Monthly Archives: May 2013

PGCPS Custodian Sexually Assaulted…

… by Former PGCPS Student

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Drew Emory Joiner was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a custodian at his former high school.

By  Mila Mimica |  Thursday, May 30, 2013  |  Updated 10:58 PM EDT

A 19-year-old man was arrested this week for sexually assaulting a custodian at his former high school. According to Prince George’s County police, the alleged assault occurred after-hours at Gwynn Park High School Tuesday. (Read more NBC News)

Drew Emory Joiner has been charged with second degree assault and fourth degree sex offense.

Officials with the school district told News4 a letter was sent to parents of Gwynn Park students Wednesday, stating an assault had occurred after-hours Tuesday.

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(Read more our top priorities as of June 1, 2013)

According to The Washington Informer (3/27/2013), “School board member Carletta Fellows said the board doesn’t function as a ‘dedicated and effective advocate’ for children and is more concerned with personal attacks.”

According to the Washington Post (4/30/2013), “He [Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker] believes that the school system is in need of repair and that if this isn’t done, the county will struggle to draw new businesses and residents as it competes with wealthier counties that have better schools.”

Education Forum 2 More Town Halls.

Mr. Rushern Baker and NAACP Prince George’s County, Maryland Branch Announcement

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Mr. Baker

State of Education in Prince George’s County

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Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and the local branch of the NAACP are the latest to announce education forums before new governance changes kick in this summer. Executive Baker will host a forum tonight at the South Bowie Library. The NAACP will host another forum on the 30th at the District Heights Municipal Center.

County Executive Rushern Baker’s Education Forum
South Bowie Branch Library
15301 Hall Road Bowie, MD
Auditorium
May 28th – 6:30PM to 8:30 PM

District Heights Municipal Center
2000 Marbury Drive
District Heights, MD
May 30th – 7PM -9PM

Contraband smuggled into PGCPS with money meant to stimulate the economy is part of multi-billion-dollar money laundering operations that damage legitimate businesses, undermining PG County’s bid to reinvent itself as a thriving economy after decades of corruption, political and drugs violence. Let us hit these points heads on and other issues of concern as we discuss the future.

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“The battle is not mine. Always aim high in life and God will be with you. Fear no man. God bless.” ~ Francine

The PGCPS Audacity to squander:

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OUTRAGE: Principals’ watches, microwave ovens, dinner cruises etc

It has finally come out.  $167,000 of frivolous and unwarranted expenditure in the midst of depravity and there is more.  What gives these vogues the gall to perpetrate such daring and mind boggling unethical acts? Is it something in the PGCPS waters or do they simply take us for morons or simpletons?

These acts of wanton unaccountability have to cease by taking the right actions after identifying the culprits. Enough is enough. What is the justification that PGCPS gets money and what are their motives by buying Gold Watches, jewelry, paraphernalia, what next?  Autographed designer underwear and shapeless bras??

What has come out of this audit confirms what we have been saying all along. Maybe now the honest citizens of PG County will finally wake up and speak out against such flagrant abuse of power and public coffers.  (Read more Washington Examiner ) (NBC News)

Misappropriation of public funds is not, though, the only act of corruption. Corrupt practices are many and varied. Corrupt practices range from misappropriation of public funds and deliberate misuse of public property to demanded enormous tips for favours or for routine services. Racism and discrimination are also corrupt practices which may happen in all aspects of life and have been going on in this PG district for a long time.

More than ever, nations around the world are enacting new laws and cooperating with each other to fight corruption. The change is driven by growing recognition that corruption inhibits economic growth and limits nations’ development potential. Companies like Cisco, Coca cola et al are expected to police their operations to make sure anticorruption laws are observed.

In the wake of the morally dead situation involving various unethical lapses involving several Board members here in Prince George’s county, we must do something to stop the problem. If the Board members were well-trained, they would not have engaged in Outrageous BOE Featherbedding. They could have requested assistance of teachers in their District  as helpers who could provide these services at no additional costs.

