Friday, December 15, 2017

$110M lawsuit hits Brentwood, NY school district in MS-13 murder

Long Island, New York school officials knew MS-13 gang members were tormenting a high school student and had threatened her life — but they did nothing, according to the $110 million lawsuit filed by the dead girl’s mother.

For two years, Kayla Cuevas allegedly suffered through misery including taunting, spitting and having her pants pulled in school hallways by students who were known MS-13 gang members.

Yet Brentwood School District officials “refused to take action to rectify the problem of bullying,” according to the Brooklyn federal lawsuit Evelyn Rodriguez filed Monday.

For the full story go here.

When classrooms become a boys’ club

Walk into a Whitman classroom, and most students will appear similar. Students sit at identical desks, use identical Chromebooks and complete identical worksheets. But ask them a question, and a disparity will emerge: the students raising their hands are overwhelmingly male.
Since elementary school, I’ve observed this imbalance, but peers assured me the disparity was all in my head. So, last month, I finally set out to confirm my perception empirically. For one day, I tallied the number of female versus male participants in four of my classes, including AP Calculus BC and AP Comparative Politics, where participation is both frequent and voluntary.
The results were startling: overall, boys participated 3.1 times more than girls, even though the total ratio of boys to girls is essentially equal...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

85 percent of Boston schools will get new start times

In a move that will scramble the daily schedules of families across the city, nearly 85 percent of Boston’s 125 schools will have new start times next fall, school officials announced Thursday night.
The changes aim to let more high school students sleep in and more elementary school students get out before sunset. Boston now joins a small but growing number of school systems in Massachusetts and across the nation that have pushed high school start times later in an effort to get students to school well rested and alert. The hope is that students will perform better academically.
To that end, some 94 percent of students in grades 7 through 12 will begin classes after 8 a.m. next fall, up from 26 percent this year. Among them: students at Boston Latin Academy in the Grove Hall area near the Dorchester-Roxbury line, which will go from having one of the earliest start times, 7:20 a.m., to one of the latest, 8:30 a.m...

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/12/07/eighty-five-percent-boston-schools-will-get-new-start-times/jeBUcNQGovviiRDzDCv8ZP/story.html?p1=Article_Inline_Bottom

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

the county’s top 50 taxpayers reported 50 percent less in capital gains in 2016 than in 2015—$1.2 billion in 2015 compared to $600 million in 2016. That drop contributed to $21 million less in county income tax revenue.

Montgomery County Bracing for Long-Term Revenue Decline: Projected revenue decline attributed to wealthy individuals paying significantly less in income taxes; future job cuts not ruled out

MCPS Ranks High Schools Based on New Data on School Climate


A MCPS teacher took the data and created a list of high schools using the data and sent it to The Washington Post.

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...Here is his list of high schools ranked by the percentage of staffers who this year agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “Staff morale is positive in this school.”

Percentage on survey and percentage of low income/FARMS students:

1. Paint Branch, 77.9 percent, 34 percent
2. Walter Johnson, 73.4 percent, 7 percent
3. Whitman, 69.6 percent, 5 percent
4. Northwest, 68 percent, 25 percent
5. Poolesville, 64.6 percent, 6 percent
6. Einstein, 61 percent, 42 percent
7. Wootton, 59 percent, 5 percent
8. Blair, 55.4 percent, 36 percent
9. Watkins Mill, 54.6 percent, 53 percent
10. Wheaton, 51.1 percent, 49 percent
11. Damascus, 49.4 percent, 15 percent
12. Rockville, 48.6 percent, 36 percent
13. Richard Montgomery, 45.9 percent, 20 percent
14. Quince Orchard, 41.9 percent, 23 percent
15. Blake, 41.9 percent, 35 percent
16. Churchill, 39.7 percent, 5 percent
17. Northwood, 35.9 percent, 50 percent
18. Seneca Valley, 33.8 percent, 37 percent
19. Clarksburg, 32 percent, 27 percent
20. Kennedy, 30.4 percent, 51 percent
21. Sherwood, 25.4 percent, 17 percent
22. Bethesda-Chevy Chase, 23.9 percent, 11 percent
23. Magruder, 21.7 percent, 33 percent
24. Gaithersburg, 21.4 percent, 42 percent
25. Springbrook, 17.1 percent, 47 percent

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/how-you-rate-your-school-becomes-important-under-new-law/2017/11/19/8fa0187a-cb24-11e7-8321-481fd63f174d_story.html?utm_term=.008e4f6e0b49

Monday, December 11, 2017

This is social responsibility, and yet the governing body of Montgomery County's educational system, who is "responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system" has chosen to NOT utter a single word in defense of it’s most vulnerable population when they are disparaged and the butt of a joke?

