Monthly Archives: April 2017

NBC4 reports on Parents Speaking Out on Cell Tower proposed for High School

Prince+Georges+County+cellphone+towerPrince George’s County parents speaking out at a meeting this week on Rushern Baker’s no bid, no public input, no transparency or accountability cell tower deal with Milestone Communications. Milestone Communications is one of the sponsors of all of the Board of Education vacations to Ocean City every year and gave $5,000 to a ballot initiative of Rushern Baker’s.

The Ocean City vacations for board members are arranged through MABE the board of education club run by Frances Glendenning. Milestone Communications is a no bid sponsor of the MABE organization and gets to advertise and have meetings with board members out of public view. (Insert music to “It’s a Small World”).

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Rushern Baker’s no bid, no public input, no transparency or accountability cell tower deal with Milestone Communications is creating major conflicts and issues in the county. Milestone Communications is one of the sponsors of all of the Board of Education vacations to Ocean City every year and gave $5,000 to a ballot initiative of Rushern Baker’s.

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Board of Education Meeting 4/25/17

At 44:00. District Heights ES — A Parent gave very emotional testimony about chemicals released within the District Heights Elementary school. It is not a safe environment. Contractors walking in and out without badges who don’t sign in and just walk through the building. The children need to be moved until the work is done. The chemicals released today were harmful. The parent and her children had headaches. Other children feeling sick. 40% of the teachers weren’t there because they are sick. It is not safe for the children to be in that building. The children are there to get an education and not to get sick or die. The band-aids are fine, but get the children out while the rest of the work is done. They need help and they need the Board to do something.

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At 53:41. Tayac Elementary School — School has poor leadership and needs new leadership due to hostile work environment. Speaker’s son had brain concussion and asthma attack due to incident at school. Her child was also told he cannot go to the bathroom when he needs to. Hostile and unsafe environment. There is no school nurse b/c they have “no budget for one.”  School and its budget needs to be investigated.image1.jpg

At 56:24. Local 2250: Support Your Support System — Shirley Kirkland, President of Local 2250 (6,000 members) spoke. PGCPS is exposing children and staff to life-threatening pollutants. Children and staff have a right to be in a safe environment. Facilities need to be inspected. Schools particularly inside the beltway have these issues. She also asked if Agenda Items 6.1- 6.14 include no mention of the amount of wage increases and whether it should it be included.

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At 1:10:24. Board Member Blocker — [was cut off shortly after he started his comment] thanked parent for coming out and bringing attention to the issue at District Heights Elementary school.

>>>Read more 

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Maryland governor appoints a New chief judge to Court of Special Appeals for Maryland after Complaints.

Judge Patrick Woodward on 10-18-2007. ES

Judge Patrick L. Woodward is the New Chief Judge for Maryland Court of Special Appeals. 

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Due to serious ongoing public corruption in Maryland involving Judges and other public officials. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has appointed a new chief judge on the state’s intermediate appellate court (Maryland Court of Special Appeals for Maryland).

The Republican governor announced the appointment of Judge Patrick Woodward to the position on the Court of Special Appeals on Friday. The appointment is effective May 6, 2017.

Woodward has served on the Court of Special Appeals since 2005, when he was initially appointed by Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

Before that, Woodward served as a judge for both the circuit and district courts of Montgomery County.

Woodward will fill the vacancy left by former Chief Judge Peter Krauser. During his tenure, Judge Krauser mishandled serious cases to the detriment of plaintiffs who sought justice in his court. The conflict was so obvious that he was asked to step aside.

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Chief Judge Peter Krauser announced retirement shortly after members of Reform sasscer Movement filed several complaints due to various conflicts of interests involving the state court >>>Read more  >>>Corruption is in full swing in the Maryland Judiciary!

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan poses with a bill during a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis, Md., Tuesday, April 12, 2016, the day after the closing of the 2016 legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has appointed a new chief judge on the state’s intermediate appellate court (Maryland Court of Special Appeals for Maryland).

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Prince George’s County Council Upset Over Unspent Litter Funds

CountyCouncil2017.jpgUPPER MARLBORO – The department of public works and transportation (DPW&T) is one of the more visible government agencies, responsible for street repair, snow removal and TheBus service. As the county council reviews their budget request for this year, they want to make sure residents see the results of those investments.

