Monthly Archives: January 2017

PGCPS’ Dr. Kevin Maxwell Eyes boundary Changes

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UPPER MARLBORO — One year after the Prince George’s County Board of Education voted to postpone school boundary changes, new proposed changes are before the governmental body.

Boundaries are historically a tough topic in the school system and the proposals, made by the Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell on Jan. 19, were no exception, as parents, community members and board of education members raised questions about the proposals.

However, unlike previous years, the school system’s capital improvements office made a large effort to give communities the opportunity to take part in the boundary decisions, said Johndel Jones-Brown, the director of Pupil Accounting and School Boundaries in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS).

“One of the things that we allowed for in those community discussions was the opportunity to follow up,” Jones-Brown said. “Again, understanding the complexity of some of these issues and realizing that there were no easy, readily available solutions.”

Pupil Accounting and School Boundaries partnered with the capital improvements office for the onsite meetings with the affected communities. Together, the two offices gathered information at a meeting at Bladensburg High School that addressed several northern and mid-county boundary issues; a meeting at James Madison Middle that looked at a number of relocation options for a regional school and boundary issues surrounding the middle school; and at Accokeek Academy where the community talked about overcrowding at the Talented and Gifted (TAG) designated school.

After months of gathering information from the community, Jones-Brown and Maxwell took the data and compiled the CEO’s recommendations for changes for the next school year.

One of the first proposals discussed was a solution for the overcrowding at Accokeek Academy, which is supposed to house a K-8 cohort and is also a TAG designated school.

The boundary changes for the academy were a hot-button issue in 2016, and one of the reasons the board voted to postpone changes was the overwhelming push-back from the community.

This year, the community turned out in numbers to be a part of the decision-making process, but both Sonya Williams, the board member who represents the area, and Tommi Makila, an activist and parent of a student at the school, noted that Maxwell’s proposal did not reflect what the community thought was a consensus.aamodified

“It seemed that we found a consensus approach that everyone could live with,” Makila said. “Considering the hard work that was put into this, I was very surprised and disappointed that the CEO is proposing to move forward with (another option.)”

The proposal brought before the council looked at several factors. Currently Accokeek Academy does not function as a true academy, as it pulls in new students during middle school years, due in part to the current boundaries.

The school is also at 99 percent of its state rated capacity, while nearby Fort Washington Forest Elementary (FWF) is only at 66 percent. The set target for PGCPS is 80-95 percent utilization.

To solve a number of concerns for the area, Maxwell’s proposal includes reassigning “The Preserves” and homes off Danville and Floral Park Road to FWF and Gwynn Park Middle, which was not the communities’ first choice.

The option most preferred by the community was moving the TAG center to FWF and a nearby middle school, or to establish a two-campus academy between FWF and Potomac Landing Elementary.

Jones-Brown, however, said both of those solutions would take more resources and disrupt more students to accomplish. In addition, the two-campus academy would function as a K-3 at one school and a 4-8 at the other due to capacity restrictions.

In response, Williams suggested a phase-in approach with the TAG center relocation that would move the TAG classes from the academy as the next grade was phased in.

At the same time, Boardmember Edward Burroughs, III questioned why anything had to be done to address the overcrowding at Accokeek Academy. Eleanor Roosevelt High School has a similar overcrowding issue due to the school’s program popularity. He said he hasn’t seen any effort to address that similar issue and said he felt it was equitable to only change one.

“When I look at this holistically as a South County issues, I look at schools like Roosevelt in the northern part of the county that are significantly overcrowded, but we don’t touch their boundaries at all because their program is a success. But in the southern part of the county, Accokeek Academy is a success and we’re tampering with the boundaries,” Burroughs said.

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In another change, the CEO also looks to a minor adjustment in North County that would be an interim solution to severe overcrowding at Buck Lodge Middle School until new middle schools are built in the area. Those buildings could take several years to come to fruition.

The proposal would move students in the Calverton Elementary area from Buck Lodge to Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle. The proposal would put both schools over capacity, as the move would more than fill the 202 currently open seats at MLK Jr., but would take some of the strain off Buck Lodge, which cannot accommodate any more temporary classrooms.

In Mount Rainier, the CEO proposes moving students from four planning blocks, located in Mount Rainier, Brentwood and North Brentwood, from Thomas Stone Elementary to Mount Rainier Elementary.

Thomas Stone is over-enrolled by approximately 157 students, while Mount Rainier has 98 available seats.tstoneboundaries

All of the proposed changed zones would still be within the “walking zone” of the school and no additional transportation would be provided by PGCPS.

In another minor change, the CEO proposed reassigning the Kentland neighborhood from DuVal High School to Fairmont Heights High School whose new building will open for the next school year.

The neighborhood is currently within the walk zone for Fairmont Heights, while it is approximately seven miles away from DuVal. Sixty-five school-age students currently live in that zone.

Students from the Margaret Brent Regional School could also be relocated to Fairmont Heights, which has brought concerns from special education advocates and families.

“Preparations for the transfer from Margaret Brent, the transfer of staff, were areas that were expressed as concerns,” Jones-Brown said.

The final recommendation involved the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Melwood Elementary and reassigning students who attend Melwood to James Madison Middle to continue their IB studies.

As of now, these boundary changes are just proposals and the board will vote on them at their Feb. 23 meeting. There are two public hearings on the changes expected within the coming weeks, at Bladensburg High and at the Sasscer Administration Building.

PGCPS has not announced the dates or times.

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Dr. Kevin Maxwell (PGCPS CEO)

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Where was PGCPS CEO Maxwell?

