Monthly Archives: November 2018

Alsobrooks appoints Paul Monteiro to serve in the PGCPS Board of Education

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Paul Monteiro

According to press release, Angela Alsobrooks is appointing Paul Monteiro to the Prince George’s County Board of Education. Monteiro ran against Alsobrooks for County Exec and is a former Obama White House aide. Monteiro is a product of Prince George’s County public schools, he graduated from High Point High School. He’s filling 1 of 2 open board seats.

“He inspires confidence, and he’s also respected,” Alsobrooks said of Monteiro. “He’s going to be a good colleague on the school board.” Through his Facebook account, Monteiro said, “Honored that our County Executive-elect has asked me to serve on the PGCPS Board of Education. I look forward to giving back to a public school system that gave me so much.”

Monteiro comes to the Board following an exposé involving University of Maryland College Park and the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) which has continued to be a cash cow for some in an organized version, Chairman Segun Eubanks has announced plans to finally resign. According to a letter sent to the entire board and later shared with the press, the letter details Eubanks’ plans to leave his post by either January 1 or whenever Prince George’s County Executive-Elect Angela Alsobrooks decides to appoint his replacement.

Since 2016, Prince George’s has reeled amid controversies. The PGCPS personnel and other parties tied to illegal activities in the county should resign on their own terms before its too late.

To Paul Monteiro, do what is right and don’t tolerate a culture of cover ups and embezzlement. The duty of the youth is to challenge the corruption in the society. Everyone is watching you!

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Prince George’s County executive-elect Angela Alsobrooks

 

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Former director of troubled DC agency now heads to Prince George’s County. Oh Lord!

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The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, DCRA Ex-director, Melinda Bolling

By Delia Goncalves and Stephanie Wilson

WASHINGTON, DC — The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, DCRA, is an agency in turmoil. Four top leaders are out and many of them are named in an employment discrimination lawsuit, including the agency’s ex-director, Melinda Bolling.

Bolling is now the head of the Department of Permits, Inspections and Enforcement for Prince George’s County, Md. That department is currently under FBI investigation for approving faulty electrical work that severely injured a little girl at MGM National Harbor last summer.

In a year long investigation, WUSA9 uncovered shoddy elevator inspections and illegal construction throughout D.C.

City council members even grilled Bolling for her mismanagement o the department.

“The day I saw the report I said ‘great, that’s something that someone is bringing to light because these are issues I saw myself dealing with DCRA,'” said Scott Williams.618843042_750x422.jpg

He signed a lease on a Northeast, D.C. storefront back in September. He had high hopes to get his business off the ground. But, Williams said because of DCRA, he’s not only out of business but out of his life savings.

“I didn’t fail. DCRA failed me,” he said.

Williams even had a soft opening for his new business, District CBD, an alternative wellness center and art gallery.

He transformed the old beauty salon with some elbow grease and a coat of pant so he thought getting a permit to open would be simple enough. But, think again.

“They’re asking for a slew of different things, this electrical outlet needs to be this place and exactly these dimensions,” he said.

After months of visiting DCRA, Williams said that he never got a straight answer. And, they kept asking for architectural documents tha should have already been in the system sine he didn’t make any structural changes.

“I really don’t know if there was a prejudice towards us or if their inherent process is broken,” said Williams.

And now he’s broke, $30,000 invested in the business that he says got derailed by DCRA.

We reached out to county executive-elect Alsobrooks about the appointment of Melinda Bolling. Her spokesperson said in the following statement:

Like all of the appointments we announced today, Melinda came to us as part of a national search conducted by a highly regarded talent acquisition agency. She was then vetted by our team and in all of our conversations with her, we found her to be a person of integrity with strong ethical standards. We have also spoken with several people in the District of Columbia to include council members, business leaders and members of the community and not one person had a negative thing to say about Melinda or her work. Like all of our appointees, she is someone with a proven track record in the area for which she was selected. She is a strong leader who holds people accountable and gets the job done. We are confident in her ability to efficiently and effectively serve the citizens of Prince George’s County.”

And, the spokesperson added that “we are aware of the lawsuit.”

