Maryland Democratic Party’s Response to Gov. Larry Hogan’s Proposed school funding bill for construction

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Maryland Democratic Party Boss Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings

By Reform Sasscer Staff

Maryland Democratic Party Boss Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings has issued a statement following a shocking proposed funding bill for school construction. The proposal by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan left much needed instructional and human resources improvements.

On Friday December 14th, we highlighted some of the fears in the community based on the timing of the announcement, with some concerned citizens stating that, “Hogan is making an early declaration in order to undermine the Thornton/Kirwan Commission final mandate,” stated a concerned citizen on social media.  There are reports that, the state of Maryland might be owing some jurisdictions in Maryland billions of dollars based on the Thornton formula after the state ignored the modus operandi for many years.

There are many in the community who are stating that, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan should bring more transparency — and less partisanship — to the process of supporting schools.

The message from the Chair is highlighted below.

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County citizenry on social media had varying responses to Governor Larry Hogan’s proposal. A sample of their reports are reprinted below:

  • One stated …“This is laughable to me because–no, we’re over here laughing…smh. I’m a realist, not easily bamboozled…more $ but who will be accountable for it? These same people who’ve been overseeing our systems for years? How many times have we seen & heard this? MGM $, superintendents/CEOs legally and illegally stealing $ along with other leaders? No accountability? Are students and their teachers directly benefitting?…we will see if it gets to the teachers and students…I’m not impressed by words and grandstanding…and “we” just eat it up.”
  • Another stated …… “Hogan is making an early declaration in order to undermine the Thornton/Kirwan Commission before they issue their final mandate. Otherwise, how else can you explain this. There is a body which reviews public schools expenditures at state level not Hogan alone. Where is the accountability mechanism for all this money? This is the worst joke I have listened in many years.”
  • Another read……. “This is definitely a step in the right direction! So instrumental to the economic growth of Prince George’s County. Well done!”
  • Another stated ……“No what is going to do with our HBCU like Bowie, Morgan, Coppin and UMES…”
  • Another read…..“that what lying Larry do, take money from here and move it there…. Then act like he’s doing something fiscally responsible….”
  • Another stated……”Happy that as a state we won question 1 on the ballot. Great to know that we now will have money to improve or remodel our school buildings in our county and across our state. Happy to hear that this 5 year plan will create over 27,000 jobs. Any construction in our county hopefully Prince George’s county contractors as well as minority construction companies are highly considered and sort after. #greatnews
  • Another stated ………. “He said he plans to announce additional details soon about plans to increase accountability measures in the school system to avoid waste and corruption as spending increases.” At last: An Annapolis politician wants our public schools to account to the taxpayers what they do with that money. And I assume the teachers union will fight it tooth and nail.”
  • Another read…….“Raise teachers salaries! Provide more support to teachers in addition to modernizing the schools, which many are in very bad condition!”
  • Another stated….. “It will be spent on more high level administrative positions.”
  • Another read…….“Let’s hope that the Democrats approve any proposal to create an IG’s office at the state and local levels.”
  • Another stated …….“It’s an absolutely ridiculous that the laws that enabled these big time casinos in Maryland did not include language mandating all funds collected by the state be devoted solely to education. This is a long overdue move.”
  • Another read ……..“Why did he speak at Highland Park ES? The school, while nearly 20 years old, plays in comparison to District Heights ES which was closed for mold issues, or many other schools built in the 1960s.”
  • Another stated …….”impeach Hogan at your earliest and teach him a lesson. He pretends to help Maryland while lining his pockets in real estate shenanigans.”
  • Another read …..” Maryland don’t take advice from GOP partisans and trolls on this issue. You already made a mistake in re-electing Hogan. He’s already taunting you about how a Republican is going to run the schools and draw up your new maps. 
    Now that he doesn’t need your votes anymore you’ll see what he really thinks of you. At least you had senses enough to elect a Democratic legislature. Tell them to stand firm to check his schemes and override them as necessary!!”

Read more >>> Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Proposes new school funding bill for construction as worst fears set in.

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New leadership on PGCPS Board must sacrifice and fight to “change the rules” in ongoing scandals

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Mr. Edward Burroughs III is pictured in Annapolis Maryland highlighting public corruption to the Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and other officials. He wrote that, “So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit. It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.” Don’t Quit- Author Unknown — in Maryland State House.

