Former Prince George’s school board member sentenced for school-lunch theft

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Lynette Mundey, 34  claims she has been singled out because of her race, and because she raised tough questions while on the board.

Upper Marlboro MD — A former member of the Prince George’s County school board has been sentenced to probation for using an assistance program for low-income families to get free school lunches for her own child.

Lynette Mundey, 34, was convicted in February on charges that she misused the free school lunch program, intended for families with a combined annual income of $40,000 or less.
When she was indicted, Mundey was making $93,000 annually as an education board member and a federal employee. The lunches were valued at about $1,700.

On Friday, she was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

Mundey was, and is, a federal employee of the Government Accountability Office, and it was that agency that discovered that she was one of six GAO employees from the county who had underreported their incomes to qualify for the program for their children.

In court, Mundey’s attorney said Mundey is on paid administrative leave from the GAO and is in the process of being fired. Mundey resigned suddenly from the school board last June; she was indicted in August.

Prosecutor Jeremy Robbins told the court that Mundey used an inactive social service case number to defraud the school system. Outside the courtroom, Mundey said that number had been legitimately assigned to her years earlier.

Mundey maintains that she only made a mistake in leaving the income field on a form blank and did not intend to deceive the government into thinking she had no income. She also claims she has been singled out because of her race, and because she raised tough questions while on the board.

“We treated this case the same way we treat all cases,” said John Erzen, spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office. “She broke the law, and she was convicted of breaking the law after a trial and was held accountable.”

In handing down the sentence, Judge Michael Pearson said similar theft cases would not result in jail time. However, he admonished Mundey for an outburst she displayed when the jury verdict came back, calling her behavior “appalling” and “absolutely ridiculous.”

Erzen said he hopes this case sends a message to would-be financial criminals: “It’s not worth it, we will hold you accountable, you will end up with a felony conviction,” he said. “That’s something you carry with you for the rest of your life.”

>>>via WTOp

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Former Md. education official to be sentenced in free-school-lunch fraud case

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Lyn Mundey

A former Maryland education official is scheduled for sentencing Friday morning after she was convicted of fraudulently obtaining free school lunches.

A jury convicted Lynette Mundey of felony theft, welfare fraud and other related charges in February after a federal investigation found she stole more than $1,700 worth of subsidized lunches over about four years.

Mundey, who served as a member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education and works for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, was among several employees in the federal agency charged after an audit uncovered the fraud.

Mundey earned an income of $70,000 to nearly $95,000 but falsely filled out applications to obtain free or reduced-price school meals, prosecutors said. Families typically receive federal school lunch benefits when their reported income, depending on household size, is between $11,600 and $40,000.

A reduced-price lunch costs 40 cents, according to Prince George’s County Public Schools. Full-price lunches cost $2.75 for elementary school students and $3 for middle- and high-school students.

Six others were charged in 2015 following the GAO audit for obtaining a total of nearly $11,500 in reduced lunches, according to prosecutors.

Despite salaries ranging from $55,000 to $78,000, some of those families underreported their income or reported having no income, county and federal officials said.

Barbara Rowley, Jamilah Reid, Tracy Williams, Charleen Savoy and Terri Pinkney were convicted in connection with the case. Charges against James Pinkney were dropped after his wife, Terri, pleaded guilty to making a false statement on an application for public assistance.

Many who have been convicted have been required to pay restitution or perform community service as part of their sentences.

via Washington post
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Brown wins Maryland’s 4th District Primary.

imageReform Sasscer Movement is delighted that Anthony Brown won the Primary election. After being told he could not use NAACP logo during the campaigns, Mr. Brown acknowledged in an email to supporters that he did not have authority. Part of the issue was that Prince Georges county NAACP chapter and county Executive Baker had endorsed a different candidate (Mr. Glenn Ivey) leaving Mr. Brown and the rest of the candidates running for 4th congressional Seat in the cold. During the campaigns Mr. Ivey even raised more money than Mr. Brown and others due to all the endorsements. These calculated moves made the other candidates jealousy and nervous but strengthened their resolve. Mr. Brown had to secure a loan towards the end of the primary, a sign of commitment to the cause he belived in.

In any event, there is no doubt Mr. Anthony Brown is going to make a stellar Member of Congress who will work successfully both sides of the aisle in promoting and accomplishing an agenda that represents well the residents in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District.

We must also recognize the candidate supported by NAACP who came in second, Glenn Ivey, is one incredibly talented, committed and very special individual who might run for county executive in the future! We have no doubt that, now and in the future, Glenn will continue serving well Marylanders and the public at-large!

The same thing goes for the other candidates engaged in the race and incredibly talented individuals who include Mr. Warren Christopher, Matthew Fogg, Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, and Terence Strait of the Democratic primary. The republican McDermott defeated Robert Broadus, Rob Buck, and David Therrien. They are all incredible individuals and citizens of the county.