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Prince George’s County executive-elect Angela Alsobrooks 

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Board chairman Segun Eubanks steps down in Maryland school system

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Dr. Segun Eubanks plans to resign by either January 1 or whenever Prince George’s County Executive-Elect Angela Alsobrooks decides to appoint his replacement

Following expose involving University of Maryland College Park and the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) which has continued to be a cash cow for some in an organized version, Chairman Segun Eubanks has announced plans to finally resign. According to a letter sent to the entire board and later shared with the press, the letter details Eubanks’ plans to leave his post by either January 1 or whenever Prince George’s County Executive-Elect Angela Alsobrooks decides to appoint his replacement.

Eubanks’ departure is one of several recent leadership changes that will impact the immediate future of PGCPS.

Over the summer, PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell resigned from his post with a $800,000 severance package. He was replaced by Interim PGCPS CEO Dr. Monica Goldson who is marred by her own scandals and allegations of paying off lawyers among other issues in Maryland.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker will also soon leave his post to make way for the Alsobrooks administration on Monday.

Chairman Segun Eubanks role as part of allegation in ongoing scheme in Maryland must continue to be carefully monitored in retirement. Since 2016, Prince George’s has reeled amid controversies. The PGCPS personnel and other parties tied to them who might be engaged in illegal activities  should resign on their own terms before its too late.

We reprint the report by Washington Post below.

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Segun C. Eubanks, right, chairman of the Prince George’s County school board, in 2016 with then-school system CEO Kevin Maxwell, left, and County Executive Rushern L. Baker III. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

By Donna St. George

The chairman of the Prince George’s County school board is stepping down, citing personal and professional reasons for his departure from Maryland’s second-largest school system amid a shifting political landscape.

Segun C. Eubanks, chairman for more than five years, announced his departure Thursday, four days before the inauguration of Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) as county executive.

Eubanks presided over the board through hopeful and rocky periods as the low-performing school system looked to improve student success but in the past two years became mired in scandals.

His term on the board was set to end in June 2021.

“It’s the right time for me personally and professionally, and I think it’s a good time for the system,” Eubanks said in an interview, acknowledging recent difficulties. “We’ve made some significant progress. Some of that progress was overshadowed by the challenges we had.”

He cited among his accomplishments recent work with an equity task force that is seeking to steer more resources to students who need them the most, as well as a community schools initiative to combine education with social services.

Eubanks said he continues to support the county’s hybrid board structure — with a mix of appointed and elected members — despite criticism from some in the community. “I think people will be a lot more accepting and embrace it” in years to come, he said. “The politics of change are never easy and never simple.”

Eubanks, 56, was appointed in 2013 by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who is leaving office after two terms and an unsuccessful bid to become governor. Baker thanked Eubanks in a statement, saying that during the chairman’s tenure, the school system saw a rise in enrollment and expanded academic offerings to help ensure students were prepared for college and the workplace.

Eubanks said the timing of his departure seemed right, given that Alsobrooks is about to take over and that he is steeped in projects at the University of Maryland, where he is director of the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement.

In a resignation letter addressed to Baker, dated Oct. 21 and made public Thursday, Eubanks said he would leave Jan. 1 or as soon as Alsobrooks appointed his replacement.

He said in the letter that he did not actively seek membership on the board of education but “happily accepted it with hope, confidence, and determination.”

He said the school system was better than five years earlier, pointing to an expansion in prekindergarten classes, dual enrollment programs that provide early access to college classes and opportunities in career and technical education.

He gave a nod to the difficulties — without naming them — saying that he and Baker “often joked that in my 30-plus years of education program and policy work, nothing has been more challenging than serving on the school board.”

Since 2016, Prince George’s has reeled amid controversies. A major sex abuse case that year involving a school volunteer, Deonte Carraway, raised questions about school district policies and oversight.

In the same year, the school system lost a multimillion-dollar Head Start grant amid allegations of corporal punishment and humiliation of children.

Afterward, scandals erupted over inflated graduation rates, large pay raises to executive staffers and a nearly $800,000 payout to an unpopular schools chief leaving before his contract ended.

