Prince George’s Del. Walker hopes grade fixing allegations are false, but there’s a lot of smoke

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Prince George’s Del. Walker

– Allegations of grade fixing to boost graduation rates in Prince George’s County Public Schools have left many people concerned, including the entire Prince George’s County Delegation in the General Assembly. Last week, they wrote a letter to the State Superintendent describing their concerns about claims of grade fraud in the school system, citing FOX 5’s reporting. FOX 5 reporter Lindsay Watts and photojournalist Van Applegate broke this story.

On Sunday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan called for the Maryland State Board of Education to conduct a “complete, thorough, and exhaustive investigation” into allegations of fraud and corruption in Prince George’s County Schools. Del. Jay Walker, who is the chair of the Prince George’s County Delegation in the Maryland General Assembly, joined FOX 5 in studio on Monday morning to share his concerns and what he hopes will happen next.

“I hope these findings are all false. Our Prince George’s County teachers work so hard. We work so hard for funding from the whole state of Maryland, to make sure Prince George’s County kids have a shot, and we just hope this is all false– but there’s a lot of smoke,” Walker said.

Amid the claims that teachers and couselors were asked to change grades to boost the graduation rate in Prince George’s County schools, there’s an obvious looming question: is there evidence? Since the story first broke, Del. Walker told FOX 5 he has been stopped in the grocery store by teachers who tell him kids have graduated, and they don’t know why. Walker said he’s had trouble sleeping since the allegations surfaced because it’s so disturbing to him.

When he first heard that the graduation rates had reached record highs, Walker said he was excited.

“Now I’m starting to question– are these real graduation rates, or is that just a show? That’s why I think it’s so important to find out the truth.”

There was a previous investigation into allegations of grade fixing, but Walker and his colleagues are concerned that the first investigation wasn’t as thorough as it should have been.

“If you’re going to investigate something, do it thorough– a thorough investigation, particularly when you’re talking about education and what’s at stake here,” Walker said.

Teachers and staff, Walker said, take great pride in the Prince George’s County Public School system. He added that he doesn’t think teachers are the focus of the grade fixing allegations, indicating it could be higher up than that. But if students have been graduating when they shouldn’t have been– in Prince George’s County, or any county in the state– Walker said we need to find out why.

“At the end of the day, you want to get to the truth. If we don’t get to the bottom of it, I think we’re doing a disservice for everybody,” he said.

Prince George’s County Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell has denied the claims, calling them politically motivated.

“There has been no systemic effort ordered by me or others working on my behalf to promote students in order to inflate graduation rates,” Maxwell said at Thursday’s school board meeting.

In a statement Sunday, Dr. Maxwell responded to the governor’s call for an investigation:

“From the beginning, I have maintained that politics lie at the root of these accusations. There has been no systemic effort to promote students in Prince George’s County Public Schools who did not meet state graduation requirements in order to inflate our graduation rates. We look forward to collaborating with the Maryland State Department of Education to resolve this matter.”

Walker said the Prince George’s Delegation has tried to meet with Maxwell to discuss their concerns, but he cancelled a scheduled meeting with them last week and rescheduled for the end of July. The delegation then offered to meet with Maxwell anytime this week, but Walker says they haven’t received a response to that request.

“This is important,” Walker said. “So, if the Governor has the Maryland State Board of Education involved, I’m hoping that they can get the answers that the Prince George’s Delegation tried to seek out on its own.”

Maxwell has the support of the majority of the school board, and last week, those nine members wrote their own letter to the state blasting the grade changing claims. After news broke Sunday that Gov. Hogan had asked the State Board of Education to step in, Prince George’s County School Board Chair Segun Eubanks tweeted the following: “What a shocker. Republican Governor who has cut millions from Prince George’s County Public Schools now joins those doubting our students’ achievements.”

But in Monday morning’s interview, Walker said he doesn’t think this has anything to do with politics.

“You don’t play politics with kids or education at all,” Walker said in response.

“Education should not be politically motived, so I don’t see that at all. I kind of find it offensive when that’s being said,” he added.