At the Transportation, Housing & the Environment (THE) committee work session on April 19, council members grilled DPW&T staff about initiatives they had funded last year which, some council members felt, were not seeing appropriate progress. Several members brought up the $2 million litter clean-up initiative included in the fiscal year 2017 approved budget. The money was intended to pay contractors to go out into each councilmanic district and pick up trash – but, as of the meeting, none of it had been spent, with only two and a half months left in the fiscal year.

“This is your operating budget. This isn’t something we wanted to see over two and three years. We are drowning in litter. It is everywhere. I cannot see any rationale- this is not a high-level activity, picking up litter – I can’t see any rationale why we have not spent that budget,” Mary Lehman, the committee’s vice-chair, said. “I personally wanted to see all of that $2 million spent by now. I really don’t understand it. I feel like we would have been better spent giving it to the department of corrections or somebody else. It’s just not acceptable.”

Darryl Mobley, director of DPW&T, said contract delays are the reason the money remains unspent. He said the department began the bidding process in September, with a Request for Proposals (RFP). But, the bidders who submitted during the first round were unresponsive, so a second round had to commence.

Gwen Clerkley, associate director for the office of highway maintenance, said the department is currently negotiating with the one bidder who was responsive to get the bidder to come up with a new plan that falls within the $2 million budget.

“They are going back, reviewing their numbers. They based their estimate solely on providing four crews of four for every council district. We asked them to go back and structure a program that would allow them to go back and meet the need,” she said. “It is our hope to have services in place by May 1.”

Mobley added that although that specific pot of money has not been spent, the department has staff out in the field “every day” cleaning up litter.

“The department of public works and transportation continues to pick up litter every day, in conjunction with the department of the environment. We work very closely with the department of corrections,” he said. “We have collected approximately three-and-a-half million pounds of litter as of February, when we reported the numbers to the office of audits.”

Councilwomen Deni Taveras echoed Lehman’s concerns about trash in her district, specifically around bus stops that do not have trash cans.

“A lot of times people will just tie a bag there, and it just overflows. At the end of the day, we just have trash everywhere,” she said. “We’re in a desperate state in terms of litter in my district.”

Last year’s budget also included $20 million for street resurfacing projects, with the FY18 proposal calling for another $10 million. Lehman expressed dissatisfaction with the progress of street resurfacing projects as well, saying the RFP did not go out until December (halfway through the fiscal year).

“This was not meant as a CIP (capital improvements program) project. This is operating money. So what happens to it?” Lehman asked. “My constituents want their roads resurfaced in real time, in their lifetime. And they’re waiting for years.”

Clerkley explained that the contractors don’t work on one road at a time; rather, they complete the first step on every road on their list, then move to the next step, and so on.

“Contractors don’t really work on a per-road basis. And I think that’s part of the miscommunication,” she said. “For now, it is more expeditious and cost-effective… for the roads that we’ve assigned to them, they go through and do all of their concrete work, then they will mill the road and do the resurfacing.”

She added, “I hear your frustration.”

The FY18 budget proposal for the department totals $29.9 million, which is an increase of about 13.5 percent over last year. Some of that- $204,400- comes from the addition of five staff members to help implement the county council’s updated taxicab regulations passed last year. DPW&T is also working to refresh the seat cushions and covers on its bus fleet, as well as purchase new vehicles to replace the current ones, which the department says are rapidly aging. $1.2 million is projected for bus replacement in FY18. Money has also been set aside for new infrared technology to handle potholes and as well as a system that will allow the department to track its vehicles in real time during snow events. The automatic vehicle location system is budgeted for $450,000.

DPW&T is also responsible for rolling out the BikeShare program in the county, which is projected to cost $1.4 million for the first phase. However, Mobley said they are pursing grants to cover as much as $740,000 of that total. In all, the department is seeking to increase the amount of outside grants it receives by $1.6 million.

The department anticipates approximately $600,000 of overtime related to snow and ice removal, equipment repairs, and debris removal, which Mobley said was calculated based on historical trends.

Via Sentinel 

OPINION

Prince George’s County’s staggering and tragic corruption will not end until leaders with integrity and ZERO vested interests in the system replace thieves.

