Author Archives: sasscer

Seven PGCPS schools in Bowie Region test high for lead in water


Three water sources at Bowie High School’s Belair Annex had elevated levels of lead, according to data from February tests. (John McNamara / Capital Gazette)

By Jack Chavez

At least seven of the 14 Bowie-area public schools tested for high concentrations of lead in their drinking water since 2017, according to an internal report from the county school system. The county has taken remediation steps since elevated lead levels surfaced.

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends water be shut off at any faucet where lead exceeds 20 parts per billion, the county takes action at 10 ppb, because schools are open longer than the six-hour day the EPA used to determine their threshold. Water sources tested include fountains and food preparation areas. They don’t include showers or bathroom sinks.

Letters concerning the findings will be sent to parents this school year.

At the Belair Annex, where the freshman class of Bowie High School takes classes, at least three outlets tested high in February. One drinking source tested at 377 ppb, then tested at 84.2, while another tested at 203 and 24.5 ppb. Another source nearly tripled on its second test.

Other results for tests taken in 2017, were the main campus of Bowie High where two water sources were found with high concentrations of lead and shut down, Heather Hills Elementary (two sources), High Bridge Elementary (two sources), Pointer Ridge Elementary (two sources), Yorktown Elementary (one source) and Chapel Forge Early Childhood Center (one source).

Nearly every outlet that tested high was tested again to ensure accuracy and determine if replacing the fixture solved the problem. Schools that tested high at first, but passed subsequent tests, were Tall Oaks Vocational (four sources), Whitehall Elementary (one source) and Rockledge Elementary (one source).

“A lot of the fixtures in old buildings have lead in them,” schools spokesman John White said. “So we replaced fixtures where the water might test high, then we retest the water.”

Sources that remained high after testing were shut off and capped, White said. Only drinking water sources were tested. Signs are posted to not drink non-potable water.

The latest round of tests satisfies the requirements laid out under a new law that states all public and nonpublic schools be tested by July 1, if they were built before 1988. Schools built after 1988 have until July 2019 to submit test results.

Northview Elementary School, which is a little more than a decade old, tested nearly perfectly, with just three of 128 sources testing for trace amounts of lead, which was under the county’s threshold.

The county is taking additional steps by installing multiple filtered water fountains in every school. Installations began at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

“We want to provide that additional layer with the filtered water fountains because we know students and staff will often want to refill bottles,” White said.

A timetable for all Bowie schools to be outfitted with filtered water fountains was not immediately available.

School board member Raaheela Ahmed, who represents each of the affected schools, could not be reached for comment.

Via Capial Gazette 



Mom says daughter was touched inappropriately by classmate, furious PGCPS didn’t tell her

d6d12bea-e8d7-470e-9564-d7b427439ac6_1140x641By Hilary Lane

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD — A Prince George’s County mother said her daughter was touched inappropriately by a classmate and administrators never notified her.

She only found out when her 7-year-old daughter told her about the incident. She then began asking questions.

The school system confirmed the incident happened back on May 7th at Andrew Jackson Academy in Prince George’s County.

“I want answers. I am not even suing. I just want answers,” said the mother, who has asked for her identity to be concealed.

The child’s mother said the night after the incident happened, her daughter was clingy, restless, and was having nightmares.

After asking her daughter what was wrong, her daughter finally told her what happened in school.

“My daughter said ‘mommy, he touched me on the butt. I told him to stop but he didn’t,'” said Mom.

According to a district spokesperson, the touch was believed to have been “accidental”, and therefore the child’s mother was not notified.

“They completely failed my daughter,” said the mother.

According to school spokesperson, the boy was transferred to another class and was disciplined.

“Schools normally do not contact police to press charges or contact Child Protective Services when children are so young (7 years old). Schools counsel and teach the children about inappropriate touching. The school made sure the students were no longer in the same class. The school also provided the parent with information and assistance on homeschooling,” said John White, a school spokesperson.

White added that the school’s principal did have “a lengthy conversation” with the child’s mother. She said that was only after she went to the school furious and demanded to speak to the principal because she was never notified.

“I had to go to them on everything,” said the mother.

She said she is speaking out now, because she wants the school district’s policies changed so another mother is never again left in the dark.

“It’s not like I am just fighting for my own child. I am fighting for all the other children who have been through this and maybe some adults too and didn’t have no one to fight for them ,” she said.

WUSA9 requested data from the district, to determine if more students were touched inappropriately and parents were not notified.

According to a spokesperson, the school doesn’t keep track of that type of data and is not required to report it to the state.

