Tag Archives: school system

PGCPS Student Shot Near Suitland High School; Search for Gunman Underway

A bullet flew through the window of a school building with a student and teacher inside


A high school student opened fire near a high school in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Friday afternoon, shooting a fellow student and sending a bullet through the window of a school building, police say.

The student fired multiple shots in an apartment building parking lot within sight of Suitland High School in District Heights, police said.

The search for the shooter is ongoing.

A teen boy was shot in the leg and is expected to recover.
The school was placed on a lockdown that later was lifted.
Many parents rushed to the school, fearful that their children had been shot.

“Police can’t tell you anything, the school can’t call parents and let anybody know anything,” one mother said, nearly in tears. She said she had two daughters who attend the school.

Upon learning that boys had been involved in the shooting, not girls, the mother exhaled and clutched her hand to her chest.
“Thank you,” she said.

According to the initial investigation, a group of students left the school and argued in the apartment building parking lot, a Prince George’s County Police Department spokeswoman said.
One student opened fire and hit the teen. A classmate dragged him into the high school for help.

Prince George’s County police and fire and rescue was called to the scene about 12 p.m. Soon after, they found the victim near the school annex building, which houses art and music classes.
He was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police later found a bullet lodged in the ceiling of that school building. A student and a teacher were inside the classroom but were not hurt.

At least five shell casings were found.

Suitland High is a performing arts school known for its students’ achievements.

A witness told News4 he saw three students involved in the conflict: one who was shot, one who helped the victim and another who ran away.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor posted on Twitter that this was “NOT an active shooter” situation.

“The investigation has moved into the neighborhoods, where we’re currently searching for the suspect,” Lt. David Coleman said.

Student Kelai’ah Wheelen said she just wanted to go home.
“It was terrifying,” she said.

Anyone with information for police is asked to call 301-772-4910. To leave a tip anonymously, call 866-411-TIPS, send a text message with PGPD plus your message to CRIMES or visit http://www.pgcrimesolvers.com.

Source: Student Shot Near Suitland High School; Search for Gunman Underway | NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Student-Shot-Suitland-High-School-prince-georges-co-410650005.html#ixzz4VnEWjIue


PGCPS Board of Education swears in new student member

BOE_Ava_02Ava Perry is not an ordinary high school senior. This year, along with classes, senior projects and college applications, Perry is also taking on the task of serving the Prince George’s County Public Schools Board of Education as its student member.

Perry is an incoming senior at Oxon Hill High School and will turn 17 next month. She said she wanted to serve on the board to be the “eyes and ears” of the students. She has previously held positions on the Prince George’s Regional Association of Student Government, and also as student body president at her high school.

“I’ve been in Prince George’s County since kindergarten and I’ve grown up through the school system,” she said. “I’ve seen how it inspires kids and the improvements that they’ve made. But what made me want to do this was just really my passion for improving policy. It’s something that is not the best within our school system, but we’ve made great strides.”

Perry was elected to serve earlier this year by her peers. She was sworn in on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at a ceremony in the Sasscer Administration Building. The process of nomination involves an application, multiple letters of recommendation, an interview, a selection of the final two candidates, and a vote after a speech in front of hundreds of students.

“It was exciting,” Perry said. “I was ecstatic when I was elected, because you never know. Where do you go from here? All the work that you put in and all the people that you meet are just so inspiring.”

She said as the elected student member she wants to continue to hear students’ stories and be a voice for their triumphs and struggles. She also wants to make sure students have a greater support system, both inside and outside of their schools.

“What I really want to push for is student support in the form of tutoring,” Perry said.

Perry visited 13 schools while campaigning for the board and found that tutoring was the main concern.

“This showed up at every single high school and middle school I visited,” she said. “And they said they need support. Common core is really taking a toll on them and they need support.

Jeffery Taylor II, the previous student board member, said Perry’s dedication to the students is exactly why she will make a great member.

“I truly enjoy her character, her motivation for service, her communication skills, and her love for advocacy,” he said. “I truly think she is going to make an amazing student member of the board of education.”

