Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Principal of William Hall Academy in PGCPS Accused of going with the Counselor INTO parents homes uninvited

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The Principal of William Hall Academy Mr. Darrl C. Evans is accused by PGCPS Parents of going into parents homes uninvited to determine whether or not the family resides in Prince George’s County.

According to M Pam Brown a parent who published a post on facebook, “the Principal has taken to going with the Counselor INTO parents homes uninvited to determine whether or not the family lives in their homes!?! They are getting the landlords to give them access.” she said.

What is your take on this? Is the Principal doing the right thing or just being misunderstood or going too far?

Sample some of the reactions from the facebook post, after a PGCPS parent Pam Brown narrated her story.  

Quantane L Higginbotham That’s illegal and they should be reported. 

Jamie’s Nursery This is the incident that has happened to me. The landlord violated my rights. He was not even suppose to come into the property without notifying me first. The principal wanted to verify that my family resides at our home. I felt forced to comply when the principal showed up at my door. I have given the school utility bills, my drivers licence, recent court documents stating my address, etc… He saw for himself that the place of residence was we’re we lived but he has withdrawn my children from school stating that I did not give enough evidence. One of my children are special needs he has Cerebral Palsy😥. How can this be justified? I don’t understand.

Ann Marie Coleman Not only is the principal and her counselors subject to criminal issues, those landlords are responsible for allowing illegal access. This is not going to go well.

Judy Mickens-Murray Why does it feel like our Prince George’s School System is totally out of control when it comes to parental rights? I refuse to believe this inappropriate behavior is sanctioned by Maxwell or Baker. Need to hear from them quickly on this issue.

Theresa Mitchell Dudley This sounds horrible. There is always a reason a principal asks for documentation of address. Normally it is because some mail was returned to the school undeliverable or there is no response to attempts to contact the parent. A home visit with the counselor or the PPW can take place. I have done home visits as a classroom teacher when I could not reach a parent. If there is a special needs child involved there is a great deal of mail that is sent. The landlord is required to notify you when coming. The school system does not have the same burden. You can appeal the decision of the principal with your documentation. I am very troubled that students are being put out 3/4 through the school year. There should be a better method to keep the children’s school year from being disrupted.

Jamie’s Nursery No mail has been sent or returned. I’m in the school everyday in the morning and afternoon to bring in my special needs child and to speak with the staff. I have voiced complaints as far as the services my child has not been receiving and they just wanted a way to get rid of me and my children to be done with us. I have spoken to the principle about what was going on with my landlord. My husband and I even brought the police to the school to speak with him about that being our residence. If the principle wanted to do a home visit. I was right their in the secretaries office. Why would you not ask me can I let you visit my home? There is no method or better method. This is my children’s boundary school. The address that the principle at William Hall (Mr. Evans) came to is my home he saw me open the door with my key to enter. What am I supposed to do now with my children? Homeschool them and what about my work? If I need to I will contact a lawyer, but I am trying to have this matter sorted out before I have to take that action. My landlord and the principle discussed personal things regarding my family over the phone as well as the principle accepting God knows what pictures my landlord sent. Can you tell me if this is justifiable?

 

 

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Maryland lawmakers advance bill that requires schools to teach sexual consent

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A view of the Maryland State House in Annapolis. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Sex education classes in Maryland would have to include instruction on consent under a bill that is moving through the General Assembly, a measure an advocate called “one of the most important things that we can do to prevent college sexual assaults.”

Under the measure, middle and high school students would learn what consent means and about how to respect personal boundaries.

“If we wait to teach them about consent when they are a freshman in college, it’s already too late,” said Lisae C. Jordan, director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The Senate on Friday advanced the bill, which is expected to receive final approval next week.

Bill sponsors said the national #MeToo movement helped move the measure forward this year. Last year, a similar bill died on the final day of session.

At least two dozen states this year are considering legislation that would incorporate sexual-violence prevention into middle and high school curriculums, or sooner.

“It is time to come up with some solutions to proactively address [sexual harassment] at age-appropriate levels,” said Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery), the Senate sponsor. “This is a common-sense piece of legislation that takes important steps in educating future generations . . . on the understanding of consent.”

The vote on the consent bill came as the 90-day legislative session moves into the final stretch with several high-stakes bills left to consider, including a $5 billion incentive package to lure Amazon to Maryland, a controversial measure to address the violence in Baltimore, a bill to diversify the ownership licenses in the medical marijuana industry and a package of bills to deal with school safety.

The General Assembly adjourns on April 9.