If your child has been touched inappropriately, here are some resources to help determine what to do next:

Via  WUSA9  >>>See video


Prince George’s Board sets salary for interim schools chief


The interim schools chief in Prince George’s County Monica Goldson “Goldson”.

The interim schools chief in Prince George’s County Monica Goldson “Goldson” who was appointment in July this year will earn $265,000 for the coming year under a contract the Prince George’s County school board approved last Thursday.

Last month, Monica E. Goldson was named interim chief executive of Maryland’s second-largest school system for the coming year, filling the vacancy left when Kevin Maxwell resigned under the cloud of an ethics scandal and under pressure from Elected officials. Before his departure, Maxwell earned $299,937 a year and other benefits.

“I am honored and humbled to be called to serve,” Goldson said after the county board of education unanimously voted for the contract. Goldson said she and her team were “working feverishly” to prepare for the opening of school on Sept. 4. However, many county residents and staff who know her well have a negative opinion based on her close association and cover ups involving union executives.

Segun Eubanks, the board chairman who has a pending case after he assaulted Board Member Edward Burroughs, congratulated Goldson. “We look forward to a very successful and engaging partnership,” he said according to the Washington Post.

A 27-year veteran of the school system, Goldson, 50, started as a math teacher at Suitland High School, before transferring to Forestville High School were she worked under James Smallwoods who is considered “the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg” and elevated Monica Goldson. Forestville High School was a public magnet high school located in Forestville before it was closed permanently in 2016 under suspicious circumstances due to numerous conflicts of interests. On March 8, 2016 former CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell sent a letter to parents that Forestville would be closed after the end of the 2015-2016 school year despite weeks of protests against closing the school. Students were reassigned to neighboring Suitland High School for the 2016-2017 school year.

The school had a comprehensive program with a specialized Military Academy magnet program. Mr. Smallwoods who was engaged in a major scandal while at Forestville terrorized some school staff members before being reassigned to Largo High School where he unleashed more scandals like a Wildebeest on heat. His shenanigans were covered up Dr. William Hite Jr who fled to Philadelphia School District under pressure from elected officials and the public in Prince George’s County.

There is no doubt Monica Goldson has worked her way up the ranks. However, her appointment without any input from the public should have many county residents and others who love Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) worried. The worry is based on genuine concerns after cover ups and her close association with corrupt union executives in Washington DC metro area starting within PGCPS under an organized scheme which is ongoing.

Organized “scheme to defraud” is defined as a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act etc.

Goldson was most recently deputy superintendent for teaching and learning. Under her watch, the school District saw a number of fake grades facilitated in order to retain power. She is a homegrown educator, having graduated from the county’s Potomac High School in 1986.

County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), whose term ends this year, named Goldson interim chief July 23. Her contract runs through June 30, 2019. The next county executive will be empowered to make a longer-term appointment for the schools chief position.

Goldson has said she hopes to be considered for that appointment. But she said she is focused on opening day.

“Job one right now is making sure we have a smooth opening of school,” she said. The school system expects to have about 132,000 students.

So far teachers and other staff have complained on the internet of her unchecked habit of sending emails at night or in the evening “spoiling dinner” or vacation for staff.

Teachers have also complained of the Human Resources refusing to let teachers transfer under a different Principal because the system is outside the transfer window. Unless it is a promotion the principals have refused to release them.

Montgomery County, with the state’s largest system, has about 163,000 students. Its superintendent, Jack R. Smith, is paid an annual salary of $290,000.

In July, the Prince George’s school board agreed to a contract settlement of nearly $800,000 with Maxwell. He departed the superintendent’s post about three years before the end of his four-year contract due to public corruption in PGCPS.

Deputy Superintendent Monique Davis who oversaw employee performance an evaluation returned to the Anne Arundel County School system as a regional superintendent after major fiasco in the county.

Davis was second-in-command in Prince George’s County when a state audit found improperly documented grade changes allowing unqualified students to graduate.

She was also accused by at least 21 employees of workplace bullying and harassment during her tenure.

The results of an internal investigation into the complaints have not been made public.

In the meantime,  the trial on criminal assault charges filed against Board Chairman Segun Eubanks by Board member Edward Burroughs is set for September 4th,  2018 at 10:30 AM in Room: 261. (See Case Number: 4E00634806 Tracking No:181001423945).


Board Chairman Segun Eubanks faces criminal assault charges with a trial set for September 4th,  2018 at 10:30 AM in Room: 261


Board member Edward Burroughs filed a criminal complaint after he was assaulted at Sasscer administrative building to shut him down.