Taylor said a student’s service on the board is important because it gives a voice to the other 125,000-plus students in the school system. He said the position is a large task to take on, but it is unlike any other.

“At first it can be a little intimidating because you are 16, 17, maybe 18 and are sitting next to adults, but at the end of the day the members of the board of education are truly open and inviting. They know how to truly help you acclimate and truly serve.”

Segun Eubanks, the chair of the board, is excited to work with Perry. He is impressed with her ambition and her passionate advocacy for students needs. He said having a student voice on the board is “absolutely essential.”

“We represent students. Everything we do is for students,” Eubanks said. “To do this work, and not have the voice of the students in the room, would be disingenuous to what we say our mission is all about. So to have students who are committed, who are ambitious, and are intelligent. Who understand what it is the students need and want and what their challenges are. That keeps us honest.”

As the school year approaches Perry said she is ready to tackle her last year in the school system and ready to serve the students.

“This school system means so much to me,” Perry said. “It has pushed me to where I am. I am proud to represent Prince George’s County. I am proud to represent them on the board of education.”

via Prince George’s county sentinel


Former Western principal pleads guilty to stealing student funds


A former principal at Western High School pleaded guilty to stealing more than $50,000 from school system funds intended to pay for student activities like the prom.

Alisha R. Trusty, 38, pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to felony theft, according to a statement from the state persecutor’s office Tuesday.

Trusty used the student activity fund debit card and checks between February of 2011 and January of 2014 to buy $25,000 worth of personal items and more to pay bills, personal legal fees, and a 19-day hotel stay in New Jersey, according to the statement of facts in the case.

“Public School principals are trusted and relied on by the school system, students and parents to always act in the best interests of their students,” said State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt in a statement Tuesday. “Betrayal of that trust by a principal who steals student activity funds is a particularly reprehensible offense that cannot be tolerated.”

Trusty’s attorney, James Rhodes, did not immediately respond for a request for comment Tuesday morning.

The state prosecutor’s office began investigating Trusty after receiving a complaint from the Baltimore City Public School’s Office of Legal Counsel. A school system audit had found “numerous irregularities” in the student activities account.

Prosecutors said she used the school debit card to buy $25,000-worth of personal items. She spent $3,600 to pay personal legal bills. Public records show Trusty has had several judgments and liens filed against her in recent years, including one case in which she was ordered to pay about $11,000 to an auto finance company, Regional Acceptance Corp.

She spent another $1,275 of the school’s funds to pay a Baltimore Gas and Electric bill, prosecutors said. Trusty also used $2,818 for a 19-day at a New Jersey hotel stay between June and July 2013. She was on medical leave from the school system at the time.

Trusty twice wrote checks for $2,450 and then cashed them for personal use, once on Nov. 29, 2013 and again on Jan. 6, 2014.

Prosecutors said she withdrew $5,380 through “cash back” transactions, using the school debit card more than 60 times.

She also sought and received a reimbursement of $10,875.97 from the school system for trip expenses even though she had already charged the costs to the student activity fund account.

A city schools spokeswoman did not immediately respond for a request for comment Tuesday morning.

Western is the oldest all-girls public school in the nation, and regularly places all its students in college. It was designated a National Blue Ribbon School several years agio. Its graduates include Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State Del. Jill P. Carter, and former state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

Trusty served as principal at Western from August 2010 through August of 2014.

Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 6., 2015.

-via Baltimore sun



City schools lay off employees in central office shake-up


CEO Gregory Thornton

A city Council committee declined Tuesday to approve hundreds of millions of dollars for Baltimore’s schools, saying education officials had misled the council to believe layoffs would be limited to central office staff — then sent pink slips to 59 school-based employees.

Members of council’s Budget Committee said they were demanding answers from schools CEO Gregory Thornton on how he’s handling the layoffs that school officials said were needed to close a multimillion-dollar budget hole. They said they would meet again Friday to consider the school system’s budget.

A school system official told the panel that the downsizing was complicated by union contracts that allowed some laid-off workers to “bump” into the jobs of others.