This means that all of us need to be aware of the broader regulatory scope and potential risks. The things that count as bribery are more than what you might think. And the rules apply around the world, even in countries where corruption seems deep-seated.

bribery1OVERVIEW

Corruption violates the public’s trust, threatens national and international economic and social development, and substantially impedes fair trade. To combat corruption, most, if not all, of the schools with the county, elected representatives must enact anti-corruption laws and regulations.

Pursuant to these laws and regulations, it would be generally a crime to give, pay, or promise “anything of value” in order to influence an act or a decision; obtain, retain, or direct business; or secure an improper advantage of any kind.

PGCPS Internal Anti-Corruption Training

PGCPS must require the following personnel to complete global anti-corruption training:

  • Superintendent of Schools
  • Board of Education Chairperson, vice Chairperson and all the other Board of Education (BOE) members.
  • Senior administrators involved in Management of resources.
  • Legal personnel, except those who do not perform transactional work or provide compliance advice.
  • Principals, Assistant Principals
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Central senior staff involved in directing policy.
  • Employees in sales, marketing, or services organizations who are directly involved in sales transactions with customers or channel partners or distributors who are located outside the United States if any.
  • Employees located outside the United States who are in the sales, marketing, or services organizations if any etc.

PGCPS Partner Anti-Corruption Training

PGCPS also requires our channel partners, distributors, and sales-supporting consultants to complete anti-corruption training. Partners may register and complete this training (This can be developed and downloaded on-line with assistance of project management led by Ms. Lisa Price).

Legal Due Diligence Process

As a part of its process to select and retain the most qualified business partners who share similar values, PGCPS must learn to follow the legal due diligence steps outlined below. “Business partner” here means any PGCPS Board member, reseller, systems integrator, distributor, sales agents, or  sales-supporting consultant, legal representative such Thatcher Law firm  et al.

Step One: Business Partner completes PGCPS’s on-line questionnaire.

Step One: Business Partner partner completes PGCPS’s on-line questionnaire. The process begins with the business partner’s completion of a short (under 30 minutes) on-line questionnaire.

The questionnaire includes a certification that the business partner’s representative has completed PGCPS’s Partner Anti-Corruption Training.

Step Two: PGCPS completes an internal review.

Once the business partner such as Thatcher Law firm has submitted its responses to the on-line questionnaire (including completion of the training), a PGCPS due diligence team will receive notice of the submission and review the partner’s responses. The due diligence team will directly contact the business partner if it has any questions about the partner’s responses or seeks other information.

Separately, PGCPS channel and other business organizations undertake to carefully review the business partner’s business qualifications, certifications, sales, etc., according to PGCPS’s global channel partner program requirements. If the business partner is a distributor, PGCPS’s internal Distribution Review Board will review the partner’s qualifications, etc.

Step Three: PGCPS makes the final determination to bring the business partner onboard or renew its contract.

The last step involves PGCPS’s final determination whether to bring onboard a new partner and/or renew an existing business partner’s contract. If PGCPS elects to go forward with either a new or a renewing business partner, its channel or other business teams will work with the business partner to finalize and execute the appropriate contract.

For some types of contracts or renewals, PGCPS encourages its business partners to accept the contract through an electronic “click to accept” tool as a quick and efficient way to complete the contracting process. Once adopted, the process will eliminate “No bid contract”  debacle as shown by Thatcher law firm fiasco in 2011.

Technology cannot fight corruption. People can.

An online site is not a solution a lone. It is merely a tool. One cannot iterate this statement enough. Technology can empower citizens, raise awareness and pressure authorities. Yet, technology cannot fight corruption; it cannot change cultures, detect problems, propose solutions or amend laws. People can. As we are building online tools, we should remember their raison d’être: they should be part of a broader strategy of engagement and participation.

However, we are hopeful that technology if applied properly in PGCPS will result in systemic change and strengthen transparency and accountability initiatives. With the growing use of IT by the government and all sectors, transparency measures will become embedded in the system.

Citizens need to have a way to hold their government to account and to ensure that the laws on the books to stop corruption are actually enforced. This is particularly true in countries, states and counties where there is endemic corruption like in PG.

Independent oversight by civil society is the best way to check and challenge those who might use entrusted power for personal gain, our definition of corruption.

