Tag Archives: Corruption in Education

PGCPS student robbed after being dropped off at wrong bus stop

kidbusLANDOVER, Md. – A Prince George’s County middle school student says after orientation day at his new school, his bus driver dropped him off at the wrong stop and he was robbed of his new Nike sneakers and cell phone.

The seventh grader’s mother says her son was left at Kenilworth Avenue and Eastern Avenue on Tuesday, which is nearly two miles from their home in Fairmount Heights.

Tameika Jackson didn’t want her 12-year-old son to be identified, but she let him speak with FOX 5 about what happened. He says a group of men approached him soon after he got off the bus.

“This one guy, he came up to me and then he said, ‘Give me your phone and then your shoes,'” the boy said. “And they were at least 20 years old, so I didn’t know what else to do. So I gave them my shoes and my phone. And after that, there was this one girl at the [Metro] bus stop, I walked up to her and asked her if I could use the phone to call my mom.”

The boy said he had told the bus driver where he lived, but was dropped off there anyway. Jackson says she is furious.

“I picked him up, he was barefoot, no shoes on,” she said. “And there was a bunch of junkies out there. He was upset, he was shaking and I just told him everything was going to be fine, but I will get to the bottom of it. And I brought him home. He says he doesn’t want to go back to school tomorrow.”

Jackson says she called FOX 5 because she couldn’t reach anyone at G. James Gholson Middle School in Landover where her son attends.

A Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesperson says they are now investigating what happened and alerted the school’s principal to the situation.

The principal later called Jackson and apologized, saying she will personally make sure the boy is on the correct bus headed to the correct location on Wednesday and in the days to come. The transportation director also contacted Jackson by phone Tuesday night.

Jackson says she never got bus information in the mail prior to the start of school, so her son’s father drove the boy to school Tuesday and spoke to school staff about which bus he was supposed to be on.

She says the child got on the bus he was told to ride. Jackson says she has an older child who attended Gholson and he got dropped off at a bus stop two blocks from their home.

“I’m to the point now that I don’t want to go to work the rest of the week because I want to make sure that he feels comfortable getting on the bus and getting off the bus,” Jackson said.

School officially starts on Wednesday in Prince George’s County, but some students had orientation on Tuesday.

via Fox5DC

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Democrat Michael Vaughn of Prince George’s resigns from state legislature

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Maryland state Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s), shown standing at right, has resigned his seat. (Steve Ruark/Associated Press)

Longtime state Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) resigned Wednesday morning, less than an hour before the official start of the 2017 legislative session, citing health reasons.

His departure is the latest blow to Maryland Democrats, who have become embroiled in a long-running bribery and corruption investigation that U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein says involves “more than one” current lawmaker.

On Tuesday, Rosenstein announced that former Prince George’s council member and state delegate William A. Campos (D) had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for official favors as part of that investigation.

Last week, federal authorities reported the arrests of a Prince George’s County liquor board commissioner, the executive director of that board and two liquor store owners, who are accused of paying bribes to influence state legislation and secure grant money and favorable regulatory decisions.

Vaughn’s two-sentence resignation letter was delivered to the office of House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) Wednesday morning, shortly before the noon opening of the General Assembly’s annual legislative session.

There was no indication in the letter that Vaughn’s decision to leave the legislature was connected to the probe.

But the court filings from last week said that one elected official accused of accepting bribes, who is not named in the documents, voted in a 2015 House Economic Matters Committee hearing for a bill expanding alcohol sales in Prince George’s.

Eighteen members of the committee voted in favor of the bill, including Vaughn. Vaughn was the only Prince George’s lawmaker to vote yes. The court papers do not specify the lawmaker’s jurisdiction.

Vaughn has listed on state ethics disclosures that he receives income from the Joseph Smith and Sons scrap yard in Capitol Heights, Md., one of several locations where FBI agents searched for evidence last week.