By Reform Sasscer Staff

Last Thursday, Mr. Edward Burroughs III, whom we have covered extensively throughout this blog was elected as the Vice Chairman of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Board of Education. Mr. Burroughs has been a mentor to many of us and has installed in us morals of strength and purpose, pursuant to our consistent patriotic ideals. Our understanding of democracy, justice, fairness, transparency and accountability is all thanks to Mr. Edward Burroughs III. Dissent doesn’t mean we’re metamorphosing into rebels,  it means that we augur rational mindsets because, we do not all think the same. The millennial school board member’s future success is not just dependent on hard work — they must make sacrifices and fight to “change the rules.”

As of today, an employee wrongfully terminated in PGCPS or others forced to retire due to retaliation should not been forced to deal with compromised attorneys, corrupt union executives or compromised judicial system due to obvious public corruption for more than ten years. Someone is benefiting unjustly at the expense of the public. The new board must find ways to create proper and just rules and regulations on the local level and make it a model for the rest of the society to follow. This should be part of the public discourse in fighting discrimination and retaliation as they restore civility in PGCPS.

To remove the negative narrative of our school system, and its governing processes, as the new leadership settles down to work,  the new Board leadership should push sooner rather than later for a hearing and vindication of those who were wrongfully terminated, including the mistreatment of Mr. Josephat Mua (an IT Technician II and a certified teacher who had tenure before being malicious terminated after exposing myriad of issues to the authorities). Please examine these facts independently, and “not made up facts” by PGCPS system. Please take the time to review the role of the Unions in advancing public corruption in the county schools as well as examine the misconduct of the Office of legal counsel, Human Resources and in particular the role of Monica Goldson and Christian Rhodes.

There are apparent clear cases of fraud within the judicial system which is a problem. There is documented evidence on this illegal activity which is ongoing and includes paying off of attorneys and other parties in a position of major authority. Mr. Burroughs is a victim of judicial system himself after his case against Mr. Eubanks (former Board Chairman) was dropped in a questionable circumstances. Mr. Eubanks was later quoted as “evaluating options to seek redress and reparations for this wholly unnecessary ordeal.”

The list of those undermining justice in Maryland includes some highlighted in the past as shown here.  If there is no justice, there cannot be peace. Dr. Alvin Thornton said it well in the attached video clip (below). There should be “Justice under the law and not justice under politics.”

Later on on Saturday evening, Dr. Alvin Thornton issued the following statement on Facebook response post concerning the Washington Post article reprinted below…..”The Post announcement is premature. The Board of Education has recommended Mr. Edward Burroughs III to our County Executive for appointment as Vice-Chair of the Board. The County Executive will make the final decision. Mr. Burroughs would be an excellent Vice Chair of the Board and I look forward to working with him following the County Executive’s decision. Our initial activities as the county’s newly constituted Board of Education have been very successful. The on-boarding and swearing-in of new members of the Board with the County Executive; and our participation in the major gubernatorial announcement, at our historic Highland Park elementary School, regarding school construction, regarding the use of Lock Box funds and plans for funding and implementing recommendation from the Commission on Innovation and Excellence (the Kirwan Commission) were high points for the Board of Education. 

I am encouraged by the way the community and our elected official colleagues received the newly constituted Board of Education. I am confident that we will have a great year and achieve the broad goals that we have for our school system: academic excellence for all categories of students; a high performing and supported workforce; a safe and supported workforce; enhanced family and community engagement; and a high level of organizational effectiveness.

Mr. Edward Burroughs also issued his own statement on Facebook as follows:

“In a sign of a major political shift in Prince George’s County, the outspoken leader of a minority bloc on the Board of Education was chosen Thursday night as vice chairman.”

I wasn’t going to say anything until Monday’s announcement. However, this article was published and now everyone knows  I am so thankful to my family, friends, school system advocates, school system employees for making me who I am today. I will work everyday with this amazing group of people to make this system all that it can be! Special Thank you to the AMAZING Accountability Solutions Caucus Raaheela Ahmed David Murray — you both are amazing, thoughtful and courageous public servants (and my family)!! Joshua M. Thomas Welcome to the board my brother! And a very special thank you to the Belinda Queen– the Queen nominated me to serve in this role- and I won’t let you down! I look forward to working with my new brother Paul Monteiro on issues around childhood hunger and the achievement of minority males and my brother Curtis Valentine on fixing our lowest performing Schools! Our Board is under the leadership of THE Alvin Thornton– and I am so honored to be led by this dynamic leader. We have the student board member Amanya Paige – who held a much need mental health event today! I look forward to working with Pamela Boozer-Strother on special education reform — K.A. Wallace and Sonya Perry Williams on south county issues.
The race isn’t given to the swift!