Civil society functions are the eyes and ears of citizens and PG County NAACP among others needs to stay active to make the local government and Unions accountable.

The PGCPS status quo of continuous unabated corruption, conmanship, gerrymandering and professional misconduct involving the Sasscer adminstation with the support of the unions and other conspirators etc is not the answer!

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FIGHT CORRUPTION IN PGCPS DISTRICT.

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School Bus tour courtesy Department of Education.

Every person in Prince George’s County wants corruption eradicated everywhere including the county schools. Even after previous county Executive Jack Johnson went to jail, problems continues to rigor in several aspects.  We argue County Executive Rushern Baker to remain resolute to combat corruption in PG County government and within the school system as promised.  Adopting a zero tolerance is the only policy to restore public confidence in addition to the deployment of technology to tackle the tricksters after the passage of PG Bill 410

Cutting edge technology will give us the upper hand to combat the cancer that is corruption at all levels in County government including schools. People are sick to death of it and now demand change. Half-hearted gestures are not enough. Real action is required with zero tolerance. This is what we ask. This is what we demand of our local government.

The Police, the judiciary, procurement of government tenders and taxation are a den of corruption which must be tackled with highest level of urgency. There must be open and fair competition of tenders etc. The process must be transparent and traceable including our school system. Prince George’s County is going to lead the way to reform and reparation were necessary.

The Police are the law NOT above it. The same goes for every other civil servant in the County.

ZERO TOLERANCE FOR CORRUPTION

  1. In many cases, members of the network have close relations with organized crime, some may be engaged in illegal trade, and are able to deposit their corruptly gained funds in “secrecy jurisdictions” from where it may be recycled into the domestic economy or kept away secretly.
  2. Corruption is a major threat facing humanity. “Corruption destroys lives and communities and undermines countries and institutions. It generates popular anger that threatens to further destabilize societies and exacerbate violent conflicts in some cultures. Corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors, attend schools or to get access to clean drinking water in some places. It leads to failure in the delivery of basic services like education or health care as seen here in PG county. It derails the building of essential infrastructure, as corrupt leaders skim funds.”
  3. Corrupt tendencies can lead to the total degradation of a state. “A combination of highly corrupt procurement procedures, the diversion of budgetary funds from social expenditure, irresponsible foreign investment, and the accelerated degradation of natural resources can create the circumstances for a ‘failed state.’
  4. The other factor that complicates anti-corruption efforts in the region like PG County, is the fact that the officials mandated to fight corruption participate in it themselves. Immense government interference continues to thwart anti-corruption efforts and we must fight these practices together in order to benefit the less fortunate in our society. Previous county executive went to jail to set an  example to many and it is our hope the same calamity will never revisit.
  5. The international community, state and local leaders needs to recognize that so far, reform of corruption has been extremely limited in many places throughout the world including PG County. The momentum needs to be maintained. The challenges of this century can only be met successfully if the corruption dimension is built into policy action.

“Without this, action to combat corruption at county level will be flawed and progress on the issues of the 21st century will be hostage to the many and burgeoning forces of corruption,” Let us work together and continue to demand proper changes and the right policies. Leaders who are tainted must go on their own. Those who have taken what is not theirs must return.  We have had enough. Enough is enough. Let us keep our leaders honest by demanding for the right answers.

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Washington Post Presents…

State of Education in Prince George’s County Town Hall

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What kind of school superintendent does Prince George’s County need right now? What will be the results of this spring’s dramatic change in which County Executive Rushern Baker will select the superintendent and the chairman and vice chairman of an expanded Board of Education? Join The Washington Post for a discussion of these and other hot-button school issues in Prince George’s during the second installment in a three-part Behind the Headlines discussion series on the state of education in the Washington area. The series launched in the District on April 24 at The Post and will conclude on September 18 at Fairfax High School in Fairfax County, Va. 

Robert McCartney, Columnist and Former Assistant Managing Editor, The Washington Post will moderate the forum.  The panel will include Del. Jolene Ivey (D), Chair, Prince George’s House Delegation, Maryland General Assembly; Verjeana M. Jacobs, Chair, Prince George’s County Board of Education; Earnest L. Moore, President, Prince George’s County PTA Council; Christian Rhodes, Education Policy Adviser, Office of the Prince George’s County Executive; and Ovetta Wiggins, Prince George’s Education Reporter, The Washington Post. 