Vaughn, 59, has not returned repeated calls or messages left at his home in Mitchellville in recent days. Numerous members of the Prince George’s delegation said they have sent him messages of support as word spread that his resignation was imminent, but had not spoken to him directly.

A spokeswoman for Busch declined to say Wednesday whether Vaughn’s resignation was linked to the investigation. In a statement released Tuesday night, after Campos’s guilty plea was announced, Busch said that he was “painfully disappointed that any member of the House of Delegates would compromise this institution and the public trust.”

“There is no room for this type of behavior in the House of Delegates,” his statement said. “Each of us needs to redouble our efforts to rebuild the trust with our constituents that has been compromised by the actions announced today.”

Vaughn was born in Tuskegee, Ala. He attended DuVal High School in Prince George’s County before receiving a bachelor’s degree from Southern University.

Since taking office in 2003, he has served on the Economic Matters Committee, which deals with bills that regulate alcohol, as well as banking, economic development, insurance and utilities. He has chaired the business regulation subcommittee for Economic Matters since 2007. In 2006, he was House deputy majority whip.

Vaughn supported 2015 legislation authorizing Sunday liquor sales in Prince George’s County, and a follow-up bill in 2016 that limited an expansion in the number of Sunday licenses to five.

The federal investigation unveiled last week accused David Son, a longtime Prince George’s liquor regulator who worked for his county’s senators in 2015, of arranging bribes from two liquor store owners to two elected officials for their work on the bills.

Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the county’s delegation, said in a statement that the lawmakers were “deeply disappointed” in the federal allegations of corruption and the assertion that current or former lawmakers were involved.

“The Prince George’s Delegation strives to meet the highest standard of legislative ethics,” Walker said. “These allegations should not reflect on the hard working members of the Prince George’s Delegation who are deeply committed to representing their constituents with integrity and independence.”

Walker said that he has not spoken to Vaughn in recent days.

Before being elected to the House, Vaughn worked in banking and finance, according to his official House of Delegates biography. He came under scrutiny for falsely claiming on his campaign website that he played football for the Dallas Cowboys for three years, which he retracted in 2010 after questioning from a Washington City Paper reporter.

He also worked in sales for Marriott Corporation and the Hilton Washington Embassy Row for a year. Vaughn currently owns ADDR Properties, a real estate company in Mitchellville, according to Maryland assessment records.

via Washington post

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

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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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Supreme Court majority is critical of compelled public employee union fees

111004_scotusjustices_ap_328United States Supreme Court justices.

By Robert Barnes

A majority of the Supreme Court on Monday seemed prepared to hand a significant defeat to organized labor and side with a group of California teachers who claim their free speech rights are violated when they are forced to pay dues to the state’s teachers union.

By their questioning at oral argument, the court’s conservatives appeared ready to junk a decades-old precedent that allows unions to collect an “agency fee” from nonmembers to support collective-bargaining activities for members and nonmembers alike.

It is the most important Supreme Court case of the year for unions and one of a clutch of politically charged cases that puts the justices in the spotlight as the nation turns its attention to the elections of 2016.

The case involves only public-employee unions — not private workers — but those unions are the strongest segment of an organized labor movement that is increasingly tied to the Democratic Party. At the same time, Republican governors across the nation have become embroiled in high-profile battles with the public-employee unions in their states.

Conservative groups have directly asked the court to overturn a 1977 decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, that favored the unions. That ruling said that states could allow public-employee unions to collect fees from nonmembers to cover the costs of workplace negotiations but not to cover the union’s political activities.

The unions say losing those fees would be a heavy blow because there is no incentive for workers to pay for collective-bargaining representation they could receive for free. About 20 states, including California, allow what the unions like to call “fair-share” fees.

But conservative justices sharply questioned whether it was possible to separate public-employee negotiations from the kind of public policy questions — teacher salaries and classroom sizes, for instance, and the tax dollars that must be raised to pay for them — that are raised.

