Monthly Archives: May 2016

2 PGCPS Students Arrested for the May 8 homicide

LARGO – Detectives from the Prince George’s County Police Department’s homicide unit have made arrests in the fatal shooting of an Upper Marlboro man that occurred near Prince George’s Community College earlier this month and it involves two (2) Students in Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS).

Homicide detectives have arrested 17-year-old Christopher Pineda of the 800 block of Narrowleaf Drive in Largo, and 19-year-old Erik Parham Jr. of the 5900 block of H Street in Fairmount Heights, in relation to the homicide.

Around 9:30 p.m. on May 8 2016, police responded to the 500 block of Harry S. Truman Drive for the report of a person shot. Upon arriving, they found 22-year-old Alim Rahim in a car suffering from gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Preliminarily, police said the motive appears to be a marijuana-related robbery. The two suspects have admitted to their involvement in the homicide and are charged with first-degree murder. They are in custody of the department of corrections on a no-bond status.

Court records show that Rahim was arrested in April 2012 for several counts of burglary, destroying property and theft. He was also arrested in Charles and Calvert County on a number of other charges.

Court records also show that in June 2015, Parham was arrested and charged with over a dozen traffic violations, ranging from failure to stop after an accident to leaving the scene of an accident.

The Reform Sasscer Movement argues the county Executive and the school board to commit resources on social services to avert these social problems which are on the rise within the Prince George’s county.

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Complaint From a Former PGCPS Employee

img_6358We received another email below from a user who wants to remain anonymous in regards to problems affecting teachers and staff in a Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). It reads:

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Hello,

I am a former PGCPS employee and I found your website a while back when I was searching for “Bringing Words to Life” to present to my students. The curriculum I was required to teach from was unclear of how to access half the documents and the adoption of Google Sites has led to long and difficult to memorize urls. I end up Googling most materials I need for class, but half the time it won’t appear on the first set of results.

Anyways, I was told by one of the assistant principals that she would recommend to the principal and to the county that I should leave the school. We’ve been at odds for the past week or so because I had no formal lesson plans written for my students. Nearly everyday at the school there is a random event such as a PARCC pep rally, class picture day, professional development meeting, or something that was not scheduled until the day of, making teachers completely shift their schedules around. The problem is that these teachers are departmentalized in what they teach, meaning only one of the classes of students may be affected while the other class gets their full time for whatever subject is being taught. It made it extremely difficult to teach, but I did my best to incorporate technology into the classroom, do relevant read-a-louds such as introducing I Am Malala (Young Reader’s Edition) to my 3rd graders. The text by itself is a very high level for many of my students, but I made sure to define words, draw connections, and question my students as we read along to help my students create meaning. I was discouraged from straying from the curriculum and I was told to teach exactly what was on the documents.

I attempted for only a few days before I noticed numerous typos or other inaccurate information contained within the documents. The documents also lend nothing to creativity and have a large focus on direct instruction. I tried to clarify several misconceptions for my students but the assistant principal said it was inappropriate to do so. She thought it would be better if I just stuck to what was in the curriculum regardless of whether the information is accurate or not. I’ve learned far too much about project based learning, integrated content area teaching, and student centered learning to agree with almost anything my assistant principal had stated. She believes that my students are performing poorly in large part due to me straying from the curriculum but I am not sure if she is even aware that a quick look of her son’s public Facebook page reveals that she sent her own son to private school. Not only did she sent her own son to private school, but her son has dozens of wall posts from friends talking about partying together and smoking weed in addition to number of obscenities and racial slurs.

I would prefer to remain anonymous, but if there is anything you would like to add to the blog about my experience, I would be happy to share. I would encourage you to publicize some of the elementary school curriculum and focus on some of the current inaccuracies that are contained within. For example one of the BWTL PowerPoint slides I was required to share states that emigrants only move from one part of a country to another whereas immigrants come from another country. However, a quick browse of Merriam Webster’s dictionary will tell you that an emigrant is “a person who leaves a country or region to live in another one.” This is just one of numerous mistakes I have encountered in the documents. I’ve also seen ridiculous paid positions such as “School Testing Coordinator” and I’ve been working on substitute teacher pay for the past several months despite being told I would get a full contract with benefits. I also had problems in the past with the secretary not entering in all the dates that I worked, so I had to email her four times before she finally entered in the correct dates I worked so I could be paid.