We reprint the entire report by Washington Post below – More new leadership on Prince George’s school board in aftermath of scandals

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Millennial school board members — from left, Raaheela Ahmed, Edward Burroughs III, David Murray and Joshua Thomas — in front of the Prince George’s County administration center, on Nov. 21, in Upper Marlboro. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

By Donna St. George

In a sign of a major political shift in Prince George’s County, the outspoken leader of a minority bloc on the Board of Education was chosen Thursday night as vice chairman.

The move came as a striking change for a 14-member board reshaped by the elections in November.

Edward Burroughs III, 26, the board’s longest-serving member, was selected by board colleagues Thursday night in a decision confirmed by several district officials Friday. A formal announcement is expected Monday.

The move marks a new chapter for the board, where Burroughs was known as a vocal critic of the school system’s previous chief executive during a string of scandals. He was part of a bloc that drew attention to inflated graduation rateslarge pay raises to executive staff and a nearly $800,000 contract payout to outgoing CEO Kevin M. Maxwell.

Now, Burroughs takes a leadership role beside Alvin Thornton, 70, a longtime college professor and education expert recently named board chairman by County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D). Alsobrooks had said that she would let the board select its own vice chairman.

In an interview last week, Burroughs praised Thornton, whom he described as a voice of integrity and experience and “someone we would be honored to learn from and partner with in this work.” Burroughs declined to comment Friday evening, pending an official announcement.

David Murray, a close ally of Burroughs’s on the board, called the new vice chairman “the dean of the board” for his long tenure, having started when he was a 15-year-old student member. Burroughs has served more than a decade and has been elected as an adult three times.

“He’s been here the longest, and he’s dedicated his adult life to the board, really,” Murray said.

Burroughs, who works as coordinator of a juvenile diversion program for the state’s attorney’s office, and Murray are among five elected board members from the millennial generation. All are recent college graduates who attended county schools and say they are deeply connected to the system they grew up in.

Murray said Burroughs’s role will make a difference on issues ahead, including working to boost the district’s lowest-performing schools.

“It’s definitely validating for us as millennials, and for our caucus, and for all of our constituents who were probably feeling voiceless,” Murray said. “It puts us in a position to deliver results.”

Via Washington Post

Read more >>>Youth participation is vital –   Millennials join the school board, not long after high school –

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Edward Burroughs III is one of the millennials now making up a majority of elected members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

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PGCPS School board members urge Redskins to give QB Colin Kaepernick a tryout

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FILE – Int his Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif. Reid has resumed his kneeling protest for human rights during the national anthem, after joining then-teammate Kaepernick’s polarizing demonstration last season. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) ORG XMIT: NYHK702

By Donna St. George

Seven members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education are calling on the Washington Redskins to give NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick an immediate tryout for the injury-plagued Washington football team.

The board members — representing half of the 14-person governing body — said in a letter sent late Thursday that Kaepernick is worthy based on his record, but that their reasoning goes beyond football.

“We believe that giving Kaepernick an opportunity will send the right message to our students and community members, who see him as someone who cares about issues affecting our community,” the board members wrote.

Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season, when he ignited a debate on patriotism and protest as he knelt during the national anthem in a demonstration against racial inequality and police brutality against African Americans. He has inspired other peaceful protests, including by students, but no team has hired him, and in 2017 he filed a collusion grievance against the NFL.

The Washington Post’s Kareem Copeland reported in early December that the Redskins considered bringing Kaepernick in for a workout, but decided against it.

A column posted Friday on FiveThirtyEight asserted picking up Kaepernick might still be a plus.

In the letter to Redskins officials, the Prince George’s board members said if they, like Kaepernick, did not stand for the national anthem, it “wouldn’t cost us the opportunity to work, and it shouldn’t cost him either.”

They thanked the Redskins for charitable work in schools and expressed interest in working with Kaepernick’s philanthropic organization.

FedEx Field, where the Redskins play, is in Prince George’s.

Tony Wyllie, a spokesman for the team, said the Redskins are focused on beating the Jacksonville Jaguars this week but that they respond to all letters mailed to them.

Here is the letter the board members wrote:

Dear Daniel Snyder, Bruce Allen, and Doug Williams,

We’d like to first thank you for the charitable work that your franchise has done and is still doing for Prince George’s County Public Schools. As a school system, we pride ourselves on our ability to prepare our students to take full advantage of all the opportunities available to them. We write you today about a matter that’s on the minds of many Prince Georgians, as well as fans nationwide. Our view is that the Washington Football Team needs to give Colin Kaepernick an opportunity to join the team in a form of a try-out, and need to do so immediately.

