Prince George’s County police say five teenagers are responsible for a string of robberies targeting cab drivers, including a shooting that left one driver critically injured.
The teens charged are linked to two separate robbery sprees, police said Thursday.
Malik Samuels and Robert Walker, both 17, are charged with the attempted murder of a cab driver.
Police say the cab driver went to the 9000 block of Ballard Lane in Clinton, Maryland, to pick up a fare at 2:35 a.m. Wednesday. When he arrived, the suspects approached him. The teens demanded money and then shot the victim, according to police.
Violent Night in Prince George’s Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Injured
Neighbors found the man lying in the street.
“All of a sudden we heard four or five shots. I got up and look out of the window and then I saw the guy lying on the ground,” said Ronald Currie, a neighbor who called 911.
As Currie looked from his window, he said he saw an act of kindness when it was needed the most.
“He brought a blanket and covered him up with the blanket. It all kind of happened at the same time,” Currie said of the neighbor who came to the aid of the victim.
The victim was taken to the hospital in critical but stable condition.
Two hours later, a cab driver expecting to pick up a customer in the area of Woodlawn Boulevard and Torington Place in Largo encountered the teens.
Both boys got into his cab and demanded money and the car. Police say the teens got away with the cab, and the driver was not hurt.
Three other teens are facing charges in a string of similar robberies. Police say the suspects targeted cab and ride-share drivers during the week of Jan. 15.
In each crime, police say one of the suspects posed as a customer and rode in the victim’s car before the crime was committed.
Jose Ponce-Coreas, 19; Demonte Johnson, 16; and Christian Tejada, 18, have admitted their involvement in the crimes, according to police. All three remain in police custody.
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — A child pornography case that shocked the Prince George’s County school system will be allowed to proceed after potential legal problems arose when the defendant wrote a troubling letter to the court, claiming his rights had been violated.
Deonte Carraway, who is facing 270 charges related to producing child pornography, penned a letter in June saying he has not been receiving adequate legal representation.
But in a Prince George’s County courtroom Thursday, Carraway went back on that claim, telling Judge Beverley Woodard that he is satisfied with his attorney.
Carraway also said he now remembers signing a waiver related to a state law that requires trial proceedings to begin within 180 days of when charges are filed. Initially, in his letter to the court, Carraway claimed he never signed that document.
After clearing up the matter, Judge Beverly Woodard dismissed Carraway and set his next court date for late September.
In the meantime, Carraway will need to appear in a different courtroom next month for sentencing in his federal case. Separate from the 270 state charges, he pleaded guilty to 15 federal countsearlier this year.
Carraway admitted to directing young students to engage in sexual activity with each other and with himself, using cellphones to record the acts. Federal prosecutors said he personally recorded videos and also instructed children to send him pornographic content.
The acts occurred at several locations including Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School, where Carraway was a school volunteer, and inside private homes.
Police arrested Carraway in 2016 after a family member of one of the victims discovered nude images on the victim’s phone and reported it to authorities.
Prosecutors believe he is responsible for abusing at least 23 children.
The case sparked reform efforts within Prince George’s County Public Schools and caused outrage among parents who filed lawsuits against the system, claiming administrators did not do enough to identify and stop Carraway’s crimes.
According to keen observers of the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) system, the recent all-time high grad rates presented to the media – is work of fiction and misrepresentation. The reasons why PGCPS is cooking up numbers are considered many but can be tailored down to the following
- A bill pending in Maryland legislature to repeal HB1107 (See PG 402-17),
- the system is facing several lawsuits due misconduct by the executives,
- PGCPS corruption is spreading to other states (See here) and (here)
- Some Board members themselves in Prince George’s County might be preparing to run for a future political office.
- County Executive plans to run for Maryland wide state office.
- CEO Kevin Maxwell wants to have another new contract.
- The Democratic party regime in Maryland wants to show off good numbers.
Real improvements in a school system such as Prince George’s County take time and hard work. Miraculous sudden improvements in student achievement as shown below in the article is likely the result of outright fraud or a rigged evaluation system designed to produce desired results. Several people who have been following this agrees with this assessment. (See facebook screen shots below).
UPPER MARLBORO — For the fourth consecutive year, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is celebrating increased graduation rates.
On Tuesday, the Maryland State Department of Education released its annual Maryland Report Card detailing graduation and drop out rates for the 2015-2016 school year, and PGCPS has a lot to celebrate, said its Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell.