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7 ON YOUR SIDE asks PGCPS System: ‘What’s in the water?’

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7 ON YOUR SIDE asks Prince George’s County Public Schools: ‘What’s in the water?’ (ABC7)

Prince George’s County Public Schools may have a problem with their water and 7 ON YOUR SIDE I-Team Investigator Scott Taylor has discovered many parents had no idea until now.

The I-Team has uncovered Prince George’s County Public Schools hasn’t completed a system-wide test of drinking water since 2009, even though the school district has been aware of on-going high levels of lead in the water since 2004

Right now, 88 school buildings have their water sources shut off. Students and teachers have been drinking bottled water.

7 ON YOUR SIDE originally asked for an on-camera interview with PGCPS CEO Kevin Maxwell, but we were able to sit down with the Director of Building Services Sam Stefanelli instead.

Taylor: “Do you have water fountains or bubblers right now in your school district that kids are drinking?”

Stefanelli: “Yes.”

Taylor: “And when were those last tested? 2009?”

Stefanelli: “2009.”

Taylor: “How do you know that water is safe to drink if you haven’t tested it since 2009?”

Stefanelli: “We only know what the tests from 2004 to 2009 showed us.”

Taylor: “So you don’t know if those levels have changed since 2009?”

Stefanelli: “No, I don’t.”

Taylor: “And kids are still drinking that water?”

Stefanelli: “Yes.”

The I-Team obtained a 2004 report from the Environmental Protection Agency, along with school district documents, that reveal 2,600 water sources were tested in 2004 and 90 percent came back at or above the EPA’S 20 parts per billion recommended lead level. A new Water Quality Program replaced or valved off fixtures.

Five years later, 30 percent of more than 17,000 water sources were at or above the EPA’s lead-levels. Again, fixtures replaced. Then, 51 schools started using bottled water.

“I’m confident the kids have safe drinking water,” Sam Stefanelli told Taylor.

District wide, as far as School Officials can tell ABC7 News, parents were never notified about past year’s lead levels until this year.

“Do you think these schools are safe to be drinking their water?” Taylor asked Khadija Bowen, a parent whose child attends public school in the county.

“No, not at all,” Bowen said.

Bowen says she is going to get her daughter’s blood tested.

Last October, 45 classroom and bathroom sinks tested above EPA guidelines at Glenridge Elementary.

Bowen: “I shouldn’t have to fight for this.”

Taylor: “Clean water?”

Bowen: “I shouldn’t have to be writing my Congressman, my Governor, my School Board, Superintendent. I shouldn’t have to be doing that to be able to send my child to school and be okay with the fact her water is clean.”

Theodora Scarato another concerned parent, has dedicated an entire blog to this issue.

“Why allow any level of lead in the water?” Scarato said. “It needs to be completely cleaned up.”

Up until the year, the school district delayed the final phase of its Water Quality Program. Now, after the I-Team started asking tough questions, all water sources will be tested this Spring.

“So you could have dangerous levels right now in your district that are being swallowed up every day by your students and staff and you have no idea because you haven’t done testing since 2009? That’s a possibility, right?” Taylor asked Stefanelli.

“I guess that is a possibility,” Stefanelli said.

Some parents tell 7 ON YOUR SIDE that their kids will continue to drink bottled water in the school district until they graduate from high school.

All the School District’s lead testing results and documents given to the I-Team from the School District including EPA reports have been posted below.

PGCPS System bus drivers call investigations unfair

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UPPER MARLBORO, MD (WUSA9) – Prince George’s County School bus drivers say it’s taking too long to for the school system to investigate a spike in complaints of alleged misconduct, resulting in employees being forced to languish on paid administrative leave for months at a time.

At least 126 bus drivers have been swept up in what some teachers, support staff and administrators have characterized as a “witch hunt” environment created by new policies meant to protect child safety in the wake of abuse scandals in 2016.

In total, at least 636 school employees have been accused of misconduct and placed on paid administrative leave for periods ranging from days to months, according to school officials.

Employees and union representatives say frequently the allegations are completely false, or minor matters that could be dealt with at the school level.

“I feel like my hands are tied and I can’t do my job,” said bus driver Jossalyn Ford, who is also a union shop steward for her AFSCME local.