Our reasoning goes far beyond football. While it is apparent that Kaepernick is at least deserving of a roster spot based on his track record as an NFL quarterback, we think he merits an opportunity for other reasons. Historically this organization [has] shown leadership in the National Football League. As you know in 1987 Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to lead an NFL team to a Super Bowl victory. For African American boys around America and especially here in the DC area, one didn’t have to look far for inspiration.

Fast forward 30 years, and the need for this franchise to lead the NFL is still there. Giving Kaepernick an opportunity would send an even more powerful message today to our community and our students; that a person can peacefully protest for causes that they believe in and not be punished for it even though they are otherwise qualified for the position.

As school board members our reasons for wanting Kaepernick to get a try-out are simple. We believe that giving Kaepernick an opportunity will send the right message to our students and community members, who see him as someone who cares about issues affecting our community. If signed, we look forward to working with him, and the Washington organization to create the types of programming and spaces for our young people to discuss and debate the issues affecting them. If Kaepernick is signed we hope to work with his philanthropic organization to partner with our most needy students and provide more opportunities for our students.

As school board members, not standing for the national anthem wouldn’t cost us the opportunity to work, and it shouldn’t cost him either.

We look forward to hearing from you, and getting this done for the benefit of Prince Georgians and Redskins fans everywhere. We know that this decision is not an easy one and that there could be backlash. We stand ready to support you in doing the right thing and making a decision that will help the team and our community on and off the field.

Respectfully,

David Murray, Board Member, District 1

Joshua M. Thomas, Board Member, District 2

Belinda Queen, Board Member, District 6

Edward Burroughs, III, Board Member, District 8

Amanya Paige, Student Board Member

Curtis Valentine, Board Member, At Large

Paul Monteiro, Board Member, At Large

Via Washington Post

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and other players have been kneeling during the national anthem in protest of the U.S judicial corruption system. Many courageous researchers, both witnesses to and victims of judicial injustice, extortion, and other nefarious practices, have brought forth their wisdom concerning the state of the US court system and some solutions for its reform. Evidence of corruption has been submitted to the US Supreme Court on numerous times, and the Supreme Court refuses to hear cases. Judges Rarely Rule in Favor of Pro Se Litigants. political interference in the election of judges and in judicial decision, and petty bribery are a major concern in the USA. An effective judiciary guarantees fairness in legal processes. It’s a powerful weapon against corruption. But people’s experiences in court are often far from fair. In some countries, most people in contact with the courts face demands for bribes. Their payments total staggering amounts. Court efficiency is crucial. A backlog of cases creates opportunities for demanding bribes to fast-track a case. Court personnel can be paid to slow down or speed up a trial, or dismiss a complaint.
Judges can also bribe or be bribed, or they can suffer pressure from above. If politicians abuse their power, they can influence decisions and distort appointment processes.

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Proposes new school funding bill for construction as worst fears set in.

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Governor Larry Hogan (left), Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in red dress, Interim PGCPS CEO Monica Goldson and  Dr. Alvin Thornton (far right) during a press conference at Highland Park Elementary School in Landover, Md.

Reform Sasscer Staff.

Washington DC – The bill will be introduced during next year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly and if passed, it will take money from casino revenue and funnel it into fixing up state school buildings. On Tuesday, Governor Larry Hogan held a press conference at Highland Park Elementary School in Landover, Md, unveiling a new plan to fix up Maryland’s schools.

His bill would fund $1.9 billion in school construction over the next 5 years increasing the amount of state money pledged to fixing school buildings to more than $3.5 billion. Hogan said he will submit proposals for Building Opportunity Fund legislation during the 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Hogan told reporters he hopes to receive additional funding to ensure that all Maryland Public School students go to class in air conditioned and heated buildings. “Education has always been our administration’s top priority and today’s announcement represents the largest investment in school construction ever in Maryland history,” Hogan said. “I believe very strongly that every single child in Maryland deserves access to a world-class education regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in, and an important part of that is making sure that all of our students are educated in facilities that are modern, safe, and efficient which provide them with an environment that encourages growth and learning.”

Legislation passed with the governor’s support during the 2018 session created a ballot initiative to ensure casino revenues are used to provide additional funding for Maryland schools. The ballot referendum was approved by nearly 90 percent of Maryland voters in the November election, and will result in an additional $4.4 billion in school funding.