I commend you, your team, or whoever else might be writing to reform PGCPS. I was told my several close friends that I should have just been quiet and did as I was told, because it doesn’t make sense to get fired. However, I saw far too many teachers just staying quiet and that’s exactly why these problems still persist. If everyone began to stand up for themselves and protest the corruption in the current top heavy system, then PGCPS could be among the highest performing school districts in Maryland.

Thanks for all you do!

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Teacher with a complaint about PGCPS

Forestville
We received the email below from a user who wants to remain anonymous. It reads:
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I need to remain anonymous in this.
My school, Forestville High, is closing this year after the school system went back and forth for months. Because they said they were closing us down, then said they weren’t, nobody had time to apply for positions in surrounding counties as those application deadlines were in February. Now we’re all scrambling to find positions. HR says we’ll have positions in PGCPS, but our staff reduction letters say nothing about guaranteed positions, and none of the 18 schools I have contacted have openings in my certification areas.

I can’t have my name tied to this because I desperately need to find a job and I fear fallout from the school system for speaking up.

At any rate, I wasn’t even writing to complain about that. I was writing to let you know that in April, we were ordered to turn in all projectors and other machinery/computers we had checked out so they could go to county storage. After an uproar from teachers, we were told we could keep them until the seniors graduated. That was yesterday. So far a SWAT team hasn’t shown up to reclaim my $100 projector, but I plan to keep it for as long as possible because…

Also in April, PGCPS came to Forestville and removed all of our department’s texts and workbooks to move them into storage. Yes, you read that correctly. With two months to go in the school year, we were left with NO texts to use with our students. Our “teaching” has now been diminished to making copies of worksheets and pulling up articles on the projector for students to read. Next year these students will start at new schools having missed nearly the entire 4th quarter of instruction.

For a system with the slogan “Great by Choice,” PGCPS is making some really stupid choices. Apparently our students don’t need to learn anything for nearly the entire fourth quarter. I have no idea if other departments were also ordered to turn in their texts.

I love PG County. I was raised here, I am a product of this school system (back when it was still decent), and I adore my students. However, I hate the disorganized, overreaching, slimy administration in this school system. I am currently torn between my desire to be the caring adult these students need and my desire to work for a system that values its students enough to supply them with resources to help them learn. 😦

Again, PLEASE keep me anonymous. I just couldn’t stay quiet and am hoping you may be able to pick it up and run with it.pgcps_logo

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Board passes facilities plan, new school sites

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UPPER MARLBORO – The Prince George’s County Board of Education had a busy agenda on May 12 and the theme of the night was capital improvement programs.

With everything from contract close outs and change orders to the facilities master plan, a charter school contract and location choices for the two new middle schools on the plate, the board of education had a lot of decisions to make for the future of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS).

At the end of the night the board voted 9 to 1, with three abstentions, to pass the facilities master plan and voted unanimously for the two new middle school locations and for a slightly amended contract for the College Park Academy charter school.

At the forefront of the conversation were concerns about equity for students throughout the county and the future of some schools.

Although the facility master plan does not call for the closure of any schools within the next year, some board members still worry about the impact the plan will have on possible closures in the future.

Edward Burroughs III, who represents District 8, said he was glad to see Friendly High School was not slotted for closing any time soon, but Sonya Williams, who represents District 9, said she did not like the listed state rated capacity for Frederick Douglass High School and fears it may set the school up for possible closure.

“What that does to their population is, that puts them at 60 percent below state rated capacity, which is detrimental to that school’s capacity,” Williams said.

The current listed state rated capacity for Douglass is more than 1,400 students, but Williams said she would prefer the number return to its former 1,283. However, Monica Goldson, the PGCPS chief operations officer, said the number takes into consideration the space of all of the classrooms and was reviewed by the principal.