“I’m very, very proud of the work that we’re doing,” he said. “We came in 2013 after the 2013 scores were at 74.1 and we said, ‘we should be able to do better than this.’”
For 2016, the county school system reached an all-time high in graduation rates in the new scaling system that was introduced in 2010. The state of Maryland also set a new record.
Prince George’s seniors are now graduating at a rate of 81.44 percent – a 2.69 percentage point increase over the 2014-2015 school year, which saw a 78.75 percent rate. The statewide average now sits at 87.61 percent, up more than half a percentage point from last year.
Montgomery County took home a 0.47 percent increase, while Anne Arundel had 1 percent. In Virginia, Fairfax County saw a 0.2 percentage point loss as Arlington County saw a 1.8 percentage point decrease, though both Virginia systems remain in the 90 percents for graduation, according to Virginia Department of Education data.
Moreover, since 2010, the state has seen a six-point increase in graduation rates, while Prince George’s County saw a 5.26 increase.
“The new data is great news for Maryland, as the high school diploma is the important first step of a successful journey,” said State Superintendent Karen Salmon. “We continue to strengthen our standards and our classrooms to better prepare each student for employment or additional education.”
Maxwell also attributed PGCPS’ success to a number of administrative changes on how schools address struggling students.
“We did a number of things and we’ve just been consistently working on getting better. We developed the early warning system and we went to the public education leadership program at Harvard to refine that work,” Maxwell said.
The early warning system helps PGCPS target struggling students and their needs, Maxwell said. That also helps the individual schools get the support needed to reach their goals.
The school system also initiated a credit recovery system to allow students who have fallen behind recover credit for their missed work.
Segun Eubanks, chair of the county’s board of education, said those changes have resulted in evident progress as PGCPS saw “promising” increases across the board – at their specialty, vocational and neighborhood schools alike.
Some of the biggest increases were at Surrattsville High School, which saw an increase of 10.61 percent, Tall Oaks Vocational, which saw an increase of 17.56 percent, and Gwynn Park and Suitland high schools, which both increased by around seven percentage points.Graduation rates for Caucasian students increased by 1.4 points, to 80.3 percent. African American students’ rates rose 4.16 points, to 85.4, while Asian students rose 2.45 to 91.7 percent and American Indian or Alaskan Native students rose 13.26 points to nearly 72 percent, after a significant drop for that cohort in 2015.
Hispanic/Latino graduation rates, however, dropped by 0.64 percentage points.
Special education students saw a 6.36-point increase in their rates over 2015, bringing their rate to approximately 67.4 percent. Students on free and reduced meals also saw increases, as their graduation rate rose by two points to 77.49 percent.
“We talk about every student, in every school, everyday,” Eubanks said. “This is a focus on saying, ‘this is about the system, this is about all kids.’ All means all, so that’s the kind of mentality we’re trying to have.”
County Executive Rushern Baker, III said he is ecstatic over the increase and pointed to Maxwell’s leadership as a turning point for the school system.
“These are the things that I asked Dr. Maxwell to do when we hired him, and that is to come here and turn around our graduation rate,” he said. “And the reason it’s so important is that we know if our young people come out of high school with at least a high school diploma, that puts them on a path where they can get a job, where they can go on to community college for a four-year degree. But their chances are so much better.”
Other notable increases were at Potomac, with a 5.2 percentage point increase after a 13-point increase in 2015 over 2014’s 57.8 percent graduation rate. Bowie rose roughly 4.7 percentage points at the same time Friendly rose 4.5 points, Charles H. Flowers rose 4.8, and High Point rose 3.3. Rates at the now-closed Forestville rose by nearly four points.
“They show our residents of the county how well the public school system is doing preparing our children to graduate, and I think it gives greater confident of our folks to put their children into our public school system,” Baker said.
This year also showed an increase in schools that now rest in the 90percent zone for high school graduations. Bowie High broke into the 90 range, as did Charles H. Flowers, Gwynn Park and Surrattsville. DuVal increased from 91.6 to 92.3 while Eleanor Roosevelt moved from 90.45 to 91.47 and Frederick Douglass increased from 90.3 to almost 92 percent.
Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. is just outside 90 with an 89.17 percent graduation rate.
“Those percentages, they actually represent kids who are graduating that might not have been graduating a few years ago and that’s a credit to the work we’re been doing and it gives them opportunities they wouldn’t be having,” Maxwell.