Date:  Thursday, May 23 
Time:  6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m. 
Location: Prince George’s Community College 
                 Largo Student Center – Community Rooms A, B, C 
                 301 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, MD  20774 
                 Free parking will be available. 

Admission: FREE (Seating is limited, so please arrive early)                                           
                                                               
To RSVP and submit a question for the panel, please e-mail behindtheheadlines@washpost.com.  All questions and RSVP’s must be submitted byThursday, May 23 at Noon. 

Go to www.washingtonpost/education for the latest coverage and analysis of schools, home school and education policy for DC, Maryland and Virginia.

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Outrageous BOE Featherbedding of $2 million @Sasscer

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OUTRAGEOUS!!

It appears like the current Board led by verjeana Jacobs has dropped another bomb shell by continuing to act like a Mafia staffing the court in its waning days. (Read more) (More)  This is the blatant abuse of Board power and a continuation of the epicenter. For the last several months, we have been warning about this board’s unethical and unabashed wayward behavior.

The actions of the Verjeana Jacobs led board prove our point that something needs to change urgently.

This same Board of education (BOE) cut media specialist positions and reading recovery positions 2 years ago. They still refuse attempts to provide a full-time art teacher to all schools. They allow an eighth grade Algebra class to have 43 students, and Kindergarten and 1st grade classes with 30 students.Embezzlement~~element61

The BOE members featherbedding of $2 million is a daring move right in the middle of a recession, layoffs and furloughs in the county. These egocentric and selfish actions confirm everything we have been saying in our blogs. They have been taking away from innocent kids while pretending to help them. The elected school board needs to be dissolved in our view. It is loaded with crooks, schemers and some who are not so educated led by Ms. Jacobs, who is the worst of the bunch and taking advantage of the situation. Admiration to Ms. Donna Hathaway Beck (District 9) for standing firm and Ms. Carletta Fellows, M.A.Ed. (District 7) for keeping away from this unethical practice.

There is No smoke without fire and now this is even a major reason to support Baker: Their so-called $7000 in travels voucher and petty cash needs to be confiscated.  It’s an abuse not only here in PGCPS but has been abused elsewhere.  Let them bring receipts for a refund. Reform Sasscer Movement believes that Ms. Carletta Fellows tribulations was a set up by Ms. Jacobs in order to way lay her in the upcoming expanded BOE.

We are clearly outraged. How in the world does an outgoing board have the audacity to appoint not one but fifteen (15) strategic employees (lobbyists)? What is their motivation? Surely, they are not doing this to decrease the unemployment rate! There is nothing benevolent or philanthropic about this board’s action. The citizens of PG County should rise and demand that these appointments be annulled.

This is not a board game of checkers considering the budget constraints. The least the board could do is act responsibly and return the money.

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The Rot at PGCPS Sasscer.

The Epicenter of the PGCPS Corruption:

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PGCPS Chief Board of Education Legal Counsel and manipulator of Labor relations office – Abbey Hairston.

There are serious problems with our education system today in Prince George’s County public schools (PGCPS).  The school system, whether discussing the schools or the Unions, within the PGCPS school district offer perspective that is not cordial to the perspective of students, staff and parents of the community. Most teachers enter the education field armed with enthusiasm, hope and a desire to positively impact the children. The agents of PGCPS have proven through their conduct that all teachers don’t share those characteristics.  But what is more regretful is that some of the teachers who do have those characteristics are antagonized for their virtues and/or penalized in their efforts to spread those virtues.

If only for the sake of ensuring accountability and redress, these issues need to be brought to light. The School system’s compliance with its duty to the community has to be achieved.  But more importantly, it has to be prioritized in a proper and in an accountable way. A rush to create an additional 15 positions directly answerable to the board as a whole or its members only and without proper scrutiny by the incoming leaders et al, is an affront to undermine the future leadership using corruption.  The PGCPS Board led by Ms. Verjeana Jacobs has similar characteristics to those of Miller County schools and Dekalb schools in Georgia.

