lasted more than an hour, Oldale’s wife, Alison, spoke briefly, asking that he be allowed to stay at home with her and his children. Oldale appeared in a black T-shirt, jeans and sandals with no socks...

Friday, April 13, 2018

ABC7: Police say Oldale allegedly hosted "slip and slide" water parties at his home. And he reportedly asked the children to shower in his home... #SomersetES #SomersetPTA

...Police say Oldale allegedly hosted "slip and slide" water parties at his home. And he reportedly asked the children to shower in his home.
At least 30 children have been identified in the videos that capture them changing, showering, and relieving themselves.
U.S. Attorney Joseph Baldwin said "different children do different things your honor, but there are plenty here." Baldiwn stated this when describing what investigators uncovered in hundreds of videos.
Montgomery County Police have tracked down many of the victims, but some of the identities remain unknown. "It was an environmental setup that was primed to create these videos," said Baldwin.
Oldale's case was bumped up to federal court, and he appeared in U.S. District Court Friday for an initial court appearance in Greenbelt.
After an extensive investigation of "numerous electronic devices" with images of at least 30 kids, police aren't certain if the photos were taken at the Silver Stars Gymnastics Club in Silver Spring, his home, or another location, according to ABC7's Kevin Lewis...

...images of at least 30 kids, police aren't certain if the photos were taken at the Silver Stars Gymnastics Club in Silver Spring, his home, or another location... #SomersetES #SomersetPTA

A 54-year-old man allegedly secretly filmed around 30 children, and he's been charged with producing child pornography in Montgomery County.
Jonathan Oldale was federally charged in October 2017. Police say he ran music classes and summer camps at his home in Chevy Chase.
Oldale's case was bumped up to federal court, and he will appear in U.S. District Court Friday for an initial court appearance in Greenbelt.
After an extensive investigation of "numerous electronic devices" with images of at least 30 kids, police aren't certain if the photos were taken at the Silver Stars Gymnastics Club in Silver Spring, his home, or another location, according to ABC7's Kevin Lewis...

BREAKING: Bethesda man accused of placing 'pinhole spy camera' in bathroom at Silver Stars Gymnastics Club, bumped up to federal court. #SomersetES #SomersetPTA

April 22nd: Jennifer Alvaro presenting on Child Abuse & Neglect at the Mental Health and Wellness forum hosted by @MCC_PTA and @MCPS


...Jeanette Dixon, however, stated that she is opposed to choosing another name other that what community selected.
“I’m not voting against the name but I feel strongly about listening to the community and doing what the community asked us to do” she said. “I don’t want people in the LGBTQ community that we’re imposed to them or this name but we should vote for the community’s choice.”..

Board of Education changes Meeting Times

The Montgomery County Board of Education currently conducts two business meetings each month: A day business meeting that usually starts at 10:00 a.m.; and an evening meeting that starts at 6:00 p.m. For each meeting, the Board typically convenes an hour or two early to conduct certain business in closed session.
The current day meeting time is susceptible to inclement weather emergencies. Decisions to delay or postpone meetings have to be made on the spur of the moment if school closings or delays occur. The evening meeting time is less impacted, but the Board has had to cancel the meeting in times when inclement weather emergencies start in the evening.
Starting in July 2018, the Board will be changing its meeting times to lessen the impact of inclement weather on Board business and to make the meetings more accessible to staff and community members. Generally, the day business meeting will start at 2:00 p.m. (with a closed session that starts at noon) and the evening meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. (with a closed session that starts at 4:00 p.m.).
The new meeting times also are designed to make the meetings more accessible to staff and community members who wish to observe and/or provide input during the Board’s meetings. Given that all community members do not have the same work schedule, it is hoped that the later time for participating in Public Comments will be more convenient for more people. For example, starting the Board business day meeting later in the day may make it easier for community members to take time off work to come speak before the Board after half a day at work, if they have to, rather than skipping much of the day to attend to Public Comments at 10:30 a.m., the current time.
The process for signing up for Public Comments also will change; the online sign-up form will now close at 9:00 a.m. on the Monday prior to the scheduled Board business meeting.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Did the school report to CPS or Police? " 1999, Alison Thresher wrote to Asturizaga’s employer, Friends Community School in College Park, to tell the school of her concerns about his close relationship with her daughter."