Del. Ariana Kelly (D-Montgomery), who sponsored the consent bill in the House, is also awaiting action on a bill that overhauls how the state legislature deals with sexual harassment.

The Senate Rules Committee, which will decide whether the bill on preventing sexual harassment moves forward, heard testimony on Friday from Kelly about the measure, which is a top priority of the Women Legislators of Maryland caucus.

The committee decided not to vote.

“We’re going to hold it so that everybody can look at the bill, ” Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr. (D-Anne Arundel County) told Kelly after her testimony.

Kelly asked if the committee had any idea when a vote might take place.

“It’s important to us this bill passes this year because we have elections coming up and lots of new legislators are coming in, so we want to make sure these policies are in place before the new legislators come in,” she said.

DeGrange said there is still a week to go. Senate Minority Leader Sen. J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore County) shook his head, adding “plenty of time.”

Also on Friday, lawmakers gave final approval to a plan to give Metro its full share of $167 million annuallyin new, permanent funding — meaning that for the first time since it was created in 1976, the system could have a dedicated funding stream.

The Maryland state Senate voted unanimously to approve the bill, which has also been endorsed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel). In the Senate, the bill was celebrated as a bipartisan success.

“This is much needed,” state Sen. Andrew A. Serafini (R-Washington) said on the Senate floor. “This is a good bill . . . it’s fixed what needs to be fixed capital-wise, and it also put some things in there that will make us be assured that these problems will be fixed in the out years.”

Both Virginia and the District have already committed to provide their respective shares to the fund, which totals $500 million and which Metro says is necessary to ensure safety and reliability.

The House of Delegates originally considered a bill providing $125 million, and it then moved up to $150 million with agreement from Hogan. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said last week that the Senate would approve the full $167 million. The bill will next go to Hogan’s desk. His office said last week he looks forward to signing it into law as soon as possible.

Via Washington Post 

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Kentucky teachers shut down multiple school systems, in uproar over pension bill

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Whitney Walker, second left, and Tracy Kurzendoerfer protest outside of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s office on Friday, March 30, 2018 in Frankfort, Ky. Walker and Kurzendoerfer are teachers in Fayette County. Both called in sick on Friday to protest a bill lawmakers passed late Thursday that makes changes to the state’s pension system. (AP Photo/Adam Beam) (Adam Beam/AP)

Multiple school systems in Kentucky were forced to close Friday, as teacher absences soared amid growing protest over legislation that educators say would strike a blow to pension plans.

Teachers from across the state descended on the capitol in Frankfort, outraged about what they described as a surprise move to pass legislation their union said Friday would mean existing employees pay more for pension benefits and new hires don’t get the same plan that previous generations relied on.

The protesters hung a sprawling banner from a capitol balcony — “Kentucky deserves better” — as hundreds converged, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. A rally is planned for Monday, when lawmakers return to the Capitol and most teachers are on spring break, union officials said.

The action in Kentucky came as the latest flash point over pay and benefits for the nation’s teachers. In West Virginia, educators closed schools for nine days as they held out for a 5 percent raise, which they won for teachers and all state workers in March.

More recently Arizona teachers, among the nation’s lowest-paid, threatened to strike over raises and funding cuts to school programs. Oklahoma teachers are planning a walkout Monday if they don’t get what they want before then.

In Kentucky, the teacher absences touched off school closings in the state’s largest school systems, in Louisville and Lexington. School officials in Lexington said more than one-third of school employees did not show up Friday, and they did not have enough substitutes to compensate.

The Courier Journal found more than 20 counties announcing school closures Friday, as tensions flared. Kentucky has 173 school systems, located in 120 counties.

The state teachers’ union, the Kentucky Education Association, with a membership of 45,000, had not called on teachers to skip the workday but issued a sharply worded statement about the legislative action.

“This kind of backroom dealing is shameful,” the statement said. “Pitting government interests against the interests of current and future educators is cowardly.”

John Darnell, a principal in Bellevue, Ky., just south of Cincinnati, said his schools were open Friday but “there is no wrong decision for teachers today,” calling the legislation “a slap in the face.”

“Our entire public education system is under attack,” Darnell said.

Union officials said the pension bill had all but died earlier in March and was suddenly revived Thursday as Republican lawmakers attached it to another bill that addressed wastewater services, not teacher pensions.

They likened the bill’s sudden resurgence to a classic “bait and switch” that left no time for public vetting. The union first got a look at the 291-document after the bill passed.