Williams said that made her uncomfortable as the sitting principal had only served the school for a year when the number was created and she does not feel that is enough time to adequately gauge the capacity.

Goldson said the capacity was already submitted to the state department of education, however, and has been on the books for a year.

“If this number had changed to 1,400, this is the first we’re hearing about it in this report that was in July. So, I just do not feel comfortable with it being at 1,400,” Williams said.

Williams was the only member to vote in opposition to the plan.

Perhaps one of the biggest votes of the night was the passing of the sites for the two new middle schools in the northern area of the county.

The two middle schools will be created to help alleviate overcrowding in northern county, particularly in the Buck Lodge/Nicholas Orem middle schools area and the William Wirt/Charles Carroll area. Although the schools are being placed to relieve crowding, school officials said there have been no official discussions of boundaries or existing school populations the two new middle schools will pull from.

Boardmember Dinora Hernandez, District 3, said the schools are warranted for the area based on a severe need.

“This is based off what we know as a need in the north and that’s the massive overcrowding in our schools. We cannot have any more temporaries. We cannot have children uncomfortable in their classroom,” Hernandez said.

Lupi Quinteros-Grady, who represents District 2, agreed and said she has had to sit down and discuss with principals how to work their daily bell schedules to create enough space to accommodate students in overcrowded schools. Quinteros-Grady said the overcrowded classrooms are impeding instruction.

The vote for the placement of the schools was made despite PGCPS only conducting two community meetings on the probable locations. The first middle school will be built on the same site as Mary Harris Mother Jones Elementary School at Adelphi Park off Adelphi Road. It will cost approximately $71.6 million.

The second school will be built at Glenridge Park, a site currently owned by the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission that rests between Glenridge and Beacon Heights elementary schools. To build there, PGCPS will likely have to deal a land swap with the commission, and the estimated cost of the project is $74.4 million.

Although Quinteros-Grady, Hernandez and Zabrina Epps (District 1) all expressed the need for the two middle schools, both Burroughs and Beverly Anderson expressed some concerns with the idea of the schools.

Anderson said she fears the locations of the school will create unintended segregation by building schools in areas that pull from predominately Hispanic and Latino populations. Since Greenbelt was not listed as a defining area like William Wirt or Nicholas Orem, she said she fears the new schools will not help alleviate overcrowding in Greenbelt. Anderson said she would support the building of one school, but would like a thorough study into where to place the second school so as to “maximize diversity.”

“We don’t want to have any re-segregation of schools. I don’t think that’s what we want to do, but that appears to be the direction in which we are moving and that’s where I have an issue,” she said.

Burroughs also raised issue with the schools and said the southern portion of the county also has temporary classrooms and overcrowding, yet it seems the school system is telling those students they are not deserving of new buildings and comfortable classrooms.

“We have temps in the south. We have overcrowding in the south. We have asbestos and mold in the south. We have half the building hot, another half of the building cold in the south as well,” Burroughs said. “I recognize we don’t have the massive overcrowding as the north, but does that mean these conditions are acceptable and will remain acceptable for the schools in the south?”

Goldson said they were “definitely not” and said the school system had just received $39 billion to tackle projects across the county. She said PGCPS is not just working on the new schools, but also for aging sites as well.

Burroughs also raised issue with the one-year extension contract with College Park Academy, a charter school run in partnership with the University of Maryland. Part of the reasoning behind an only one-year contract is the school is considering holding seats for children of the university’s staff and students in College Park.

Burroughs said he is worried about the idea of reserving seats for “the elite” and said opportunities like the academy should be open to all students in the county. In an attempt to make that point clear he made an amendment to add language to the motion saying the “board wants to ensure equity quality and access for all students.”

Although Kevin Maxwell, chief executive officer of PGCPS, said the language did not change the contract, Board Chair Segun Eubanks was confused by the motion and if it was in order since the motion was already on the floor.