A MCPS parent responds to The Washington Post article:  Md. school official apologizes for reference to people with intellectual disabilities  regarding Judy Docca's use of an offensive term at a public Board of Education meeting in July of 2017. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To The Washington Post:

My name is Gena Mitchell and I am the parent of three daughters, one of which is a freshman in high school, has Down syndrome and has been a student in Montgomery County Schools since preschool. I am also an advocate for all individuals with disabilities, as the founder of a non-profit providing programs and events for not only the disability community but their communities at large, as well as having served on multiple boards since 2006 such as The Arc Montgomery County, DSNMC (Down Syndrome Network of Montgomery County and KEEN Greater DC. I am writing to you as both a parent of a child with a disability as well as a parent of a typical child in regards to your article about Dr. Judy Docca's use of the R-word. As appreciative as I am to your for bringing a spotlight to this situation, I feel it necessary to share my disappointed with the lack of focus on the failure by our very own Board of Education to lead by example when it comes to social responsibility. I feel that your headline is misleading in that I believe it suggests that Dr. Docca's apology was anywhere near acceptable, when it came four months after the fact, and only after being addressed by a parent in the community. We all make mistakes, say and do things we regret which are sometimes hurtful; but those that take on the responsibility for speaking on behalf of, establishing policy for and representing the special needs community on the Committee of Special Populations for the MCPS BOE should certainly be held to a higher standard. If this is the person voting on behalf of my daughter and all students with disabilities when it comes to their best interests, please tell me how this should not disappoint me. If the BOE states Respect as a core value and "...fair treatment, honesty, openness and integrity are essential; and the diversity of our culture, interests, skills, and backgrounds is an asset that makes us stronger..."; How can I not be disappointed that a flimsy apology was given by a leader on the BOE and did not even respect the population that it was demeaning to by addressing it to them, rather omitting them completely from the apology?

If the BOE states Respect as a core value and "...we will model civility in all interactions and encourage candid conversations..."; How can I not be disappointed with the lack of ownership IMMEDIATELY following her comment in July 2017 when civility was disregarded in the first place?

My daughter and all others with disabilities deserve better; and so do their peers who are typical students. It is not acceptable in a classroom, playground, cafeteria, or anywhere in a school to use the R-word. Principals and teachers across the county are constantly working with school counselors and staff on messaging about treating others with dignity and respect, and that different does NOT equal less, whether that difference is a disability, race, religion, gender, etc. This is social responsibility, and yet the governing body of Montgomery County's educational system, who is "responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system" has chosen to NOT utter a single word in defense of it’s most vulnerable population when they are disparaged and the butt of a joke? In a formal BOE setting no less? I have no words. Imagine this having happened at a singular school- by a teacher or parent at an assembly or meeting. Imagine how quickly a letter or email would be sent to the entire community- most likely by the principal. I am pretty certain it would have been next day at the latest, and would condemn the use of this word in addition to any other derogatory slur. Their message would highlight the values of the community and show leadership. I believe we all make mistakes, myself included. That is why my husband and I have taught our girls that it's not about the mistakes you make- it's about what you do afterwards. That is how the BOE failed its students. How can I not be disappointed that our ten year olds are held to a higher standard than our Board of Education?

Again, I thank you for your article. Without it, Dr. Docca's words would simply be a blip in an archived video of a BOE meeting. Instead, they are loud and clear. Pinpointed at the 41:20 mark in this video of the BOE meeting in July 2017, for all to see.

Warm regards, Gena Mitchell

Friday, December 8, 2017

MCCF Dec. 11th Meeting: Jennifer Alvaro of Bethesda Named MCCF’s Community Hero for December

Montgomery County Civic Federation, December 2017
...Ms. Alvaro wants to be clear that, while some positive changes and actions have been implemented, there is still no transparency in the process.  Abuse can only thrive in an atmosphere of secrecy, and Jennifer Alvaro will continue to advocate for transparency and action to protect our children.  That is why she is our newest Community Hero. Two months ago, even The Washington Post had to admit that another child sex abuse “case appears to be the latest of several in which a Montgomery County school system employee was admonished for repeated incidents of inappropriate behavior with students but stayed on the job and allegedly crossed the line again.”  The mandated reporters—principals and MCPS administrators—repeatedly failed to report incidents to Child Protective Services. Board of Education Members and County Councilmembers are not holding MCPS accountable for these failures to report sex abuse of students to the proper authorities.  Only two States have no penalties for failing to report child sex abuse, and Maryland is one of them.  In this literally lawless atmosphere, it is time the Civic Federation’s voice be heard.  Please see below a draft resolution to join the Parents’ Coalition in support of Ms. Alvaro’s quest for Montgomery County Board of Education to create a Web page that lists all known abusers and lists every school and program that each were involved with...

http://www.montgomerycivic.org/files/CFNlatest.pdf

Recent suicides of 2 Montgomery County students spark discussion of suicide prevention awareness


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Nassar "should never again have access to children."