Republican lawmakers described the measure — aimed at helping to fix the state’s broken pension system — as a compromise that would address concerns raised by a previous bill, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Both the House and Senate passed the bill, which goes to Gov. Matt Bevin (R).

Bevin signaled his support, tweeting: “Tonight 49 members of the Kentucky House and 22 members of the Kentucky Senate voted not to keep kicking the pension problem down the road. Anyone who will receive a retirement check in the years ahead owes a deep debt of gratitude to these 71 men & women who did the right thing.”

Via Washington Post 

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State of Kentucky Map

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Emotions run high as unauthorized pay raises discussed at PGCPS meeting

 – Prince George’s County teachers and parents were fired up at a school board meeting Thursday night as they confronted school district leaders about unauthorized pay raises in the school system along with other issues.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that several employees in the human resources department for Prince George’s County Public Schools received 10 to 12 percent pay hikes that were not approved by the school board. There is an investigation underway into whether there were additional unauthorized raises.

“Stop taking our tax dollars, putting it in your pockets, giving you all secret raises, and you know what they are doing because you’re here,” said parent Phyllis Wright. “How can they get raises and we don’t know nothing about it.”

Another major topic discussed at the meeting were about five employees from DuVal High School who lost their jobs following the grade-fixing scandal that has plagued the school system. One of those fired employees, guidance counselor Troy Sibila, attended Thursday night’s meeting. He previously told FOX 5 in an exclusive interview that he and his fired co-workers were made scapegoats for the scandal.

However, he received a lot of support Thursday night as he continues to fight to get his job back.

“I am here to stand in solidarity with our DuVal counselors who were thrown under bus for political gain,” DuVal teacher Cela Gomez-Showell. “They followed orders from up the chain of command.”

“Understand that you cannot fire your way out of this,” said Theresa Mitchell-Dudley, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association. “Our members at DuVal High School are afraid for their jobs. Everybody is worrying about what is going to happen next, who is going to get it next, what school is going to be next.”

There was a bright spot for parents and teachers during Thursday night’s meeting. The school board voted to fully restore spring break and all schools will be closed next week.

via Fox5 DC

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hundreds of administrators, teachers, students, and parents came out to the Board of Education meeting at Sassce to enforce their rights.

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Longtime Baltimore lawmaker admits taking bribes; resigns from Senate

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Maryland state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks (D-Baltimore City), shown in 2009, admitted accepting bribes from an undercover FBI source posing as a real estate developer. (Glenn Fawcett/AP)

Hours after resigning from the Maryland state senate, Nathaniel T. Oaks on Thursday pleaded guilty to public corruption charges.

Oaks, a longtime Democratic lawmaker from Baltimore, admitted in federal court that he accepted more than $15,000 in bribes from a man he thought was a real estate developer, in exchange for help securing funds for a project.

He is set to be sentenced July 17 in federal court in Baltimore.

Late Wednesday night, Oaks, 71, submitted a letter of resignation to Senate leadership saying he had decided to step down “to eliminate all clouds that have hovered over the 2018 Legislative Session.”

“Due to any potential concerns or questionable activities on my behalf, it is with deep regret, respect and all my love for Baltimore City, the Maryland General Assembly, its leadership, my ­legislative colleagues and my constituents in the 41st District, that I resign my position,” Oaks said.

Oaks is the second Maryland lawmaker embroiled in a federal corruption scandal to resign in the past two years. Former state delegate Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) resigned on the first day of the 2017 legislative session. He was later charged and found guilty earlier this month of conspiracy and bribery for accepting cash in exchange for votes to expand liquor sales in Prince George’s County.

Prosecutors said Oaks used his power as a legislator to help a real estate developer known as “Mike,” who was interested in a housing development project in Baltimore. The developer turned out to be an undercover FBI source. In exchange for cash bribes, Oaks filed a request for a bond bill with the Maryland Department of Legislative Services to secure funding for the project. He also admitted to filing statements he knew to be false in a letter asking for federal funds for the purported development.

After accepting bribes in 2016, Oaks confessed to the FBI after arriving at a Baltimore hotel in early 2017 expecting to meet the developer but instead facing two FBI agents, his plea states.

Oaks agreed after that encounter to wear a recording device in an FBI investigation of another businessperson with interests in the bail bond and health-care industry. That person had previously given Oaks money for car repairs and paid for short trips to Las Vegas and dinners as Oaks helped build support for legislation in the person’s interest, the Oaks plea agreement states.

But after several months of helping the FBI in a “covert public corruption investigation,” Oaks admitted in his plea, he tipped off the businessperson, which meant the federal investigation into that person “and possibly other politicians was no longer viable,” prosecutors wrote in the Oaks plea deal.

