Wednesday, April 25, 2018

TODAY at County Council: Jack Smith Responds to Jennifer Alvaro's List of 10 Critical Changes Needed to Address Sex Abuse of Students in MCPS

On March 14, 2018, MCPS parent and social worker Jennifer Alvaro submitted a list of Critical Changes needed to address the sexual abuse of students in MCPS.

Read Jennifer Alvaro's 10 Recommendations here or at the end of this blog post.

On Friday, Superintendent Smith's office responded to these 10 recommendations by submitting the response to the Montgomery County Council's Education Committee.

Today at 9:30 AM the Montgomery County Council's Education Committee will hear Superintendent Jack R. Smith's response to Jennifer Alvaro's 10 Recommendations. This meeting is not being live streamed by the Council.

Bids Due Today on Julius West MS and Einstein HS artificial turf fields #zeolite #artificialturf

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Woman sentenced for embezzlement of PTA funds

From the Chicago Tribune, Read the whole story here.

The former treasurer of a PTA group in Maryland's largest school system has been sentenced to a nine-month jail term for stealing funds.

Montgomery County officials said Tuesday that Lisa Betts was also ordered to pay about $70,000 in restitution.

Whitman parent to Board of Ed: ...THEORETICAL RISKS and objections being perpetrated by a small group of detractors...concussion GMAX misinformation...#zeolite #donotinhale

The first person listed to speak to the Board of Education this evening during public comment is now a Whitman High School parent who calls concerns about zeolite "theoretical" and refers to "concussion GMAX misinformation."  

Whitman High School parents want a plastic grass field using the experimental infill of zeolite. 

Board of Education member Patricia O'Neill represents the Whitman Cluster and is up for re-election this year.  She will be counting on campaign contributions from this community.  No need to guess how the Board of Education will vote this evening, we are calling it a yes for zeolite!  

Just remind the children to not inhale (that's the caution from the Material Data Sheet from the very company that will be supplying this product) when they use the Whitman HS football/soccer/lacrosse field or any of the other 7 fields that will be using zeolite.  

MISLEADING email sent to MCPS families #zeolite

From: Diana Zuckerman
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2018 10:57 PM
To: councilmember.riemer@montgomerycountymd.govcouncilmember.berliner@montgomerycountymd.govcouncilmember.leventhal@montgomerycountymd.gov; Nancy Navarro;councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov; Hucker Tom
Subject: MISLEADING email sent to MCPS families
Importance: High

Dear Councilmembers: 
I am deeply offended by this factually incorrect email (below) that has been sent to the MCPS community through official channels by Andrew Zuckerman, the COO of MCPS. 
               I am not related to Andrew Zuckerman, nor do I know him.  I am offended because he is accusing scientists and parents in Montgomery County of providing misleading information because he disagrees with facts we have shared with the County Council and DoE about the dangers of artificial turf of providing misleading information.  Worse yet, he is using his access to email addresses of constituents to insult us.
I am a scientist trained in epidemiology at Yale Medical School, previously on the faculty at Yale and Vassar and a researcher at Harvard, and I assure you that the information I am providing is accurate.  In contrast, Andrew Zuckerman is not a scientist and not in a position to review scientific data.  An important question is: where is he getting his information, and is that information influenced by conflicts of interest?
               In my previous letters to the DoE and to you, I have expressed concern about zeolite, not specifically about erionite zeolite.  There are several types of zeolite but they all have one thing in common: there are no publicly available data indicating that they, or any other materials used in artificial turf, are proven safe for long-term use by children or adults.
               I respectfully request that you challenge Mr. Zuckerman to provide evidence of studies indicating that these fields are safe for daily or weekly use by children or adults.  I would be glad to review any such studies with your staff, but I sincerely doubt that there are any. 
Sincerely,
Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D.
President
National Center for Health Research
www.center4research.org    www.stopcancerfund.org


Additional information from Dr. Diana Zuckerman: 

http://www.zeofill.com/Zeolite-Caution.htmlDust: Zeolite is a natural mineral product that is crushed down and run over a series of screens so there is some dust inherent in the product. At any time we suggest you place masks on to prevent solids from entering your lungs. When inhaled, certain types of zeolite dust can cause different type of lung cancer. 
It is worth noting that the MSDS sheet about zeofill that Mr. Zuckerman attached to the email sent to MCPS families states:
Personal precautions: Avoid dust – use NIOSH approved respirator where dust occurs.
KMI Inc. makes no warranty of merchantability or any other warrant, expressed or implied with respect to the information or the product to which this Safety Sheet relates. Users and handlers of this product should make their own investigations to determine the suitability of the information provided herein for their own purpose
Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D. 

Kojo Nnamdi Show Discusses High Profile Scandals involving Sexual Abuse of MCPS Kids

Guests

  • 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
Discussion includes:
  • Erin's Law passed, but not being implemented in Maryland
  • County Executive Ike Leggett has no oversight over MCPS

Listen to the show at this link:

https://thekojonnamdishow.org/audio/#/shows/2018-04-17/stopping-sexual-abuse-before-it-starts-what-local-schools-are-doing-to-keep-kids-safe/111699/@00:00

Monday, April 23, 2018

Man Indicted on Charges Related to Writing Letters With ‘Threatening Language’ to Three Local Schools

Man Indicted on Charges Related to Writing Letters With ‘Threatening Language’ to Three Local Schools: Churchill High School, Potomac Elementary and McLean School received identical letters last month, according to Churchill principal

MCPS COO Zuckerman Reveals Mineral but Not Supplier, Does Not Address Inhalation or Eye Irritation #zeolite

Montgomery County Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman had the time today to write a 7 paragraph letter regarding the mystery mineral he has chosen for infill on the Whitman High School artificial turf field to be installed this summer.

