Troubled waters for Governor Hogan after Lawmakers Again Look to Add Parent, Teachers to State Education Board

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A similar measure was passed by Democratic majorities in the legislature last year, but vetoed by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R). (seen above). However, many watchers believe that, Hogan won fraudulently after voter suppression in Prince George’s County and elsewhere. Keen watchers are predicting he will have a rough second term and will be impeached from office for messing up with the Maryland legislature. Already his order on post-Labor Day school start has been overturned by the Maryland Senate due to his cover up involving public corruption in Maryland.

Advocates are trying again for a bill that would add seats for a parent and teachers to the Maryland State Board of Education.

A similar measure was passed by Democratic majorities in the legislature last year, but vetoed by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).

The House of Delegates gave preliminary approval to the measure, House Bill 87, on Wednesday morning, with a final vote scheduled for later this week. The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, which passed the measure last session, held a hearing on the Senate cross-file in the afternoon.

The bill would add three new members to the Maryland State Board of Education: a parent, and two teachers, one with a background in elementary grades and one with a background in secondary grades.

The new teacher members would be chosen after an election by teachers in the state coordinated by the Maryland State Department of Education.

The parent member would be selected by the governor from a list of candidates submitted by the Maryland PTA. All three members would be subject to confirmation by the Maryland Senate.

In the House, Democratic lawmakers defeated two amendments from Republican colleagues on Wednesday morning that would have removed the election process for the teacher candidates and removed a requirement that the state teachers unions receive notice ahead of an election.

In vetoing similar legislation in 2018, Hogan expressed concern that the Maryland State Education Association or Baltimore Teachers Union could exert too much influence in the elections or on the state board.

“The participation of individuals selected to represent a specific special interest union group, could have unintended negative consequences and could result in encouraging narrowly focused agendas that are in the interest of a few and not for the common good,” Hogan wrote on May 24, 2018. “A policy making board of the magnitude and importance of the Maryland State Board of Education should represent all stakeholder groups, but most of all who are singularly focused on the needs of Maryland school children and not just be a collection of special interest group representatives.”

Del. Eric D. Ebersole (D-Baltimore, Howard), who has sponsored the measure the last two years, said the 2019 bill aims to alleviate some of those concerns by shifting the selection of teacher members to an election of all certified teachers in the state.

The bill received some early support in the Senate, where it is sponsored by Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery).

Three members of the committee, including Chairman Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) have signed on as cosponsors.

Committee member Sen. Arthur Ellis (D-Charles) said he agrees with the spirit of the bill, calling it a little modest, even.

“This is very modest. We need more educators to make education policy in Maryland,” Ellis said during the hearing. “So I look forward to improving that over the years.”

The current Maryland State Board of Education opposes the bill.

Board President Justin M. Hartings said the state board has an open-door policy to accept information from anyone interested in the work of the state board and State Department of Education. He said the specific carve-out to add teachers could establish a precedent to add even more members in the future and remarked that the selection of teachers seemed arbitrary when the voices of other interest groups could be just as helpful to the board.

“How do you stop from continuing to add more and more and more stakeholders?” Hartings asked.

He said the state department is also concerned about its ability to conduct the election required in the bill.

The Maryland Association of Boards of Education is also opposed to the bill, Ellis said.

Under current law, teachers and anyone else who is subject to the authority of the state board is not eligible to be appointed to the board. Eleven states either require or allow a teacher to be a member of the state board of education and nine states prohibit teacher members on the state board, according to a Department of Legislative Services analysis. Two states, Massachusetts and Nevada, require a parent of a public school student to be appointed to the board.

Via Maryland Matters 

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Del. Eric D. Ebersole (D-Baltimore, Howard)

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Senator Paul Pinsky is among the fearless leaders who are going after Governor Larry Hogan heads on. His concerns are valid and already met with parents in the Prince George’s County. The measure Senate bill 128 is on fast track in the General Assembly, with quick passage which has already passed the senate overwhelmingly. It is expected Gov. Hogan will veto the measure and the legislature will attempt an override; which means that parents might want to hold off on the late summer vacation bookings for a couple of weeks.