The referendum specifies “public school construction and public school capital improvement” as one of the targeted uses for this additional funding. If enacted, the Building Opportunity Act will provide funding to cover more than 90 percent of the projects requested by local school systems across the state from 2020 to 2024.

If Passed, this would be the largest school construction investment in Maryland history.

Worst Fears

However, there are fears in the community based on the timing of the announcement with some concerned citizens stating that, “Hogan is making an early declaration in order to undermine the Thornton/Kirwan Commission final mandate,” stated a concerned citizen on social media. Read more here (on Kirwan Commission.) Dr. Thornton  whose name has relevance to the Thornton Funding Formula did not speak at all during the brief press conference touching on state funding he helped shape into reality. There are reports that, the state of Maryland might be owing some jurisdictions in Maryland billions of dollars based on the Thornton  formula after ignoring it for many years.

The Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002, commonly referred to as Thornton, established a state school aid formula to ensure that schools and school systems have the resources necessary to provide every child with an adequate and equitable education.

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Dr. Alvin Thornton addresses the crowd at a recent March to Fix the Fund. During the press conference, Dr. Thornton failed to challenge Governor Hogan based on the new state school aid formula being proposed prematurely before Thornton/Kirwan Commission final mandate.

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Washington DC sues Md. parents accused of fake residency to send kids to District schools.

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D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts is seen in this 2018 photo.

WASHINGTON — The D.C. attorney general’s office is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Maryland parents who it claims faked District residency to send their children to prestigious D.C. schools without paying tuition.

Attorney General Racine has filed a total of four lawsuits seeking nearly $700,000 in unpaid tuition as well as potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties.

In one case, Racine’s office said a Maryland mother fabricated D.C. residency to send her child to the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts and also fraudulently enrolled herself and her children in the District’s food stamp program.

In all of the cases, parents submitted bogus addresses on official forms, the attorney general’s office said. The parents “lied repeatedly in documents” attesting to their D.C. residency, the AG’s office said in a news release.

Two of the parents sued by the AG are employees of D.C.’s Department of Corrections.

“Residency fraud, at its bottom, defrauds D.C. residents and D.C. parents and kids of the opportunity to be in the school of their choice.,” Racine told the press in an interview. Some of the schools at issue in the newly filed lawsuits are some of the most highly sought-after schools in Washington D.C., including Duke Ellington and McKinley Tech High School, where families outside the normal attendance zone are stuck in lengthy waiting lists which is part of School lottery.

Washington DC’s school lottery is a balancing act. Designed to give every family a chance at getting into a high-achieving school, the lottery lets parents request seats in schools outside their neighborhoods. The intent is to spread opportunity in a city with uneven schools and keep options open for parents, but the unintended consequence, too often, is disruption.

“So, it’s just not fair to D.C. residents that nonresidents are able to place their kids in schools and D.C. residents have to provide for alternatives,” Racine was quoted as saying.

The AG’s lawsuits are separate from a botched residency fraud investigation by D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent for Education last spring targeting students at the prominent Georgetown arts school. The since-discredited report initially reported that more than 25 percent of students at the high-demand arts school were not actually District residents and improperly attending the school. A revised report issued last month later said more than two-thirds of the 219 students caught up in the probe were wrongly accused.

The Washington DC attorney general takes referrals of residency fraud from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) but conducts its own investigations before suing parents.

“It’s important in these cases that we go through the due diligence of really examining all of the documentation, because, candidly, these cases can be difficult …. We pride ourselves on conducting a thorough investigation that really identifies the wrongdoers and not those who just may have sloppy paperwork,” Racine said.

D.C. public schools and public charter schools are free for District residents to attend. Children who live outside D.C. can apply to attend District schools but must pay tuition, which typically runs between $10,000 and $14,000 per year.

One of the lawsuits — filed against William and Cassandra Harrison, of Brandywine, Maryland in Prince George’s County — claims the couple sent three of their children to D.C. schools between 2012 and 2017, including Duke Ellington, Hyde-Addison Elementary and Hardy Middle School.

In addition, the lawsuit claims Cassandra Harrison fraudulently enrolled herself and her children in the District’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The lawsuit seeks damages of $258,253.

Ionosphere Torres, of Oxon Hill, Maryland, is accused of sending her four children to D.C. schools between 2014 and 2018, including McKinley Technology High School and Wheatley Middle School. The lawsuit seeks $188,196 in unpaid tuition.

