Friday, February 16, 2018

Legislature Proposes Bill that would be "Nearly Impossible" to Use

 Children will Continue to be Victimized by Known Sexual Predators in our Schools when Administrators Fail to Report without Consequences.

A Washington Post article today  discusses legislation that has been proposed by the Maryland General Assembly to add a criminal penalty for professionals, including public school administrators, who fail to report suspected child abuse of children.  (Click here to read about MCPS administrators, including the superintendent, who failed to report MCPS teacher John Vigna to the police or Child Protective Services when they were informed he was lap sitting with his female students.)

As reported by ABC7, only Maryland and Wyoming do not have penalties for failure to report child abuse.  The legislation proposed in this session of the General Assembly would supposedly change that for Maryland, except that if the bill is useless what will actually change?  

Below is the Statement of Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby on Senate Bill 132 - Child Abuse and Neglect - Failure to Report. Her statement below explains why Senate Bill 132/House Bill 500 as written will not be useful to prosecutors if passed. 

"...I suggest amending the "actual knowledge" standard to "knowledge." To prove a crime occurred under the current language, the listed professionals must have "actual knowledge" of the abuse or neglect. It is nearly impossible from a legal perspective to prove that an individual had "actual knowledge" of abuse, especially if the mandatory reporter contends that they did not see the abuse occur and did not believe the child's disclosure."

ABC7 BREAKING: 18yo Alwin Chen allegedly brought loaded 9mm handgun + knife to class at Clarksburg High School.

Should teachers [Administrators], doctors and social workers face jail time for failing to report child abuse?

A judge last year sentenced Deonte Carraway, an aide who molested more than 20 students at a Maryland elementary school, to 100 years in prison on 23 counts of child sex abuse and pornography.
But prosecutors did not have the option to seek charges against anyone who they felt should have reported the abuse but failed to do so, because Maryland is one of only two states that does not allow criminal penalties for that type of violation.

“We were able to hold Mr. Carraway accountable for his actions . . . but what we have not done is further close the loophole that would make us able to say to parents that we can assure to them that this will never happen again,” Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks recently told a panel of state lawmakers.

The General Assembly is now considering whether mandatory reporters — health practitioners, police officers, educators and human service workers — should face a misdemeanor charge and up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine for failing to report child abuse if they have “actual knowledge” that it has occurred.

Maryland and Wyoming are the only states that do not impose criminal penalties for failure to report, which can lead to felony charges in several states, including Arizona, Minnesota and Connecticut...

...Jennifer Alvaro, a longtime clinician in the field of child sexual abuse, said she supports criminal penalties but doesn’t support the bill because “actual knowledge” is “an impossibly high standard.”..

NYT: Fourth School Reveals a Teacher’s Abuse

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Breaking: Clarksburg High School Letter - "While searching the student and their belongings, it was discovered that the student was in possession of a handgun."

UPDATE: Second MCPS employee arrested during drug bust at Mason Inn bar in Glover Park.

Breaking: Second MCPS Teacher Arrested in DC - Middle School Teacher Arrested for Selling Pot in DC Nightclub

A teacher at Kingsview Middle School was one of two Montgomery County Public Schools employees picked up in a raid on so-called underground “pot parties”  by District of Columbia Police on February 1.
   Metro Police charged Scott Price, a digital art teacher who works at both Kingsview Middle School in Germantown and Wheaton High School, and Erin McKenna who is a high school guidance counselor at Sherwood High School with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
   A letter was sent home to Kingsview Middle School parents today, Feb. 15 from Principal Dyan L. Harrison stating, Price had been arrested in DC on misdemeanor drug charges and that school was only just made aware of the charges on Wednesday, February 14.
   The story of McKenna’s arrest, which was first reported by WJLA on Wednesday, also mentioned that Price and another individual, Joshua Myers, were also arrested by DC police in the same incident.
   According to charging documents, Price, McKenna, and Myers were selling the drugs at a vendor table set up at a D.C. nightclub called The Mason Inn located at 2408 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest. On February 1, police raided at 6:45 pm to find Price and company in possession of 102 assorted marijuana edibles, five capsules containing a brown liquid, nine bags of marijuana, and two glass jars full of pot...