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Senator Nancy King is among the fearless leaders who are going after Governor Larry Hogan heads on. Her concerns are valid following feedback from the community.

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Del. Eric Leudtke said, “I think there is interest statewide in making this a local decision,” and he insisted that the change would not affect school systems where the later start date is favored. “

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Hogan in major water after Md. Senate approves measure to overturn his order to start school year after Labor Day

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Gov. Larry Hogan defends his executive order to start the school year after Labor Day during a press conference. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

By Reform Sasscer Staff:

The Maryland Senate gave final approval to a bill that would overturn an executive order by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) that required local school districts to start their school year after Labor Day.

The Senate voted 31 to 13, along party lines, to advance the measure, which would allow local school districts to decide when schools should begin and end.

The measure now heads to the House of Delegates. If the bill passes both Democrat-controlled chambers, the Republican governor has vowed to support a referendum effort to put it on the ballot for voters to decide in 2020.

Some supporters of the later school start have championed the policy as helping the state’s tourism industry, especially in Ocean City. But some parents have said they struggle to find and pay for summer camps or child care in the days leading up to Labor Day.

The bill represented the first intense debate in this year’s General Assembly session and the final vote came after several days’ worth of discussion in the Senate.

Democratic senators argued Tuesday that school boards struggled to meet the executive order’s requirements to start after Labor Day and end school by June 15 while also accommodating snow days, teacher training days, and religious and secular holidays. They said school boards should have more flexibility regarding when to start and end their school years.

“It’s not about starting school before Labor Day. It’s about giving local school systems the right to decide whether they’re going to start before Labor Day or not,” said Sen. Nancy King, a Democrat who served eight years on Montgomery County’s school board.

Hogan issued the executive order in 2016. Local districts say they have struggled to create calendars to meet the requirement of starting after Labor Day and ending by June 15.

Several Republican senators spoke against the bill, saying that the post-Labor Day start is popular among Maryland residents, allowing parents to spend more time with their children and helping to boost the state’s economy. Proponents of the bill said school districts should have the flexibility to create calendars that address the needs of their communities.

Hogan described the vote as “partisan hypocrisy” on his Facebook page, arguing that some Democratic senators in the past supported a post-Labor Day start.

Last week, the governor said he would submit a bill that would require any jurisdiction that wants to open before Labor Day to put the proposal on the ballot. He also indicated that if the measure backed by Democrats moved forward, he would lead an effort for a statewide referendum on the issue.

The facebook post by Governor Hogan appeared to be a retaliation after his defeat by the Maryland Senate for what he called common sense. However elsewhere, users online where very clear and categorical. One user Michelle clarified and stated the following; “If there wasn’t a mandated start and end date of June 15th every year, this wouldn’t really be an issue, but when the law requires students to go 180 days and the law also says it has to been done after Labor day and before June 15th that leaves no wiggle room for anything, like snowdays. Also, many parents were the first ones to complain about shortened winter and spring breaks. As for the professional development days….the law at the federal and state level requires teachers to have a certain amount each year. The report card prep days are also necessary, especially when you have a teacher like me who has 400 plus students. There I think that covers all the bases as to why the calendar should be local control. 

If Governor Hogan wants the after Labor Day start, fine give back June 15th. If he wants the June 15th end date, then give back local control of the school start date. I will fight for both days to be decided at the local level because that is where it should be not at Governor Hogan’s desk. If anything, Hogan should be impeached for running the entire school system with a clueless shenanigans.”

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Senator Paul Pinsky is among the fearless leaders who are going after Governor Larry Hogan heads on. His concerns are valid and already met with parents in the Prince George’s County. The measure Senate bill 128 is on fast track in the General Assembly, with quick passage which has already passed the senate overwhelmingly. It is expected Gov. Hogan will veto the measure and the legislature will attempt an override; which means that parents might want to hold off on the late summer vacation bookings for a couple of weeks.