Eubanks at times faced sharp criticism from community members and several fellow board members, most notably clashing with member Edward Burroughs III. Following a tense board meeting in July, Burroughs accused Eubanks of pinning him against a bookcase in a backroom and yelling, “I will f— you up” several times. Burroughs asked for a temporary restraining order and filed an assault complaint.

Burroughs later dropped the restraining order, and prosecutors dropped the assault case in August, citing insufficient evidence. As prosecutors dropped the case, Eubanks called the allegations false and reckless and said he hoped board members would “put other agendas aside” and focus on serving students.

Board member David Murray, who was often at odds with Eubanks, said Eubanks too often stifled voices of disagreement. He called the change a “good clean break” for the school system.

He said he looks forward to a more collaborative board chair who will “practice the oversight that the school board is supposed to conduct.”

John Erzen, a spokesman for Alsobrooks, said that she and Eubanks met to discuss board leadership and that the change made sense. Alsobrooks wanted to select her own board chairman, which she felt was important.

Erzen said Alsobrooks recognizes Eubanks’s long career in education and is thankful for his service to the county.

She has not appointed a replacement but is working on it, he said, adding that Alsobrooks told board members this week that she would leave the choice of a vice chairman to them.

Alsobrooks filled a vacant seat on the board with Paul Monteiro, an unsuccessful candidate for county executive and an official in the Obama White House who graduated from Prince George’s County public schools.

Monica Goldson, interim chief executive of the school system, voiced appreciation in a statement for Eubanks’s work, calling him “a dedicated community servant, champion of public education and fierce advocate for our students.”

Via Washington Post

 

Ravens players write to U.S. senators backing criminal justice reform

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U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin meets with a group of Ravens at their team headquarters in September 2018 to discuss criminal-justice reform. (Courtesy of Office of U.S. Senator Ben Cardin)

By Jeff Barker

More than a dozen Ravens players and executives have written to U.S. Senate leaders urging passage of legislation they say would bring “much needed change” to the criminal justice system.

The First Step Act, pending in the Senate, has unusual bipartisan support in a Congress often divided on social issues. The measure, overwhelmingly passed by the House in May, aligns many NFL players on an issue with President Donald Trump — who criticized players last season for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

The legislation would give judges greater latitude to depart from mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug violations, and would bolster rehabilitation programs.

Trump tweeted recently that the measure amounts to “really good criminal justice reform” and that it had a “true shot at major bipartisan support.” It’s not certain the bill will be voted on in the lame-duck Senate as members negotiate possible changes.

The letter urging a vote was sent to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators. It was signed by Ravens Javorius Allen, Brandon Carr, Morgan Cox, Matthew Judon, Anthone Levine Sr., Chris Moore, C.J. Mosley, Justin Tucker and Brandon Williams. It also was signed by team president Dick Cass, general counsel Brandon Etheridge, community relations director Heather Darney and public relations vice president Chad Steele.

“Criminal justice reform is an issue that deeply affects our community in Baltimore, as well as the nation as a whole,” the letter said. “Not only will this legislation strengthen our nation’s criminal justice system, but it enjoys the backing of an incredibly diverse group of supporters.”

Judon said afterward that the meeting with Cardin — which also touched on racial and religious profiling — was empowering.

Cass said in a statement Tuesday that “the letter does speak for itself” and pointed to the meeting with Cardin, adding, “This letter follows up that discussion.”

“Our players continue their social justice efforts, which have included ‘ride-alongs’ with local police, visits with students and time spent at the Baltimore Juvenile Detention Center,” he said. “The players have funded a number of different projects in the community, one with the Baltimore school system that will be announced sometime soon.”

The legislation’s broad aim is to minimize warehousing of prisoners and make it easier for inmates to succeed once released. While some law enforcement groups support the bill, others have expressed concern that the measure could release dangerous criminals back into society.

Cardin, who plans to sign on as a co-sponsor, said in a statement Tuesday that he is thankful that Ravens players and executives were committed “to policies that will build a more just nation for all of us. By using their public platform to support bipartisan criminal justice reform, they are giving hope to countless Americans in Baltimore and nationwide who are caught in an often unreasonable system.”

