Monthly Archives: April 2016

Former Prince George’s school board member sentenced for school-lunch theft

Lyn Mundey

Lynette Mundey, 34 claims she has been singled out because of her race, and because she raised tough questions while on the board.

Upper Marlboro MD — A former member of the Prince George’s County school board has been sentenced to probation for using an assistance program for low-income families to get free school lunches for her own child.

Lynette Mundey, 34, was convicted in February on charges that she misused the free school lunch program, intended for families with a combined annual income of $40,000 or less.
When she was indicted, Mundey was making $93,000 annually as an education board member and a federal employee. The lunches were valued at about $1,700.

On Friday, she was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

Mundey was, and is, a federal employee of the Government Accountability Office, and it was that agency that discovered that she was one of six GAO employees from the county who had underreported their incomes to qualify for the program for their children.

In court, Mundey’s attorney said Mundey is on paid administrative leave from the GAO and is in the process of being fired. Mundey resigned suddenly from the school board last June; she was indicted in August.

Prosecutor Jeremy Robbins told the court that Mundey used an inactive social service case number to defraud the school system. Outside the courtroom, Mundey said that number had been legitimately assigned to her years earlier.

Mundey maintains that she only made a mistake in leaving the income field on a form blank and did not intend to deceive the government into thinking she had no income. She also claims she has been singled out because of her race, and because she raised tough questions while on the board.

“We treated this case the same way we treat all cases,” said John Erzen, spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office. “She broke the law, and she was convicted of breaking the law after a trial and was held accountable.”

In handing down the sentence, Judge Michael Pearson said similar theft cases would not result in jail time. However, he admonished Mundey for an outburst she displayed when the jury verdict came back, calling her behavior “appalling” and “absolutely ridiculous.”

Erzen said he hopes this case sends a message to would-be financial criminals: “It’s not worth it, we will hold you accountable, you will end up with a felony conviction,” he said. “That’s something you carry with you for the rest of your life.”

>>>via WTOp


Former Md. education official to be sentenced in free-school-lunch fraud case

Lyn Mundey

Lynette Mundey became upset and had to be removed from the courtroom

A former Maryland education official is scheduled for sentencing Friday morning after she was convicted of fraudulently obtaining free school lunches.

A jury convicted Lynette Mundey of felony theft, welfare fraud and other related charges in February after a federal investigation found she stole more than $1,700 worth of subsidized lunches over about four years.

Mundey, who served as a member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education and works for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, was among several employees in the federal agency charged after an audit uncovered the fraud.

Mundey earned an income of $70,000 to nearly $95,000 but falsely filled out applications to obtain free or reduced-price school meals, prosecutors said. Families typically receive federal school lunch benefits when their reported income, depending on household size, is between $11,600 and $40,000.

A reduced-price lunch costs 40 cents, according to Prince George’s County Public Schools. Full-price lunches cost $2.75 for elementary school students and $3 for middle- and high-school students.

Six others were charged in 2015 following the GAO audit for obtaining a total of nearly $11,500 in reduced lunches, according to prosecutors.

Despite salaries ranging from $55,000 to $78,000, some of those families underreported their income or reported having no income, county and federal officials said.

Barbara Rowley, Jamilah Reid, Tracy Williams, Charleen Savoy and Terri Pinkney were convicted in connection with the case. Charges against James Pinkney were dropped after his wife, Terri, pleaded guilty to making a false statement on an application for public assistance.

Many who have been convicted have been required to pay restitution or perform community service as part of their sentences.

via Washington post



Brown wins Maryland’s 4th District Primary.

imageReform Sasscer Movement is delighted that Anthony Brown won the Primary election. After being told he could not use NAACP logo during the campaigns, Mr. Brown acknowledged in an email to supporters that he did not have authority. Part of the issue was that  Prince Georges county NAACP chapter and county Executive Baker had endorsed a different candidate (Mr. Glenn Ivey) leaving Mr. Brown and the rest of the candidates running for 4th congressional Seat in the cold. During the campaigns Mr. Ivey even raised more money than Mr. Brown and others due to all the endorsements. These calculated moves made the other candidates jealousy and nervous but strengthened their resolve. Mr. Brown had to secure a loan towards the end of the primary, a sign of commitment to the cause he belived in.

