Monthly Archives: November 2016

PGCPS School bus with students aboard involved in accident in Accokeek

– No serious injuries have been reported after an accident involving a school bus in Prince George’s County.

The accident happened around 8 a.m. near the intersection of Accokeek Road and Berry Road in Accokeek, Maryland.

Mark Brady, of the Prince George’s County Fire Department, said that the bus, headed to Gwynn Park High School, was involved in a crash with a car at Accokeek and Berry roads, in Accokeek, at about 7:30 a.m.

 Brady said that 21 students were taken by another school bus to a local hospital to be evaluated and released to their parents, while two were taken by ambulance to the hospital with minor injuries. The bus driver was not hurt.

It took about 20 minutes to extricate the driver of the car, and she was taken to a trauma center with what Brady described as serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

 The Prince George’s County police are investigating the accident. According to WTOP’s Kate Ryan reports that they said the car crossed the double yellow line, hit the bus, then spun and hit the car behind it.

She adds that the road was very slick, and that police told her that’s a condition that can happen when rain follows a long dry storm, and oil rises to the surface of the road. She says she saw four other accidents in the vicinity of the bus-crash site.

Officials say approximately 24 students were aboard during the accident and were heading to Gwynn Park High School. The students will be transferred to another bus and will be taken to a local hospital for evaluations. Officials then plan to release the children to their parents.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

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Equity a question in turf field locations For PGCPS Schools.

wisefield_02UPPER MARLBORO – If Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell had the money, he would put a new turf field at every Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) high school, but he doesn’t.

Last week, the Prince George’s County Board of Education approved the final payments for two turf fields at county high schools. Those two fields, at Gwynn Park and Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. high schools, are some of the first few turf fields completed in the county.

Although the final payments were approved, the board raised several questions about future field placements throughout Prince George’s.

Over the past two legislative sessions, members of the Prince George’s County Delegation have brought bills before the Maryland General Assembly requesting funding for certain high schools to receive turf athletic fields.

Maxwell said the school system took the lists made by previous delegations, compared it to the list of schools that have either been closed or are up for renovation within the next several years, and narrowed the list down to four schools. Those four schools – Northwestern, Bowie, Eleanor Roosevelt and Charles H. Flowers – are currently being designed for new fields as well as reconfigured stadiums with lights.

“Some of that original order, and it’s been talked about in a couple of different pieces of legislation, some of those schools are in the construction queue and there’s no point in putting a brand new turf field there that might only get torn up,” Maxwell said, referencing renovation practices that often build new buildings on current athletic fields.

He further explained turf fields are planned for all new and fully renovated high schools.

Although those four schools are next on the list to receive turf fields, Maxwell said the school system does not currently have the funds to build all four. The school system was previously given $2.5 million to build the fields, said Will Smith with PGCPS’ Capital Improvements Office. However, Maxwell said in his experience that is not enough to build four fields with improved stadiums and lighting.

“This issue, of course, is funding,” Maxwell said. “If they give me enough money for all 24 high schools to have a field tomorrow, we would install them.”

Juwan Blocker, the student member of the board and a Parkdale High School senior, said high school students are concerned about where the turf fields would go. He said students saw lists circulated throughout social media and by word-of-mouth that originated in state legislation and many have voiced dissatisfaction with their schools either not being on the list or seemingly eliminated from the list.

“I want to know when they’re going to get turf fields, if they’re even being considered for turf fields, and what that process would look like and then how long that would take,” he said.

In response, Christian Rhodes, the Strategic Partners officer, reemphasized that legislators in Annapolis created the previous lists and that neither of the bills had passed.

Board Member Edward Burroughs, III was not satisfied with that answer and said the school system should be creating its own priority lists, rather than working off of ones created by legislators who are essentially negotiating locations among negotiations for other bills in the legislature.

“So here’s what I’m hearing: we are placing four turf fields, mainly in North and Central County, none in the south, based on a list that politicians in Annapolis came up with arbitrarily,” Burroughs said.

Three turf fields already exist in South County at Oxon Hill, Wise and Gwynn Park high schools, but Burroughs said equity in the turf locations has to rest on more than simply location and an “arbitrary” list.

Burroughs said new fields should go to the schools that need them the most.

“(There was) no regard for the schools that are in just awful condition,” Burroughs said. “And if we have control in creating this list, it should be the schools that have the greatest need regardless of where they are.”

Monica Goldson, deputy superintendent of teaching and learning, noted that Northwestern High School is in desperate need for a new field and again emphasized the school system does not have any money for all four schools to get turf fields.

The future turf fields were not on the board agenda as something to take action on and Board Chair Segun Eubanks said the board has time dig further into the matter before a vote would come before them.

via Prince George’s County Sentinel 

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Ethics probe finds Dallas Dance violation on pay disclosure

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Baltimore County Public Schools superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

By Liz Bowie

Baltimore County schools Superintendent Dallas Dance has agreed to report the pay he receives as an adjunct professor after an ethics panel found he had violated financial disclosure rules.

William Groth, a former school system employee who sought to have Dance investigated over a variety of allegations, brought a complaint to the county school board’s ethics review panel last spring.

School board member Ann Miller, who voted this year against renewing Dance’s contract, said she filed the paperwork on Groth’s behalf. She said she is sympathetic to his viewpoint.