Michigan doctor gets 60-year prison sentence for child porn 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- A former elite sports doctor whose sexual assault cases have rocked Michigan State University and the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts was sentenced Thursday to 60 years in federal prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography.
It's the first of three prison sentences for Larry Nassar, who will learn his punishment in state court in January after pleading guilty to using his hands to molest girls at his campus office, his home and at a gymnastics club near Lansing, Michigan, sometimes with parents in the room...

https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/more-sports/michigan-doctor-gets-60-year-prison-sentence-for-child-porn/ar-BBGmwLR?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartanntp

Police Blotter: police to charge a 16-year-old boy with public intoxication, public intoxicated endangerment, disorderly conduct and possession of a dangerous weapon on school property for fireworks

Police Blotter: Armed Robberies in Silver Spring Stores; Cars Stolen in Potomac and Rockville: Crimes reported to Montgomery County and Rockville police from Nov. 15-21

When Did Board of Education Disclose They Had $987,313 in Extra Construction Funds?

School Board OKs Adding Classroom Space to New Elementary School in Rockville: MCPS can use project savings to pay for increased capacity

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Docca said she would’ve addressed the situation immediately if anyone had brought it to her attention. “I’ve apologized for the use of the word, which was very common when I was coming up. I’m very old, and it just really slipped out,” said Docca, 78, adding that she thinks her apology “should be the end of it.”

Docca Withdrew from Running for School Board President Amid Fallout from Comment: Board elects Michael Durso to third consecutive term as president

---------------------
NOTE: A Montgomery County Board of Education member was contacted immediately when this happened, so the Board had notification and decided to do nothing.  That was a choice made by our elected Board of Education.


MCPS Superintendent Wants To Try Extended Academic Year at Two Elementary Schools

MCPS Superintendent Wants To Try Extended Academic Year at Two Elementary Schools: Smith will include recommendation in his operating budget proposal for fiscal 2019

New Legislation Calling for More Transparency in School Cell Towers in Prince George's County

Delegate Alonzo Washington is supporting a Bill on School Cell Towers this session.

This Bill would would ensure that if a cell tower company wants to put a cell tower on a Prince George's County School they must hold a public hearing at the school before the cell tower is cleared to be built...

https://nocelltoweratpgcpsschools.blogspot.com/2017/11/new-legislation-calling-for-more.html

Pepper Spray Incident at Seneca Valley Sends 13 to Hospital

Somebody sprayed pepper spray in a girls’ bathroom at Seneca Valley High School this on Monday afternoon. The incident sent 13 people to local hospitals suffering the effects of inhaling the pepper spray...


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

One Person Taken to Hospital After School Bus, Car Crash

One Person Taken to Hospital After School Bus, Car Crash: Two students were in bus, but were not injured

Council gives SSL Hours and Reception for Students to attend their Town Hall

Montgomery County students could earn Student Service Learning Hours by attending the Montgomery County Council's youth town hall on November 29th.  They were also given a reception prior to the town hall.

Here is coverage of what the students said at this event:

http://www.mymcmedia.org/bullying-mental-health-resources-concerns-moco-youth-video/

Monday, December 4, 2017

Now on Oracle’s Campus, a $43 Million Public High School

Oracle builds a public charter school for $43million. Tell us again, how much does a public school in Montgomery County cost to build?

Story from The New York Times, reporter Natasha Singer. Full story here.

"Now Oracle, the business software services giant, is trying the opposite tack: bringing a public charter school to the company.
At its lush campus with a man-made lake here, Oracle is putting the finishing touches on a $43 million building that will house Design Tech High School, an existing charter school with 550 students. The sleek new school building has a two-story workshop space, called the Design Realization Garage, where students can create product prototypes. It has nooks in the hallways to foster student collaboration.
And when the school moves here in early January, Oracle employees will be available to mentor students in skills like business plan development and user-experience design.
Putting a charter school — that is, a publicly funded school that has its own school board and operates independently — on the campus of a tech giant is a new twist on the evolving relationship between big tech companies and schools."

MCPD and MCFRS in scene at Seneca Valley High School. The school has been evacuated after a number of students have been exposed to pepper spray



Leaders at D.C. charter school are out of jobs after teacher’s sex-abuse case (But Not in @mcps No Administrators are Held Accountable in Montgomery County!)

...In a five-page letter sent to parents this week, the school’s board disclosed that LAMB’s principal, Cristina Encinas, and student psychologist, Rosario Paredes, will leave their posts Dec. 15. The school’s executive director, Diane Cottman, will leave her job at the end of the school year, according to the letter.