“When you are dealing with a governmental agency, many critical points are matters of public concern,” said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who traditionally is the most likely of the court’s conservatives to join with liberals to form a majority.

Some teachers disagree with their unions on issues such as merit pay, promotion and the importance of seniority, Kennedy said.

The fees “require that employees and teachers who disagree with those positions must nevertheless subsidize the union on those very points,” he said.

It is not enough to argue that the teachers can speak out on their own as citizens, he said.

In the current case, union leaders were not counting on Kennedy but on another conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia in the past has expressed sympathy for the view that the unions needed to collect the fees to prevent “free riders” — those who benefit from the agreements that unions reach with government employers but who do not pay for the union’s costs. But he did not pose any questions Monday that favored the union’s view and said he shared Kennedy’s concerns.

“The problem is that everything that is collectively bargained with the government is within the political sphere, almost by definition,” he said.

He also questioned the contention that the unions would not survive without collecting the fees. Already, there are 25 states that do not require their collection, and Scalia said the unions should do a better job of persuading those eligible to join.

California Solicitor General Edward C. DuMont, who was aligned in the case with the teachers union, said the California unions already had extraordinary participation but prohibiting agency fees fights human nature.

“Many people can want something in the sense they view it as very advantageous to themselves, but if they are given a choice, they would prefer to have it for free, rather than to pay for it,” he said. “This is a classic collective-action problem.”

Oral arguments are not always predictive, but it seemed clear that DuMont, California Teachers Association attorney David C. Frederick and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., representing the Obama administration, were treading against the tide.

The court’s five conservatives in 2012 and 2014 had expressed grave doubts about whether the Abood decision had properly taken into account the First Amendment rights of the union objectors.

It has been the pattern of the court headed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to take incremental steps toward undermining a precedent with which it disagrees before delivering a final blow.

The court’s liberals said the challengers had not made the case for why the court should abandon a precedent rather than take the normal path of upholding it.

[Two teachers explain why they want to take down their union]

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the Abood “compromise” had worked pretty well over the last 40 years. When the court starts overruling precedents, he said, “What happens to the country thinking of us as a kind of stability in ­­a world that is tough because it changes a lot?” Breyer asked.

Justice Elena Kagan also pushed that theme, telling Washington attorney Michael A. Carvin, who represented the objecting teachers, that he had a “heavy burden.”

“That’s always true in cases where somebody asks us to overrule a decision. It seems to be particularly true here,” Kagan said. “This is a case in which there are tens of thousands of contracts with these provisions. Those contracts affect millions of employees, maybe as high as 10 million employees. So what special justification are you offering here?”

Carvin replied that the strongest reason for overturning a precedent is when it “erroneously denies a fundamental right’’ — in this case, freedom of speech and association.

Kagan and other justices said the court’s precedents were clear that when government is acting as an employer, it can act as any employer in restricting employee rights.

Frederick argued for leaving the decision about requiring fees to the individual states, rather than forbidding the process. “Different states have different experiences, and this is an opportunity for the states to draw upon those distinctive experiences in coming up with a system that’s fair for everyone,” he argued.

There seemed to be two options if a majority disagreed with Abood but was reluctant to overturn the precedent.

The justices could remand the case to the lower courts. Carvin and his clients had raced through the lower courts in hopes of getting the case to the Supreme Court faster.

The justices could also change how the agency fees are collected. Currently, the fees must be paid, and then employees “opt out” of funding the union’s political activities and receive money back. Objecting employees say that minimizes the burden on them.

But there was limited questioning from the justices about whether such a change might be an alternative to overturning the system.

The case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

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The Cruel Charter School Addiction in Philadelphia

hite0Dr. William Hite Jr is involved in charter schools fiasco in Philly. The lure and promise of magic with millions of dollars squandered on charter schools that are no better–and often worse–than the public schools is an endless blame game which appears to have no end in sight.