Mr. Zuckerman wrote 7 paragraphs to announce that he had chosen clinoptilolite zeolite, but in all those 7 paragraphs he did not address the known health hazard information listed on the Materials Safety Sheet for the product he seems to have chosen.

Mr. Zuckerman says the mineral "meets multiple safety standards" but does not name those safety standards.

Mr. Zuckerman says "inaccurate information has been shared."  Yet, as of just 24 hours before the Board of Education vote on this procurement, Mr. Zuckerman has not revealed the name of the supplier of this mineral or the location of the mine where this mineral will be obtained.  No product testing documetation has been made public and the assertion that this has been used in "many" fields around the country is not backed up by any documentation.  What does "many" equate to?  10?

Mr. Zuckerman also mentions that MCPS has done "due diligence."  Due diligence is typically more than a chat at the water cooler.  It is research and analysis.  Let's see the due diligence that Mr. Zuckerman has done for this purchase.

Mr. Zuckerman, produce the research and analysis you have done that shows zeolite will be safe for children to slide on, roll on, get in their eyes and inhale. 

TONIGHT: Board of Education Candidates' Forum - Gaithersburg High School Cafeteria


Attorney may seek plea deal in Montgomery County child porn case

Federal authorities are asking for more time before seeking an indictment against a Maryland man accused of secretly recording dozens of children at his home and at a local gymnastics center.
In a court filing Saturday, prosecutors also are seeking the postponement of this week's preliminary hearing for 54-year-old Jonathan Oldale of Chevy Chase, who is charged with producing child pornography...

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Kitty Litter will be Infill for Whitman HS Artificial Turf Football Field #Zeolite

MCPS Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman has announced in a letter to Councilmember Hans Riemer that Whitman High School is getting an artificial turf football field this summer and the infill for the plastic grass will be a mineral.

Zuckerman says this is the same mineral infill that has just been installed at the SoccerPlex.  The SoccerPlex website says the infill they are using this year is Zeofill.  Zeofill is a brand name for a type of zeolite.

Zeolite, it is one of the substances often used in kitty litter to absorb odors. 

According to the Memorial Sloan Ketting Cancer Center website:  Zeolites are minerals that contain mainly aluminum and silicon compounds. They are used as drying agents, in detergents, and in water and air purifiers. Zeolites are also marketed as dietary supplements to treat cancer, diarrhea, autism, herpes, and hangover, and to balance pH and remove heavy metals in the body. However, there are no published human data to support these uses. Further, the FDA has issued several warning letters to distributors for misleading claims about zeolite products. Erionite, a type of fibrous zeolite, can cause certain types of lung cancer when inhaled.

Potential Health Effects 
Inhalation May be harmful if inhaled. Causes respiratory tract irritation.
Skin May be harmful if absorbed through skin. Causes skin irritation.
Eyes Causes eye irritation.
Ingestion May be harmful if swallowed.

MCPS COO Zuckerman has decreed that zeolite will be used as the infill in 8 MCPS artificial turf fields.  There has been no public input into this proclamation, in fact, the public has no confirmation as to what the "mineral" is that Zuckerman is referring to, and has no idea who will be supplying this "mineral."  

The Board of Education is voting to approve Zuckerman's pronouncement on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, with the installation of the Whitman High School plastic grass field.  

Good luck MCPS athletes and Montgomery County children who will be using these 8 plastic grass fields!


Former Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance was sentenced to six months in jail

Prosecutors had recommended a 5-year sentence with 18 months spent in jail...

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

NOTE:  THIS NEWS STORY IS NOT ABOUT MARYLAND. MARYLAND DOES NOT HAVE THIS TYPE OF PROTECTION FOR CHILDREN. 
PASS THE TRASH LEGISLATION WAS PROPSED FOR MARYLAND THIS SESSION BY DELEGATE CT WILSON, BUT THE LEGISLATION WAS NOT PASSED BY OUR LEGISLATURE.
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

https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Bus-Driver-Sentenced-to-11-Months-for-Touching-Girls_Washington-DC-480183023.html

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:
(B) (1) THE STATE BOARD AND EACH NONPUBLIC SCHOOL IN THE STATE SHALL DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A PROGRAM OF AGE–APPROPRIATE EDUCATION ON THE AWARENESS AND PREVENTION OF SEXUAL ABUSE AND ASSAULT. (2) THE PROGRAM REQUIRED UNDER PARAGRAPH (1) OF THIS SUBSECTION SHALL BE:
(I) TAUGHT BY A TEACHER WHO IS TRAINED TO PROVIDE INSTRUCTION ON THE AWARENESS AND PREVENTION OF SEXUAL ABUSE AND ASSAULT; AND
(II) INCORPORATED INTO THE HEALTH CURRICULUM OF EACH COUNTY BOARD AND EACH NONPUBLIC SCHOOL. (C) THE STATE BOARD SHALL ADOPT REGULATIONS TO CARRY OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION.
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.

Sincerely,
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?

Guests

  • 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...

http://wjla.com/news/crime/sources-around-30-kids-secretly-filmed-md-man-charged-with-producing-child-pornography

...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