Public Hearing on Regulations to Put Cell Towers in Front Yards #MontgomeryCounty

SIGN-UP TO TESTIFY ON Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 18-02!


Contrary to the “official line,” the Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 18-02 significantly reduces residents’ protections. It eliminates and waters down regulations that govern small and large cell towers, including regulations that keep antennas and towers out of our front yards and at safe distances from our homes.  

ZTA 18-02 shifts enormous power to the same agencies that have been catering to the wireless industry, failing to enforce the laws and regulations that protect the public, and betraying the public trust.

The public hearing is Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. On-line sign up is open!  

So immediately, please link to this portal; scroll down to the March 20th hearing for ZTA 18-02, Telecommunications Towers; and sign up before the list is closed: . You can also call 240-777-7803 to sign up by phone, but not until County offices are open, and it's possible the list will be full by then.

You will need to identify yourself as being “for” or “against” the ZTA. But you may be reading this ZTA for the first time, and you may not yet have formulated a clear position yet, pro or con

Historically, there have been times when the Council has deleted some speakers from the list, in an effort to balance those “for” with those “against” the legislation. There will likely be many more residents “against” the ZTA than “for” it, signed up to speak. So, if you are ambivalent about the ZTA, your opportunities to speak may be better if you identify yourself as “for.”
The industry helped design this ZTA. Please sign up, tonight. Our voices need to be heard, too! 

Remember the adage:
If you don't have a seat at the table, you're probably on the menu.”

Videos of full Assembly sessions get slim support, even though cost estimates reduced

A brief, perfunctory hearing in a Senate committee Tuesday made a weak case for Gov. Larry Hogan’s legislation to make the legislature’s proceedings more open and accessible to the public.
Hogan’s Transparency Act of 2018 (SB295/HB352), sponsored by almost all Republican lawmakers and no Democrats, requires the legislature to live video stream and archive all sessions of the House and Senate and their committees, including voting sessions.
The governor’s communications staff put out a “Hearing Alert” promoting the bill, but Deputy Legislative Officer Heidi Dudderar was the only person to testify for the legislation before the Senate Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee.
Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery, noted the conspicuous absence of good government groups Common Cause and League of Women Voters, who generally support more openness in government. The Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association submitted a brief statement supporting the bill.
Committee Democrats expressed concern about the $1.1 million price tag to install the cameras and other equipment in the 120-year old chambers. Dudderar assured them Hogan would put the money in the budget...

...Maryland is one of only seven states that do not live stream video of any of its legislative sessions, though the others like Maryland do offer audio.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

NEW: Sherwood High School counselor Erin McKenna charged with intent to deal drugs at NW DC sports bar...MCPS says McKenna remains on staff at Sandy Spring school. @ABC7Kevin

#Breaking Montgomery County guidance counselor charged with possession with intent to distribute. Erin McKenna was arrested on 2/1. She works at Sherwood High School. @ABC7Annalysa

Money for Expanded Preschool, Hiring School Counselors Included in MCPS Budget

Money for Expanded Preschool, Hiring School Counselors Included in MCPS Budget: School board takes preliminary action on .59 billion spending plan

During Tuesday’s meeting, board members also took action to temper some of the changes that Smith had recommended for central services. Smith has advocated for an MCPS reorganization designed to put resources and staff closer to the classroom.

“Every single dollar we spend in this building [MCPS Headquarters at 850 Hungerford Ave.] is not spent in schools,” Smith said during the meeting at the MCPS central services building in Rockville.

Silver Chips: Blocking usage of personal Gmail accounts limits what students can do with learning tools

As technology becomes a more essential part of our education and lives, certain security precautions taken by MCPS have begun to limit the range of what students can accomplish with the free technology they are provided at school.

In September of last year, MCPS decided to block the '' page on Chromebooks, preventing students from signing into any other email account other than those issued by the school. The laptops are powered by Google Chrome OS, and function only with internet access. 