This confusion led way to heated exchange in which Burroughs said the motion was in order and Eubanks told Burroughs to “shut up and let the parliamentary answer the question.”

Burroughs in turn told the chair that he should not tell another member to shut up while on the microphone and reminded him that Burroughs was elected to the board, while Eubanks was appointed.

The tension also included Burroughs having to repeat his amendment, which was accompanied by a hard stare to which Eubanks said “You’re staring me down now Edward, really? “ and “That’s where we’re going? Come on now young man.”

And Burroughs responded with “I’d love to see an election.”

The board unanimously passed the amendment and subsequently the yearlong contract. Burroughs and Eubanks made up after the meeting with a conversation and a hug.

The board also approved nearly 30 different change orders and project closeouts during the May 12 meeting.

via sentinel

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Prince George’s County Student pilot overshoots runway

, crashes small plane at airport in Bowie

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BOWIE, Md. — A small plane hit a fence bordering Rt. 50 while attempting a landing at Freeway Airport in Bowie in Prince George’s county, fire and police officials say.

A Cessna 172 with a student pilot in control overshot the runway at about 2:45 p.m., according to a Maryland State Police spokesperson. The only passenger in the four-seater was the instructor.

No injuries have been reported, says Mark Brady, Prince George’s County Fire PIO.

Although there were no lane closures, traffic delays extended about three miles on Eastbound Rt. 50 as citizens going home from work stopped on the main highway to observe, officials said.

Prince George’s County Fire also responded to the scene. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transpiration Safety Board were contacted and will be conducting a follow-up investigation.

The registered owner of the plane is Freeway Airport, Inc. in Mitchellville, Md., according to public records.

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Open letter to the Maryland State Board of Education.

msde_store_frontMay 12, 2016

Maryland State Department of Education
200 W Baltimore St #1
Baltimore, MD 21201

Dear Dr. Jack R. Smith:

I am writing because the actions of BOE of PGCPS violations of Administrative Procedure 4200 for an employee member electing to use the appeals process, has become extremely frustrating for me. My life has been significantly impacted from middle class to poverty because of their refusal to follow policy and procedures.

On July 20, 2015, I received a letter from Margaret Utuk, Supervisor, case management of PGCPS requesting that I address my employment status. I responded to her letter on July 25, 2015. Prince George’s County Public Schools denied receiving my reply although my letter was certified returned receipt. I have documentation supporting this. Following this, I received another letter from Angela Joyner, ELRO of PGCPS dated July 29, 2015 requesting clarification of the status of my employment. I responded to her letter with a date of August 7, 2015 which BOE of PGCPS denied receiving. Later a due process conference was scheduled on August 25, 2015 with Angela Joyner, ELRO of PGCPS, Susan Lesser PGCEA representative and I.

I received a letter dated October 28, 2015 terminating my employment with BOE of PGCPS for grounds of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. I have not been on the payroll or in a school since January 2013. I appealed this decision within the time frame allowed which was ten days. The exact wording of AP. 4200 states, “In the event a request for a hearing is timely made and received by Board, the procedure for conducting a hearing, unless otherwise determined by the Board is as follows.” This statement appears to give the BOE infinite amount time and jurisdiction. Do you think five years is long enough? After several emails from me to the BOE chairman Segun Eubanks, a hearing officer was assigned on November 19, 2015.

According to the administrative procedure 4200 a hearing was to be scheduled sixty days from the identification of the hearing officer Linda Earle-Hill. My hearing was scheduled four months later on March 15, 2016. The hearing lasted six hours. Obtaining the transcript of the hearing from Bradford Associates was a nightmare. It took almost two months. We requested the transcript on March 24, 2016 and received it on May 11, 2016. Although Lolita Morris, stenographer (Bradford Associates) stated in the hearing it would take seven to ten days.

If you see the attached email dated today, from Linda Earle-Hill, Hearing officer, she states, “I may have to travel sometime in June which may delay my findings by a few weeks.”