27830_119495458082779_811419_n

Senator Nancy King is among the fearless leaders who are going after Governor Larry Hogan heads on. Her concerns are valid following feedback from the community.

jkcg1am9_400x400.jpg

Del. Eric Leudtke is expected to play a major role in the house of delegates. He stated the following in the past: “I think there is interest statewide in making this a local decision,” and he insisted that the change would not affect school systems where the later start date is favored. “

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Shocked Board member Belinda Queen argues County Residents to demand better after witnessing abuse.

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Board member Belinda Queen (center) in dotted dress.

By Reform Sasscer Staff:

One of the newly elected Board of Education member Belinda Queen has hit the ground running and is demanding answers after discovering corruption at High Point High School in Prince George’s County public Schools (PGCPS).  First question which the public should be asking: What took anyone in the Board so long?

Some outrage would be welcome at long last after the board of education failed over the years to protect the youth in this school. Other facilities have similar problems and serving contaminated water.

Question 2: Where was the fraud unit or PGCPS internal audit and why did it take a newly elected board member from another district to get this case made?

Question 3: Given overt partisanship, Can elected officials in the Prince George’s County council wide office be credible leaders of a review of legislative corruption?

We recommend Hon. Belinda for speaking out and exposing an issue affecting hundreds of students in Prince George’s County.

She writes:

“I prayed hard on this and HE knows I gotta express my concerns. I’m a Public Elected Official who speaks my mind and who believes in Educating, Engaging and Empowering the people.

I need your help…PGC Residents
“Speak Out! Speak Up & Demand Better!”

We need to put pressure on our Elected Leaders in the State and the County to vote on the funding of the Kirwan Commission and to invest more money into these old schools and distasteful trailers and the schools with major Maintenance issues.

We had our Public Budget Hearing at High Point HS last week (not a really old school😂 right just like Central HS )and it has been bothering me ever since… you’ll know me w/ my camera 👀😤 at these Disgusting Bathroom our kids have to use. How Nasty!

What makes me more upset is our Delegation wants to mandate laws without funding the mandates. We already seem to have major maintenance backlog. Where’s the Money?? If we are $600 Million Dollars short already why would you even think about mandates without funding? We gotta replace these 🤬 people who are not putting our Kids First. Let this mess be in their homes. 🥺

Reach out to your Elected Leaders and “Demand Better” in our Public Schools.

PS: I am human and wasn’t elected as a perfect person so please forgive any typo’s or incorrect English in advance.”

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D.C. accuses 3 PG families of fraudulently enrolling children in city schools

7ZIZUIVIHII6NOSZU7MTCZOG2QBy Reform Sasscer Staff:

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C sued three Maryland families Wednesday. The complaints attached at the bottom of this post, alleges the parents fraudulently claimed to live in the city so their children could attend D.C.’s public schools as part of a scheme to swindle the city of its scarce resources.

The families all of them from Prince George’s County skirted paying tuition required of students residing outside the District, according to the lawsuit, and the city’s attorney general said he is seeking more than $450,000 in unpaid fees and penalties. One of the parents is a teacher at a D.C. high school, and a woman accused of aiding a family works at a city high school as well. There have been many problems affecting families in prince George’s County as a result of out of control fights. Some of these fights we have highlighted in this blog.  The fiasco has forced parents to seek an alternative solution outside the county including Washington DC.

The problems in Prince George’s County public schools (PGCPS) have gotten worse this year due to the ongoing cover up by the interim CEO Monica Goldson in a scheme which involves some of the elected officials in Maryland.

“Individuals who commit residency fraud unlawfully take school seats that should be occupied by children who live in the District,” D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said in a statement. “Our office will continue to bring residency fraud cases to deter non-residents from sending their children to District schools without going through the established process that includes paying non-resident tuition.” (See the entire press release below).

The District alleges in three lawsuits that the families collectively sent four children to city schools between 2011 and 2015 without paying tuition.

Schools attended by the children include Ludlow-Taylor Elementary, Dunbar High School, Hardy Middle School and Wilson High School. Annual tuition at the schools ranges from $10,000 to $14,000.

Under D.C. law, authorities seeking redress from scofflaw suburban parents can seek triple the amount of tuition those parents avoided by using a fraudulent D.C. address.