The blocked page has become a hassle for many students. When they complete work at home on their personal accounts, switching from one to the other is nearly impossible to do at school.

MCPS Chief Security Officer Peter Cevenini explained that the blocking of the page was done to protect students. "We're always looking to tighten up our security. We're trying to lock things down. Your normal student email account is a closed system so that you can only email teachers and fellow students in Montgomery County and that's a protection practice,” he explained...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Federation confronts school system over sex abuse cases

Montgomery County Public Schools officials are up in arms following a contentious meeting of the Montgomery County Civic Federation last month, during which audience members angrily confronted Superintendent Jack Smith over MCPS’ handling of lawsuits related to child sex abuse in County schools...

In a written response to Johnson’s MCCF First Vice President Bailey Condrey called Johnson’s claims that Smith’s office was never notified of the updated agenda “verifiably untrue.”
“Furthermore, the email copied Board of Education staff, and each Board of Education member and county councilmembers individually,” Condrey wrote.
While Johnson agreed his office received an email about the association’s resolution concerning child abuse, he said County school officials believed Smith had been invited for the sole purpose of discussing the budget.
Condrey’s letter extended a second invitation for Smith to “meaningfully address our concerns” at the Federation’s Feb. 12 meeting, but according to Johnson, neither Smith nor a representative will be able to attend due to a previously scheduled engagement.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Alsobrooks calls on Md. lawmakers to strengthen law after Carraway school sex abuse case

In multiple civil lawsuits filed against the Prince George’s County School system, it has been alleged that the administration of Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School knew but did not report that now-imprisoned teacher’s aide Deonte Carraway was abusing multiple children in the school.
Prince Georges County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks considered charges against the principal of the school, but found the law was not on her side. Now she wants the law changed.
“What we know is that what happened at that school should not have happened there and we know it should never happen again,” Alsobrooks says...


The superintendent of schools said the rate of student enrollment increase in Montgomery County Public Schools seems to be “flattening,” based on enrollment counts this year.
MCPS Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith said at the Jan. 25 County Board of Education budget work session that staff predicts enrollment will increase by 1800 or 1900 students for the 2018-2019 school year, a drop from the projection included in the proposed budget in December. 
Staff predicted a 2,472- student increase from the current fiscal year’s budget (161,302 students) for a total number of 163,774 students enrolled at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, according to Smith’s proposed budget...

Friday, February 9, 2018

WMAL: MoCo Parents Group Says Nobody’s Interested in Running For Board of Education

...Sartucci, however, does not believe, people are shying away from running for the board because of time commitments. She contends repeated incidents of sexual abuse in the school system have people avoid serving on the board.
“Montgomery County is getting a reputation for not protecting children, which is subjecting them to lawsuits, so I don’t think a lot of people want to take on that responsibility of stepping in for a board of education that has failed so miserably in keeping children safe,” Sartucci said...

WTOP: Md. child abuse bills aim for more accountability #SB 132/HB 500

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Two bills stemming from recent cases of child abuse in Maryland are making their way through the state legislature, which would hold mandatory reporters — those who have to report suspected child abuse by law — accountable when it comes to preserving and protecting children.
The first bill, more than a decade in the making, would assign a $1,000 fine and six months in prison for professionals such as teachers and social workers who have actual knowledge of child neglect or abuse and fail to report it.
Testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks reminded delegates about the case of convicted child predator Deonte Carraway, who is serving more than 100 years in prison for the abuse of 23 children both on and off school grounds when he worked as a teacher’s aide and volunteer.
Court documents said multiple educators, including the principal, knew of Carraway’s inappropriate and familiar behavior with the children, as well as the potential for abuse, and did not report it...
...Montgomery County Del. Kathleen Dumais questioned why the penalty of losing a teaching certification was not a strong enough penalty. “If you take their license away, I think that would send a message,” Dumais said in the hearing...
...The bill is the result of years of compromises between opposing parties, both sides have said. And while it is closer now to becoming law, child advocate Ellen Mugman said it lacks specificity in the defining of “actual knowledge” and in excluding mandatory reporters from any penalty after the victim has reached adulthood...