Dawana Sterrette, a lobbyist for the school system, told the committee that school officials eliminated 119 central office positions to close a budget shortfall, but also cut “several hundred surplus individuals” — full-time teachers and staff who are on the system’s books, but have no permanent placements.

When the “surplus” staff learned of the layoffs, some invoked union rights to “bump” school-based employees out of their jobs, Sterrette said.

She said system administrators had no choice but to then lay off employees in the schools.

“We must follow the rules of the collective bargaining agreement,” Sterrette said. “Unfortunately, some people that have been in roles deemed essential have been bumped.”

Council members said Thornton never mentioned that the layoffs would affect school-based staff. The committee chair, Helen Holton, said Thornton and other school officials had not been forthright about the impact of the layoffs.

“We were told the cuts were coming from North Avenue,” Holton said. “We were told no cuts were coming from the schools.”

In a letter to top school officials, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she planned to introduce an amendment to the school system’s budget to take “exception to this unannounced, inequitable, and arbitrary series of 59 specific layoffs from school-based budgets in which the laid-off positions still remain funded.”

Clarke asked the school board to rescind the 59 layoff notices. She said they were doing “great damage” to individual schools.

>>> Read more 

>>> Read more City schools lay off employees in central office shake-up and impact for Prince George’s County. 

bcpscity seal


County Council wants more assurances from school system before approving increased budget


UPPER MARLBORO – Although Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) officials have promised to hold themselves accountable if County Executive Rushern Baker III’s budget proposal passes, some members of the County Council remain unconvinced.

At a council worksession last Wednesday to discuss the school system’s budget, schools officials promised accountability in the form of annual report cards. The school system is slated to receive $1.93 billion in Baker’s proposed budget, which includes a $133 million increase from the county. In order to fund the increase, Baker has proposed raising the real property tax rate by 15 percent—above the charter limit. He also proposed raising the county’s personal property tax rate from $2.40 to $2.78 per $100 of assessed value. Telecommunication taxes will be raised from 8 percent to 12 percent on top of those increases.

But Councilwoman Mary Lehman said the school system has not done a good job of convincing the council and constituents that the increases are necessary. She said the school system and the Board of Education have done a lackluster job when discussing the budget with residents at town hall meetings. She also criticized school system officials’ time commitment after PGCPS CEO Kevin Maxwell left a worksession early a couple weeks before, which angered Councilwoman Karen Toles at the time.

“We need you to stay here when you come here for as long as you possibly can and if we need you to come back then you need to come back,” Lehman said. “I was the first councilmember to have a town hall meeting on this and Mr. (Segun) Eubanks came. And, frankly, I don’t think he was a good emissary for this. He came with no formal presentation.”

Constituents were really annoyed with Eubanks being unprepared, Lehman said, and were not sold on Maxwell’s plan with no presentation.

Toles agreed that the school system and Maxwell need to be held accountable because the council is not asking for money from the school system.

“We’re not asking for $2 billion dollars—you are,” Toles said. “Be here. Be accountable. We all have late nights. Some of us even get sick. This is an important topic and an important discussion. We have to balance the budget for the tax payers and make sure we’re using their money right.”

During the worksession, Toles said she wants to make sure that each and every school in the county gets the same benefits and that the increased funding would not just reach schools in certain areas of the county. Toles questioned officials on why they have not implemented International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) programs at the feeder schools for Suitland High School, even though Suitland has an IB program.

There is a “major problem” with Maxwell’s strategic plan. Toles said, because it does not improve the schools in her district.

“What I’m concerned about is improving my community,” Toles said. “You have Suitland High School that has been an IB school for a long time but you do not extend IB programs to elementary and middle schools there.”

While she is supportive of language-immersion programs, Toles said students need opportunities to develop in educational programs that can help them succeed.

“I feel like we are dumbing down my community by not giving them a chance with those programs,” Toles said.

Maxwell said before he arrived in the school system, there were no IB programs. It is the school system’s intention to develop a support structure for every high school program they have, he said, through middle and elementary school education.

“It takes funding and training to do those things,” Maxwell said. “The expansion of IB programs, over time, will take place.”

