Tag Archives: Accountability

Lynette Mundey became upset and was removed from the courtroom in handcuffs

Lyn Mundey

Lynette Mundey

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — In what is turning out to be a bizarre and comical situation in search of justice, according to WTOP, a former board of education member in Prince George’s County (Lynette Mundey) who was convicted on Thursday  2/18/2016 of stealing from the school system, became upset and had to be removed from the courtroom in handcuffs, according to prosecutors.

Unable to regain her composure, the remaining guilty verdicts had to be read without Mundey in the courtroom. She was found guilty Thursday of collecting more than $1,700 worth of free and reduced lunches for her child between 2010 and 2015 even though she didn’t qualify for the lunch program. The convictions included felony theft, filing a false public assistance application, welfare fraud and several other charges.

 Sentencing is set for April 28. Mundey could face up to 49 years in prison.
 “It’s important to this community that we have people in place who lead in this county, who our citizens can trust,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

Mundey was a federal employee of the Government Accountability Office and it was that agency that discovered the crime. Mundey was among six GAO employees found guilty of misusing the program, which is only available to families making less than $40,000 a year. The employees combined pulled in $13,000 worth of free and reduced lunches.

 “The convictions will remain on their records forever, which is important so that future employers will know what kind of individual they would be dealing with if they attempt to get hired by those agencies,” said prosecutor Jeremy Robbins.

When she was indicted, Mundey was making $93,000 annually as an education board member and a federal employee.

 For now, Mundey remains an employee of the GAO, spokesman Chuck Young said in an email to WTOP.

“We will be looking at her status in the wake of the fact she has now been found guilty,” Young said.

 According to Alsobrooks’ office, Barbara Rowley pleaded guilty to making a false statement on a public assistance application and is expected to receive a three-year suspended sentence, three years of probation and 50 hours of community service. She will have to pay $3,322 in restitution.

A jury found Jamilah Reid guilty of felony theft, welfare fraud and other charges. Reid is set to be sentenced Feb. 26.

 A judge found Tracy Williams guilty of felony theft, welfare fraud and other charges. Williams received a 3.5-year suspended sentence plus three years of probation and was ordered to pay $2,146 in restitution.

Charlene Savoy pleaded guilty to felony theft and was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation, 100 hours of community service and was ordered to pay $781 in restitution.

 Terri Pinkney pleaded guilty to making a false statement on a public assistance application and is set to be sentenced on March 1, 2016. She is expected to receive a three-year suspended sentence, three years of probation, 50 hours of community service and to pay $1,737 in restitution.

Pinkney’s husband, James Pinkney, was originally charged with the scheme but the charges against him were dropped when his wife admitted to filling out the application, according to Alsobrooks’ office.

By Mike Murillo Via WTOP  Video by PGCTV

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Is the Drive for Success Making Our Children Sick?

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By VICKI ABELES

STUART SLAVIN, a pediatrician and professor at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, knows something about the impact of stress. After uncovering alarming rates of anxiety and depression among his medical students, Dr. Slavin and his colleagues remade the program: implementing pass/fail grading in introductory classes, instituting a half-day off every other week, and creating small learning groups to strengthen connections among students. Over the course of six years, the students’ rates of depression and anxiety dropped considerably.

But even Dr. Slavin seemed unprepared for the results of testing he did in cooperation with Irvington High School in Fremont, Calif., a once-working-class city that is increasingly in Silicon Valley’s orbit. He had anonymously surveyed two-thirds of Irvington’s 2,100 students last spring, using two standard measures, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. The results were stunning: 54 percent of students showed moderate to severe symptoms of depression. More alarming, 80 percent suffered moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety.

“This is so far beyond what you would typically see in an adolescent population,” he told the school’s faculty at a meeting just before the fall semester began. “It’s unprecedented.” Worse, those alarming figures were probably an underestimation; some students had missed the survey while taking Advanced Placement exams.

What Dr. Slavin saw at Irvington is a microcosm of a nationwide epidemic of school-related stress. We think of this as a problem only of the urban and suburban elite, but in traveling the country to report on this issue, I have seen that this stress has a powerful effect on children across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Expectations surrounding education have spun out of control. On top of a seven-hour school day, our kids march through hours of nightly homework, daily sports practices and band rehearsals, and weekend-consuming assignments and tournaments. Each activity is seen as a step on the ladder to a top college, an enviable job and a successful life. Children living in poverty who aspire to college face the same daunting admissions arms race, as well as the burden of competing for scholarships, with less support than their privileged peers. Even those not bound for college are ground down by the constant measurement in schools under pressure to push through mountains of rote, impersonal material as early as preschool.