For years, Hannah Thresher has struggled to overcome both an awful truth and an awful possibility.
The proven truth: Her teacher and babysitter, Fernando Asturizaga, molested, raped and sexually abused her for three years, starting in 1999 when she was 10.
The possibility: He may also have killed her mother.
“For my mother,” Thresher, now 30, said Thursday, standing in front of a bank of news cameras in suburban Maryland, “I need the whole truth to come out.”
At the news conference, police officials labeled Asturizaga a “person of interest” in the case of Alison Thresher, 45, who disappeared May 24, 2000. She was last known to be alive at her Bethesda apartment...

-came to police with an account of longtime abuse by her former Spanish teacher, starting when she was 10 years old. Fernando Asturizaga, now 51, was convicted of rape and child abuse and sentenced to more than 100 years in prison in 2012-

County Police Revisit Cold Case of Missing Bethesda Woman, Seeking Information About Man Who Abused Her Young Daughter: Investigators now believe Alison Thresher was killed in her apartment in May 2000

Pedestrian Struck by MCPS School Bus on Ridge Road

A Montgomery County Public Schools bus was involved in a pedestrian collision Tuesday afternoon which sent one woman to the hospital and closed northbound Rt. 27 for most of the evening rush hour.
   Shortly before 3:10 pm Montgomery County Fire Rescue and police units responded to the intersection of Ridge Road/Rt. 27 and Observation Drive in Germantown for the report of a woman who had been struck by a school bus...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Montgomery County Parks joins proposed class-action lawsuit over artificial turf fields

...In the case of Montgomery Parks, officials said they decided to join the legal action after the artificial turf field at Blair High School, which had been installed by the parks department for $1.3 million in August 2009, was worn to the point that an engineering consultant in October 2016 recommended it not be used for competition until issues including wear and shock absorption could be addressed...

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

In 2013, MCPS told Fairfax their Artificial Turf Fields were being Tested by Manufacturer. Now MCPS Claims No GMAX Test Results Exist Before 2017.

Remember that Gmax scores are used to determine how hard an artificial turf football field is.  Artificial turf fields are plastic grass over stone, filled in with crumb rubber or another substance to cushion falls and blows on the field.

The plastic grass must be of a certain height to hold in the required level of crumb rubber or other substance.  If the plastic grass breaks and can no longer hold enough crumb rubber or other infill the field will be as hard as the stones underneath.  The hardness is measured by GMAX testing.

Parents would like to know what the GMAX scores have been for MCPS artificial turf fields since they were first installed in 2009.

MCPS told Fairfax County in 2013 that MCPS artificial turf fields were being tested.  But last month, MCPS COO Andrew Zuckerman wrote that MCPS does not have any GMAX reports before 2017.  

How did MCPS lose all the GMAX reports from 2009 - 2016, including the ones in 2016 that were made public by Forbes?  (Someone please send MCPS COO Andrew Zuckerman a link to the Forbes article for his files?)

MCPS isn't trying to hide anything, are they?  Here's the e-mail from MCPS COO Andrew Zuckerman from March 23, 2018.


From: Zuckerman, Andrew 
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2018 6:33 AM
To: Spielberg, Debbie
Cc: Elrich's Office, Councilmember; Berliner's Office, Councilmember; Rice's Office, Councilmember; casey.andersong; Riley, Mike; BOE; Song, James C; Howard, Craig; Levchenko, Keith; Tibbitts, Dale; Smith, Jack; Durso, Michael A; Docca, Judy; McGuire, Essie
Subject: Re: Clarification RE: Letter regarding athletic fields

Good Morning,

We do not have GMAX test reports prior to last school year.