In any event, there is no doubt Mr. Anthony Brown is going to make a stellar Member of Congress who will work successfully both sides of the aisle in promoting and accomplishing an agenda that represents well the residents in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District.

We must also recognize the candidate supported by NAACP who came in second, Glenn Ivey, is one incredibly talented, committed and very special individual who might run for county executive in the future! We have no doubt that, now and in the future, Glenn will continue serving well Marylanders and the public at-large!

The same thing goes for the other candidates engaged in the race and incredibly talented individuals who include Mr. Warren Christopher, Matthew Fogg, Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, and Terence Strait of the Democratic primary. The republican McDermott defeated Robert Broadus, Rob Buck, and David Therrien. They are all incredible individuals and citizens of the county.

Anthony Brown (D) will face George McDermott (R) and Kamesha Clark (G) in the general election on November 8, 2016.  The primary elections took place on April 26, 2016.

Now, on to the General Election!

>>Read more


Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III had endorsed Glenn Ivey’s bid for the 4th Congressional District, backing a longtime family friend over a former lieutenant governor and a half dozen other Democratic candidates. Mr. Brown went on to win with wide margin.


Longest-serving member in PGCPS board is dethroned in election


Verjeana Jacobs

The longest-serving member on the Prince George’s County school board with cases pending against her in both state and Federal court lost a primary challenge in Tuesday’s election, a defeat that ends her decade in public office and sends two other hopefuls from District 5 to the general election.

Jeana Jacobs, a lawyer from Mitchellville who was board president from 2007 to 2013 and whose poor leadership skills mixed up with corruption was placed third in a four-candidate contest. Raaheela Ahmed, who first run as a student leader several years ago was the best this time. She does financial consulting for federal agencies and was making her second bid for the seat, and Cheryl Landis, a longtime school system employee and first-time board candidate.

Ahmed drew more than 9,600 votes, while Landis garnered more than 8,000 and Jacobs about 6,000, according to preliminary results. A fourth candidate, Robert Johnson, an educator from Bowie who is campus director of ITT Technical Institute in Springfield, Va., received about 2,650 votes. It appears the county citizenary united to remove Verjeana Jacobs in every way possible. A few people found or did find it confusing that Ms. Jacobs was calling herself “Jeana” after going as “Verjeana” for many years. It might have been a strategy to deceive voters.

The non-partisan primary campaign for school board touched on issues of class size reduction, teacher pay, budget priorities and parent engagement. Ahmed and Landis could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Jacobs said in an interview that she was honored to have served the community as long as she did. “I’ve always had their backs and they’ve always had mine,” she told the Washington post.

She said she believed she had run afoul of the political establishment in Prince George’s for speaking her mind and taking an independent approach. She noted that County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and other political leaders backed Landis in a string of campaign mailings and handouts. Landis is chair of the Democratic Central Committee in the county.

“Once again politics prevailed,” Jacobs said.

In a second board race in Prince George’s, for District 8, incumbent Edward Burroughs III, a director of business development from Temple Hills, will move on to the general election along with challenger Stephanie Hinton, a fifth-grade teacher from Temple Hills.

Burroughs, seeking a third term, led with more than 11,100 votes, followed by Hinton, with more than 4,700 votes. A third candidate, Carlton C. Carter, a school-turnaround consultant from Fort Washington, trailed with about 2,750 votes. In 2012, Mr. Carter was the principal at Ernest E. Just Middle School in Mitchellville before he fell out with Dr. William Hite leadership and forced to resign, according to a letter sent home to parents at the time.

Edward Burroughs said in an interview with Washington post on Wednesday that he was honored by the support from voters in the district. “I will continue to fight day-in and day-out to ensure that every student has a quality education,” he said.

Hinton, a first-time candidate, said she was still trying to absorb the results.

“I am just thrilled,” she said. “This is all very new to me. I’m excited the voters had the faith in me to send me the general election.”



Del. Jay Walker to speak to the South County Community


Del. Jay Walker (D-26)

Del. Jay Walker (D-26) will be speaking to the South County Community Roundtable (formerly District IV Coffee Roundtable) at 10:00 Wednesday, APril 27, at the Harborside Hotel (formerly Clarion), 6400 Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill.