Yet instead of empowering them to thrive, this drive for success is eroding children’s health and undermining their potential. Modern education is actually making them sick.

Nearly one in three teenagers told the American Psychological Association that stress drove them to sadness or depression — and their single biggest source of stress was school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vast majority of American teenagers get at least two hours less sleep each night than recommended — and research shows the more homework they do, the fewer hours they sleep. At the university level, 94 percent of college counseling directors in a survey from last year said they were seeing rising numbers of students with severe psychological problems.

At the other end of the age spectrum, doctors increasingly see children in early elementary school suffering from migraine headaches and ulcers. Many physicians see a clear connection to performance pressure.

“I’m talking about 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds who are coming in with these conditions. We never used to see that,” says Lawrence Rosen, a New Jersey pediatrician who works with pediatric associations nationally. “I’m hearing this from my colleagues everywhere.”

What sets Irvington apart in a nation of unhealthy schools is that educators, parents and students there have chosen to start making a change. Teachers are re-examining their homework demands, in some cases reviving the school district’s forgotten homework guideline — no more than 20 minutes per class per night, and none on weekends. In fact, research supports limits on homework. Students have started a task force to promote healthy habits and balanced schedules. And for the past two years, school counselors have met one on one with every student at registration time to guide them toward a manageable course load.

“We are sitting on a ticking time bomb,” said one Irvington teacher, who has seen the problem worsen over her 16 years on the job.

A growing body of medical evidence suggests that long-term childhood stress is linked not only with a higher risk of adult depression and anxiety, but with poor physical health outcomes, as well. The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study, a continuing project of the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente, shows that children who experience multiple traumas — including violence, abuse or a parent’s struggle with mental illness — are more likely than others to suffer heart disease, lung disease, cancer and shortened life spans as adults. Those are extreme hardships but a survey of the existing science in the 2013 Annual Review of Public Health suggested that the persistence of less severe stressors could similarly act as a prescription for sickness.

“Many of the health effects are apparent now, but many more will echo through the lives of our children,” says Richard Scheffler, a health economist at the University of California, Berkeley. “We will all pay the cost of treating them and suffer the loss of their productive contributions.”

Paradoxically, the pressure cooker is hurting, not helping, our kids’ prospects for success. Many college students struggle with critical thinking, a fact that hasn’t escaped their professors, only 14 percent of whom believe that their students are prepared for college work, according to a 2015 report. Just 29 percent of employers in the same study reported that graduates were equipped to succeed in today’s workplace. Both of those numbers have plummeted since 2004.

Contrary to a commonly voiced fear that easing pressure will lead to poorer performance, Saint Louis medical school students’ scores on the medical boards exams have actually gone up since the stress reduction strategy was put in place.

At Irvington, it’s too early to gauge the impact of new reforms, but educators see promising signs. Calls to school counselors to help students having emotional episodes in class have dropped from routine to nearly nonexistent. The A.P. class failure rate dropped by half. Irvington students continue to be accepted at respected colleges.

There are lessons to be learned from Irvington’s lead. Working together, parents, educators and students can make small but important changes: instituting everyday homework limits and weekend and holiday homework bans, adding advisory periods for student support and providing students opportunities to show their growth in creative ways beyond conventional tests. Communities across the country — like Gaithersburg, Md., Cadiz, Ky., and New York City — are already taking some of these steps. In place of the race for credentials, local teams are working to cultivate deep learning, integrity, purpose and personal connection. In place of high-stakes childhoods, they are choosing health.

Via New York Times

Vicki Abeles is the author of “Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheduled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation,” and director and producer of the documentaries “Race to Nowhere” and “Beyond Measure.”

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Bladensburg residents seek transparency, accountability from officials.

Committee gathers, uploads town financial documents to public Dropbox account
by Alice Popovici

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A group of Bladensburg residents, tired of what they say is a lack of transparency from elected officials, decided to take matters into their own hands and created a searchable website of town financial records and official documents.

The Dropbox site, launched by members of the Citizens Action Committee of Bladensburg in August, includes information on town meetings, town commissions and ordinances, as well as financial documents detailing purchases made by Mayor Walter James and council members with town-issued credit cards.

But members of the 25 to 30-member committee, who have been trying to get officials to pay attention since forming the group last spring, say they’ve yet to find a solution to their main source of frustration.

“Our problem is, we’re not allowed to ask questions about their spending before they vote on things,” said committee member Steve Weitz. “We live here. This is our town, so we want to have some input.”

Weitz said part of the problem is that elected officials go to many out-of-town conferences at the public’s expense, and residents don’t have any say in the matter. He said he would like to know, before a decision is made, how much a particular trip is going to cost.