After Outcry- NEA Provides Educators with Guidance on Preventing Workplace Bullying

White Out5The new directive to teachers in the United States by National Education Association (NEA) which for the first time Provided Educators with Guidance on how to Prevent Workplace harassment following widespread bullying as reported here is a reminder that violent and illegal tactics used by unions are not just remnants of the past. More often than we can prove, unions or their rogue representatives intimidate, threaten, and resort to violence when organizing employees, seeking contract concessions from employers, or “persuading’ companies to use overpriced union contractors and subcontractors in their development projects.

Companies often capitulate to illegally intimidating union demands rather than suffer the costs, inevitable project delays, and unwanted distractions associated with fighting the unions. But employers interested in defending their rights and independence, and who want to send a message that they will not surrender to union violence and intimidation, should consider one or more of the following steps:

  • Notify Law Enforcement. Local police is typically the best option for immediate response and protection. Companies should report broader conspiracies and illegal union corporate campaigns to state and federal agencies.
  • Seek Injunctive Relief. While many states have laws prohibiting courts from issuing injunctions in labor disputes, these anti-injunction laws are inapplicable to illegal conduct such as violence, and blocking entrances and exits.
  • File a Charge with the NLRB. Under the NLRA, EEOC or U.S Department of labor,  it is an unfair labor practice for unions, among other things, to intimidate and cause employees of a subcontractor to refuse to go to work at a third jobsite; to commit acts of force or violence on the picket line, or in connection with a strike; or threaten bodily injury to nonstriking employees.
  • Refuse to Reinstate Violent Strikers. Employers may legally refuse to reinstate strikers who engage in serious misconduct during the strike, including acts of violence and threats of violence.

Employers should not wait for violence or intimidating tactics to occur to develop a response plan. Take the time NOW to update law enforcement contact information, prepare skeleton injunction papers for nonunion development projects in high-union activity areas, and educate supervisors and managers on how to properly respond to illegal union bullying.

After many years of silence on these issues by NEA, Cindy Long reports on the way forward for teachers in the United States on behalf of NEA below.

She writes:

workplacebullying-e1371562286492-300x201BY CINDY LONG

Kim Werner’s former principal was identified by her union as the most abusive principal in the district.

“He has been targeting educators for fifteen years,” she says. “He lies. He coerces.  He intimidates.  He screams and uses profanities.”

And he’s still a principal, while Werner is now an Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Trainer.

After a year and a half of constant abuse, Werner took medical leave and reported her principal. She was covered by the district’s Bullying and Harassment policy, and while on leave, requested public records about complaints filed by other educators at her school.

“I soon discovered the horror other educators had experienced under his leadership,” Werner says. “I was shocked and sick inside.  These were simply people who spoke up and addressed his intimidation tactics. They suffered greatly–both professionally and emotionally.”

Bullying leadership is often based upon fear, Werner says, and because bullying principals are scared they “disperse that fear throughout their schools.”

“They are afraid that some piece of bad news will ‘get out’ about their schools and so they manipulate people and data to meet their needs,” she says. “It’s happening throughout the nation.”

She says that when she was bullied, she felt very scared and alone, but ultimately decided to take action. What others do in response to bullying, however, can vary greatly.

“Some align with the bullying brute.  That feels safe,” she says. “Most hide.  A few stand up and say, ‘That’s not right,’ but very few of the ‘hiders’ will support those who stand up because they think it’s not safe, and they’re right.”

To help local NEA affiliates support members who are being targeted by administrators, delegates to the 2012 NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly passed a resolution to “Defend the Rights and Dignity of Educators.”

It calls for NEA to inform its members on ways to challenge administrator abuse of teachers and education support professsionals, and to support local NEA affiliate efforts to defend the rights and dignity of teachers and education support professionals.

“There is no way children will ever be safe from bullying if adults in schools aren’t safe from the same.  Until we assure safety for ALL–children and adults in schools– we will continue to lose the battle,” says Werner.  “It’s treating others with respect and kindness and patience and love.  That’s the real work.”

Workplace Bullying – A Silent Crisis: A Resource for Educators

NEA’s guidance for affiliates to ensure members a workplace free of bullying and harassment

Read more >>>👇👇👇

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Uncontrolled Maryland Corruption Under Scrutiny — From Academics This Time


Maryland is one of the more corrupt states in the nation, according to a survey of journalists who cover statehouses across the country.

The General Assembly pulled in the worst score possible, a 5 (“extremely common”) on the Corruption in America survey’s scale of 1-5. The executive branch wasn’t far behind, rating a 4 (“very common”).