Del. Walker, among other things, is the person primarily responsible for the artificial turf requirement–and unfunded mandate to override local education officials and install expensive, potentially carcinogenic artificial turf, which Walker apparently considers more important than funding the huge school maintenance backlog.  He also sponsored or co-sponsored several other bills, some of which failed, aimed at micromanaging schools and imposing other school-related mandates.

Del. Walker has also supported several anti-democratic measures in recent years, including gutting the non-partisan elected school board and adding enough appointed officials to make it a major partisan patronage vehicle, and enabling local officials to override tax limits repeatedly approved by the voters of Prince George’s County.  He has also sponsored or supported numerous tax increases, unfunded spending mandates, and bills making the tax laws even more complicated than they already were.

It will be interesting to hear what the delegate brags about versus what he doesn’t mention and whether he discusses both the positive and negative aspects of the bills and acts he has supported.

via Diane C. Russell

Prince George’s reached settlement of $1.5 million in sex abuse case


Prince George’s paid $1.5 million to settle a claim involving a 15-year-old girl who was sexually abused by a county teacher, ending a case that alleged failures in investigating sexual misconduct and supervising employees in the Maryland school system.

The deal reached in December, after more than three years of litigation, was disclosed by the school system in response to an ­open-records request filed by The Washington Post. The disclosure of the district’s payment comes as the school district examines its policies on preventing and reporting child abuse amid a new sexual-abuse case that is one of the largest in the region in recent years.

Deonte Carraway, 22, an elementary school volunteer in the county was arrested in February for allegedly directing children as young as 9 to perform sexual acts and video-recording them. Police say that there are at least 17 victims and that some of the offenses occurred during the school day at Judge Sylvania W. Woods Elementary School in Glenarden where Carraway volunteered.

As the investigation of Carraway continues, the county’s history in handling such issues is drawing close scrutiny.

The million-dollar settlement involved Brian A. Gwaltney, a former teacher and assistant football coach at Flowers High School who allegedly preyed on a ninth-grader, repeatedly pressing her for sex — and sexually abusing her in his classroom during the lunch hour in the 2009-2010 school year. Gwaltney was 37 at the time.

Gwaltney was convicted in April 2011 of two counts of child sexual abuse related to his conduct with the 15-year-old victim and another teenager. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for each case, with five years suspended.

The Gwaltney case was “the most recent example of sexual abuse by a teacher of a student at Flowers,” the lawsuit said, alleging that the school system “has not taken appropriate action to adequately deter this conduct, supervise teachers and ensure the safety of its students.”

Based on past incidents, the lawsuit claimed, the district has established policies and practices that failed to ensure the supervision of employees and the detection and investigation of incidents of sexual abuse of students.

The complaint alleged that Prince George’s policy allowed teachers to hold “one-on-one meetings” with students in locked rooms during school hours and says students were not aware of any confidential method for reporting abuse from teachers without fear of retaliation or repercussions.

In court documents filed in 2012, the school system denied many parts of the complaint, including those related to its policies and practices; to a history of abuse at Flowers; and to the assertion that school administrators knew or should have known about Gwaltney’s conduct but failed to remove him in a timely manner.

The school system also denied that it was liable for Gwaltney’s conduct or that he was acting in his official capacity as an employee.

The complete details of the settlement in the Flowers case are confidential, but the district released the dollar amount in response to the records request.

The Post reported in early April that at least five teachers were charged with sexual offenses in a period of six years at Flowers, located in Springdale.

[For years, Prince George’s did not strengthen school-sex abuse policies]

Prince George’s officials said Friday that they do not, as a practice, comment on the details of litigation or legal settlements but that student safety is of “utmost importance” and they are committed to “doing everything possible” to address safety issues.

The mother of the victim listed in the Gwaltney civil case declined to comment, referring a reporter to her attorney. Maryland lawyer Timothy F. Maloney, who represented the family, said he could say only that the matter has been resolved.
Gwaltney, recently released from custody, could not be reached, and his attorney declined comment.