Eubanks said, though he is proud of the accomplishments the school system has made in gradation rates, he also noted the school system is not just graduating students for the sake of moving them along. PGCPS is also proud of the quality of its graduates and their accomplishments, he said.
“We’re graduating with higher standards,” Eubanks said. “We’re keeping up with preparedness for people for jobs and a career. So if we’re graduating at higher percentages and they’re ready, that’s the way we want to go.”
Despite gains, both Maxwell and Eubanks said the school system still has “a lot of work to do.”
The Hispanic graduation rate decreased while students with limited English proficiency (LEP) also decreased by 4 percentage points from 53.61 percent in 2015 to 49.6 in 2016. That also reflects a consistent decrease since 2013 when the LEP graduation rate stood at 63 percent.
A few schools within PGCPS also saw some significant decreases in their graduation rates. Croom Vocational saw a more than seven-point dip. Northwestern Evening School saw a five-point decrease and the Community-Based Classrooms experienced a nearly 13-percentage-point fall.
In addition Fairmont Heights, Parkdale, Central and Baldensburg all saw 1 and 2 percent decreases.
And while an increasing number of PGCPS high schools are reaching 90 percent and above rates, schools like High Point and Northwestern are still in the 60 percent range.
Maxwell said his goal is still to catch up to the state average, though he admitted brining up PGCPS’ rates would increase the overall state percentage as well.
“We’re really proud of where we are, but we know we still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re one of the larger districts in the state, so when we get better, the whole state gets better. That’s true, but we can still close that gap and we’re going to continue to pursue that.”
The Prince George’s County Board of Education held its first public hearing on the fiscal year 2018 operating budget on January 24, 2017 at Charles Herbert Flowers High School. Various members of the public spoke at the hearing. A Board of Education budget work session immediately preceded the hearing.
Ms. Tonya Wingfield presented her analysis following the Board hearing you can watch her comments below. The public will have an opportunity to comment at other hearings and/or to submit written comments during other dates in the future. The proposed Operating Budget for PGCPS Fiscal Year 2018, is found here. The preliminary proposed budget is submitted and annually reviewed by Prince George’s county citizenry and interested parties; upon approval, the final budget goes into effect July 1.
A man shot a women in front of 15 elementary school students waiting to catch a school bus at a bus stop in Maryland Tuesday morning.
A woman in her 30s was waiting with her three children about 7 a.m. at Winthrop and Chester streets in Oxon Hill when a man jumped of the bushes and tried to grab one of her girls, witnesses said. An argument escalated into a fight and then shots were fired.
The woman fell to the ground, and the shooter ran.
“It’s really sad kids have to deal with that,” said Keith Grant, whose daughter witnessed it. “Kids were running everywhere.”
Forest Heights Elementary School got police protection and counselors to console the students Tuesday.
“A number of them were shaken up by the incident, which is understandable, but they’re all doing pretty well,” said Raven Hill of Prince George’s County Public Schools. “Psychologists and counselors have been with them all day.”
Police are looking for 42-year-old Roland Eugene Simms. They consider him armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees him should not approach him but call 911.
The victim is recovering in a hospital.
Source: Elementary School Students Witness Shooting at School Bus Stop | NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Elementary-School-Students-Witness-Shooting-at-School-Bus-Stop-411709815.html#ixzz4WmvXvwiq
Prince George’s County, Maryland, family is asking for help in identifying the driver involved in a hit-and-run crash in November that injured three people.
Diamond Frazier, 17, and her family were heading north on Route 301 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, when their car was rear-ended, spinning out of control. Frazier was thrown out of the car through the rear window, landing on the opposite side of the highway.
Police said the driver of the car ran away from the scene, leaving behind the vehicle. According to the family’s attorney, the owner of the vehicle is not cooperating with the investigation, and police still have not identified who was driving the car.
Although all three family members were injured in the collision, Frazier was hurt the most seriously. Since the crash, she’s had countless surgeries and is still unable to walk.
Frazier said she has been on bed rest and missed most of her senior year at Wise High School. The family said Maryland State Police are close to making an arrest but need witnesses to come forward.
The detective on the case would like people to contact them if they have any information at 301-568-8101, the number for the Forrestville Barrack of the Maryland state Police.
Source: Prince George’s County Family Asks for Witnesses to Hit-And-Run Crash | NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Prince-Georges-County-Family-Asks-for-Witnesses-to-Hit-And-Run-Crash-411693735.html#ixzz4Wmnqr400
Student board member Juwan Blocker has created a petition urging the Prince George’s County CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell to keep Hyattsville Middle School’s creative writing program.