MCPS Teachers Champion State Bill To Strengthen Elementary School P.E. Curriculum

MCPS Teachers Champion State Bill To Strengthen Elementary School P.E. Curriculum: School system ranks near bottom statewide in time spent on elementary school physical education

...To that end, Slatkin and Spencer are pushing for a statewide bill that would require Maryland school districts to set aside 150 minutes per week for elementary-age students to exercise. Recess could account for 60 minutes of this total, but physical education classes would have to make up the remaining 90 minutes.
Montgomery County’s public schools rank near the bottom statewide when it comes to physical education time for elementary-age students, according to the Maryland State Department of Education. Data collected by the department in January show the county’s elementary school students get between 30 and 60 minutes of weekly physical education time. No other jurisdiction in the state had schools providing less than 40 minutes of P.E. per week...

NBC4: Delegate Dumais Opposed to Legislation that Would Hold Administrators Criminally Responsible for Failure to Report Sexual Abuse of Students

Teachers, principals and doctors are legally required to report suspected child abuse. In most states, there are seriously penalties if they don't. But in Maryland, that's not the case. Proposed legislation in the state calls for six months jail time and a $100 fine. Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said she hopes the Deonte Carraway case, in which a school aide abused children in an elementary school bathroom, will spark a change. "The principal knew something wasn't right, as did other school officials, but did nothing about it," she said. News4's Tracee Wilkins reports.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Senator Susan Lee, Please Read: Absolutely no one, especially Rachael Denhollander, a victim of Larry Nassar’s whom proponents invoke, nor any other of the more than 250 victims, would ever consider coming to Maryland to testify for such a backward bill.

Oppose HB 500/SB 132 Crimes - Child Abuse and Neglect - Failure to Report
Prepared by
Ellen Mugmon
February 8, 2018

Maryland has the dubious distinction of being one of ten states that does not have a criminal
penalty for the failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect, even though false reporting
has been prosecuted.1

The purpose of HB 500/SB 132 is to get the longstanding penalty issue off everyone’s
plate by passing something. ​Unfortunately, in this case, the proposed penalty provision
is ineffective, regressive and harmful. Powerful, self-serving professional
organizations, institutions and individuals have fought for over thirty years any
legislative proposal based on the “reason to suspect or believe” standard.

This standard is used in the other forty states’ laws, as well as the Congressional
bipartisan federal law just enacted in response to the horrendous USA Gymnastics
scandal. See ​Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport
Authorization Act​, which criminally penalizes the failure to report abuse in U.S.
Amateur Athletic Organizations, including those in Maryland. None of these laws is
based on an undefined, restrictive “actual knowledge” standard.

This new federal law text states: "when a mandatory reporter learns of facts that give
reason to suspect that a child has suffered an incident of child abuse ... and fails to
make a timely report as required by subsection(a) of that section, [the mandatory
reporter] shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than year or both."

The Two Major Flaws in this Maryland Bill Which Endanger Children

HB 500/SB 132 is unsurprisingly unique, unjustified, and unworkable for two main
reasons: 1) the “actual knowledge” standard and, 2) language in section 3-602.2(C)
which exempts from the scope of the penalty provision the failure to report as soon as
the victim turns eighteen. This language targets a significant 1993 Attorney General’s
opinion that has protected children for 25 years.​ Without that opinion, the shocking
disclosures of the notorious Maskell Case would never have come to light, as
chronicled in the Netflix series, ​The Keepers. T​he Baltimore Archdiocese concedes this
point in its response to the Keepers on its website.

Then Attorney General Curran, in his 1993 opinion, stated the following: “If we accept the
proposition that no reporting were required if the victim is now an adult, we would be
saying that there would be no duty to report if an eighteen year old had been
subjected to recent abuse and had younger siblings at home in the care of the abuser.
That would be an untenable construction of the statute, one that we cannot imagine
the General Assembly intended.”

1 Arundel Judge Frees Woman in Death of Horrible Man, The Washington Post, by Eric Rich.
November 10, 2004 where a teenager’s conviction for falsely reporting her sexual abuse by
her stepfather was vacated.