Residency fraud has been an ongoing problem but came under increased scrutiny this past year after a city investigation alleged that more than 30 percent of students at Duke Ellington School of the Arts — more than 160 teenagers — lived outside the city and were not paying tuition. But in October, administrators and parents at the school said the city had determined at least 90 of the accused students live in the District.

The Ellington investigation laid bare the complicated lives of students in an urban school system and the complexities that come with investigating residency fraud.

The D.C. Office of the Attorney General says it has dedicated additional resources to combating residency fraud over the past two years, including more investigators and attorneys.

This is the third batch of residency-fraud lawsuits the city has filed in D.C. Superior Court in the past 10 months, collectively seeking more than $1.9 million in unpaid tuition and damages.

Named in the lawsuits Wednesday are Kiana E. Bennett and Willie E. Bennett Jr., former residents of Hyattsville, Md., who now live in the District; Erika Parker of Bowie, Md.; and Twarnisha Peterson Stokes of Upper Marlboro, Md.

Tarkitta Sedgwick of Forestville, Md., also is named and is accused of helping Parker deceive school officials by signing forms claiming that she was the child’s primary caregiver and that she and the child lived together in Northwest. But Sedgwick lived in Maryland, and the child did not reside with her, the city alleges.

Sedgwick is an employee of D.C.’s Dunbar High School. Bennett teaches at McKinley Technology High School.

The families did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Washington DC parents too normally cross the boarder

However, teachers in Prince George’s County have reported that, Washington DC parents normally cross the boarder and enroll their children fraudulent in Prince George’s County Public Schools as well. Schools such as Dr. Henry Wise High School,  Charles H. Flowers High School and others have been a magnet for parents living in South East Washington DC looking out for better life in Maryland. According to “Patricia R. Washington”,  “That used to be the other way around. I had street bumps and signs to discourage the constant flow of DC residents to our neighborhood schools.”

The attorney general’s office said Sedgwick and the parents repeatedly in documents used D.C. addresses that were not their own to avoid paying tuition. They signed sworn statements claiming to live in the District. Some of the forms included the line: “I understand that providing false information for the purposes of defrauding the government is punishable by law.”

We reprint the press release from the Office of Communications OAG Alleges Individuals Lied About D.C. Residency to Send Their Children to In-Demand District High Schools for Free below.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                                               

February 13, 2019

MEDIA CONTACT:

Office of Communications

AG RACINE SUES FOUR MARYLAND PARENTS AND DCPS EMPLOYEE FOR RESIDENCY FRAUD AT D.C. SCHOOLS, SEEKS $450K+ IN UNPAID TUITION, DAMAGES AND FINES
OAG Alleges Individuals Lied About D.C. Residency to Send Their Children to In-Demand District High Schools for Free

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced lawsuits against four Maryland parents for falsifying District residency to send their children to D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) for free. Additionally, AG Racine is suing a DCPS employee for conspiring with one of the parents to enroll her non-resident daughter in a DCPS school. In its lawsuits against the parents, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that these individuals broke District law by sending their children to popular District schools without paying required out-of-state tuition. OAG’s lawsuits seek more than $450,000 total in unpaid tuition, damages, and penalties.

“Individuals who commit residency fraud unlawfully take school seats that should be occupied by children who live in the District,” said AG Racine. “This fraud also deprives D.C. taxpayers of the benefit of free public schools. Our office will continue to bring residency fraud cases to deter non-residents from sending their children to District schools without going through the established process that includes paying non-resident tuition.”

Parents, guardians, or eligible caregivers who are District residents can send their children to the District’s traditional public or public charter schools free of charge. Non-residents can apply to send their children to District schools, but they must pay non-resident tuition, which typically costs between $10,000 and $14,000 per year. However, in most cases, even non-residents willing to pay non-resident tuition are not typically admitted to a District school if there are D.C. residents on that school’s waiting list.