Oaks had appeared determined to remain in office despite repeated calls for his resignation from Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and some of his colleagues. Last month, he filed for reelection.

Oaks was stripped of his committee assignment last month after the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics found “numerous potential violations of the Maryland Public Ethics Law,” including the misuse of public resources, conflicts of interest, misuse of the prestige of office, improper acceptance of gifts, failure to make required disclosures and failure to register as a lobbyist. The committee took the action after referring to the criminal complaint and “other related documents.”

Oaks, who has served in the General Assembly for 30 years, was charged in federal court on April 7, a Friday. He shocked his colleagues the following Monday, April 10 — the final day of the session last year — when he walked into the Senate chamber and took his seat.

He lost his seat in the House of Delegates in the late 1980s after being convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from his campaign account. He regained his seat in 1994 and was appointed to the state Senate last year to replace a legislator who stepped down because of ill health.

Oaks faces a maximum of 20 years each on charges of wire fraud and honest services wire fraud.

Oaks and his attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Maryland Gov. Hogan: 2nd state audit of PGCPS could look into wrongdoing, broken laws

 – Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan provided insight Wednesday on a second state investigation into Prince George’s County Public Schools – saying this one could look at whether laws were broken.

The first state audit, done by an independent consulting firm, revealed grade manipulation and students graduating who shouldn’t have. But it did not dig into the root cause of the problems.

A month ago, the Maryland State Board of Education voted to do a second audit, but gave few details about the scope.

“They want to do another investigation,” Hogan said regarding the board. “They think that there is wrongdoing that hasn’t been addressed.”

Hogan has said he believes there could be criminal conduct that was going on in the school system. While the first audit did not find indicators that the head of schools or his staff directed employees to change grades to graduate more students, this second audit could go deeper. Hogan said investigators will have to “follow the facts where they lead.”

“In Baltimore County as an example, just recently in the same timeframe, we have the former superintendent now going to jail on multiple charges,” Hogan said. “We have other people who have just been indicted on additional charges. So it hasn’t reached that point yet in Prince George’s County, but it could.”

Hogan said Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell should resign or be replaced after the scandal.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has continued to back Maxwell and laughed at the governor’s suggestion of criminal behavior in the school system.

“[Hogan] knows if there is anything criminal going on anywhere in the state, his first obligation is to go to the attorney general,” Baker said. “So I’m not going to acknowledge that.”

He went on to say, “He is every other day saying the same thing and that is calling for a report of Prince George’s County. He’s running around like a chicken without a head on.”

Baker claims the governor’s criticisms are about politics. Both men want to be governor of Maryland come next year.

“[Hogan] hasn’t engaged with our superintendent, he hasn’t sat down with his principals or teachers,” Baker said. “Yes, as governor of Maryland, that is what you should have been doing. But on the eve of the election, poll numbers dropping, all the sudden he has found religion.”

When asked about Baker’s argument that his criticisms are political, Hogan pointed to anger from Prince George’s County lawmakers, teachers and the local chapter of the NAACP.

“To say that somehow I’m politically motivated and I control all these folks, it’s just silly,” said Hogan. “It’s just more excuses and more hiding and trying to deflect blame. There is real wrongdoing and it didn’t start because he decided to run for governor. It started when they covered up the grades.”

It is still unclear when the second state audit will begin. The governor has allocated $1.5 million for the audit – three times what was spent on the first one.

Via FOX 5’s coverage on the Prince George’s County 

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Spring break fully restored for Prince George’s County Public Schools

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Citizens attend the Prince George’s County school board meeting Thursday, March 29, 2018, to discuss spring break and other issues. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

 – The Prince George’s County Board of Education has voted to fully restore spring break for students and staff.

The school board unanimously approved a motion Thursday night to restore the scheduled days off after the school district announced last week that spring break would be shortened to a single day to make up for weather-related school closures this school year.

All Prince George’s County Public Schools will be closed all of next week. Schools had been scheduled to be closed on Friday and Monday for the Easter holiday,

An executive order by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan requires schools to start the school year after Labor Day and end by June 15. However, state lawmakers this week advanced a bill that will allow school districts to extend the academic year by five days without having to ask the state for a waiver. The bill is expected to pass and the governor has said he will sign it.

Earlier Board Members Edward Burroughs III, Raaheela Ahmed and David Murray had written to the Maryland governor requesting for help.

Read more >>> Fox5DC >>> WTOP

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