In the wake of disclosures in the Carraway investigation, several experts have described the school district’s abuse-related policies and procedures as vague and limited in their capacity to protect children.

Kevin Maxwell, the school system’s chief executive officer, has appointed a task force to review the district’s policies and procedures and make recommendations by May 2.

“We’re doing absolutely everything in our power to review our policies, examine our systems, to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” he said in an interview with The Post in March.

The task force meetings are closed to the public, leading a Greenbelt resident to file a complaint with the state’s Open Meetings Compliance Board.

Told of the amount of the recent abuse-case settlement, several civil attorneys in Maryland said it is difficult to assess whether the agreement is exceptional or to compare it to other payouts because so many individual facts and considerations figure into litigation. Settlement calculations in such cases often focus on psychological damage to the victim and the cost of a lifetime of therapy, said Bill Brennan, a longtime Maryland lawyer.

“It’s much more difficult to quantify a psychological injury than say a broken leg or a broken bone,” Brennan said. “They would have to quantify the extent of the trauma and the length of time for treatment.”

The teenager in the Flowers settlement withdrew from school in May 2010 “due to her fear that other teachers would approach her and pressure her to have a sexual relationship,” the lawsuit stated. Her belief was not unreasonable because “several teachers in the recent past” had engaged in conduct similar to Gwaltney’s, it said.

Lawyers have filed at least five civil suits against the school system on behalf of alleged victims of Carraway, including a class-action lawsuit. The size of any possible monetary settlements would depend in part on the extent to which the school system is found liable.

“Liability comes if the school system was put on notice and . . . failed to do something,” said Terrell N. Roberts III, a Maryland lawyer who handles civil cases. “It speaks very poorly of the school system that these things keep coming up for them.”
The fallout from the Carraway case also could linger in court for years, as it must move through the criminal system before civil matters can be considered.

The emotional impact for any victims of Carraway could fester even longer, said Roberts.

“It leaves a scar a mile long,” he said.

via Washington Post 





Lawmakers look to shake up leadership of Baltimore city schools

bs-md-ci-school-budget-session-20150414-001According to Baltimore sun, State lawmakers want a greater role in choosing the next leader of the Baltimore city school district, and want to give city voters some say in the makeup of the school board.

Amid growing criticism of the city’s appointed school board and calls for the ouster of schools CEO Gregory Thornton, the General Assembly approved legislation this week that would overhaul the process by which school leadership is selected.

The bill would make two lawmakers nonvoting participants in choosing the CEO, and expand the school board from nine members to 11.

The two new board members would be elected by city voters. Baltimore’s is the last school board in the state to be composed entirely of appointed members.

The bill reflects a 12-year effort by city and state lawmakers to make the school district’s governing body, they say, more representative of and accountable to city residents.

Currently, the nine members of the board are appointed by the mayor and the governor.

In recent months community leaders and state lawmakers have urged the board to fire Thornton. Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, who has sponsored legislation to create a partially elected school board for more than a decade, was “ecstatic” the legislation finally won support.

“This is a great day for Baltimore city schools because we will finally have people on the school board who will be accountable to the people,” the Baltimore Democrat said. “It changes the whole paradigm of how the school board does its business.”

Marietta English, president of theBaltimore Teachers Union, called the bill the “crown jewel of the legislative session,” and said it would democratize the board.

“It has been a long time coming,” she said in a statement. She said it was “necessary for the public to have a say in the policy that governs our schools.”

The legislation won unanimous support in the House of Delegates, and cleared the General Assembly with last-minute amendments in the Senate.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway won inclusion of an amendment that would give a delegate and a senator seats on the committee that recommends the next Baltimore schools CEO.

Conway, the Baltimore Democrat who chairs the Senate committee that oversees education, said lawmakers felt blindsided the last time the board chose a schools chief.

“We figured we should be in the loop because the state gives 75 percent of the money” in the district budget, she said.

She said school officials routinely turn to state lawmakers for help in times of fiscal crisis.

While it is not unusual for political and community leaders to vet superintendent candidates informally, the legal requirement that state lawmakers actively participate in the process is unprecedented in Maryland.