Before going any further, it needs to be clarified that the Institute for Corruption Studies, located at Illinois State University, issues six ratings for each state — two for the executive branch, two for the legislative and two for the judicial. In each case, the researchers distinguish between “illegal corruption” and “legal corruption.”

The researchers behind the work define illegal corruption as “the private gains in the form of cash or gifts by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups.” Your basic politician-in-handcuffs type of thing.


Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis, Maryland

They define legal corruption as “the political gains in the form of campaign contributions or endorsements by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups, be it by explicit or implicit understanding.” Your basic you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours deal-making that everyone assumes is pretty much an everyday occurrence.

The numbers cited above are Maryland’s legal corruption scores. The state’s judiciary rated a 2 (“slightly common”).

As for illegal corruption, Maryland’s legislature rated a 3 (“moderately common”), the executive branch was deemed to be a 2 and the judiciary rated the highest score possible, a 1 (“not at all common”).

When the data are aggregated and compared with other states, Maryland’s political climate ranks among the 14 worst in the nation, according to a chart on the institute’s website.

Oguzhan Dincer, associate professor of economics at Illinois State and the director of the Institute for Corruption Studies, said he relies on journalists’ impressions because they are close to the action.


Prof. Oguzhan Dincer

“Political reporters and investigative reporters, you guys are the watchdogs. You guys are dealing with the politicians and the state politics on a 24/7 basis,” he said in an interview this week.

“Instead of asking people on the street, [we decided] why don’t we get a more informed opinion?”

He conceded there are “weakness” to this approach. “Reporters are human beings, too.”

Dincer said he reaches out to about 1,000 journalists a year, typically receiving responses from approximately 270.

Often, he finds, journalists are hesitant to click on a link and enter their impressions.

“A lot of reporters don’t want to respond at all,” he acknowledged. “It’s kind of a touchy subject. I understand these are the people you’re interviewing every day.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has been publishing corruption-related convictions by state since 1976, one of the reforms spawned by Watergate. “That data has a lot of problems,” Dincer said. Chief among them: “It only covers convictions, not plea bargains.”

Maryland is no stranger to political corruption.

Former state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks (D-Baltimore City) was sentenced in July to 3½ years in federal prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

Former Del. William A. Campos (D-Prince George’s) was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison in May, in a bribery case that prosecutors said involved “the use of taxpayer money as if it were a literal slush fund.”

Former Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) was convicted this year of conspiracy and bribery after accepting cash in exchange for votes to expand liquor sales. The cash-strapped lawmaker argued, unsuccessfully, that the bundles of cash he received were mere donations from grateful constituents.

In addition, two relatively recent Maryland governors landed in big-time hot water.

Former Vice President Spiro Agnew (R) pled no contest to a single federal count of tax evasion for failing to report income that he received in 1967, during his tenure as governor. He resigned and was fined $10,000 and sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation. Prosecutors suggested he had been taking bribes from highway contractors from the time he was Baltimore County executive straight through to his years as vice president.

Former Gov. Marvin Mandel (D) was found guilty on 17 counts of mail fraud and two counts of racketeering for accepting gifts and bribes from his co-defendants to influence legislation that helped them get extra racing dates from the state for Marlboro Racetrack in Prince George’s County. Two decades later, a federal judge overturned the conviction and the state Court of Appeals reinstated his law license.

Even lobbyists have found themselves in legal trouble.

Two of the state capital’s most high-profile and best-paid lobbyists, Bruce C. Bereano and Gerard Evans, both did time, only to resurrect their careers after their release from prison.

The data that Dincer and his associate, Colgate University Professor of Political Science Michael Johnson, release this fall will be their fifth set. They plan to issue a report on the conclusions they’ve drawn since beginning their work at Harvard in 2014.

The professors hope the ratings will serve as a wake-up call to the electorate.

“The easiest way to get rid of a corrupt politician is to vote ‘em out, because convicting is very difficult,” Dincer said.

“Why is Illinois more corrupt than Minnesota or Iowa? We should ask ourselves this question instead of getting used to it. People in Illinois, everybody is kind of used to corruption here. It’s like a lifestyle. The same thing in Louisiana. The same thing in New Jersey.”

“We should do something about it,” he said.

Like many people, Dincer laments the cutbacks that have hit U.S. newsrooms.

“One of the most frequent comments I get from the reporters is — yeah, we’re covering the [statehouse] but they’re getting away with murder at the county and city level, and nobody’s covering them.”

Even when there are reporters on the beat, it’s not always enough to keep elected leaders honest.

“When I first conducted the survey, I got ‘thank you’ emails from reporters in [one state capital] saying, ‘this state is so messed up and nobody knows about it!’”