What is Actual Knowledge? Witnessing? Unknown?

SB 132/HB 500 states that mandatory reporters must have had “​actual knowledge​” of
abuse and subsequently have failed to report in order to be prosecuted. ​But every state
that criminalizes failure to report uses the “reason to believe or suspects” standard.

As the Baltimore City State’s Attorney notes in her written testimony on SB 132: “It is nearly
impossible from a legal perspective to prove that an individual had “actual knowledge
of abuse, especially if the mandatory reporter contends that they did not see the
abuse occur and did not believe the child’s disclosure.”

The term “actual knowledge” is undefined in the bill. There is no definition of “actual
knowledge” in Maryland statutes.​ There is also to my knowledge no definition of
“actual knowledge” in case law. No appellate court in Maryland has adopted a
definition of “actual knowledge” as some proponents claim. Rather, there are only
two concurrences in ​McCallum​ where Judges Chasanow and Robert Murphy discuss
the issue. Moreover, the Maryland Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions Committee has
not adopted a definition of “actual Knowledge.”

Proponents claim erroneously that, legislators should look at Connecticut as a good example
of a state’s law (No other state uses “actual knowledge in its reporting law.) which supports
“actual knowledge” in Maryland’s penalty provision. But Connecticut has a misdemeanor
penalty for failure to report suspected abuse without the term “actual knowledge” in it. The
“actual knowledge” language is in its felony provision,​ thereby not undermining its civil
reporting law as would be the case in Maryland should HB 500/SB 132 be enacted.
Additionally, knowing with certainty that a crime has been committed is a higher standard
than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard of proof required for a conviction. Jurors do
not need to witness crimes or even have first hand knowledge of crimes in order to convict
individuals for committing them.

How could this bill possibly prevent future victimization or have helped the victims of all the
scandals that have occurred across Maryland for decades? These scandals include the
cover-ups and failure to report by the Catholic Church, the ongoing scandals in the
Montgomery County Schools, the Ron Price scandal in the Anne Arundel County and the
more recent scandal in Prince George’s County.

Do Not invoke the #MeToo/#TimesUp Movements in Support This Bill.

Proponents claim that HB 500/SB 132 is in line with the goals of #MeToo/#TimesUp which
are to increase the power of victims to be believed, to increase the protection of women and
children, and to expand the possibility of justice. However, this legislation would
automatically discount disclosures of abuse by child and adult victims alike since
these disclosures most assuredly would not meet some “actual knowledge” standard.

Absolutely no one, especially Rachael Denhollander, a victim of Larry Nassar’s whom
proponents invoke, nor any other of the more than 250 victims, would ever consider
coming to Maryland to testify for such a backward bill. Ms. Denhollander was the first
victim to come forward publicly. She was 31-years-old when she disclosed her
victimization when she was 15-years-old. ​A mandated reporter under this bill could
say that she was too old to require a report and that her disclosure did not provide the
requisite “actual knowledge,” either.​  How then does this legislation better protect

It is appalling that HB 500/SB 132 mirrors provisions in the USA Gymnastics’ policy
which caused the decades long cover-up of a terrible scandal. Steve Penny, the
former head of USA Gymnastics did not report the abuse because he deemed
disclosures by victims and even allegations by other coaches as third hand
information which did not prove to him that the abuse actually occurred.​ Moreover,
his investigator did not report complaints by gymnasts who had turned eighteen
because they were no longer children. It did not matter that they were children when
they were abused or that other children were in the hands of a prolific 54 year-old
pedophile. What mattered were rules which protected the reputation of the

Sending the Wrong Message - No Other State or the Federal Government has a
Penalty Like This

Proponents insist that the bill would not undermine the underlying civil reporting law since
the civil reporting law would not be changed. This is false. Two reporting standards muddy
the obligation to report suspected abuse and complicates training. Because there
would be no criminal penalty based on the "reason to believe" standard, why would
mandatory reporters follow the civil law, especially those not subject to professional
penalties?​ Instead they would most likely delay reporting until they knew for sure that
abuse has occurred or fail to report at all. This would endanger children. Child abuse is very
rarely “actually” witnessed and mandatory reporters are not trained to investigate suspected
abuse to determine if it actually happened.