Lawmakers introduced similar legislation this year that would have given them a strong role in appointing and confirming a new state superintendent. That bill was unsuccessful.

The city school board sets policy, oversees the school system’s budget and hires and fires the superintendent.

The board has long opposed electing members, and any legislative measure that infringed upon its autonomy.

Marnell A. Cooper, the board’s chairman, said the board has changed its position to support the addition of two elected members. He noted that every other school system in the state has a partially or fully elected school board.

“We have heard the public for a number of years express their desire to have some composition of the board that is elected, and we listened,” he said.

Cooper said the board embraced lawmakers’ input on a new superintendent.

“They can bring statewide perspective to the conversation,” he said.

The bill would require that lawmakers be included in all meetings and discussions during the selection process but serve only as advisory, non-voting members.

The board would vote on the final candidate.

Conway said she didn’t expect the legislation to impede the board from searching for a new superintendent.

Cooper declined to say whether the board was actively seeking a new superintendent. He has supported Thornton.

Thornton has defended his tenure.

“My plans and commitment to the district have not changed,” he said in a statement last month, when lawmakers called for his ouster. “I will continue the work that is needed to ensure that every student in this city is given an excellent and equitable education that prepares them for college and career.”

The Senate president and House speaker would select lawmakers who would serve on the committee.

Conway said she expects that either she or Sen. Bill Ferguson, another Baltimore Democrat, would be appointed as the Senate representative in the superintendent selection process.

Ferguson, who called for Thornton’s resignation on the Senate floor during the session that ended this week, said the legislation would help stabilize the city school system.

“The bill attempts to settle an ongoing topic of concern,” he said, “and reflects a step toward rebuilding the trust between communities and the Baltimore city school board.”

Ferguson said he initially had concerns that the bill could violate conditions of a 1996 consent decree that established the current governance and funding structure for the city school system, including the jointly appointed school board.

He added an amendment that required that parties in the lawsuit be notified of the changes.

The attorney general’s office opined that the consent decree does not prohibit the legislature from making changes to the school board, but that parties involved could challenge it in court.

Bebe Verdery, the education reform director for the ACLU of Maryland, led the lawsuit that produced the consent decree. She said it was unlikely the organization would challenge the legislation because adding two elected members does not “fundamentally change the governing structure of an independent school board.”

But she added: “The ACLU continues to have the right legally to challenge changes that would adversely affect city children’s interests and the consent decree provisions ordered by the court.”



For Your Viewing pleasure. Lynx helicopter landing on ship in rough sea


This video shows a landing conducted by a Prism Defence Test Pilot and Flight Test Engineer during development of Ship Helicopter Operating Limits for the Lynx Mark 90B helicopter onboard the KNUD RASMUSSEN class Offshore Patrol Vessel.

Operating helicopters onboard ships is extremely complex, due in part to the difficulty of landing a helicopter on a moving platform, but also due to numerous practical engineering issues.


PGCPS Bus driver hits pole, sends more than 20 students to hospital

aaaaWASHINGTON, D.C. – Around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon, a Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) bus with 46 elementary students on board collided with a light pole in lot eight of RFK Stadium in the District of Columbia, sending dozens of students to the hospital.

“We were not informed how many people were injured, we were under the impression we only had a few people injured,” said Doug Buchanan, spokesperson for the D.C. Fire Department. “When the first engine arrived on the scene they quickly determined there were several dozen students injured and requested a Mass Casualty Incident.

“Additional ambulances, along with the fire department’s ambulance bus, were dispatched to the incident to transport more the 20 students to area hospitals.”

Buchanan didn’t really have an explanation for the accident.

“For one reason or another, the PGCPS school bus driver didn’t see the pole or just misread the distance. It was enough to shake and rattle the bus. It was enough to move some kids around in the bus and for us to come here and make sure everyone was okay.”

The students were from the Woodridge Elementary School in Hyattsville and were returning from a USA Science & Engineering Festival.

Fire officials said all of the injuries appeared to be minor, mostly bumps and bruises, and once the students were checked out by doctors they would be released from the hospital.

The students who weren’t hurt were taken back to school on another bus.

Police officials from the Metropolitan Police Department are investigating the incident.

Via Prince George’s county sentinel