The reformation of the PGCPS unions is a necessary step in the reconstruction; the lack of representation provided by the unions and their inadequate grievance address will not fit, or be tolerated, in the reformation.  While this article won’t be able to address all of the problems in the PGCPS education system, the elevation of Mr. James Whattam as the Director of Labor Relations is a start.  Mr. James Whattam, who retired from Maryland State Educator Association, is awarded by PGCPS with a paycheck for his protection of corruption.  In exchange, PGCPS maintains status quo or advances the corruption.  When James Whattam could no longer forward the corrupt objectives of PGCPS, he was vested with the privilege of appointing someone who would continue the tradition.  Mr. Damon Felton Esq was pleased to continue in James Whattam’s destructive footsteps at the Maryland State Educator Association (MSEA).  There is clear conflict of interest, regardless of the angle from which you examine Mr. Felton’s appointment.

The continuation of Mr. James Whattam, or any one that is appointed by him,  is a continuation of Union corruption in Maryland.  Mr. James Whattam has asserted the message:  “Long Live Shenanigans”.

As the new age of the school system approaches, identification and accountability will prove to be priceless. In the spirit of identification and accountability, the Director of Employee and Labor Relations must be identified as a key culprit in the institutionalization and furtherance of corruption.  Although Mr. Whattam is identified as the Director, an internal PGCPS document labels “Kathy Jones” as the Director of Employee and Labor Relations. Moreover, Mr. James R. Whattam, Esq., is a lawyer who functions out of both the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Employee and Labor Relations.  Mr. Whattam is covering all of the bases!

Anyone else would be under suspicion for fraud (at the very least), misrepresentation (at the most), and conflict-of-interest (certainly).  However, only the faction of the community that challenges the corruption come under scrutiny, to put it mildly.Corruption

The newly-formed ethics panel (Chaired by Sidney Gibson and Vice-Chaired by Lilia B. True) and the law enforcement community are vested with the task of weeding out the BOE’s entrenched corruption that has proven costly to all.  While the ethics panel and this community may not have the cadre of lawyers that the BOE has/had at its arsenal, we have the truth and an unwillingness to accept any alternative to community progress and empowerment.

The Reform Sasscer team, which is composed of professionals, teachers, students and parents, advocates innovation, fiscal stability and transparency for the purpose of redress PGCPS corruption. A considerable portion of corruption emanates from the Office of Chief Legal Counsel and Labor Relations.  Both offices can say “job well done” after they have paid off attorneys, including hearing examiners reviewing worker-related cases.

There is no question that the epicenter of the corruption in all Prince George’s county public schools (PGCPS) owes its existence to the General Counsel’s office, which was managed by previous Chief legal officer Mr. Roger Thomas Esq.  When Roger Thomas Esq. could no longer sustain the corruption, Mr. James R. Whattam picked up the torch.  James R. Whattam now wields the power and commands the community’s lawyers in the direction of the school system’s destruction. We must collectively demand and end to this culture.

A closer look into the General Counsel’s office demonstrates that the corruption is second-nature to the office; previous Chief Human Resouces Synthia J. Kucner and (Director of Employee and Labor Relations) James R. Whattam, Esq. are both affiliated with the Office of General Counsel. Synthia J. Shilling aka Kucner was formerly the Deputy General Counsel before becoming the chief Human Resources Officer. According to reports in Washington post, she had been caught red-handed several times drunk driving. (Read more).

Furthermore, as indicated above, Mr. James Whattam Esq. formerly worked with the teacher’s union as legal representative. This definitely creates a conflict of interest at many levels and promotes Union corruption. Someone should investigate how many positions/titles these individual actually have. According to the school system website, Mr. Whattams office is supposed to conduct thorough and timely investigations for employees and students filing harassment/discrimination claims.  The functions of the Employee and Labor Relations are so integral that those functions are expressly enunciated.