You are probably wondering why I should get involved in a personal personnel issue. Well the answer is simple, if it is happening to me then it will happen to someone else or has happened to someone else and slow justice is no justice. See the attached letter dated February 7, 2011 from Elizabeth Kameen, Principal Counsel Assistant Attorney General for Maryland State Department of Education. According to this letter I have been in litigation with BOE of PGCPS for five years which has caused an undue hardship for me financially. This all started when I filed a sexual harassment charge on October 18, 2010 with PGCPS and with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January 2011. If you do not believe me just Google my name Desiree V. Mayes and you will see I was terminated on January 17, 2013 and plethora of other information. I keep asking myself why I didn’t I have a due process hearing in 2011, 2012, 2013, or 2014 not until 2015 this does not make sense to me. This is not justice but a cover up. Instead of policy and procedures being followed, I have received delay, delay and more delays which amount to harassment. With respect to employment policies, is it too much to ask for equal treatment with personnel practices? I am on the verge of losing me my home and everything I have worked hard to become educated so that I could take care of my family.

In closing, I expected that PGCPS would recognize the meaningful value and importance of full discussion in resolving discrimination complaints and preserving good relations. I also understand that from time to time there may be misunderstandings and questions concerning rules, policies, and personnel issues. But clearly this is not the issue, the issue is policy and procedures are being ignored. PGCPS policies give employees a way to have complaints addressed rapidly, fairly, and without fear of reprisal but not in my case. I am so tired of mental and emotional pain that I have had to endure for the last five and half years. My contact information is under separate cover. If you need additional information feel free to contact me. Would you considering helping me shed some light on this appeal process without any further delays so that I could resolve my issues with PGCPS and not become homeless?

Respectfully submitted,
Desiree V. Mayes

Cc: Larry Hogan, Maryland Governor
David A. Branch, Attorney
Roland Martin, TVOne
Loretta Lynch, US Attorney General
Bob Ross, NAACP President

Desiree V. Mayes
5202 Call Pl SE
Washington, DC 20019
202.581.9512
Gmayes915@verizon.net

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Update: Call to Action – Good Lawyers needed!

lawyerWe are currently looking for attorneys with civil rights Advocacy experience capable of handling multiemployer issues to be based in Washington DC metro area.

Also any attorney or attorneys willing to provide pro Bono work to our organization on behalf of our followers within the district and around the U.S. Please contact us! We need your help. In the last several years, we have faced a number of challenges and we must work urgently to protect the constitution days ahead and make the counties a better place for everyone.

Those attorneys who have received kickbacks, payoffs or political favors on previous cases by the Board of Education of Prince George’s County and other corrupt entities, need not apply.

It’s hard to believe there are that many incompetent attorneys in the DMV metro area. Thus, when you check their client list, guess who they get cases from??

There are already too many of attorneys on the Board or County’s payroll. Compromised attorneys, are encouraged Not to apply. In the last several years, we have seen attorneys who are willing to help the Board of Education for Prince George’s county /Administration destroy the lives of our children for peanuts.

All inquiries are held in the strictest confidence. If interested to help change the county through litigation while making a difference in the lives of the county citizenry, please send resume, cover letter to Reformpgcps@gmail.com

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PGCPS Parkdale High to hold memorial service

… for teacher slain by estranged husband0309badd-ea75-4689-9d42-74b27d88a1f5-large16x9_ThefirstvictimallegedlykilledbyEulalioTordilwashisestrangedwifeGladysTordilPhotocourtesyofoneofherstudents

RIVERDALE, Md. – Students at Parkdale High School in Riverdale will hold a memorial service today Monday for beloved chemistry teacher Gladys Tordil, who was allegedly shot and killed by her estranged husband Eulalio Tordil on May 5, 2016.

Parkdale’s student government association tweeted that the service will begin this evening  at 6:30 p.m. on May 16, 2016.

Parkdale High School is located at 6001 Good Luck Road near University Maryland College Park towards NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

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Estranged husband Eulalio Tordil is currently in custody in Rockville (Montgomery County)

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Call to Action – ATTORNEYS

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We are currently looking for attorneys with civil rights Advocacy experience capable of handling multiemployer issues to be based in Washington DC metro area.