During his interview, Walker thanked FOX 5 for bringing the issue to the forefront, saying he hopes the school board will get behind the investigation and just show the evidence.

“If there’s nothing to hide, show it,” he said.

Walker says the Prince George’s County Delegation plans to stay on top of allegations and a possible forthcoming investigation.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about answers.”

Governor Hogan’s letter to the Maryland State Board of Education President (app users: Click here to read)

via Fox 5

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Maryland Citizens must demand an Independent Outside investigation for PGCPS

boe-letter_1498421863756_3613844_ver1-0_640_360Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s decision to call for a “complete, thorough, and exhaustive investigation” into allegations of fraud and corruption in Prince George’s County Schools (PGCPS) is the step in the right direction. (Read more here) However, more needs to be done if the county top leadership has to be held accountable for their actions and credibility established within the schools.

In the last week, the Maryland governor’s office mailed the attached letter concerning Prince George’s County fraud in which several Judges and attorneys have been paid off in an organized scheme here in Maryland. The letter directs Josephat Mua to file a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities. (see attached).

However, failure by the Maryland governor to get involved in this dispute which is intertwined with the current issue  will create a situation given that, the Attorney General for Maryland is part of the whole dispute which is tearing Maryland apart with a variety of illegal activities. The issues of fraud cited by the Four Board members in Prince George’s County  are interconnected to the original dispute in which similar issues have been raised in Federal court. (see 1:16-cv-01435-ELH Mua et al v. State of Maryland et al)

Josephat Mua’s complaints prompted the Maryland Attorney General acquiring more powers from the Maryland legislature. Unfortunately, the Federal Judge who presided over the case and failed to hold a hearing in Baltimore and dismissed the case used to work for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. She refused to recuse herself from the case despite a variety of conflicts she was engaged in and brought to her attention. The case is currently on appeal in Richmond. We will be posting the briefs in this blog. So stay tuned.

At the moment, there is ongoing cover up which we raised in this blog after a hearing was cancelled in Baltimore City circuit Court which was scheduled for wednesday last week. An outside investigation and one which is not controlled by the Maryland Attorney General to review the issues is the only solution to the PGCPS fraud problems. The county citizens and Maryland residents must demand a truly independent outside investigations led by the Federal government on these issues which is not controlled by the Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

The gravity of this situation is clearer than ever, and the American people deserve answers. We need to know whether the Defendants led by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General colluded with the other Defendants or if there is any criminal activity, and just how deep their ties run in which employees have lost their jobs and thousands of dollars in an organized scheme.

Our Friends, there’s a whole lot of smoke here – We are going to do our best to figure out whether there’s a fire, too, and get folks like you the answers you deserve. We need help and demand an independent outside investigations concerning what has been happening in the county schools tied to these cases and others in Progress in Federal and state court.

The stakes here are incredibly high.

CALL NOW.

Use callyourrep.co. Simply enter in your Zip Code and get your representatives’ phone numbers.

Call your House Member and Senators tell them to demand an proper outside investigation concerning various criminal activities currently in progress in Maryland.

Call your Senators and tell them to demand Josephat Mua get a fair hearing after Attorneys and court personnel were bribed to cancel the hearing which was scheduled for June 21st, 2017.

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Gov. Larry Hogan calls for state investigation into alleged corruption in PGCPS

– Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is calling for a “complete, thorough, and exhaustive investigation” into allegations of fraud and corruption in Prince George’s County Schools.

On Sunday, Gov. Hogan sent a letter to the president of the Maryland State Board of Education saying he is “deeply troubled by these allegations regarding one of our school systems, which have now been brought to my attention by multiple sources.”

FOX 5 was first to report on allegations of grade changing and manipulation of student records to boost the graduation rate in Prince George’s County schools.

Four school board members sent a letter to Gov. Hogan requesting a state investigation into what they called widespread, systemic corruption.

Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell had denied the claims, calling them politically motivated.

“There has been no systemic effort ordered by me or others working on my behalf to promote students in order to inflate graduation rates,” Maxwell said at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Gov. Hogan also wrote a letter to the four board members letting them know he has requested a state investigation.