Shawn Clark and Donnise Wortham, of Hyattsville, Maryland, are accused of sending two of their children to D.C. schools between 2007 and the current school year, including Ballou High School and Richard Wright Public Charter for Journalism and Media Arts. Both parents are employed by the D.C. Department of Corrections, according to the lawsuit. The suit seeks $192,000 in damages.

Shawn Clark is also named in a second lawsuit alongside Erica Pamela Fowler, also of Hyattsville, Maryland. The lawsuit claims the two sent their child to Capitol Hill Montessori School starting in 2017. The lawsuit is asking for $56,298 in unpaid tuition.

Racine said the D.C. Council has recently upped his office’s budget for handling residency fraud allowing for the hiring of more lawyers and investigations.

In May, the attorney general’s office sued two D.C. police officers and a D.C. teacher who the office said had faked residency and owed the District upward of $800,000 in unpaid tuition.

PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT 

Based on the above scenario and analysis, majority of the parents mentioned in this article are from Prince George’s County, Maryland who seem to have been fleeing a chaotic school system at their home base for a better school life experiences in Washington DC.

In early September 2018, there were reports of Chaos in some Prince George’s County public schools (PGCPS) schools when furious Parents Blamed Interim CEO for lack of Communication and decorum. PGCPS has been a mess for many years now and lack of proper oversight has been costing parents where it hurts the most and that is the wallet. Parental involvement is important in order to help fix the issues together with the administration while avoiding pitfalls like fraudulent schemes. Becoming active in a school’s parent group is an important way to increase involvement. Involvement also encompasses:

  • Setting goals with children and fostering achievement of those goals;
  • Accessing and using children’s academic scores to ensure they’re on track;
  • Frequently viewing the parent portal (or whichever tool their school uses);
  • Developing a relationship with children’s teachers and keeping in touch with them often; and
  • Advocating for improvements in the school building and with local school boards and state and federal government to ensure schools have the resources they need to provide a world class education to every student.

The most significant type of involvement is what parents do at home. By monitoring, supporting and advocating, parents can be engaged in ways that ensure that their children have every opportunity for success. Some of the parents groups in Maryland to help parents navigate through the system are online as listed on Facebook and on twitter. (See below).

Great schools are a basic right and our shared responsibility. To all parents and families, “thank you” for being part of the education team and part of this blog. Find out more on how parents and families can contribute to student success by visiting any of the above groups and sharing your concerns or ideas to innovate the county schools and Maryland as a whole.

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McKinley Tech High School

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PGCPS Facing a Shortage of School Nurses following an expose.

nurse web banner.jpgReform Sasscer Staff

Following our exposé on October 22nd, 2018, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) has begun an aggressive push to hire nurses for 28 vacancies across its 208 public schools. According to PGCPS Chief of Special Education and Student Services Gwendolyn Mason, the school system has 28 vacancies of full-time school nurses as of Nov. 16, but the school system has been aggressively searching to fill the void that has existed for at least five years.

LESS THAN HALF OF THE country’s public schools employ a full-time nurse, and in some of the worst cases – largely in poor, urban school systems in United States – there’s only one school nurse for every 4,000 students. It’s in this background that we wrote an expose on October 22nd following a parent complaint at Beltsville academy.

“This absolutely has real consequences,” says Beth Mattey, president of the National Association of School Nurses. “If you have a child who isn’t healthy, who doesn’t feel well, who has a toothache, they will not learn. School nurses keep kids in schools.”

As a result, teachers, principals and administrative staff are tending to playground cuts, doling out medication, keeping tabs on food allergies, and watching the blood sugar levels of students with diabetes.

The problem isn’t new. School districts have steadily shed school nurse staff since the early 2000s as budgets tightened heading into the Great Recession. But since then, most districts haven’t made a concerted effort to rehire and instead have opted to rotate nurses among schools.

In 2016,  lawmakers introduced legislation to allow schools or districts to apply for federal grants to reduce the cost of hiring a nurse. The measure, however, failed as did  not have Republican backing at the time. The NURSE Act was supported by the National Association of School Nurses, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Trust for America’s Health. You can read what they were saying about the bill here.

We reprint the entire report by Prince George’s County Sentinel below – PGCPS FACING A SHORTAGE OF SCHOOL NURSES

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UPPER MARLBORO — One of many school systems across the nation facing a shortage of full-time school nurses, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is currently dealing with 28 vacancies across its 208 public schools.