The Petition states:
Dear Prince George’s County Public Schools students, parents, and community leaders,
My name is Juwan Blocker and I am the Student Member of The Prince George’s County Public School Board, representing all PGCPS Students. The Creative Writing Major at Hyattsville Middle School has been planned to be terminated after the 2017-2018 school year. Hyattsville is a Creative Performing Arts (CPA) Middle School that requires students to audition to get into one of five CPA programs Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, TV/Media Production, and Creative Writing.
The Creative Writing Program has been in existence for 15 years. Since its start, the program has helped strengthen the writing and critical thinking skills of students by having them analyze various literary genres and providing opportunities to express themselves through speaking and writing. Many students have tremendously benefitted from the program.
A recent PTSA Meeting and letter from Dr. Maxwell’s administration have changed the future of the program. The letter states that the Maryland State Department of Education does not recognize the Creative Writing Program as a fine arts major. The letter then states that based on parent input and concern the program will be continued for the 2017-2018 school year, but will be offered as an elective course for subsequent school years.
There are several problems and concerns with this sudden change.
1. Why weren’t School Board Members made aware of this change?
2. Why were parents and students just notified about this change?
3. Why weren’t parents and students apart of the decision-making process?
4. Has Dr. Maxwell’s administration evaluated all possible options to keep the program the way that it is?
5. How do you terminate a program without evidence that proves that the program isn’t effective or needed to better prepare students for college or a career?
6. Why are we cutting a program that helps strengthen the writing and critical thinking skills of our students?
The reality is that if our county indefinitely terminates this program then the rest of the Creative Performing Arts Program will not be the same, we will be taking away the additional opportunity for students to increase their writing and critical thinking skills that prepares them to be college and or career ready. This program attracts students and families from various backgrounds and if this is cut then we will also see a decrease in diversity at the school.
Replacing the Creative Writing Program with offering it is an elective course would extremely water down the course. The way that Dr. Maxwell and his administration is handling this situation is unacceptable and we deserve better!
Student Member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education
>>> Read more
Cold classrooms have some Bowie parents fired up.
About 50 of them gathered at Whitehall Elementary last week to exchange information about the problem and try to figure out how to solve it.
Representatives of parent-teacher organizations from Whitehall Elementary, Samuel Ogle Middle School and Bowie High School were among those in attendance.
Heat has been spotty in some classrooms at Whitehall, Ogle and Bowie during the recent cold snap, parents said. Large sections of Ogle and Bowie High School were without heat earlier this week before maintenance workers rectified the problem.
Katie Moran, the president of the Whitehall Parent-Teacher Association, organized last week’s meeting after county education officials seemed unresponsive to her concerns about the temperatures inside some classrooms.
Whitehall Elementary PTA president discusses lack of heat in classrooms
“It started when kids were reporting to their parents that they were having to wear their coats in the classroom and parents were having to keep their kids home more often because they were having colds and things like that,” she said. “That’s when our parent base really started to build some momentum in realizing the county wasn’t responding in the way we would expect them to when it comes to the conditions in our classrooms.”
After repeated requests from Moran and others, the county was able to provide space heaters in classrooms, which brought temperatures up to the low 60s – 68 degrees is considered standard. One parent reported a classroom temperature reading at Samuel Ogle of 49 degrees one morning, she said.
According to Sam Stefanelli, Director of Building Services for Prince George’s County Public Schools, the problem is that the county doesn’t have to money to replace all the failing heat systems at its schools. So, his department must do the best it can to provide temporary fixes.
Priorities are also an issue, he said at the meeting with parents.
“When I have 20 schools that don’t see heat at all, you’re not going to see my mechanics” at places where the temperature problems are less severe, he said. “It’s not that they’re not coming here. But they have to get those (non-working) systems up first. Then they’re working their way to other systems.
“It’s gotten to the point where there’s so many of them, we’re not able to keep up on a daily basis. So, we’re bringing in contractors to try to supplement our work force.”
According to school system documents, there were more than 800 open work orders for heat-related problems inside the county’s 230 school buildings as of last week. Ten of those work orders involved problems at Bowie High School.
Cold classrooms aren’t the only temperature issue. According to Katie Eckenrode, the PTSO president at Bowie High School, some classrooms there are unbearably hot – even during the winter months.