“We believe that the administrators in charge failed to respond appropriately,” the board’s letter to parents said.

“Student safety is the most basic priority of any school, and the failure of administration to recognize the inappropriate behaviors as red flags and make appropriate decisions, has lead us to make administrative changes,” the letter stated...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/leaders-at-dc-charter-school-are-out-of-jobs-after-teachers-sex-abuse-case/2017/11/30/84cb7c2e-d5dc-11e7-b62d-d9345ced896d_story.html?utm_term=.008fd2c61af0

Saturday, December 2, 2017

NBC4: Teen Girl Injured in Fight at Gaithersburg High School, Both Students Charged

Two Maryland high school students have been charged in connection to a fight at Gaithersburg High School in October.
Diana Melendez, 16, suffered a concussion in the fight and said another student started arguing with her in a girls bathroom at the school in October. The argument quickly turned into a fight.
"So she hit me and I hit her and then I remember going into the wall in between the sinks because I didn't want to fall into the sink and I remember hitting the back of my head on the cinder block wall," Diana said.
But the father of the other student told News4 Melendez assaulted his daughter and scratched her face.
He said his daughter was defending herself from Melendez. Gaithersburg police are investigating the fight and said the original report listed Melendez as the victim, but that as they developed more information they decided to charge both students.

On Thursday, a Gaithersburg High School employee leaked videos of fights at the school to News4. Diana's mother, Erika Melendez, contacted News4 after seeing the report...

https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Teen-Girl-Says-Student-Attacked-Her-at-Gaithersburg-High-School-461362033.html

MCPS Requests Removal of Comments from Parents' Coalition Blog


Here is the original post:

https://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2017/11/mcps-remove-student-names-from-data.html


The Montgomery County Board of Education is a member of MABE, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education. Each year our Board of Education members attend the annual MABE convention in Ocean City, Maryland.  MABE and the convention are sponsored in part by vendors who then have exclusive access to our Board of Education members during the convention.  For example, one vendor is BoardDocs.  BoardDocs is now the vendor that is used to put up our local Board of Education's meeting minutes.  Were other vendors considered?

More on MABE:

http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2015/09/today-public-school-education-being.html

Remember when it was discovered that a MCPS staff member went to London on a trip through Promethean, another no bid vendor who had begun to supply MCPS will thousands of Promethean Boards?

http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2012/11/fact-check-london-trip-to-promethean.html

And there was this cocktail party with outside council:

http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2012/12/boe-parties-with-outside-attorneys.html

Our request for expense reports:

http://parentscoalitionmc.blogspot.com/2016/11/hey-big-spender-smondrowski-kauffman.html


Ironic that the Board of Education members want THEIR names removed from our blog on a post where students are requesting that their personal information be removed from MCPS data!

Friday, December 1, 2017

NBC4: Gaithersburg High School Employee Says Student Violence Out of Control


An employee at Gaithersburg High School says fights between students have gotten so out of control that even staff and teachers are at risk.

The employee leaked 10 cell phone videos of student fights, including one that shows students fighting on top of a security guard who tried to break up a brawl. Six students face disciplinary action for the fight, News4 first reported last week.

Full story and video at:
https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Gaithersburg-High-School-Teachers-Say-Violence-is-Out-of-Control--461130893.html?_osource=SocialFlowFB_DCBrand

MoCo Fire & Rescue Tips for Parents

Tips for Parents

  • Tell your child to Never reveal personal information online.
  • Encourage your child to let you know of any suspicious Activity. If you are made aware of any crime or suspicious activity, notify authorities immediately.
  • Inform your child the risks of using suggestive names and be firm about not using them.
Children are at a higher risk to be victims of Internet crimes than most parents realize.  Don't be uninformed.  Understand the scope of the problem, facts and figures to identify the benefits of childhood Internet activity and where your child may be in danger online.

http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcfrs-info/tips/citizens/internet.html

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Balt. Sun: When disclosing 2016 consulting work, Dallas Dance used company alias rather than firm's name

Former Baltimore County school superintendent Dallas Dance did not have a good track record of reporting paid consulting work as required by the district’s ethics code.
The school system’s ethics panel twice ruled he violated the code by failing to disclose two paying jobs, including one with a firm that had a contract with the district.

The Baltimore Sun reported this month that Dance also failed to report that in 2014 and 2015 he was paid by Education Research & Development Institute, or ERDI. The Chicago company brokers meetings between its paid roster of superintendents and education technology firms that pay to meet privately with the school leaders. Some of the companies had won no-bid contracts with the county school system during Dance’s tenure.
Dance did, however, disclose consulting work for 2016. He did so two weeks after he had announced his retirement on April 18.


Why the difference?

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/investigations/bs-md-sun-investigates-dance-erdi-20171117-story.html