Under the District’s False Claims Act, it is illegal to knowingly make false statements to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay the District. It is also illegal to knowingly cover up or avoid an obligation to pay the District, even if you do not make any false statements yourself. The District can seek to recover up to triple the amount of unpaid tuition that is owed if a court agrees. The law also allows OAG to obtain civil penalties and recoup expenses incurred in pursuing tuition fraud cases. This means that non-residents who send their children to District schools and do not pay the required tuition could face extremely steep costs if they are found liable for non-resident tuition fraud.

OAG has independent authority to investigate and take legal action under the False Claims Act. While OAG also works collaboratively with District agencies that regulate non-resident tuition and refer cases of suspected residency fraud. If OAG receives an allegation of residency fraud through the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), DCPS, public charter schools, or other channels, the agency independently investigates the case to determine whether there is fraud and if additional legal action is appropriate.

Residency Fraud Lawsuits

OAG filed three separate suits against four parents who fraudulently claimed to be District residents while living in Maryland to send their children to District schools for free. In one of the suits, OAG also alleges that a Dunbar High School employee helped a non-resident student fraudulently attend that school. The suits allege that the defendants:

  • Falsified D.C. residency to send their children to District schools: All the parents named in the lawsuits lived in Maryland at the time they sent their children to District schools. The parents lied about being D.C. residents, sent their children to District schools, and failed to pay out-of-state tuition.
  • Lied repeatedly in documents attesting to D.C. residency to avoid paying non-resident tuition:Each year, parents who send their children to D.C. schools are required to submit enrollment forms and residency verification forms for each of their children. These parents used District addresses at which they did not live on the official forms and signed sworn statements attesting that they lived in the District. Some of these forms included the statement “I understand that providing false information for the purposes of defrauding the government is punishable by law.”

Kiana E. Bennett and Willie E. Bennett, Jr.

Kiana E. Bennett and Willie E. Bennett, Jr. are currently residents of the District of Columbia and former residents of Hyattsville, Md. Ms. Bennett is currently employed as a teacher at the District’s McKinley Technology High School; Mr. Bennett is a former DCPS athletics coordinator. During the 2013-2014 school year, their son attended Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School on Capitol Hill. During the 2014-2015 school year, they sent both their son and their daughter to Ludlow-Taylor. On enrollment forms, the Bennetts claimed to be residents of Northeast Washington; however, during the entire time their children attended Ludlow-Taylor tuition-free, the Bennetts were residents of Hyattsville, Md. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages and penalties from the Bennetts that could total as much as $186,783.

A copy of the District’s complaint against the Bennetts is available at: http://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-02/Bennett-Residency-Fraud-Complaint.pdf

Erika Parker and Tarkitta Sedgwick

Erika Parker is currently a resident of Bowie, Md. Tarkitta Sedgwick is a resident of Forestville, Md. Ms. Sedgwick is currently employed at the District’s Dunbar High School. Ms. Parker’s daughter attended Dunbar for the entirety of the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years, and part of the 2014-2015 school year.

During this period, the complaint alleges, Ms. Parker and Ms. Sedgwick attempted to deceive school authorities into thinking that the child lived in the District. Ms. Sedgwick filled out and signed forms attesting that she was the primary caregiver for Ms. Parker’s daughter and that she and the child lived at an address in Northwest Washington. On one form she claimed to be a cousin of Ms. Parker’s daughter; on another, she claimed to be the child’s aunt. Ms. Sedgwick claimed on these forms that she was the child’s caregiver because Ms. Parker had been displaced or was unable to care for the child.

Ms. Parker also submitted a notarized document to the school titled “District of Columbia Custodial Power of Attorney.” The document asserted that an “Erica Parker” wished to give the “parental rights and responsibilities” regarding her child to Ms. Sedgwick. The form also claimed that Ms. Parker lived at an address in Southeast Washington.

However, during the entire period when Ms. Sedgwick claimed to be the primary caregiver to Ms. Parker’s daughter, the child was living with her mother at her residence in Upper Marlboro, Md. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages, and penalties from Ms. Parker and Ms. Sedgwick that could total as much as $168,181.