Eileen DiFranco, a retired school nurse in Philadelphia, describes an episode from “The Twilight Zone” in which a sober family man encounters slot machines in Las Vegas and becomes an addict. He can’t help himself. He gambles everything and can’t stop.

She compares this gambling fever to the charter school addiction of districts like Philadelphia. No matter how many charter schools fail, the district leaders led by Dr. William Hite Jr want more of them. They are in love with the lure and promise of magic and they can’t stop. Meanwhile, the public schools suffer as do the children who attend public schools, while millions are squandered on charter schools that are no better–and often worse–than the public schools.

She writes:

With their “no excuses” mantra, highly paid charter school CEOs promise school administrators that they will bring students up to grade level in no time at all. It all sounds so attractive. And believable. School districts all over the country have been sucked in by this big, brash idea that sounds wonderful on paper, but has largely failed to deliver on its promises. This has not stopped the charter school operators from repeating their claim of educational superiority over and over again until it takes on the ring of truth.

But the reality is that the charter schools’ claims contain more “truthiness” than actual truth. According to Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a national study by CREDO that many cited to tout the superior performance of charters actually found that “less than one hundredth of one percent (<0.01 percent) of the variation in test performance in reading is explainable by charter school enrollment.”

Let’s put that alleged 0.01 percent success rate into a Philadelphia perspective. The SRC has approved charter school establishment and expansion even while the traditional public schools languish. As children are injured, or even die, as did Laporshia Massey at Bryant Elementary, or as violence occurs, as it did at George Washington High School, the fault somehow lies with the resource-starved schools and not the SRC’s addiction to the lure of charter schools.

The underwhelming performance of charter schools for an overwhelming amount of money should set off alarms. Their quick solutions to educational woes follow the logic of past failures: Just hand over the money and we’ll do it all for you. In the end, however, there is only one certainty: If something is too good to be true, it is not the truth.

Several questions need to be asked about this scenario. The first is, why would the SRC allow the majority of Philadelphia’s children to attend dirty, unsafe schools without counselors, nurses, and assistant principals while other children clearly do not? Why is there hardly any discussion about this glaring disparity?

I have a couple of answers. The first is that there is a plan afoot to break public schools deliberately so that they can be handed over to charters. Thus, the SRC and Hite are wreaking havoc by deliberately deferring maintenance and cutting staff to dangerous levels in traditional schools. This practice effectively insures the failure that is necessary to hand over the now low-performing, intentionally broken “seats” over to more “successful” charter operators who feel justified in cutting into the resources available to District schools. This is being done in a calculated way in order to break the teachers’ union, the whipping boy of modern school reform.

The second is that District leaders and politicians are trying to appease elected officials in rural areas who perceive city schools and urban children as great leeches feeding off public dollars who divert resources away from more deserving populations. For them, giving more money to ”those” children in urban areas is like throwing money into a pit. The idea in the Pennsylvania House and Senate is that throwing money at schools doesn’t fix them, although they believe that having enough money fixes just about everything else.

The third is that the SRC has become the ball carrier for hedge fund managers for whom education is a place where they can make money. The fact that school reform is being led by MBAs rather than by educators is telling.

Philadelphia public schools are dying. Who will be held accountable? The legislature? Former Governor Tom Corbett? Superintendent William Hite?

The leaders are chasing a rainbow, bright promises that have never come through for the children. They are killing a democratic institution that society depends on and needs. Can they sleep at night?

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Md. may no longer technically be No. 1 in education

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Maryland’s superintendent of schools has no plans to take down dozens of signs in the windows of her agency’s headquarters that proclaim Maryland No. 1 in education. Likewise, Gov. Martin O’Malley is unlikely to stop bragging that Maryland is No. 1 in the nation, a point he made again Wednesday on Twitter.

But technically, Maryland cannot claim that distinction anymore. Education Week, a national education newspaper that has given Maryland schools the top mark for the past five years, has stopped ranking the states in its annual Quality Counts report. It was considered the most comprehensive ranking of the nation’s schools.

