The young lady (Allyssa Banks) who was murdered recently at Largo the other day was one of Babygirl’s classmates and her teammate in the Team America Rocketry Challenge a few years ago. She was also the SGA President for her graduating class this past year. We covered her sad story here. Her family is soliciting assistance with her funeral arrangements. Anything will help….especially your prayers.
DISTRICT HEIGHTS, MD (WUSA9) – Some parents at one Prince George’s elementary school feel like they are in the dark about their child’s education.
Ajia and Robert Cooper have generally had a good experience at Concord Elementary School in District Heights but they have noticed a troubling trend.
Last year, their son’s second grade teacher left the classroom towards the end of the year and now their son’s third grade teacher has been gone for more than a month.
Ajia Cooper gives her son Elijah assignments at home because she’s convinced he’s not learning in school.
“Elijah is not getting any third grade curriculum,” she complained.
The couple said their son gets busy work like alphabetizing classmates’ names. In fact, they just started receiving classwork only after they started raising questions.
“He said when a specialist doesn’t come to class, they throw the homework away and no one ever checks it. Sometimes they’ve had recess for hours,” she said.
“I don’t think we’re doing what I’m supposed to learn in the third grade,” said Elijah.
We have learned both third grade teachers at Concord have been on administrative leave since September 19th .
A school spokesperson says they are investigating allegations made against the teachers.
“I feel like that should be told to the parents,” said Mr. Cooper. “Then we would know what’s going on. Maybe if we had more information about what’s going on behind the scenes we wouldn’t feel left out.”
A letter was sent home stating the teachers were simply on leave for personal reasons, but the Coopers missed that note because Elijah was absent that day. They said not only have kids left the class, they’ve left the school.
“If it’s not a good third grade program let’s find a solution,” said Mrs. Cooper.
A school spokesperson said there has been a permanent substitute in that classroom. It is against policy to replace a teacher who is on administrative leave who may return to class when he or she is cleared from the investigation.
UPPER MARLBORO – Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) has fielded numerous transportation complaints since the beginning of the year, but, with 10 percent of the school system’s drivers absent on any given day, PGCPS is struggling to get transportation running smoothly.
Reports of late busses, busses that never show up and of school children dropped off without parents present have popped up numerous times over the first few months of school, but PGCPS wants parents and residents to know they are working on the issues. However, it may take time to find permanent solutions.
The PGCPS transportation office gave a presentation at a Prince George’s County Board of Education work session last week, where the staffers updated the board on progress made with the office and the hardships it has faced in the first few months of the 2016-17 school year.
“We specifically requested, given a lot of what we heard, and we’ve had some work on transportation. So, since the board has gotten so many (complaints), and since many of us have heard from our constituents about transportation concerns, we wanted to do a follow-up,” Segun Eubanks, chair of the board of education, said.
PGCPS Chief Operating Officer Wesley Watts said the school system has dealt with a number of issues in regards to student transportation over the past several months.
“Our biggest issues, basically, (are) the late busses and busses that are not showing up, or they’re showing up so late people think that they’re not showing up,” Watts said.
One main contributor to late busses and missed stops is a combination of vacant positions and an alarming absentee rate. Lori Cater-Evans, the director of the transportation office, said PGCPS had 48 bus driver vacancies in August and although that number dropped to 11 vacancies at the end of September, Carter-Evans said there are still 31 drivers on extended leave.
The school system’s human resources department is working on filling those vacancies, though. Over the course of the past year, Carter-Evans said the school system has held a number of bus driver fairs and asked retired bus drivers to come back to the system.
However, filling all those positions takes time. Training can take anywhere from two to six weeks depending on how much experience a recruited person has. For someone who has driven a bus for a school system before and already has his or her license, all that is needed is a refresher course. But for those who walk into an interview without experience or a license, the process could take longer, especially if they need to get their license to drive a bus.
“We currently have 14 drivers in training and in our next class we have 18,” Carter-Evans said.
PGCPS transportation is also dealing with a 10 percent daily absentee rate, meaning on any given day approximately 10 percent of the bus fleet call in sick or have taken personal leave.
The school system currently has more than 1,070 bus routes to get students to and from school and approximately 1,097 drivers. With approximately 100 drivers missing on any given day and a short list of substitutes, the transportation office has to make quick decisions to be sure routes are covered.
According to data provided by the school system, over the past two months the number of drivers absent on a given day has topped 100. On Sept. 16, a Friday, 133 drivers were absent and Carter-Evans said she sees a trend of high absenteeism on Thursdays and Fridays.
“It is important to note that in the beginning of the school year, we do not have our non-public schools operating, not all of them. So the drivers who are assigned to transport our students with special needs to non-public schools were available to help provide service the first week of school,” Carter-Evans said. “So in addition to not as many, we don’t have the 97 drivers off on that first week.”
Watts and Carter-Evans said they are working on ways to improve retention of their drivers to avoid so many vacancies, but said they are also working on ways to incentivize good attendance – a suggestion made by multiple board of education members during the work session.
Carter-Evans said PGCPS is looking at a number of solutions to address other transportation issues as well and is considering hiring for a position directly in charge of hiring for transportation only.
Another large complaint lodged toward the transportation office is its perceived lack of communication. According to PGCPS data, the transportation office received nearly 11,000 phone calls in the first week of school. Of those only 2,000 were answered.
“That left us with 81 percent of our customers frustrated after waiting on the line,” Carter-Evans said.