But James, who said he has not had a chance to look at the documents on the site, maintained that officials have always been forthcoming with residents. James said he only attends three out-of-town events each year: the Maryland Municipal League conference in Ocean City, the CSTEM (Communications, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Challenge competition in Houston and the National League of Cities conference.

“We’ve always been open and transparent in the town of Bladensburg,” James said, adding that officials have made an effort to engage with residents by instituting town forums where residents can discuss their concerns. “It’s good to see people getting involved.”

Chris Melendez, chair of the action committee, said financial documents uploaded to the site include audit reports, financial disclosure statements for elected officials, credit card records for the mayor and council members as well as town budget materials. Melendez said she obtained many of the documents by filing a Maryland Public Information Act request with the town.

Jim Peck, director of research for the Maryland Municipal League, said he has not heard of another municipality in the state compiling an information resource such as this, but “that doesn’t mean it’s not out there.”

Melendez said there have been some positive changes as a result of the committee’s requests, as the town now posts meeting agendas prior to a Town Council meeting and posts meeting minutes in a timely manner afterwards.

“I think that the changes that have happened are positive,” Melendez said, but added that the group is still concerned about officials’ lack of transparency regarding their spending for out-of-town trips. “All we know is that we’re paying for it.” >>> Read more Gazette.

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OPINION

The residents of this town are doing the right thing. Elected officials in Prince George’s County starting with County Executive Baker have failed the public. In return, the whole Prince George’s county is melting down. We are asking more citizens to create accountability mechanism around the county similar to what these citizens are doing. This is the only way to make corrupt officials accountable. In ethics and governance, accountability is answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving.As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) worlds. In leadership roles,accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

In governance, accountability has expanded beyond the basic definition of “being called to account for one’s actions”. It is frequently described as an account-giving relationship between individuals, e.g. “A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct”. Accountability cannot exist without proper accounting practices; in other words, an absence of accounting means an absence of accountability.

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Baker fills vacant seat on Pr. George’s Board of Education

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Ms. Sonya Williams – New Board of Education Member District 9

Upper Marlboro, MD – Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III announced that Sonya Williams has been appointed to serve on the Prince George’s County Board of Education to represent District 9.  Ms. Williams will fill the District 9 vacancy on the Board of Education created by the resignation of former School Board Member Donna Hathaway Beck.

“Ms. Williams will be a great addition to the Board of Education.  We had a strong pool of candidates to choose from and Ms. Williams certainly brings a set of unique skills that will serve our children and the school system well,” said County Executive Baker.  “I was impressed with her innovative ideas to get more parents involved in their children’s education and her commitment to making our schools overall the best they can be.  Her experience as a parent, as President of the Gwynn Park Parent Teachers and Students Association (PTSA), and her skill with development and management of complex projects will be a tremendous asset to the Board.”

Maryland House of Delegates Bill 1107 charges the County Executive with appointing a member to the Board of Education whenever a vacancy occurs. Although the law does not require it, County Executive Baker conducted an open search to fill this vacancy and provided residents of District 9 with an opportunity to apply for the position. Since this vacancy was created as a result of an elected board member leaving office, the County Executive’s appointee must be a resident of District 9.

Ms. Williams is the second appointee to replace an elected Board of Education member under the new education reform law in Prince George’s County.  The County Executive previously appointed Lyn Mundey to the District 7 vacancy in September of this year. >>> Read More Washington post

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Swearing in for New PG BOE Members…

…New school board takes shape #PGBOE

  Naming of New BOE by CouncilNaming of New BOE Member

Upper Marlboro, MD – The final three appointees to the Prince George’s County Board of Education were announced today by County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III and County Council Chair Andrea C. Harrison, on Monday, June 17, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. These appointments and the subsequent swearing-in were held in the Council Hearing Room of the Prince George’s County Administration Building, in Upper Marlboro, MD. (See ceremony in pictures below)

HB 1107 went into effect on June 1, 2013 and authorized the addition of four appointed members to Prince George’s County Board of Education. The four new members (Dr. Segun Eubanks, Dr. Beverly Anderson, Dr.Daniel Kaufman and Mr. Curtis Valentine) will now work with the current nine elected members– bringing total voting members to fourteen (including the student member). Under the new law, the County Executive appoints three members and the County Council appoints one member to the Board of Education.