“I am also mindful of your statement that many individuals took risks in bringing this information to your attention. We believe these individuals are entitled to the full protections afforded whistleblowers under the law. Thank you for bringing these important concerns to my attention,” Hogan wrote.

FOX 5 has requested a response from Dr. Maxwell to these new developments.

Governor Hogan’s letter to the Maryland State Board of Education President (app users: Click here to read)

via FOX5

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Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell had denied the claims, calling them politically motivated.

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Four members of Prince George’s County’s school board urged Gov. Larry Hogan to order an investigation into what they allege is a systemic effort to fraudulently boost graduation rates in the Maryland school district.

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State lawmakers from Prince George’s seek broad probe of graduation rates

IMG_0158Members of the Prince George’s County’s legislative delegation joined the call Thursday for a state investigation into charges that county school officials doctored grades to increase promotion and graduation rates.

In a letter dated Thursday, the delegates called upon state Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon to examine the claims. The letter was signed by Dels. Jerry Walker and Geraldine Valentino-Smith, a Bowie resident and vice chairwoman of the delegation.

The claims were made by four members of the county school board, including David Murray and Raaheela Ahmed of Bowie.

“Given that the Maryland State Department of Education has oversight over public school districts in Maryland and the educational interests of the State, we respectfully request the resources of the Maryland State Department Education for purposes of an in-depth audit and further investigation of such serious allegations,” the delegates wrote.

The allegations of grade tampering came to light this week when county schools CEO Kevin Maxwell revealed that four school board sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, asking him to conduct an investigation into possible irregularities. He dismissed the claims as “politically motivated” and revealed that a similar probe conducted last fall turned up no evidence of grade-tampering. However, Dr. Maxwell has refused to sit down with reporters as such fox for on camera interview despite repeated requests.

At a jam-packed and often heated school board meeting Thursday night, during which the $1.9 billion school budget was passed, Maxwell repeated his defense of the school system.

“The false allegations about our graduation rates strike at everything that Prince George’s schools stand for – past, present and future,” Maxwell said. “These allegations denigrate why teachers teach and why principals lead. They are a personal attack on every teacher, counselor administrator and employee in this system.”

In their letter, the delegates said the state probe of anonymous allegations last fall did not go far enough because the school personnel interviewed in that investigation were selected by Maxwell.

“It has come to our attention that a high level of concern exists for those schools that experienced a significant change in graduation rate or that have a significant disparity between graduation rates and the performance of students on high school standardized tests,” delegates wrote. “We are also aware that the local change in grading policy may be causing both confusion and disagreement among teachers and parents and this issue could certainly be clarified through a careful MSDE review.”

County officials adopt slightly increased budget for FY 2018
The other nine school board members and a group of county high school principals released statements this week denying the charges and supporting Maxwell.

But Ahmed and Murray stood by their claims, saying Thursday they’d heard and seen enough evidence from system employees to indicate that something was amiss with the grading system. Hogan’s office has forwarded the letter to state education officials.

“There was enough information that I had received – testimony, having seen documents – that there convinced me there was reason for some of these things to be true,” Ahmed said. “I had reason to expect issues – widespread issues.”

Tracie Miller, principal of Gwynn Park High School, was joined by several other high school principals at the board meeting in Upper Marlboro as she spoke out in defense of her colleagues at the meeting.

“We, as high school principals, are extremely offended about the allegations and hurtful accusations that we pressure teachers to to give students grades in order to (increase) the graduation rate,” she said. Such claims, she added, “stain all of us.”

Many parents have come forward with information that their children grades appear suspicious after receiving an A in their report card. Other students who skipped school for many days got A’s and B’s as part of their grades in a shocking revelation to make the adminstration look good.

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Prince George’s County schools CEO denies any fraudulent effort to inflate graduation rate

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For the first time, Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell (seen here) spoke publicly about allegations of grade changing and fraud to boost the graduation rate. However, he continues to refuse to speak to FOX 5 and answer our questions about the fraudulent scheme.