A copy of the District’s complaint against Ms. Parker and Ms. Sedgwick is available at:http://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-02/Parker-Sedgwick-Residency-Fraud-Complaint.pdf

Twarnisha Peterson Stokes

Twarnisha Peterson Stokes is a resident of Upper Marlboro, Md. Ms. Stokes sent her son to Hardy Middle School in Georgetown for the 2011-2012 school. She then sent him to Wilson High School in Tenleytown between for the entirety of the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years, and part of the 2014-2015 school year. She claimed to live in the District during this period; however, during this time, she and her son were living in Clinton, Md. The District is seeking to recover unpaid tuition, damages and penalties from Ms. Stokes that could total as much as $98,553.

A copy of the District’s complaint against Ms. Stokes is available at: http://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-02/Stokes-Residency-Fraud-Complaint.pdf

OAG’s Work on Residency Fraud
Over the past two years, OAG has devoted additional resources, attorneys, and investigators to fight residency fraud. In December, OAG filed suit against six Maryland parents for sending a total of 10 children to District schools, including in-demand schools like Capitol Hill Montessori and Duke Ellington School of the Arts, without paying required out-of-state tuition. Two of the defendants were District government employees, and the suits sought nearly $700,000 in total unpaid tuition and damages. Last May, OAG filed two tuition-fraud lawsuits seeking more than $800,000 in total unpaid tuition, damages and penalties from two non-resident D.C. government employees and one non-resident D.C. public charter school teacher.

Parents with questions about the non-resident tuition enforcement process can find answers to frequently asked questions here: https://oag.dc.gov/blog/understanding-non-resident-tuition-enforcement.

Anyone who knows of or suspects residency fraud can submit a tip directly to OAG by email at oag@dc.gov. They can also submit tips to OSSE by calling (202) 719-6500 or submitting a tip online.

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D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts (seen here in this photo) is one of the schools affected by the scam. 

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Fiasco after Cell Phone Starts Backpack Fire At PGCPS Potomac High School

WTTG-PRINCE-GEORGE'S-FIRE-POTOMAC-HIGH-SCHOOL_1549990254888_6752166_ver1.0_640_360.jpgFT. WASHINGTON, Md.  — Prince George’s County fire crews responded to Potomac High School in Ft. Washington for a reported backpack on fire Tuesday morning.

Prince George’s County Public school officials say the small fire at Potomac High School in Glassmanor originated in the ninth grade wing.

At around 9:30 a.m., a cell phone, the model not known,  apparently overheated in a student’s backpack which generated heat and smoke.

The school was evacuated and a security officer was transported out of the school for a smoke-related illness.

The backpack was handled quickly and the fire did not extend past the area.

Some students did experience irritation from the residual odor and were evaluated by medics, but not transported.

Students and staff were able to resume classes in other sections of the building.

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Potomac High School in Ft. Washington (past photo)

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PGCPS coach being investigated for inappropriate interaction with student, school says

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DuVal High School coach Tarrell Lockwood (seen here)

 – A high school varsity football coach in Prince George’s County has been placed on leave pending an investigation into an “alleged inappropriate interaction with a student,” school officials announced.

DuVal High School officials said Tarrell Lockwood was placed on leave Tuesday. Lockwood serves as the in-school suspension coordinator and head varsity football coach at DuVal High School.

The Prince George’s County Police Department confirmed it was investigating an incident between a coach and a student but did not provide further details.

Lockwood has been with DuVal High School since 2011 and joined Prince George’s County Public Schools in 2005.

In a letter sent to the school community, officials said Lockwood was on leave but did not specify the reason.

The letter states that David Kosloski, who has been with the district since 2015, will serve as the interim head football coach.

The press went to Lockwood’s home to get his side of the story but he declined to comment. Lockwood’s Twitter account, which its bio states, “Head Football Coach at Duval High School located in Lanham, MD. Husband, Father, Educator, Coach, Mentor and Builder of young men,” has been turned to private and its tweets protected.

Duval’s last tweet, which was tweeted on Tuesday and before his account was turned to private, simply read, “WOW!!!”

The following letter was sent to parents on Wednesday:

February 13, 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am writing to inform you that Mr. Tarrell (Carlos) Lockwood, in-school suspension coordinator and head varsity football coach is on leave.