Toles said it is not fair to some programs and services in certain parts of the county and not others. She requested information from the school system about when it would place an IB program in her elementary and middle schools. Monica Goldson, the chief operating officer of PGCPS, said the county has slated to put IB programs at Suitland Elementary school and William Hall Academy and could provide Toles with a list of other schools slated to get IB programs. However, as of Tuesday Toles said she had not received any information from the school system.

Along with report cards, County Council members said they want to ensure the school system spends money where it says it will. While the County Council approves the school system’s budget allocation, it cannot determine how the school system spends its money.

The school system will send out an annual report card to parents to notify them about how the schools are improving, Maxwell said. The school system has promised to improve its standardized test scores, graduation rate and dropout rate. The school system’s goal is to get into the state’s top 10 by 2020.

“We actually have thought about sending that out with the kids when they get their report cards. We are trying to get a handle on how long it will take to get data back from the state for this,” Maxwell said. “Different accountability pieces come at different times.”

The school system must wait for the state to certify some of their performance numbers before they are put out to the public, Maxwell said, and that can be a potential issue.

Councilman Obie Patterson asked for the school system to clearly identify what numbers it will use to audit its performance. Everyone has different performance standards, Patterson said, but the performance standards for the school system are not clear. Patterson’s constituents are saying the school system has gotten money before, he said, but they have not seen any results.

The accountability for the school system will come through council and the county government, said Monique Davis, deputy superintendent. Because the council approves additional funding, Davis said, councilmembers will be the ones who will hold the school system accountable.

“It comes through our partnerships. Through our partnership with the county council, you guys are going to hold us accountable. I think that’s what you can tell your constituents,” Davis said.

Councilwoman Andrea Harrison said the school system has put council members in a tough position by balancing education needs with increasing taxes on residents without any insurances for positive results.

“You have asked us to put a significant tax increase on the residents in this county. In my opinion, and I think in the opinion of the people of this county, we have not proven that we are making progress,” Harrison said.

The school system will not stop asking for increases, Harrison said, but if there are no results, she said, it will be difficult to continue to give increases if there are no results to show any progress.

“Your children can’t come to you and ask for increases in their allowance if they are not doing something that you can see is worth them getting an increase in their allowance,” Harrison said.

via Prince George’s county Sentinelpgcps_logoPRINCE-large

Councilmember gets upset after Maxwell leaves worksession.


UPPER MARLBORO – Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell decision to leave a county council budget work session early in order to attend a gala has caused one councilmember to signal she may vote “no” to tax increases next month.

County Councilmember Karen Toles asked Maxwell about how the additional funding the school system is asking for would help raise graduation rates around the county, but Maxwell said he would leave it up to Ray Brown, the school system’s chief financial officer, to answer Toles’ questions.

“I’m more troubled by your boss leaving because it shows the council doesn’t get respect,” Toles said. “I’m not the one asking for $1.9 billion – he is. And that just, really, it increases my no even further.”

Toles said she felt disrespected by Maxwell leaving the work session before it adjourned because she and her colleagues had been meeting with various departments since 10 a.m. She said her colleagues had previous engagements as well, and she understands that, but the budget must be done.

“We’re all in this together, and sometimes our schedules will run together. We’re all having schedules run together. I wanted him to stick around for the discussion – it probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer,” Toles said.

The council and other officials are at a heightened stress level with what is going on, Toles said, and emotions can run high. Toles said their discussions were important and she did not want to feel like Maxwell was walking out when the stakes were high.

“When you’re talking about laying off county employees, that is important to me. These are people who make the government run,” Toles said. “And these are also budgets that we don’t really control. Once we give the money, they can say what they are going to do with the money, but we have to make sure that we stay the course and we have these conversations because this is an unprecedented amount of money.”

Should this funding not go through, Maxwell said, the school system will not have the means necessary to meet the goals of its strategic plan. He said they will have to reprioritize as a school system, even if the state is granted the rest of the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) funding from the governor’s office.

The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 183, which says the governor should fully grant GCEI funding to all jurisdictions in Maryland instead of cutting the funding at 50 percent as originally proposed in his state budget.