– There were high tensions at a jam-packed Prince George’s County Board of Education meeting Thursday, the first board meeting since it was made public that several board members have contacted the state alleging widespread corruption in the school system.

For the first time, Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell spoke publicly about allegations of grade changing and fraud to boost the graduation rate. However, he continues to refuse to speak to FOX 5 and answer our questions.

“There has been no systemic effort ordered by me or others working on my behalf to promote students in order to inflate graduation rates,” Maxwell said. “The false allegations about our graduation rates strike at everything that Prince George’s County Schools stand for – past, present and future. These allegations denigrate why teachers teach and why principals lead. They are a personal attack on every teacher, counselor, administrator and employee in this system.”

Prior to the meeting, there was a rally that included teachers, activists, parents and the four board members who wrote letter to the governor asking the state to investigate what they call “widespread corruption” that allowed hundreds of students to graduate without meeting state requirements.

FOX 5 has spoken to numerous teachers and school employees who say the board members’ allegations are correct.

“Since we made those allegations, there is not a day or a few hours that go by that we don’t get additional people coming forward,” said school board member Edward Burroughs.

At the rally, a parent in the crowd spoke about her daughter.

“My daughter graduated with a 3.7 [GPA], sitting on distinguished row and had to take remedial classes for a year,” said Donna Young. “There is something wrong with this picture.”

The group went into the board room singing, “We shall overcome.” The seats were so hard to come by that some had to wait in the hallway.

In the crowd were people on both sides of this issue. Some want a state investigation while others agree with Maxwell that there is no possibility of wrongdoing.

A group of principals stood together to refute the allegations during public comment.

“As an educational professional, shouldn’t we want to set the bar for graduation within the grasp of our students?” said Dr. Tracie Miller, principal of Gwynn Park High School. “But now, when we are finally gaining momentum, when we are finally seeing the fruits of our labor, some want to question or cast doubt on our students’ accomplishments.”

Employee union leader Shirley Kirkland also spoke.

“Proven or not, it is a fact that some parents know that their children didn’t attend school but maybe 60 days out of 108,” Kirkland said. “So how did they graduate? Explain the passing grade without enough attending days.”

More people wanted to speak, but an effort to extend public comment was denied by the majority of the board.

Every day this week, FOX 5 has asked the Maryland State Department of Education if it will investigate, but the department continues to decline comment.

A spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says the governor’s office is “continuing to look into this.” She says the governor is out of the country, but will be in touch with FOX 5 when he returns.

FOX 5 continues to investigate this developing story. Contact the reporter at Lindsay.Watts@foxtv.com.

via Fox5

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Parents complain about corruption allegations in Prince George’s Co.

ZKHukWfUyOdQAUCoThe controversy over graduation rates in Prince George’s County continues to swell.

Frustrated parents and union members attended a school board meeting in Upper Marlboro Thursday night to address allegations involving the public school system.

Over the last few weeks, some parents have claimed the graduation rate presented school system administration is an representation of how many students are actually prepared to enter into higher learning.

RELATED: Claims of corruption to boost graduation rates in Prince George’s Co.

“This administration is quick to deny rather than investigate allegations that are brought forth,” said parent Donna Young.

Dr. Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, defended the school system during the board meeting.

“There has been no systemic effort ordered by me or others acting on my behalf to promote students in order to inflate graduation rates,” he said.

However, that defense did not calm the concerns of all parents.

“I have been worried about the administration,” said parent India Byrd. “I would like to see changes.”

Many people also left the board meeting frustrated that only 15 people were allowed to speak during public comment. Some people told WUSA9 they felt the move was made to intentionally cut out criticism from the night’s discussion.

 “There has been no systemic effort ordered by me or others acting on my behalf to promote students in order to inflate graduation rates,” he said.

However, that defense did not calm the concerns of all parents.

“I have been worried about the administration,” said parent India Byrd. “I would like to see changes.”

Many people also left the board meeting frustrated that only 15 people were allowed to speak during public comment. Some people told WUSA9 they felt the move was made to intentionally cut out criticism from the night’s discussion.

via WUSA9

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