Released Thursday in a more streamlined version, the latest report focuses on just three categories, including student achievement, instead of the usual six. And unfortunately for Maryland’s politicians and education officials, in those three categories the state never hits No. 1 in the nation.

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Dr. Lillian Lowery Embattled State Superintendent is currently presiding over deep-seated corruption in Maryland school system. She has demonstrated a culture of discrimination and racism while on the job.

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Teacher’s resignation letter:

…‘My profession … no longer exists’

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Increasingly teachers are speaking out against school reforms that they believe are demeaning their profession, and some are simply quitting because they have had enough. Here is one resignation letter from a veteran teacher, Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School in Syracuse, N.Y as highlighted by Washingtonpost.: >>> Read more Resignation letter

OPINION

Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and petition have long been celebrated as crucial to democratic government. United States Supreme Court decisions have, quite rightly, justified strong protection of these freedoms because of their crucial role in the functioning of American democracy.

The Supreme Court has often noted the crucial function of free speech and press for democratic government. In Stromberg v. California (1931), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes’ opinion for the Court said “a fundamental principle of our constitutional system” is “the maintenance of the opportunity for free discussion to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people. ” 1 In Roth v. United States (1957), the Court said that “[t]he protection given speech and press was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people.” 2 Seven years later, the Supreme Court decided New York Times v. Sullivan, a case involving an Alabama public official who sued the Times for libel based on an advertisement. The ad had criticized the way state government officials responded to civil rights demonstrations. The Court said, “the First Amendment . . . ‘presupposes that right conclusions are more likely to be gathered out of a multitude of tongues, than through any kind of authoritative selection. . . .’ ” 3 The modern Supreme Court has often quoted a famous concurring opinion by Justice Louis Brandeis in Whitney v. California (1927): the preferred remedy for “falsehood and fallacies” is “more speech, not enforced silence.” 4 In the United States, freedom of the press, in particular, has been celebrated for its role in checking government misconduct and informing the electorate.

As demonstrated here in Maryland and in Prince George’s county, Unable to counter sense, dissent and the struggle for more democratic space with arguments, the powerful make the messengers the culprits, abuse and demean them, and finally just censor or close them down instead of embracing good ideas enacted by teachers and other staff members within the school district.

Let us remember that in the absence of writing and exchanging good ideas, many staffers in this country are likely to leave in the absence of exposure. Many years ago, our media was the songs, stories and dance used to celebrate the achievements of the community. But the same songs and stories were also used to devastating effect as accountability tools, to criticize leaders when they went wrong, point out vices (especially of selfishness and greed) among prominent people, and satirise those who focused only on themselves rather than the community.

Freedoms are and have always been universal. So has the demand for them. And it is the oppressed and underdogs who always value them more than those in power.

Maryland State Board of Education leaders led by Dr. Lillian Lowery and Dr. Charlene Dukes who are involved in conflict of interest better be more careful with their actions including speeches lest they be remembered in the same breath as colonialists, slave-owners and supporters of apartheid.

Of course supporters of colonialism, slavery and apartheid also use these same freedoms to perpetuate their oppression. That is as it should be in democratic societies. But because they can’t win the argument, logically and rationally, they then resort to abuse, venom, and stigmatization. When that does not work, they eventually go down the road of strong-arm tactics like censorship, bans, illegal decisions, imprisonment and killings.

To them, the constitution is just a piece of paper which they embrace when it suits them and discard when it does not. People can no longer express themselves freely anymore and give proper solutions to society. This is not the Maryland we want our future generations to inherit.

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>>> Attend Common Core protest at MSDE…on November 18, 2013. Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand changes due to Maryland State Board of Education leaders involved in corruption and abuse of power. (video)

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has been criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways including discriminatory conduct and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.

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In our opinion, We aver and therefore believe Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes shown here has demonstrated a culture of corrupt leadership style and continues “an integrated pattern of pay to play” and manipulation during her tenure.

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