A Mandatory Reporter Protection Bill

Supporters of this bill are up front in their testimony. They admit that the bill is
intended to protect mandatory reporters, first and foremost, not children, by severely
limiting the possibility of prosecution. ​They state that the bill “would be the most lenient
toward adults, i.e. mandatory reporters, than any other law in the entire United States or its

They then wrongly argue that this penalty bill is better than nothing, even though there would
be negative consequences for the protection and safety of children, such as mandatory
reporters and institutions waiting it out until a victim’s eighteenth birthday. This is important
because HB 500/SB 132 has just a one year statute of limitations.

Mandated reporting of child abuse and neglect is the very foundation of the child protection
system. But this bill is so flawed that if it were enacted, the safety and protection of children
would be compromised far more than it is under current law. For these reasons, I request
HB 500/ SB 132 be given an unfavorable report.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Smith and Durso to brief at House Delegates Secret Friday Morning Meeting Shh!

This Friday at 9 am Superintendent Smith and Board of Ed President Mike Durso will be briefing "our" House delegates in Annapolis. But don't tell anyone! The meetings are secret. No video, no streaming, no minutes. Just discussion and votes on legislation. You don't need to know about this, nothing to see, just move along.  But...just in case you're interested, here's the agenda. If you can attend and video the meeting please let us know!

And the rest of the agenda is here:

Md. Senate Executive Nominations Committee will stop streaming voting #NoTransparency #SecretSociety #DemocracyFail

...Such discussions and debates and votes have been streamed on an irregular basis over the last couple of years.
Sen. William C. “Bill” Ferguson IV, D-Baltimore and chair of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee, called the streaming of the discussion and vote “a mistake” and said he plans to make sure live streaming is cut off after the last nominee is interviewed....
...Voting sessions in other committees are also typically not streamed live even though that is where the majority of legislation is hammered out before being sent on for votes before the full House and Senate. Senate rules, however, do allow for those sessions to be streamed live at the discretion of the committee chairs...

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

No Interest in Montgomery Co. Board of Education Seats. One Open, Three Others Unopposed. Filing Deadline Soon.

Board of Education At Large

No Filings

Board of Education
Board of Education District 001
Docca, Judy

Jurisdiction Montgomery County
Status Active - 
Filed Regular - 11/03/2017


Contact Information
P.O.Box 86232
Montgomery Village, MD 20886-
(301) 442-7591

Board of Education District 003
O'Neill, Patricia

Jurisdiction Montgomery County
Status Active - 
Filed Regular - 09/28/2017


Contact Information
6716 Landon Lane
Bethesda, MD 20817-
(301) 807-4042

Board of Education District 005
Wolff, Brenda

Jurisdiction Montgomery County
Status Active - 
Filed Regular - 10/04/2017

Facebook @brendawolffforboardofeducation
Twitter @brendawolff1

Contact Information
16111 Llewellyn Manor Way
Silver Spring, MD 20905-
(301) 260-8760

Baltimore City school principal sentenced to 90 days in prison for theft of school money

The former principal of Baltimore Community High School was sentenced Friday to three months in prison for stealing money from a school bank account as well as school system technology, according to the Maryland state prosecutor.
Leslie N. Lewis, 45, pleaded guilty in December to two counts of theft for taking more than $58,000 from the Baltimore City school system.
According to prosecutors the school had a bank account that was set up with the proceeds from the sale of school uniforms, snacks, school supplies and graduation fees. Lewis used a debit card to make cash withdrawals and purchases at local casinos of about $13,000.
In a second case, she used deceptive purchase orders to steal over $45,000 worth of technology from the city through its internal purchasing system between 2013 and 2016. The statement of fact states that she stole a dryer, a Bose speaker system, Apple laptops, laser printers, digital cameras and other items for her personal use.