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, also a Democrat, said people across the country “are speaking out about the need for criminal justice reform, and we welcome the Baltimore Ravens players and other members of the Raven organization who are adding their voices to this effort.”

Van Hollen called the bill “an initial way to move forward on this vital issue” and said it has his “strong support.”

Mississippi Senator Who Made “Public Hanging” Remark Attended Segregated Choice

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(Jackson, Mississippi, seen here at dusk). Jackson, officially the City of Jackson, is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Mississippi. The city of Jackson also includes around 3,000 acres comprising Jackson-Medgar Evers International Airport in Rankin County and a small portion of Madison County.

The Jackson Free-Press (Mississippi) reported that Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith attended an all-white segregation academy in her high school years.

The story was picked up by Huffington Post.

It’s important to remember that segregation academies were created as the first statewide examples of school choice. Their purpose was to allow white students to avoid being forced by federal courts to go to school with black students after the Brown vs, Board of Education decision in 1954.

Senator Hyde-Smith’s alma mater, Lawrence County Academy, “was established in 1970, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Mississippi to desegregate its schools. For 15 years after desegregation became law of the land, Mississippi dragged its feet on integrating black and white students.”

It was part of the school choice movement across the South whose purpose was to avoid and defeat desegregation.

In Maryland, charter schools have been out of control where they have existed since 2003. In 2003, the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing charter schools in Maryland. The legislation outlined the parameters for applicants, authorizers, employees, the application timeline, and the review and revocation of charter agreements. Since the passage of the law, charter schools have been opened in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Frederick, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s counties and Baltimore City. The majority of charters are found in Baltimore City, where 38 of the state’s 52 charter schools operate and more than 10,000 of the state’s 17,000 charter school students are enrolled.

Charter schools provide an opportunity for focused learning using innovative curricula and instructional methods with the goal of enhancing student achievement. They have the potential to facilitate education reforms and develop new and creative teaching methods that can benefit children in all public schools.

However, research has shown that charter schools are not a panacea for every problem plaguing students despite public corruption plaguing them at very turn within their ranks. The state of Maryland is not doing enough to curb public corruption within the schools. If anything, the state officials have been busy covering things up. College park academy raised eyebrows when it was launched in 2017. Public Corruption tied to it continues to this day.

Time has come to stop the charter school movement from spreading further in Maryland at the expense of the public schools. A few public school officials involved in malfeasance must be exposed and let go.

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College park academy raised eyebrows when it was launched. Public Corruption tied to it continues

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PG Parents Demand Administrative Procedure on the Assignment of Homework (AP No. 6154) be updated without Delay.

sasscer1A petition has been launched by Meredith Kaunitz and supported by PG Parents. It calls for the Administrative Procedure on the Assignment of Homework (AP No. 6154) in Prince George’s County be updated. The current document has never been updated since 1983. The petition is directed at the following individuals: Dr. Goldson, CEO of PGCPS, Shauna Garlington Battle, Esq., General Counsel of PGCPS, Segun Eubanks, Chair of School Board of PGCPS. By the time of publishing this post, the petition had already generated more than 42 signatures. 

Homework has a long and surprisingly controversial history in the United States. Those who argue in favor of homework see it as a way to ensure practice and mastery of critical academic skills as well as a key way for parents to stay informed about their children’s education. Those who criticize homework suggest it may lead to boredom and keep children from participating in useful leisure and community activities. While there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the debate, surveys show that parents overwhelmingly support homework because it gives them a way to monitor the quality of their children’s education.

BACKGROUND
Research shows that the benefits of homework are more evident at the high school level than at the elementary or middle school level (Cooper, 1989). There is little question that parental involvement in homework has a strong positive effect (Van Voorhis, 2003; Xu, 2004). In fact, some research suggests that parental involvement in homework has a more powerful influence on achievement than either social class or the parents’ own educational level. While parents may be tempted to throw up their hands when their children resist homework or lack the skills to do it, school success may depend on parents’ willingness to help overcome obstacles to homework completion.