Ford says the large numbers of drivers placed on leave has resulted in a driver shortage, late busses and an environment of intimidation for the remaining drivers.

Some drivers are afraid to engage with children or intervene to stop rowdy behavior for fear of being accused, Ford said.

“It’s impacting safety,” said Shirley Kirkland of AFSCME.

In the wake of the 2016 scandals, a school safety task force determined too many potential misconduct allegations or suspicions were either not being reported, ignored, or hidden.

Reforms have emphasized that the first responsibility of students and staff is to report any potential violation, no matter how minor. A spike in allegations has resulted.

All allegations are investigated by Prince George’s County Child Protective Services before being handed off to the school system’s security office and administrators.

Employees have complained that students use reporting against adults, who have been put on leave for months while there are investigations into issues as minor as alleged incidental contact in a crowded hallway, using the word “asinine”, or a child getting off at a friend’s bus stop.

School officials say they cannot provide information about how many of the hundreds of allegations have resulted in disciplinary action or were determined to be unfounded.

via wusa9

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Jury awards $100,000 to family of girl in PGCPS school bus assault.

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Responding to a bullying incident caught on video, a jury has said Prince George’s County schools must pay $100,000 to the family of an elementary student who was assaulted by another girl on a school bus as other children agitated for a brawl.

The assault on Saraia Collins, who was a 9-year-old Highland Park Elementary School student at the time, was captured on cellphone videos by other students, and left her with a concussion and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to her attorney and her mother. The family contended the school bus driver should have stopped the vehicle or intervened sooner as the girl was being pummeled and screaming, “Stop! Stop!”

Tierra Holland, Collins’s mother, said bringing the lawsuit wasn’t about money but about holding the school system accountable in the 2015 incident.

“They never apologized, not one time,” said Holland, 32. “If I had gotten an apology or something disciplinary to students, I wouldn’t have done this, but I needed some kind of justice.”

The jury’s verdict was returned Wednesday in county circuit court.

Asked about the case, a spokeswoman for the school system, Lynn McCawley, said that “it is not our policy to comment on legal matters.”

Brian K. McDaniel, the attorney for Holland’s family, said video of the girl’s beating was disseminated on YouTube among students, adding to her trauma.

“The jury took into consideration the actual assault was captured on video and that it is something she will have to deal with for the rest of her life,” McDaniel said.

The incident happened on the afternoon of May 8, 2015, he said. Saraia, a fourth-grade student at the time, was on her way home from school when students on the bus began yelling that they wanted to see a fight.

The bus driver stopped and went to the back of the bus to address the disruption, then returned to the front, McDaniel said.

Another girl on the bus, a second-grader, confronted Saraia at that point, challenging her to fight, video of the incident shows.

 “I’m not fighting you!” Saraia is heard screaming repeatedly on video.

The driver again stops and confronts the students.

“He tells the young lady threatening Saraia, ‘I’m going to take you back to school,’ ” McDaniel said. “He goes back to the front. Then she is assaulted for two minutes.”

The video shows Saraia screaming, “Get out of my face, I’m not going to fight you,” before the second-grader climbs on Saraia’s seat, towers over her and starts to slap her.

“The other kids on the bus are yelling and screaming, and the bus driver doesn’t do anything,” McDaniel said. “He doesn’t file a report or call the police.”

The end of the video shows Saraia curled up in a ball in her seat and crying. A boy mimics and mocks her sobs.

Holland said she was brought to tears when she first saw the video.

Holland said her family had complained to school administrators in the past about incidents involving the student seen on video attacking her daughter, but said the school system never reprimanded the girl. She had to take the video to Prince George’s County police to get action in her daughter’s case, Holland said.

“What we are teaching these children and bullies out there is if you do something wrong, you get a slap on the wrist,” she said.

Holland’s daughter is now 11 and attends private school.

In the two years since the bus attack, Holland said her daughter has changed. The once outgoing “social butterfly” is withdrawn and quiet. She won’t sleep unless a light remains on because she’s afraid of the dark, her mother said.

“I’m hoping that eventually she will go back to being her,” Holland said. “I want her to get her youth back and be a child.”

Via Washington Post

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