County Executive Baker already appointed Dr. Segun Eubanks on June 1, 2013 to serve as Chair of the Board of Education as the first of his three appointments. The law also stipulates that the County Executive’s three appointees must be as such: one with education experience, one with business, finance or higher education experience, and one with management experience. The Council appointee must be a parent with a child currently enrolled in the Prince George’s County Public School System. (Read more)

Union corruption in PGCPS has been the biggest issue beside the Board membership disfunction. If they can fix the union problems and a few things identified in our blogs, everything else will work wonders. (See our Top priorities here). As a movement, we thank the County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, County Council Chair Andrea C. Harrison and the County Council for appointing great leaders. We wish them well in their new assignment.

Naming of New BOE Member

Dr. Daniel Kaufman the new Board of Education Member flagged by his family including his 3 week old baby at the podium

Dr. Beverly Anderson Newly sworn

Dr. Beverly Anderson the new Board of Education Member flagged by our County Executive Mr. Rushern L. Baker, III .

Curtis Valentine

Mr. Curtis Valentine the new School Board Member with Chair Andrea Harrison and Vice Chair Obie Patterson District 8 .

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Newest Board of Education Members- Dr. Beverly Anderson (Third from left), Dr. Daniel Kaufman (Fourth from left), and Curtis Valentine (Fifth from right) after being Sworn-in with our County Executive Mr. Rushern L. Baker, III (Second from right), County Council Chair Andrea C. Harrison (Center), Councilman Derrick Leon Davis (Far left), Board of Education Chair Dr. Segun Eubanks (Far right), Board of Education Vice Chair Carolyn M. Boston (Third from right), Board of Education Members Amber Waller (Fourth from right), Donna Hathaway Beck (Second from right) and Carletta Fellows, M.A.Ed. (Fifth from left)

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Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”~ Denis Waitley

Many Thanks to our Delegates, Senators.

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MANY THANKS.

We want to take this moment to thank the members of the Maryland House and Senate Delegations for delivering incredible legislative success for residents of the Prince George’s County and especially with HB 1107 for PGCPS. We especially thank our Prince George’s County delegation and Senators who sponsored and supported this bill. Thank you very much for a job well done.

Governor O’Malley signed Maryland House of Delegates Bill 1107 into law on April 9, 2013. HB 1107, which goes into effect on June 1, 2013, enables County Executive Rushern L. Baker III to select the next Superintendent who, pursuant to the legislation, will hereafter be referred to as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PGCPS. In addition, the County Executive will select the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Education. The legislation also authorizes the County Executive to appoint three members to the Board of Education and the County Council will make one appointment. The legislation authorizes the Governor to appoint a three member search committee for the CEO. The County Executive will select the new CEO from the three finalists recommended to him by the search committee. In coming weeks, the County Executive will work with the Board of Education and the County Council to implement this new school governance structure.

As a Movement for Prince George’s County who advocated for the changes, all we can say is that, we are thrilled! In the coming weeks and months, we will work closely with County executive Baker to make things happen and create successful transformation and accountability. We also would like to thank other comrades and anyone else who might have supported the bill by calling their elected officials in Annapolis etc. All we can say is, “Thank you”.  Victory goes to all students, staff and families of PG county.

Once again, Cheers to the Prince George’s County House, Senate Delegations, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley for signing bill HB 1107 into law, Kudos!

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County

“We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class……  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

— Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013

Support Bill PG 411-13 -Good for PGCPS.

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Call your elected officials now and request support for Bill PG 411-13. We need this bill in order address  issues of significance concern in Prince George’s County Board of Education. The truth is more mundane, but the issues raised will promote Educational opportunities in PGCPS and protect the majority of the citizens many years to come. 

Entitled: Task Force on the Membership and Operation of the Prince George’s County Board of Education PG 411-13

Sponsored by:   Prince George’s County Delegation

Status:      In the House – Hearing 2/27 at 1:00 p.m.

Synopsis:Establishing the Task Force on the Membership and Operation of the Prince George’s County Board of Education; providing for the chairs and staff for the Task Force; prohibiting a member of the Task Force from receiving specified compensation but entitling members to reimbursement for specified expenses; requiring the Task Force to make specified recommendations, including recommendations regarding the method of selecting the Prince George’s County Board of Education; etc.

Analysis: Fiscal and Policy Note

All Sponsors: Prince George’s County Delegation

Additional Facts: Bill File Type: Regular Effective Date(s): July 1, 2013 Creates a Task Force or Commission

Committee(s): Ways and Means

Broad Subject(s): Education – Local Bills

Narrow Subject(s): Committees and Commissions -see also- Political Committees Education, Boards of Prince George’s County Reports Sunset Work, Labor and Employment -see also- Col Barg; Holiday; etc

Bill Text:   Read bill text in rich-text or PDF format ~>PG 411-13

House Bill # HB 1107