“I shared many of the concerns,” Miller said.There were things that I had been raising to the board prior to that.”

After months of investigation, the ethics panel concluded in October that Dance should have disclosed both his pay from the University of Richmond and also the fact that he had created a limited-liability corporation in 2012.

The school board will not make the panel’s report public, President Charles McDaniels said. But the board did release its opinion, in which it called for Dance to make the adjustments to his financial disclosure forms.

“There was nothing material or significant that came out of that investigation,” McDaniels said. The “majority of the board is not concerned about it.”

Dance had disclosed to the board that he has taught an online course called the Foundations of Education at the University of Richmond since 2008. He said the university paid him $17,812 last year to teach the courses. He said he spends about four hours on Sunday afternoons on the teaching job.

The ethics panel said Dance erred in not disclosing in 2012 that he had set up a consulting company called Deliberate Excellence Consulting LLC. He began reporting it on the forms in 2013.

The LLC is not doing any business and has had no income, Dance said, but he wants to keep the name. He said he set it up so that the University of Richmond could pay the LLC rather than him directly, but it never ended up being used for that purpose.

The private university in Virginia does not do business with the Baltimore County school system.

Dance said he did not report his adjunct pay because “it is not clear on the financial disclosure forms where that would go. I have no problem reporting it.”

The superintendent is now seeking to clarify whether other school system employees should report income from area universities and colleges.

A county principal might teach a class to future principals at Towson University, he said, or an administrator in the central office who specializes in math might teach a course on teaching math.

“I am sure there are hundreds of people in this boat,” Dance said.

Groth said he feels “some sense of vindication” in the findings, but “I would like to note that this is not the first time this has happened during Dr. Dance’s tenure.”

In 2014, Dance was found to have violated rules when he took a consulting job with a professional development company that did business with the school system.

“I am most concerned that this superintendent is responsible for a $1.8 billion budget and continues to raise ethics issues,” Groth said. “This fact, coupled with the grading policy debacle, the curriculum confusion, the expensive and as yet unproven STAT initiative, and the issue of teacher retention lead me to conclude that the real problem is this board of education.”

Miller, who became a member of the volunteer school board about a year ago, has voted against many of Dance’s initiatives. She declined to comment on the ethics findings.

“I am not sure if I can because I can’t talk about what is in the full report,” she said.

via Baltimore sunmarylandmap2***

Beloved PGCPS Coach Jeff Johnson suddenly passes on.

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Beloved coach at Wise High School community Jeff Johnson, also known as “Big Jeff,” passed away early Friday morning.

UPPER MARLBORO, MD – The Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is mourning the sudden loss of a beloved coach at Wise High School community Jeff Johnson, also known as “Big Jeff,” who passed away early Friday morning.

Big Jeff, was also a reputed streetball legend in the Washington, D.C-area.  Details are scarce on how the athletic coach died but fans have been sending their condolences through social media. However, according to Jason Gordon, the Wise Athletic Director, Jeff was found unresponsive on the couch. There is no known cause of death at this time.

Besides coaching at Wise High School, Big Jeff, was the commissioner of the Watts League, a streetball league that featured basketball players from the DMV area. According to reports, Big Jeff worked tirelessly with the youth in Washington D.C and in Prince George’s County. He was currently a coach at Wise High School football team. He was a major voice in community basketball as well.

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On Thursday night, Johnson posted a photo on Instagram of a Thanksgiving gathering spending time with his family. Dozens of people are using the post to write their condolences. Now he has transitioned to a better place.

Johnson was the first JV football coach at Wise High School in Upper Marlboro. The school’s athletic program tweeted that he helped start The Wise Way Foundation and was a “staple in his community.”

 Friday night, Wise’s varsity football team will play at home against Ellicott City’s Howard High School in a playoff game. The winner advances to the 4A Maryland High School State Championship game. The school will hold a moment of silence in his memory.

Wise Athletics tweeted, “Tonight is for you big fella!”

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Washington Post: Meet Betsy DeVos

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Betsy DeVos

President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday said he intends to appoint west Michigan GOP mega donor and philanthropist Betsy DeVos to be his education secretary, putting an ardent supporter of school choice in charge of the nation’s education policy.

DeVos, 58, is seen as a national leader in the school choice movement, which she has called an attempt to “empower” parents to find good schools for their children, whether they be traditional public schools in other neighborhoods, charter schools, virtual schools or private institutions.

“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Trump said Wednesday in a statement. “Under her leadership, we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”

Trump’s appointment of DeVos is subject to confirmation by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.

On Tuesday, former Washington, D.C., school chancellor Michelle Rhee took herself out of the running for education secretary, clearing the path for DeVos’ appointment.

In a statement, DeVos said she was honored to help Trump “make American education great again” — a play on Trump’s campaign slogan.

“The status quo in education is not acceptable,” DeVos said. “Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”

Trump’s decision to have DeVos run the U.S. Department of Education comes four days after she met with the president-elect and Vice President-elect Mike Pence at Trump’s golf club in Bedminister, New Jersey.

In case you don’t know anything about Betsy DeVos, the Washington Post has a good summary. 1024px-US-DeptOfEducation-Seal.svg

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