The temperature problems at either extreme are creating a learning environment that is less than ideal, she said.
“I think it seriously impedes your ability to pay attention to a teacher,” she said. “It makes it impossible to focus on the work in front of you. What I’m hot, I’m grouchy. The teachers are grouchy. They’ve been in these classrooms all day long. Research shows that the learning environment is a huge factor in kids’ ability to pay attention to their schoolwork … I just don’t think the research is wrong there.”
The key to fixing the problem is to lobby elected officials for more money from the state for county schools. Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith urged parents at the meeting to email elected officials at the county and state level.
“This is a huge problem – much bigger than any of us suspected,” Valentino-Smith told those at the meeting. “Bowie has a problem, the county has a problem. We’ve got the big picture now.”
Moran and Eckenrode say they need to channel the parental frustration into action and will try to formulate a strategy to convince officials to make necessary changes in the school budget and policy.
“I think tonight we saw a show of real frustration, a real boiling point, where people are saying ‘I can’t take this any more,’ ” Eckenrode said. “Parents need to take that passion and that fire to the governor, to (County Council member) Todd Turner and it needs to be relentless. You can’t let up.”
via Capital Gazzette
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III is weighing another run for office. This time it’s the race for governor of Maryland.
Mr. Baker cannot seek re-election to his present post because of the county’s term limits. Indeed, he twice sought the county executive seat and twice lost to Jack Johnson.
In fact, Mr. Baker won the seat in 2010 only after Johnson became embroiled in — and later pleaded guilty to — public corruption charges.
Mr. Baker has pushed for the right to hold on to his current job. In 2014, the same year he won re-election, Prince George’s voters rejected a measure that would have allowed the county executive and council members to serve three four-year terms. It was the third time since the 1990s that voters maintained their hard line against expanding terms.
But once a politician always a politician.
Mr. Baker, a staunch Democrat, now says he and his family will consider a possible challenge to popular GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, telling The Washington Post this week that a decision won’t come until after the November presidential election. (He’s with Hillary, of course.)
“I don’t base [my decision] on what the political climate is,” Mr. Baker said. “It’s whether I think I can do a good job and whether it is right for me and my family at that time — and if I can get the things done that I want to do.”
Having also served nearly a decade in the Maryland House of Delegates beginning in 1994, it’s clear that Mr. Bakerlikes elective politics and politicking. What’s not so clear, however, is that Mr. Baker has a clear vision of the needs of public education in his county, which is in more turmoil now than during the fierce busing desegregation battles of the 1970s. And much of the tension stems from Mr. Baker’s move to take over administration of the troubled system and run it himself.
The school system leadership vacuum stems from the decision by the state to honor Mr. Baker’s request to take the reins a few years back. This year alone, parents, students and teachers have had to deal with child and sex abuse allegations, with some of those allegations involving the troubled Head Start program and special-needs students.
This week, another scandal broke in the news — a cover-up within the school hierarchy. The chief of staff of Mr. Baker’s handpicked superintendent was forced out this week.
The most pressing consideration here is timing. For one thing, there’s the tick-tick-tick of the term-limits clock. Then there’s this economic development project called MGM National Harbor that is expected to open in December. A monster gambling/hotel/entertainment/dining/retail venue, the MGM National Harbor will rival anything in the Washington region, and Mr. Baker has a lot riding personally on its success. When the doors open, you won’t have to gamble on whether Mr. Baker will be all grits and grins, since the project was snagged during his watch.
But one could still question whether his gubernatorial gambit is a distraction, political cover, so to speak. After all, public schooling has always been a key issue in Mr. Baker’s arsenal. He offers a taste of his pitch on his RushernBaker.com website: “His scholastic achievements represented a triumph over early struggles with reading, a success made possible by the tenacity and support of his family and teachers. Rushern, an active reader and accomplished lawyer, has remained a steadfast advocate of the importance of teachers and education throughout his career.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
For sure, however, Mr. Baker needs to take a lead on the home front, where parents, and local and state leaders are questioning whether he has a firm grip on the education reins.
Prince George’s families and voters have a right to expect Mr. Baker will be their chief and primary advocate. Pronto.
Politics and politicking be damned.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at email@example.com.
- Sign the Petition here>>Petition to Investigate PGCPS Headstart Child Abuse Launched!
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- Read more >>>PGCPS parents demand changes ASAP at school board meeting.