“Pretty much none of this is going to happen (if we aren’t funded) and the expansion of some of the programs that we already have in place is not going to happen,” Maxwell said. “If we achieve half then we’ll have to go back and reprioritize that. It’s going to affect the outcome that we were asked to produce – that’s the bottom line.”

Deputy Superintendant Monique Davis said the school system will use the money it has requested to help improve graduation rates in the county and bring them to a high level according to the school system’s new strategic plan, which has a goal of making PGCPS a top 10 school system in the state by the year 2020.

“We have a target of 3 to 5 percent in graduation rate for most of our high schools. Most of our high schools made that 3 percent last year and that is how we got the increase for the county,” Davis said.

Davis said graduation rates are on the radar; the school board is looking to use state help to continue to increase graduation rates.

The school system has been funded more than $300 million in increases over the last four years, Toles said, and needs to have results to show for it. Toles said the council talks with public safety about staying under on their overtime pay expenses at $20 million, but crime has dramatically reduced and the county is seeing results.

“We know public safety crime has gone down. The numbers reflect it. We can see what they have done, we see the results of them doing more with less,” Toles said. “But if we’re getting on them for doing more with less, I want to know what (the school system) is doing with their money.”

The previous night, in a town listening session at Dwight Eisenhower Middle School in Laurel, Dr. Alvin Thornton, Chairman of the Commission on Education Finance, Equity and Excellence, said citizens need to write letters to the governor’s office granting the jurisdiction the rest of the GCEI funding.

“The legislature has ended, but the governor still has to make a decision. He should give in to you as citizens and release those funds,” Thornton said.

via Prince George’s county sentinel


Prince George’s seeks input on $2 billion school priority plan.


Political agglomeration taking shape for over $2 billion worth of deferred maintenance without proper accountability for questionable long term good.  Bad governance leads to unwise expenditures and is another type of trap. A good governing body transforms its money into public services.

A new process for evaluating and rating school system facilities is under development to help Prince George’s Public Schools prioritize over $2 billion worth of deferred maintenance.

“It does seem overwhelming, but if you can break it down into manageable pieces, it can be done, if there is a will, and if the public has a will,” said Sarah Woodhead, PGCPS director of capital programs, during the first of three public hearings, held Tuesday at Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale.

A final public meeting is scheduled March 19 at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville.

Jay Brinson, project executive for Washington, D.C.,-based project management firm Brailsford and Dunlavey, said a final master plan prioritization report is expected to be completed by the end of May, with drafts released to the school system in late April.

Woodhead said the school system typically has a capital improvements budget of $130 million per year.

“If you look at the number, $130 million sounds like a lot, but if you’re trying to take care of $2 billion in deferred maintenance, overcrowding issues, plus modernizing to meet current standards, we do have a shortfall,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead said the $2 billion backlog is due to maintenance needs over the past 40 years that were put off, and have now added up.

“That’s roofs, boilers, windows, mechanical systems, things that should have been replaced every 20 years, or 30 years or 15 years, that didn’t happen, all adds up to over $2 billion,” Whitehead said.

Woodhead said more than 50 percent of the school system’s inventory of schools is over 40 years old.

>>> Read more pgcps_logo boundary-web3_original_cropimagescalhguwb


PGCPS Parents upset over plans to close school.

Landover Neighborhood school would reopen as early childhood center


Kenmoor Elementary School parents are protesting plans by the school system to turn their Landover school into an early childhood center, citing the school’s strong academic performance and importance to the community.

“This is a school that is working. It is working and it should not be closed,” said Eric Shakir of Landover, parent of two children at Kenmoor. “We acknowledge that we need another ECC … but this is not the way to do it.”

The school is one of two slated to be closed at the end of this year. The other school is Thomas Claggett Elementary School in District Heights. The school system held a public forum in Upper Marlboro Jan. 28 regarding both closures and other boundary changes.

Both closures are part of school system CEO Kevin Maxwell’s proposed boundary changes for the 2015-16 school year.

Both schools are under-enrolled, with Claggett’s student population at 50 percent of its State Rated Capacity, or SRC, and Kenmoor at 55 percent of its SRC, said Johndel Jones-Brown, director of pupil accounting and boundaries.