Employee and Labor Relations – Also referred to as The Employee and Labor Relations Office (ELRO) Works to provide the following;

  1. Works cooperatively with all departments within the school system to address employee performance and conduct concerns in such a manner as to maximize student achievement.
  2. ELRO is also responsible for the facilitation of effective and efficient operations through the maintenance of positive relations with the labor organizations representing school system employees.
  3. ELRO provides assistance, training and support to employees requesting reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and conducts thorough and timely investigations for employees and students filing harassment/discrimination claims.

To enhance their corrupt illegal activities, the legal department awarded a $5 million legal tender to Thatcher law Firm to represent PGCPS and Dr. William Hite.  That award was implemented in the absence of any competitive bind against the rules of Board of Education in 2011 (Read the story here). The said law firm (Thatcher law Firm) is being used to conduct illegal activities in support of corrupt agendas, which include the bribery of attorneys and the defense of illegal activities against staff with legitimate cases. Tax payer’s money is being used by the legal department; all the while, Mr. James Whattam and Verjeana Jacobs are undermining transparency and accountability with no opposition.  In addition, the Thatcher Law Firm led by Ms. Abbey Hairston, awarded close to $8,000 towards political contributions to the chairman of the Board of Education, Mrs. Verjeana M. Jacobs Esq.  That award created a conflict of interest in light of the $5,000,000 that was awarded. This is unacceptable. The future Board should demand a return of this money from Thatcher law firm. Failure to do this, corruption would have been rewarded.However, that is not true. This office is involved in deep-rooted corruption, which includes systematic delays and the tampering of evidence.  The corruption does not end with that office.  That office also engages in corruption with the Unions. The office is the center of corrupt Union politics and should be abolished at a minimum. As the school’s reformation demonstrates a new idea, hiring new attorneys to achieve these reformations is the only logical next step.

A reform of the PGCPS Board of Education in the absence of a “clean house sweep” will create some accountability but might not result in the reform needed to improve PGCPS. It is important to take a closer look into the activities of this office and the role it has played in denying job opportunities to staff, as well as educational opportunities to thousands of students. For example: Ms. Synthia J. Shilling, Esq. was in the center of a Filipino teacher’s fiasco (read the story here), Roger Thomas Esq. has been involved in shady deals, which includes questionable contracts involving Washington Plaza and Dr. Andrea Horsby , who is now serving jail time.  The illegal tender activities and other questionable tricks of the trade are endless, just like the list of practitioners, which includes Jack Johnson.  Jack Johnson’s pay to play corruption is still alive in the PGCPS. (Others read article here).

The time has come to seek new and fresh leadership for General Counsel Office within PGCPS, thus severing all ties of corruption. Roger Thomas Esq was in that position for close to 19 years before being fired for corruption (read more). He left the county with his corruption exposed.  To our surprise, the other attorneys associated with him did not take a hint to resign on their own.  While the other attorney’s acknowledgement for the need of redress would have been nice, any step toward address is welcome.  If the incoming board of education would not do anything to enact any change in this office now, we are asking the general public to exercise its right and vote them out once and for all in the future elections. The Board of education has power to do many things; they can suspend with or without pay pending investigations. They can terminate their employees!  Despite the endless ability to scrutinize their employees, the Board of Education has not applied that review to themselves.  Let us demand full investigations concerning this office and let the chips fall where they may. Time has come for the school system to move in a new direction, beginning on June 1, 2013. We are watching!

General Counsel provides advice on legal representation, including:

  1. The Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools, Executive staff, and principals
  2. Supervises and manages legal services provided through attorneys in Office of General Counsel
  3. Supervision and oversight on liability and litigation claims
  4. Advice of counsel and legal representation in areas of student support services and student appeals
  5. Advice of counsel in areas of procurement, CIP, business and finance, contracts, leases, MOUs
  6. Represent the Board and Administration in appeals before Maryland State Board of Education
  7. Legal counsel and representation in all other substantive legal services areas provided through the Office of General Counsel.

Once again, as we have  articulated before, the PGCPS status quo of continuous unabated corruption, conmanship, gerrymandering and professional misconduct involving the current Sasscer adminstration with the support of the corrupt unions and other conspirators etc, is not the answer!

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Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County

“Our hope for the future depends also on our resolution as a nation in dealing with the scourge of corruption.” ~ Nelson Mandela

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