Anthony Brown (D) will face George McDermott (R) and Kamesha Clark (G) in the general election on November 8, 2016. The primary elections took place on April 26, 2016.

Now, on to the General Election!

>>Read more

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Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III had endorsed Glenn Ivey’s bid for the 4th Congressional District, backing a longtime family friend over a former lieutenant governor and a half dozen other Democratic candidates. Mr. Brown went on to win with wide margin.

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Longest-serving member in PGCPS board is dethroned in election

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Verjeana Jacobs

The longest-serving member on the Prince George’s County school board with cases pending against her in both state and Federal court lost a primary challenge in Tuesday’s election, a defeat that ends her decade in public office and sends two other hopefuls from District 5 to the general election.

Jeana Jacobs, a lawyer from Mitchellville who was board president from 2007 to 2013 and whose poor leadership skills mixed up with corruption was  placed third in a four-candidate contest. Raaheela Ahmed, who first run as a student leader several years ago was the best this time. She does financial consulting for federal agencies and was making her second bid for the seat, and Cheryl Landis, a longtime school system employee and first-time board candidate.

Ahmed drew more than 9,600 votes, while Landis garnered more than 8,000 and Jacobs about 6,000, according to preliminary results. A fourth candidate, Robert Johnson, an educator from Bowie who is campus director of ITT Technical Institute in Springfield, Va., received about 2,650 votes. It appears the county citizenary united to remove Verjeana Jacobs in every way possible. A few people found or did find it confusing that Ms. Jacobs was calling herself “Jeana” after going as “Verjeana” for many years. It might have been a strategy to deceive voters.

The non-partisan primary campaign for school board touched on issues of class size reduction, teacher pay, budget priorities and parent engagement. Ahmed and Landis could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Jacobs said in an interview that she was honored to have served the community as long as she did. “I’ve always had their backs and they’ve always had mine,” she told the Washington post.

She said she believed she had run afoul of the political establishment in Prince George’s for speaking her mind and taking an independent approach. She noted that County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and other political leaders backed Landis in a string of campaign mailings and handouts. Landis is chair of the Democratic Central Committee in the county.

“Once again politics prevailed,” Jacobs said.

In a second board race in Prince George’s, for District 8, incumbent Edward Burroughs III, a director of business development from Temple Hills, will move on to the general election along with challenger Stephanie Hinton, a fifth-grade teacher from Temple Hills.

Burroughs, seeking a third term, led with more than 11,100 votes, followed by Hinton, with more than 4,700 votes. A third candidate, Carlton C. Carter, a school-turnaround consultant from Fort Washington, trailed with about 2,750 votes. In 2012, Mr. Carter was the principal at Ernest E. Just Middle School in Mitchellville before he fell out with Dr. William Hite leadership and forced to resign, according to a letter sent home to parents at the time.

Edward Burroughs said in an interview with Washington post on Wednesday that he was honored by the support from voters in the district. “I will continue to fight day-in and day-out to ensure that every student has a quality education,” he said.

Hinton, a first-time candidate, said she was still trying to absorb the results.

“I am just thrilled,” she said. “This is all very new to me. I’m excited the voters had the faith in me to send me the general election.”

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Del. Jay Walker to speak to the South County Community

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Del. Jay Walker (D-26)

Del. Jay Walker (D-26) will be speaking to the South County Community Roundtable (formerly District IV Coffee Roundtable) at 10:00 Wednesday, APril 27, at the Harborside Hotel (formerly Clarion), 6400 Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill.

Del. Walker, among other things, is the person primarily responsible for the artificial turf requirement–and unfunded mandate to override local education officials and install expensive, potentially carcinogenic artificial turf, which Walker apparently considers more important than funding the huge school maintenance backlog.  He also sponsored or co-sponsored several other bills, some of which failed, aimed at micromanaging schools and imposing other school-related mandates.

Del. Walker has also supported several anti-democratic measures in recent years, including gutting the non-partisan elected school board and adding enough appointed officials to make it a major partisan patronage vehicle, and enabling local officials to override tax limits repeatedly approved by the voters of Prince George’s County.  He has also sponsored or supported numerous tax increases, unfunded spending mandates, and bills making the tax laws even more complicated than they already were.

It will be interesting to hear what the delegate brags about versus what he doesn’t mention and whether he discusses both the positive and negative aspects of the bills and acts he has supported.

via Diane C. Russell
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Prince George’s reached settlement of $1.5 million in sex abuse case

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Prince George’s paid $1.5 million to settle a claim involving a 15-year-old girl who was sexually abused by a county teacher, ending a case that alleged failures in investigating sexual misconduct and supervising employees in the Maryland school system.