Mr. David Kosloski will serve as interim head varsity football coach until further notice. Mr. Kosloski has served students in Prince George’s County Public Schools since 2015. He is dedicated to providing quality educational experience to your child.

I want to assure you that our focus remains on rich student learning experiences. We are committed to creating learning environments where all students can succeed. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact 301-918-8600 or brian.taylor@pgcps.org.

Sincerely,

Mr. Brian Taylor

Assistant Principal

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DuVal High School coach Tarrell Lockwood (seen here) arguing with a referee. 

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A Parent in California: What’s Wrong with Charter Schools?

IMG-6853In this post, a parent activist in Northern California succinctly described the case against charter schools.

Charter schools take resources away from the public schools, harming public schools and their students. All charter schools do this – whether they’re opportunistic and for-profit or presenting themselves as public, progressive and enlightened.

Charter schools are free to pick and choose and exclude or kick out any student they want. They’re not supposed to, but in real life there’s no enforcement. Many impose demanding application processes, or use mandatory “intake counseling,” or require work hours or financial donations from families – so that only the children of motivated, supportive, compliant families get in. Charter schools publicly deny this, but within many charter schools, the selectivity is well known and viewed as a benefit. Admittedly, families in those schools like that feature – with the more challenging students kept out of the charter – but it’s not fair or honest, and it harms public schools and their students.

Charter schools are often forced into school districts against the districts’ will. School boards’ ability to reject a charter application is limited by law; and if a school board rejects a charter application, the applicant can appeal to the county board of education and the California state board of education. Then the school district winds up with a charter forced upon it, taking resources from the existing public schools. Often this means the district must close a public school.

Anyone can apply to open and operate a charter school, and get public funding for it. The process is designed to work in their favor. They don’t have to have to be educators or show that they’re competent or honest. They may be well-meaning but unqualified and incompetent, or they may be crooks. Imagine allowing this with police stations, fire stations, public bus systems or parks.

Part of a school district’s job is to provide the right number of schools to serve the number of students in the district. When charter schools are forced into the district, that often requires existing public schools to close. Again, that harms the district and its students.

California law (Prop. 39) requires school districts to provide space for charter schools, even if the district didn’t want the charter. Charter schools are often forced into existing public schools (this is called co-location), taking space and amenities away from their students and creating conflict. This is a contentious issue in other states too.

Charter schools can be opened by almost anyone and get little oversight, so they’re ripe for corruption, looting, nepotism, fraud and self-dealing. Corruption happens in public school districts too, but charter schools offer an extra tempting opportunity for crooks, and the history of charters in California and nationwide shows that wrongdoers often grab that opportunity.

Charter schools, backed by billionaire-funded pro-privatization support and PR machinery, have positioned themselves as an enemy to school districts, public schools and teachers, sending their damaging message to politicians and the media. These charter backers pour millions into electing charter-friendly candidates. Tearing down our public school system and our teachers, as the charter sector does endlessly, harms our public schools and their students.

The charter sector tends to sort itself into two kinds of schools. Charter schools serving low-income students of color often impose military-style discipline and rigid rules – hands folded on the desk, eyes tracking the speaker, punishment for tiny dress code violations, a focus on public humiliation. By contrast, some charter schools serving children of privilege are designed to isolate the school from a district so that lower-income kids aren’t assigned to the school. Charter schools overall have been found to increase school segregation.

Charter schools overall serve far fewer children with disabilities and English-language learners than public schools. Even those designed to serve children with disabilities serve far fewer children with the types of disabilities that are most challenging and expensive to work with, such as children with severe autism or who are severely emotionally disturbed.

Despite the many advantages charter schools enjoy, they don’t do any better overall than public schools. The rallying cry for charter schools used to be that the “competition” would improve public schools, but that hasn’t happened. In charter schools’ more than 20 years of existence, they haven’t overall brought better education to impoverished communities.

*Note: This commentary applies to California charter schools and California charter laws. Many of the issues apply to charter schools in most or all other states where they exist.

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