Andy Zuckerman
Andrew Zuckerman
Chief Operating Officer
Montgomery County Public Schools
From 2013 Fairfax County report on artificial turf:

Monday, April 9, 2018

NTP cell phone studies — experts recommend elevated conclusions

In Environmental Factor, April 2018, article by Virginia Guidry. Full article is here.

A panel of external scientific experts met March 26-28 at NIEHS and recommended that some National Toxicology Program (NTP) conclusions be changed to indicate stronger levels of evidence that cell phone radiofrequency radiation (RFR) caused tumors in rats.


Working from the NTP scale of clear evidence, some evidence, equivocal evidence, and no evidence, the panel made several recommendations.

The experts recommended that tumors in tissues surrounding nerves in the hearts of male rats, called malignant schwannomas, be reclassified from some evidence to clear evidence of carcinogenic activity.

In female rats, they recommended reclassification of malignant schwannomas from no evidence to equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity. The panel agreed that there were unusual patterns of cardiomyopathy, or damage to heart tissue, in exposed male and female rats.

“When I look at these types of studies, I look for high-level signals that can infer mechanisms. I have more questions than answers, but the heart is clearly sending a signal in the rat studies, between the levels of cardiomyopathy and malignant tumors,” said panelist Rick Adler, D.V.M., Ph.D., senior director of discovery and regulatory pathology for GlaxoSmithKline.

Link to the technical reports and review is here and here.

a number of residents shared concerns about the proliferation of small cell towers on utility poles near their homes and schools

County Residents Express Concern About Adding Antennas To Deliver 5G: Council to consider bill allowing more small cell towers in downtown areas

Sunday, April 8, 2018

@KathleenDumais1 SB132/HB500, contrary to proponents’ statements would not in fact give justice to the children victimized by Lawrence Joynes, Jose Pineda, John Vigna, Mark Yantos or Daniel Picca.

Oppose SB132/HB500

Crimes - Child Abuse and Neglect - Failure to Report

March 27, 2018

Written testimony respectfully submitted by

Jennifer Alvaro
Licensed Certified Social Worker – Clinical, MD
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, VA
Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider, VA
Clinical Member, ATSA

During the past 24 years, I have worked in the field of child sexual abuse; as a child protective services worker, sex offender therapist and also conducting prevention and mandated reporter trainings. Most recently, I have been advocating for changes in Maryland due to what I have learned in the past 6 years. And what I have learned in the past six years is for decades many, many, many mandated reporters in the Montgomery County Public School system and other systems across the state have violated the law by failing to report their suspicions of child abuse. This is not a baseless accusation or unfounded speculation. I say this because advocates and news media have documented proof via court testimony, MPIA requests, interviews and admissions in public meetings. Admissions made by mandated reporters showed that they knowingly chose not to report suspicions and knowledge of severe cases of abuse to authorities.

Disgracefully, Maryland is one of only two states in the country with no penalty for failure to report.
Because many mandated reporters have no fear of being held accountable for breaking the law, they
have, far too often sacrificed children to further abuse in order to protect themselves or the systems

That is why for the past six years, I have advocated strongly for adding criminal penalties for the
egregious cases of failure to report we have seen far too often in MCPS schools.

Heartbreakingly, I am submitting this testimony to OPPOSE this bill.​ This bill will not only fail to right a wrong, it will make things worse and more dangerous for children in Maryland.This bill’s use of actual knowledge and not including mandated reports of victims after they turn 18, will set safety for our children back, instead of moving it forward.

This bill, contrary to proponents’ statements would not in fact give justice to the children victimized by Lawrence Joynes, Jose Pineda, John Vigna, Mark Yantos or Daniel Picca. All MCPS teachers, all left in the classroom by MCPS officials who knew for a fact they were dangerous and had them on written “restrictions” to stop touching children.

For those reasons, I am dismayed to be forced to oppose this bill and urge you to issue
an unfavorable report.