However, without structure, Parents as well as students often feel somewhat at the mercy of schools, teachers and homework assignments. One thing many parents have on their side is knowing their children. You know if he or she can find the time and complete their assignments on their own, or if they could use some structure.

By providing choices on the school district level, the school district and parents working together provide a measure of control for students and their families. Parents cannot control what the assignment is or how much work they will be given, but they can control how they will respond.

REASONABLE HOMEWORK EXPECTATIONS
It is generally agreed that children are expected to devote increasingly more time to homework as they get older. A general rule of thumb that is easy to remember is the expectation that children do 10 minutes of homework for each grade level (Henderson, 1996). Thus, first graders would be expected to do about 10 minutes of homework, second graders 20 minutes, third graders 30 minutes, and so on. If your child is spending more than 10 minutes per grade level on work at night, then you may want to talk with your child’s teacher about adjusting the workload.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO
Parents can help children succeed with homework by providing clear messages about the importance of homework and specific support strategies. Parents can also get involved in petitions such as this one for proper adjustments.

Here is the petition as presented on actionnetwork.org

Did you know the Administrative Procedure on the Assignment of Homework (AP No. 6154) has not been updated since 1983?

County-wide parents are having unnecessary conflicts with their teachers, Principals and schools over homework load. We can fix this with 3 simple changes to the Administrative Procedure. The changes are based on evidence-based research completed over the past 35 years and are designed to be helpful for everybody: parents, students, teachers and Principals. Learn more about the reasoning behind them here.

The proposed changes are:

  • Change procedure IV.B.10 to read: The length of time required to perform all homework assignments from all teachers on a given day should not exceed 10 minutes multiplied by the grade. This means 1st graders will not be expected to work on homework for more than 10 minutes each night, 2nd graders 20 minutes, etc.
  • Add a procedure that states: Teachers must provide, in writing, a homework accommodation for any student (with or without an IEP or 504 plan) whose parent reports that the assignments are taking the student longer than the upper limit.
  • Add a procedure that states: Homework is not required to be assigned if the teacher feels there is no benefit to their students based on their particular teaching strategies, even in cases where a percentage of the teacher’s grading requirements is dedicated to homework. A teacher may exempt all of his/her students from homework grades.

These simple changes will set teachers, parents and administrators free from the constant and unnecessary conflict over homework. They give teachers more freedom to customize their teaching strategies while ensuring parents’ and students’ rights to have reasonable and effective homework assignments are codified.

We reprint the letter from PG Parents forwarded to Dr. Goldson CEO of PGCPS, Shauna Garlington Battle, Esq., General Counsel of PGCPS, Segun Eubanks, Chair of School Board of PGCPS demanding immediate actions below.

From: [Your Name]

We are residents of Prince Georges County, parents of PGCPS students, and teacher/staff of PGCPS. We ask you to change the official homework policy in order to help us prevent unnecessary conflict over homework that has plagued our county for decades. The homework policy has not been updated since 1983, ignoring 35 years of evidence-based research findings.

We ask you to make the following changes to Administrative Procedure No. 6154, Assignment of Homework:

* Change procedure IV.B.10 to read: The length of time required to perform all homework assignments from all teachers on a given day should not exceed 10 minutes multiplied by the grade. This means 1st graders will not be expected to work on homework for more than 10 minutes each night, 2nd graders 20 minutes, etc.

* Add a procedure that states: Teachers must provide, in writing, a homework accommodation for any student (with or without an IEP or 504 plan) whose parent reports that the assignments are taking the student longer than the upper limit.

* Add a procedure that states: Homework is not required to be assigned if the teacher feels there is no benefit to their students based on their particular teaching strategies, even in cases where a percentage of the teacher’s grading requirements is dedicated to homework. A teacher may exempt all of his/her students from homework grades.

These simple changes will set teachers, parents and administrators free from the constant and unnecessary conflict over homework. They give teachers more freedom to customize their teaching strategies while ensuring parents’ and students’ rights to have reasonable and effective homework assignments are codified.

Please take immediate action to help us prevent unnecessary conflict over homework.