The school does have a phone bank and temporary employees were hired to handle the large amount of calls in the first week, but PGCPS has had to ask those temporary workers to come back to help increase the number of answered calls and resolved issues.
PGCPS is also working on launching a text service to inform parents on where their child’s bus is at a given time, if there are any major delays and other transportation-related information.
Carter-Evan expects that service to be available by February 2017.
“We’re also investigating ways to push the transportation information to the student portal. Parents would get transportation information and related updates that apply specifically to their child and their child’s bus route,” Carter-Evans said. “So the communication will be in real time.”
Watts said he isn’t sure when that specific service will be available to parents, though. Putting transportation on the School Max site will be possible, thanks to an update in the transportation office’s data system. Still, it will require creating a new section of the web page.
“The portal has to be built. The portal does not have a transportation page. It will have to be built by staff,” Watts said.
Watts said PGCPS is still in the beginning phases of creating the new transportation portal and is currently looking at how much the programming and design would cost.
UPPER MARLBORO, MD. A school bus aide accused of molesting special education, pre-kindergarten children on a Prince George’s County school bus has been indicted, according to the Prince George’s County state’s attorney.
Michael Patopie 38, of Capitol Heights inappropriately touched two students while they were on a school bus in November 2015 and in May 2016, police said. He was indicted on multiple counts of child abuse, assault and sex offenses.
Prosecutors said Patopie was on a bus last November carrying children home from James Ryder Randall Elementary in Clinton. They said he molested two special-needs students, a four-year-old and a five-year-old.
A former Prince George’s County school bus driver and former President of ACE-AFSCME Local 2250 Ms. Shirley Adams (shown below) discovered the illegalities and reported the crimes to her bosses who failed to act and instead covered the issues. Months later, she anonymously reported the incident to Child Protective Services (CPS).
CPS then alerted the parents of one of the victims, a 4-year-old boy with special needs. The victim’s parents were told bus cameras caught the abuse and they were shown enough video to identify their son, but they had not seen the alleged abuse.
The parents said they were told the same thing happened to another child on the bus. According to charging documents, the second victim is 5 years old and reported the alleged abuse to his mother.
The children involved have verbal delays and trouble communicating.
The bus was carrying students from James Ryder Randall Elementary School in Clinton, Maryland. An unrelated investigation found students in the school’s Head Start program were forced to hold objects over their heads for a long time as punishment in June. The events in question occurred last year when Dr. Shawn Joseph, Dr. Monique Felder, and Dr. Sito Narcisse all held positions of leadership in PGCPS. Let’s be clear here, they engaged in nefarious behavior after they covered up the crimes. Dr. Shawn Joseph was cleared of any wrong doing, though it is a little disconcerting that he oversaw the department in charge of the Head Start program, and one of the emails that led to the dismissal of the PGCPS Chief of Staff is addressed to him.
Prince George’s County Police confirmed they are investigating the incident, which was reported to CPS May 24 and to police June 20. The boy reported more information to police in August, according to sources. The boy’s father said the incident happened in November.
PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell said he didn’t find out until August, when school started.
Seven months ago, the community was horrified after learning a former teacher’s aide was reportedly sexually abusing students at another county school. The case is ongoing and investigations on other issues continues.
As we move unto the future, We need to further keep an eye on several developing issues connected to the events for two reasons. First, because as the investigation unfolds, it has been moving away from a single incident into being an indictment of the culture within PGCPS. If we are going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars creating a new culture within PGCPS, We must argue that it is financially prudent to make a close examination of the culture that we are importing to ensure that we are, in fact, morphing into a healthier culture and not a soggy soggy culture which has no direction for the future. It’s time to demand answers on these issues.
Prince George’s County police have identified the teenage girl killed in a double shooting in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Allyssa Banks, 18, and an unidentified man were found shot in a car in the 10200 block of Prince Place at about 1:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Banks graduated from Largo High School this past May 2016, according to Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesperson Raven Hill. The principal of Largo High School confirmed Banks was president of the school’s Student Government Association during the previous school year.
Family and friends described Banks as quiet, but also sweet and kind.
“I think she ran for SGA president to let people know that you don’t have to be very loud and outgoing to take control and help out,” said Dyonna Nelson, a friend of Banks. “She just wanted to be a big help.”
Nelson added, “Whoever did it, they don’t know how much of a great person she was to have around and they don’t know how she affected many people’s lives in Largo and her family and just anywhere she went.”
According to Corporal Lamar Robinson, spokesman for the Prince George’s County Police Department, officers were called to investigate a report of a shooting near a condominium complex in the 10200 block of Prince Place near the intersection of Swiss Gap around 1:45 a.m.
Once on the scene, which is a little over a mile and a half from Prince George’s Community College, police found a man and a woman suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper body.
The man was transported with non-life-threatening injuries, however the female victim was taken to a nearby hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
“I heard four shots,” one neighbor told the press. “I heard lots of screaming. I was too scared to look out of the window.”
Banks was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to police. The man’s injuries are not life-threatening.
Right now police have no information to release on possible suspects or motive for the crime. Homicide investigators were on the scene and appeared to be focusing their attention on a red sedan parked in the area.
There are unconfirmed reports the two victims were found in the vehicle, along with a pet that was not injured.
Police say Banks and the other victim knew one another; the relationship between the two was not released.
Investigators are still working to figure out what led to the shooting. Anyone with information that can help police is asked to call 1-866-411-TIPS or call 301-772-4925. Callers can remain anonymous and there may be a cash reward.