According to PGCPS Chief of Special Education and Student Services Gwendolyn Mason, the school system has 28 vacancies of full-time school nurses as of Nov. 16, but the school system has been aggressively searching to fill the void that has existed for at least five years.

A news release put out by PGCPS in June 2013 said that the school system was immediately hiring qualified Registered Nurses (RN) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN).

The release followed a report by the Washington Post just six months earlier that said about 10 percent of the county’s schools did not have full time a nurse at the time. Now the school system is intensifying their search strategies as the number of vacancies seem to keep growing.

“We really want to help all of our schools get nurses, and we work tirelessly each day in our recruiting efforts, and we want to make sure that when we hire staff, they are also qualified to be able to support a school environment as well,” Mason said.

In order to attract nurses to PGCPS, the school system has used strategies such as job fairs and consulting with the Prince George’s County Department of Health throughout the school year, Mason said.

Due to the shortage, RN’s may be assigned to more than one school. This is especially true in some high schools that, after assessing the medical acuity of the school, were found to need more than one nurse due to the size and their medical needs.

“We place nurses in schools with a large acuity rate, so meaning it’s based on the population of the students in the school, depending on how severe their needs are, we make sure that they have nurses before potentially a school that when you look at the student assessment you realize they don’t have as many health needs as another,” said Interim CEO Monica Goldson.

On top of having RN’s and LPN’s, they also have nurse managers who are assigned to support schools that do not have a full-time nurse on a daily basis. The nurse manager is in charge of assessing the medical acuity of a school, having a consultation with the principal, ensuring that the principal has a resource document that provides guidance in medical situations and speaks with the parents to be fully aware of children who may have more medical needs.

Additionally, PGCPS may contract out nurses from various private organizations and agencies to help fill the gaps, Goldson said.

While Prince George’s County has utilized several different strategies to compensate, the lack of nurses is not a problem that this county alone faces.

“The nursing shortage is not a state shortage, it’s a national shortage,” Mason said. “So all health institutions have been impacted by the critical need for nurses and vacancies that exist in that area. And so Prince George’s County’s challenge is a reflection of what we’re experiencing at a national level.”

According to a study done by The National Education Association, most states are currently facing a severe shortage of school nurses. Utah is the state with the least amount of nurses with 4,893 students per school nurse while Vermont is the most well-equipped with 275 students per nurse and Hawaii has no school RN’s at all.

Maryland falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum with 913 students per nurse.

Despite Prince George’s County’s attempts to fill their vacancies, neighboring counties are faring a lot better. Howard County Public Schools only has two vacancies for full-time nurses. Montgomery County Public Schools has a different system where their nurses are provided by the county health department and therefore do not have shortages.

In Anne Arundel County, their nurses are provided by the health department as well, and while nurses may be responsible for two or three elementary schools, depending on enrollment numbers, they assign at least one full-time nurse to each high school and middle school.

Charles County also does not have any schools without nurses; there was a vacancy that could not be filled with a permanent nurse, it would be assigned to an agency nurse. Charles County school nurses are also employees of the county Health Department.

While PGCPS is working daily to fill their vacancies, teachers and parents are still left with concerns.

“Every school doesn’t have a nurse, it’s crazy,” said Potomac High School PTSA President Valerie Randall. “If something really happens, who is trained in the school to handle it if it’s a serious medical emergency? Is there a protocol?”

Bianca Giosa, who teaches at Potomac High School, said it is extremely disconcerting to know that there is no nurse in her school and if an emergency really were to happen she and the other teachers would not know what to do.

“It’s heartbreaking when they ask ‘Ms. Giosa, I need to go to the nurse, is there someone here today?’ and I don’t know what to tell them,” she said. “It’s a liability, and it’s scary that there are children with allergies and chronic health concerns and you’re responsible for them, but you don’t have those resources there to keep them physically safe.”

Goldson said teachers and parents have reached out to her to express their concerns, and she makes it a point to share that information to expedite PGCPS’ search efforts.

“They do reach out and I share that information with our supervisor for nurses and our chief of HR, so we do ongoing recruitment of nurses throughout the school year,” Goldson said. “We don’t just do it when it’s right before the opening of schools.”

Utilizing nursing agencies and contractors are PGCPS’s critical efforts at this point in addition to the ongoing search for permanent nurses, Mason said.

“We will expand our search and make our needs known throughout the state of Maryland, and we will see what that generates for us,” she said. “So we will continue to move forward each and every week aggressively, work with human resources. We monitor this in our district, and we are committed to trying to address this as well as looking at the utilization of our model to help us.”