Claggett is also one of the school system’s worst-performing schools, with less than half its students scoring proficient or higher on the Maryland State Assessments, or MSA, and the Maryland State Department of Education has directed the school system to address its deficiencies, Jones-Brown said.

“The option the school system has chosen is to discontinue its use,” Jones-Brown said.

Students currently attending the schools will instead be assigned to District Heights Elementary or John Bayne Elementary in Capitol Heights. Both schools are approximately one mile away from Claggett.

In contrast, Kenmoor’s latest MSA scores, 76.5 percent in reading and 67.9 percent in math, are higher than the school Kenmoor’s students would be transferred to, William Paca Elementary of Landover, where 68.1 percent were at least proficient in reading and 57.1 percent were at least proficient in math.

>>> Read more Gazette 

Kenmoor ESAR-150129111Jamie Anfenson-Comeau/The Gazette
Wayne Knox, a former student at Kenmoor Elementary with two children currently attending the school, spoke out against the school system’s plan to turn the elementary school into an early childhood center during a Jan. 28 boundaries public meeting.EP-150129111

Jamie Anfenson-Comeau/The Gazette
Fanchon Christopher, president of the Kenmoor Elementary School PTA, speaks out against the conversion of Kenmoor into an early childhood center during a Jan. 28 public hearing on school boundary changes.


Reality Tale of Two Education Systems:

One for the Poor, and One for the Rest


New data reveals our public—not private—school system is among the best in the world. In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world.

The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that the U.S. ranked high, relative to other OECD countries, in readingmath, and science (especially in reading, and in all areas better in 4th grade than in 8th grade). Some U.S. private schools were included, but a separate evaluation was done for Florida, in public schools only, and their results were higher than the U.S. average.

Perhaps most significant in the NCES reading results is that schools with less than 25% free-lunch eligibilityscored higher than the average in ALL OTHER COUNTRIES.

The Obvious: Reduce Poverty and Improve Education.

What should be obvious to our legislators is apparently not. K-12 funding declined in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records. A 2014 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that “States’ new budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago — often far less.”

It gets worse. Numerous studies have shown that pre-school helps all children to achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most. But the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education. And yet Head Start was recently hit with the worst cutbacks in its history.

>>> Read more 



Prince George’s school system plans a reorganization of its Human Resource Division


Dr. Kevin Maxwell

Several dozen people who work for the Prince George’s County schools’ human resources department were recently called into a meeting and told that their jobs were no longer their jobs.

No one was fired, at least not yet.

As part of a major reorganization, 64 of the department’s 72 employees were told that they had to reapply for their positions, schools officials said. Some will have new job descriptions, others will need new qualifications, and all the jobs are open to candidates inside and outside the school system.

The major shake-up at the school system’s central office is the first significant move from schools chief Kevin M. Maxwell, who took the reins in August.

Max Pugh, a school system spokesman, said that Maxwell’s decision to revamp the division was a response to a recent state legislative audit, a strategic plan survey and a transition report, all of which highlighted alarming deficiencies in human resources. >>> Read more Washington Post




Dr. Maxwell is doing this to confuse the issues in what appears to be the right thing. This is one area in which we agree with him. However, Human Resources in PGCPS is one big area which needs to be fixed especially the office of labor relations Department and others which are compromised.  Ms. Monica Goldson needs to go too and create room for new leadership which is not tainted by corruption and other cartels. The unions needs to be fixed too and put in their place. We cannot afford to have a Human Resources (HR) department which discriminates and was always covered up by Ms. Verjeana Jacobs over the years. It’s high time Verjeana Jacobs stopped making wild allegations when she knows there are problems. Her advocacy is like “The pot calling the kettle black“.

 Education is the most critical issue facing the county right now. We can’t create jobs if people aren’t educated for them, we can’t spur development with poor-performing schools running corruption through the roof, and we can’t reduce crime if we don’t educate our children out of a life of crime. We need to push for a fully transparent PGCPS budget (at the central office) this year and in the future .  Join us in this fight.