He declined to name the state, but he said it’s not Maryland.

The next round of rankings will be published this fall. “I want to do it before the November elections,” he said.

Via Maryland Matters

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Missouri: Voters Reject “Right-to-Work” Law, Overwhelmingly – Win for labor

GettyImages-109349918There are very few unionized workers in Missouri, but nonetheless voters rejected a law passed by the Legislature to cripple labor unions. The legislature passed the law in 2017, the labor movement gathered enough signatures to force a referendum, which was decided two days ago. The vote was overwhelming, 63% opposing the law. In politics, 63% is a landslide.

Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect explains what happened:

Kuttner on TAP

Labor’s Astonishing Missouri Win—and the Opening It Portends. Ohio’s razor-thin vote for an open House seat got most of the headlines, but the bigger story was the defeat of a right-to-work ballot proposition in supposedly right-wing Missouri.

The bill to make Missouri America’s 28th state with a “right to work” law was passed by the legislature in 2017 and signed by then–Republican Governor Eric Greitens. But the labor movement qualified a ballot initiative overturning the measure, and it passed by a margin of 2 to 1, including in very conservative parts of a state carried overwhelmingly by Trump.

The “right to work” option was added to labor law by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. Passed by the Republican 80th Congress over President Truman’s veto (he denounced it as a “slave labor act”), Taft-Hartley allows states to pass laws permitting workers to opt out of paying union dues even when a majority of workers sign union cards.

The name “right to work” was always a fraud. Even in states without such laws, anybody can take a job at a unionized facility. Workers merely have to join, or if they don’t want to join, to pay dues after they are hired.

“Right to work” makes it much harder to organize in such states. Until the last few decades, these measures were largely confined to the anti-union South and Mountain West. Lately, they have been enacted in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. In the past decade, they’ve been beaten with ballot initiatives in California and Ohio.

The Missouri vote not only extends and intensifies that success in a supposedly far more conservative state. It shows the latent appeal of pocketbook issues and trade unionism even in Trump country. It shows that the labor movement may be down, but it is far from out.

In Missouri, just 8.7 percent of workers are members of unions. But most working families know someone with a union job and they know the difference a union can make.

The right to have a union signals concern for the forgotten working class. By trying to crush labor, Missouri Republicans signaled not individual rights—the usual pitch for the misnamed “right to work” law—but their contempt for working people, who got the message.

The Missouri outcome also bodes well for the re-election of Senator Claire McCaskill, one of the supposedly endangered Democrats up this fall. More importantly, it signals the resurgence of the labor movement—and reminds Democrats that progressive economics are the indispensable ingredient for success on the beaten-down American heartland. ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

I have no link, but if you want to get the email blasts from The American Prospect, sign up here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan says U.S. education system “not top 10 in anything”


Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan


Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says that political decisions about education “don’t reflect” a desire to have better schools and teachers, saying that Americans “never vote on education.” In his new book “How Schools Work” out on Tuesday, writes that the American education system “runs on lies.”

“We say we value education, but we never vote on education. We never hold politicians accountable — local, state or national level — for getting better results,” Duncan, the education secretary under President Obama, said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday. He added that the “toughest lie” for him personally is that “we say we value kids, and we’ve raised a generation of young people, teens, who have been raised on mass shootings and gun violence, and that simply doesn’t happen in other nations.”

“I don’t look at what people say. I look at their actions, their policies. I look at their budgets. Our values don’t reflect that we care about education or we care about teachers or that we truly care about keeping our children safe and free of fear,” Duncan said.

Duncan said that the Education Department had both successes and failures under his leadership during the Obama administration. But he said he feels a “huge sense of urgency” to improve the education system.

“As a nation, we’re not top 10 in anything,” he said. Duncan also leveled criticism at his successor, Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has experienced her fair share of controversy during her tenure. He said DeVos doesn’t “understand” basic concepts of education policy, including the distinction between student improvement and proficiency.

Duncan mentioned a recent incident in which DeVos’ $40 million family yacht was untied and drifted away, causing $10,000 in damages. He said serves as a “crazy metaphor” for her education policies.

“The policy is adrift. There’s nothing out there of substance. We should have some concrete goals as a nation,” said Duncan, arguing for greater access to pre-K for all children, improving graduation rates for high school students and being a leader in college completion.

“None of those are on the radar. They talk about small things and that for me is — we’re selling our nation short. Great education is our way to have a stronger economy. We have to educate our way to a better economy. You don’t hear any of that. We don’t have big goals. It should be bipartisan, nonpartisan,” he added.

“How Schools Work” is published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS Corporation.