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Police officers sue Prince George’s County, Md., alleging racial discrimination

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Credit: Prince George’s County Police Department

By Lynh Bui Lynh Bui

A group of officers filed a lawsuit in federal court against Prince George’s County, alleging that the police department discriminates against black and Hispanic employees and retaliates against those who report racist or inappropriate conduct involving white officers.

Two police associations representing black and Hispanic officers and 12 current and former officers filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Maryland. They assert that the department denies officers of color promotions and disciplines them more harshly than white officers. The suit also accuses the department of unfairly transferring, demoting or firing those who complain of biased treatment, creating an environment that fosters distrust between police and the community.

“Many of our officers have witnessed abuses of people of color in our community, only to be retaliated against once they have reported the incidents,” said Joseph Perez, president of the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association. “We need to ensure that when there is doubt, officers are confident to bring forth inquiries without fear of retaliation.”

A spokeswoman for Prince George’s County police said she could not comment on the lawsuit, citing the pending litigation.

Among the complaints, the lawsuit accuses police leadership of failing to appropriately discipline white officers who have circulated text messages about bringing “back public hangings” or who have asked black officers whether they are “hungry for chicken.”

The lawsuit is the latest action in ongoing complaints by officers of color, who last year asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate their concerns.

Officials with the Justice Department would not comment Wednesday on the “existence or nonexistence” of an investigation.

Deborah Jeon, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, which is backing the officers’ lawsuit, said the employment section of the Justice Department’s civil rights division is conducting the probe. Jeon said federal investigators have continued to interview officers in their review of employment practices in the Prince George’s police force.

The new county executive, Angela D. Alsobrooks (D), said she had not had a chance to review the lawsuit.

“Any allegation of discrimination, whether it be in the police department or any agency, will be taken very seriously,” she said at a news conference, adding, “We’re not afraid, should we find it necessary, to hold people accountable.”

But in her new role, she said, “I think I need an opportunity . . . to hear first what the allegations are. Not just from these officers, but to have an opportunity as well to look at the agency, to hear from others in the agency and to get a sense for what the culture is there.”

Alsobrooks was most recently state’s attorney, the county’s top prosecutor. “What I can tell you is this is an immensely successful department, and I’ve been able to work with the chief as state’s attorney. I have not had an opportunity to work with him as county executive,” she said. “I look forward to doing that, and to learning — again not just from these officers, but from others — about what the experience has been, and to analyze it fresh for myself as county executive.”

In addition to the ACLU of Maryland, the officers’ lawsuit is backed by the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Officials from both organizations said racially biased employment practices in a law enforcement agency can harm the community being policed by that agency’s officers.

“Any police department that fosters a culture of racial harassment and retaliation against officers of color within its ranks can’t hope to gain the community trust and support that is so necessary for achieving better public safety for everyone,” said Dana Vickers Shelley, executive director of the ACLU of Maryland. “Officers who speak out against misconduct and racism should be praised, not punished.”

Some of the officers who say they have been unfairly targeted have complained of white officers using racial epithets to describe minority officers, according to the lawsuit, which also contends that white officers called minority communities “s—holes” or “ghettoes.”

Perez and others have called for the ouster of Prince George’s Police Chief Hank Stawinski, who is named in the lawsuit along with other public-safety leaders in the county. The lawsuit said officers have brought their concerns to the attention of Stawinski and other police leaders but have seen no action.

“Chief Stawinski has effectively condoned this behavior by failing to discipline appropriately the perpetrators, fostering an environment where racist conduct unacceptable in today’s society is allowed to persist,” the lawsuit asserts. The message is clear, the lawsuit claims: “Racist and other unprofessional behavior by White officers will be condoned, Officers of Color who complain about the conduct will be punished, and Officers of Color who engage in any infraction will be severely disciplined and/or driven from the force.”

The lawsuit seeks an independent monitor to ensure fairness of disciplinary procedures within the department. It also demands the department reinstate officers it says were wrongfully terminated, compensate them for lost wages and expunge their related disciplinary records.

Thomas Boone, president of the United Black Police Officers Association, said he was demoted to patrol recently for continually bringing his concerns to the attention of the department. Boone said he flagged disparities in performance in psychological evaluations between white applicants and applicants of color to his supervisors before one of them told him to stop and gave him a bad performance evaluation.

“We’re calling on the police department,” Boone said, “to enact fair policies and procedures.”

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