The deal reached in December, after more than three years of litigation, was disclosed by the school system in response to an ­open-records request filed by The Washington Post. The disclosure of the district’s payment comes as the school district examines its policies on preventing and reporting child abuse amid a new sexual-abuse case that is one of the largest in the region in recent years.

Deonte Carraway, 22, an elementary school volunteer in the county was arrested in February for allegedly directing children as young as 9 to perform sexual acts and video-recording them. Police say that there are at least 17 victims and that some of the offenses occurred during the school day at Judge Sylvania W. Woods Elementary School in Glenarden where Carraway volunteered.

As the investigation of Carraway continues, the county’s history in handling such issues is drawing close scrutiny.

The million-dollar settlement involved Brian A. Gwaltney, a former teacher and assistant football coach at Flowers High School who allegedly preyed on a ninth-grader, repeatedly pressing her for sex — and sexually abusing her in his classroom during the lunch hour in the 2009-2010 school year. Gwaltney was 37 at the time.

Gwaltney was convicted in April 2011 of two counts of child sexual abuse related to his conduct with the 15-year-old victim and another teenager. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for each case, with five years suspended.

The Gwaltney case was “the most recent example of sexual abuse by a teacher of a student at Flowers,” the lawsuit said, alleging that the school system “has not taken appropriate action to adequately deter this conduct, supervise teachers and ensure the safety of its students.”

Based on past incidents, the lawsuit claimed, the district has established policies and practices that failed to ensure the supervision of employees and the detection and investigation of incidents of sexual abuse of students.

The complaint alleged that Prince George’s policy allowed teachers to hold “one-on-one meetings” with students in locked rooms during school hours and says students were not aware of any confidential method for reporting abuse from teachers without fear of retaliation or repercussions.

In court documents filed in 2012, the school system denied many parts of the complaint, including those related to its policies and practices; to a history of abuse at Flowers; and to the assertion that school administrators knew or should have known about Gwaltney’s conduct but failed to remove him in a timely manner.

The school system also denied that it was liable for Gwaltney’s conduct or that he was acting in his official capacity as an employee.

The complete details of the settlement in the Flowers case are confidential, but the district released the dollar amount in response to the records request.

The Post reported in early April that at least five teachers were charged with sexual offenses in a period of six years at Flowers, located in Springdale.

[For years, Prince George’s did not strengthen school-sex abuse policies]

Prince George’s officials said Friday that they do not, as a practice, comment on the details of litigation or legal settlements but that student safety is of “utmost importance” and they are committed to “doing everything possible” to address safety issues.

The mother of the victim listed in the Gwaltney civil case declined to comment, referring a reporter to her attorney. Maryland lawyer Timothy F. Maloney, who represented the family, said he could say only that the matter has been resolved.
Gwaltney, recently released from custody, could not be reached, and his attorney declined comment.

In the wake of disclosures in the Carraway investigation, several experts have described the school district’s abuse-related policies and procedures as vague and limited in their capacity to protect children.

Kevin Maxwell, the school system’s chief executive officer, has appointed a task force to review the district’s policies and procedures and make recommendations by May 2.

“We’re doing absolutely everything in our power to review our policies, examine our systems, to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” he said in an interview with The Post in March.

The task force meetings are closed to the public, leading a Greenbelt resident to file a complaint with the state’s Open Meetings Compliance Board.

Told of the amount of the recent abuse-case settlement, several civil attorneys in Maryland said it is difficult to assess whether the agreement is exceptional or to compare it to other payouts because so many individual facts and considerations figure into litigation. Settlement calculations in such cases often focus on psychological damage to the victim and the cost of a lifetime of therapy, said Bill Brennan, a longtime Maryland lawyer.

“It’s much more difficult to quantify a psychological injury than say a broken leg or a broken bone,” Brennan said. “They would have to quantify the extent of the trauma and the length of time for treatment.”

The teenager in the Flowers settlement withdrew from school in May 2010 “due to her fear that other teachers would approach her and pressure her to have a sexual relationship,” the lawsuit stated. Her belief was not unreasonable because “several teachers in the recent past” had engaged in conduct similar to Gwaltney’s, it said.

Lawyers have filed at least five civil suits against the school system on behalf of alleged victims of Carraway, including a class-action lawsuit. The size of any possible monetary settlements would depend in part on the extent to which the school system is found liable.

“Liability comes if the school system was put on notice and . . . failed to do something,” said Terrell N. Roberts III, a Maryland lawyer who handles civil cases. “It speaks very poorly of the school system that these things keep coming up for them.”
The fallout from the Carraway case also could linger in court for years, as it must move through the criminal system before civil matters can be considered.

The emotional impact for any victims of Carraway could fester even longer, said Roberts.

“It leaves a scar a mile long,” he said.

via Washington Post 

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