Also any attorney or attorneys willing to provide pro Bono work to our organization on behalf of our followers within the district and around the U.S. Please contact us! We need your help. In the last several years, we have faced a number of challenges and we must work urgently to protect the constitution days ahead and make the counties a better place for everyone.

All inquiries are held in the strictest confidence. If interested, please send resume, cover letter to Reformpgcps@gmail.com

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Hogan ‘pleased’ with resignation of school construction chief

…after air-conditioning dispute

1_122016_hogan8201_c0-81-4956-2970_s885x516Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he’s “very pleased” with the decision of the state’s school construction chief to resign amid the ongoing battle over school air conditioning in Baltimore city and county.

David Lever has headed the Interagency Committee on School Construction, a state agency that reviews school construction projects and spending, since 2003.

On Wednesday, Lever criticized the vote by Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot on the Board of Public Works to withhold $15 million from Baltimore city and county school systems unless they install portable air conditioners in schools over the summer.

Lever said the decision politicized school construction funding and prompted his decision to step down, effective in September.

Hogan said he’s glad to see him go.

At a news conference in Annapolis, the Republican governor called Lever “a major part of the problem.”

“We were very pleased with his resignation,” Hogan said. “My only regret is it doesn’t take effect immediately.

“Quite frankly, anyone who has the arrogance and the sense of entitlement that they don’t feel like they have to be accountable for their actions to the Board of Public Works, to the people who are responsible for overseeing these things, doesn’t deserve to be working in state government,” Hogan said.

Lever declined to comment on the governor’s remarks. “I don’t have any response to that,” he said.

Hogan’s statement came as politicians continued a war of words over school air-conditioning policies.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a Democrat, issued a lengthy statement defending his position that installing portable air conditioners would be a poor use of taxpayer dollars compared to his plan to install central air conditioning in all schools by 2019.

“In his desire to punish Baltimore County and Baltimore City, the Governor intentionally misstated the county’s plan, refused multiple opportunities to be presented with the facts, and disregarded the clear legal advice of the Attorney General of the State of Maryland,” Kamenetz wrote.

County officials say it’s logistically impossible to install air conditioners by the deadline set by Hogan and Franchot of the start of the next school year.

Kevin Smith, chief administrative and operating officer for the county school system, said state procurement laws outline steps for a project of this scale. The earliest the process could be completed is August 2017, he said, if it started immediately.

The system would have to hire a consultant to design the work and have plans approved by the state, Interagency Committee on School Construction, which could take until fall. If the IAC gives the go-ahead, the school system then would give potential vendors a 30-day period to bid on the work. By January, the school board would approve a contract with a vendor. Work could begin in February and wrap up in August, Smith said.

There are provisions for speedier procurement for emergencies, he said, “but I don’t know if this qualifies as that.”

Hogan doesn’t buy that argument, said spokesman Douglass Mayer.

“For years, the county executive has made excuses for his failure to ensure that all Baltimore County students have access to suitable learning environments,” Mayer said. “It comes as no surprise that he has yet another weak explanation to try and justify the deplorable conditions in these classrooms. No doubt he’ll have even more excuses next week.”

Peter Hamm, a spokesman for Franchot, also dismissed the county’s timetable, saying of Kamenetz: “If he wants to make it that hard, he can make it that hard.”

Baltimore city and county are the only jurisdictions in the state with a significant number of classrooms that lack air conditioning. When the school year began, 48 of Baltimore County’s 175 public school buildings lacked air conditioning. In Baltimore, 76 schools lack air conditioning.

Hogan and Franchot have criticized leaders of both jurisdictions for not providing air conditioning for classrooms. Franchot, a Democrat, went on the “C4 Show” on WBAL radio Thursday to continue to blast Kamenetz.

“The foot-dragging by local elected officials for the last five years is a disgrace,” he said.

Franchot said Kamenetz is “committing a mass dereliction of duty” by allowing children to attend schools without air conditioning.

Via Baltimore sun

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