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Monica Goldson Interim CEO of PGCPS

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Segun Eubanks, Chair of School Board of PGCPS

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Shauna Garlington Battle, Esq., General Counsel of PGCPS

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Prince George’s Ballot Shortages / Voter suppression More Widespread Than Previously Thought

Ballot_Problems_Hinder_Voting_in_Prince_Georges.jpgOn November 7, 2018, this blog was the first to highlight the voter suppression which occurred in Prince George’s County on November 6, 2018. Now NBC4 News, has done an independent in depth investigation and found problems were wide spread than previously reported. Prince George’s County elections officials have said, they will conduct an investigation into the ballot shortage that left thousands of voters stuck in line for hours on Election Day, and are pledging to prevent the error from happening again. What is the Prince George’s County NAACP going to do about it and other authoritative agencies and organizations in what appeared to be a deliberate exercise to sabotage the voting?

We reprint their investigative findings of NBC4 News below.

Prince George’s County elections officials say they will conduct an investigation into the ballot shortage that left thousands of voters stuck in line for hours on Election Day, and are pledging to prevent the error from happening again.

Nearly two weeks after the midterms, the county still does not have a comprehensive list of the precincts that ran out of paper ballots.

But the News4 I-Team has compiled voter complaints indicating at least 30 precincts ran out of ballots — more than double what was initially reported.

The shortage prompted cries of voter suppression from some voters, but Prince George’s elections officials say “human error” was to blame.Ballot_Shortages_in_MD_More_Widespread_Than_Thought.jpg

Alisha Alexander, who runs the Prince George’s County Board of Elections, said officials printed more ballots than required by state law. She said the county based the allocation on the 2016 presidential election, but “unfortunately we did fall short.”

The I-Team reviewed voter turnout for the precincts with ballot shortages and found, in almost all of them, turnout was higher for the midterm election than the 2016 presidential election — something Alexander said is rare.

From the Upper Marlboro Community Center to Brandywine Elementary, voter after voter contacted the News4 I-Team to complain that lines were not moving. By late afternoon on Election Day, phone calls, emails and tweets indicated problems at more than a dozen locations.

The I-Team filed an open records request for election officials’ internal emails and found several angry emails voters sent to the elections board, noting problems at additional locations.

Voters also complained that some of the precincts only had one working electronic machine, making it even harder to vote once the paper ballots ran out.

The county scrambled to deliver additional ballots in rainy weather and rush-hour traffic, but some voters who got tired of waiting in line for hours left without voting.long+voting+line+brandywine

One voter emailed the board and said: “I’m 65 years old and this is the very first election I have not been able to participate in.”

Others were still waiting long after the polls closed, which delayed the posting of statewide results.

The elections administrator told the I-Team her review of the ballot shortage will begin next week. The report should be finalized by mid-December.

Here’s the list of polling places where voters indicated ballot shortages on Election Day: 

Accokeek Academy, Accokeek
Faith United Methodist Church, Accokeek
Heather Hills Elementary School, Bowie
High Bridge, Bowie
Baden Elementary School, Brandywine
Brandywine Elementary School, Brandywine
Gwynn Park High School, Brandywine
Clinton Baptist Church, Clinton
Fort Evans Elementary, Clinton
Stephen Decatur Middle School,  Clinton
Waldon Woods, Clinton
E Michael Roll Municipal Center, District Heights
Spauldings Branch Library, District Heights
Andrew Jackson Academy, Forestville
Tayac Elementary, Fort Washington
Reid Temple Church, Glenn Dale
Hyattsville Middle School, Hyattsville
William Paca Elementary School, Landover
James H Harrison Elementary School, Laurel
Laurel Boys and Girls Club, Laurel
Mt. Rainier Elementary School, Mount Rainier
Skyline Elementary School, Suitland
Green Valley Academy,  Temple Hills
Arrowhead Elementary School, Upper Marlboro
Excellence Christian School, Upper Marlboro
James Madison Middle School, Upper Marlboro
Kettering Middle School, Upper Marlboro
Marlton Elementary,  Upper Marlboro
Rosaryville Elementary School, Upper Marlboro
St. Mary of the Assumption School, Upper Marlboro
Upper Marlboro Community Center, Upper Marlboro

via NBC4 News

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