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CEO DR. Kevin Maxwell

So January 25th was the annual Beg-a-thon in Annapolis, where the superintendent and relevant personnel from every county and Baltimore City are called before the Board of Public Works to explain their needs and plead their case for their requested money.

CEO Maxwell was a no-show this year, opting instead to send the school system’s chief operating officer.  When asked where Maxwell was, the man stammered something about a council meeting scheduled for this morning, but then said that it had been cancelled.  He clearly had no idea where Maxwell was, and why he wasn’t there. The Council meeting in question was scheduled for 1030am, opposite the Beg-a-thon, which started at 10am.  But the council meeting was rescheduled, and the emails sent out show the change in date and time was sent by 845am.  So with his schedule now cleared, why didn’t CEO Maxwell attend the Beg-a-thon, where PGCPS was asking for an additional $90 million dollars ABOVE the already fully funded school budget?  Where was he?

Understandably, Governor Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot were a little upset at the disrespect shown the Board of Public Works by CEO Maxwell. After hearing the weak excuses and confusion about CEO Maxwell’s whereabouts, Comptroller Franchot asked, “So nobody knows where he is?”  Governor Hogan pointed out that PGCPS gets more money from the state than any other county or city, so this 90 million the COO was sent to beg for is ABOVE the already largest pile of money handed to any jurisdiction. As Governor Hogan said,

“Prince George’s County received the most money of any jurisdiction in the entire state, and they were fully funded again this year.  You’re asking for $90 million dollars from us today. The fact that the County Executive, Superintendent, and none of the Council members, nobody felt it was important to show up is discouraging. You might want to pass that on to them when you get back. Next time they want to ask us for $90 Million dollars, they might want to come address us themselves.”

Governor Hogan went on to say that complaints of lack of education funding from County Executive Baker were “insulting,” because PGCPS is fully funded by the state per the formulas set forth by the legislature, and would be fully funded once again this year. He also said he was tempted to withhold the funds from Prince George’s County until the Superintendent or any of the other top elected officials in the county came to talk to the Board in person, but he would not do that because it wouldn’t be fair to the students and hard working staff.

I don’t know where CEO Maxwell was, but I know where County Executive Rushern Baker, several members of the PG County Council and even a few School Board Members were.  No, none of them were at the beg-a-thon to impress the Governor and BPW with the need for the extra $90 million.  Nope.  They were all across town, in Annapolis, holding a press conference complaining about Anne Arundel Hospital getting a cardiac unit that might be in competition with the one at Prince George’s Hospital, as well as complaining that Governor’s budget was again shorting Dimensions Healthcare some funds.  The governor’s spokesperson has responded to accusation by saying that the Prince George’s County Hospital was giving exactly what UMMS – who is now in charge of the building – said it needed, nothing more, and nothing less.  CE Baker has said he won’t announce until after the legislative session whether or not he’s running for governor, but his grandstanding here lends all kinds of credence to long-standing rumors that he wants the Governor’s mansion next.

The video from the meeting can be found on BPW website. The PGCPS official appears before the board at the 2:01:23 mark of the third video from the January 25, 2017 meeting.  The time given for the start of that lives stream video is 1:30 pm, so the PGCPS official made his appearance sometime around 3:30 in the afternoon.  That means that even if the Council meeting had proceeded as planned, CEO Maxwell would have had plenty of time to get to Annapolis.

So where was CEO Maxwell?

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Ex-School PGCPS Aide Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse of at Least 11 Students

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Deonte Carraway, 23

GREENBELT, Md. – A former elementary school volunteer in Prince George’s County appeared in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, Monday morning and entered a guilty plea in connection with a child pornography case that shocked the county’s school system.

Deonte Carraway, 23, pleaded guilty to all 15 federal counts of sexual exploitation of a minor to produce child pornography. He faces 60 to 100 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.

Carraway admitted to directing young students to engage in sexual activity with each other and with himself. Federal prosecutors say he used cellphones to record the sexual acts, had victims send him pornographic videos and photos and also sent child pornography to victims.

The sexual acts occurred at several locations including Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School and inside private homes, according to prosecutors.

Police arrested Carraway last year after a family member of one of the victims discovered nude images on the victim’s phone and reported it to authorities. Federal prosecutors outlined their case against Carraway Monday, saying he had victimized at least 12 children between the ages of 9 and 13 between October 2015 and February 2016.

In addition to the federal case, Carraway faces 270 Maryland charges related to child abuse and child pornography. The local charges were pending as the federal case unfolded, and it is not clear if Carraway will enter a guilty plea in connection with them.

Between the local and federal cases, prosecutors believe he is responsible for abusing at least 23 children between the ages of 9 and 13.

The case caused outrage among parents who have filed lawsuits against the school system, claiming administrators did not do enough to stop Carraway.

School leaders established a student safety task force in response to the case last year. In May, the task force released a report and education officials announced they would set up a new office of accountability and would roll out dozens of policy, training and even curriculum changes in an effort to protect students from physical and sexual abuse at the hands of adults they are supposed to trust.

via WTOP

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Former PGCPS elementary school aide charged in child porn case to appear in court Monday

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Deonte Carraway, 22, abused at least 17 children. (Photo Courtesy) 

A former elementary school volunteer arrested in a child pornography case involving at least 23 children is scheduled to appear in federal court next week for a plea hearing, public court files show.

It is not clear from the records whether Deonte Carraway, 23, intends to admit guilt in the wide-reaching case that roiled Prince George’s County. Online court records show a hearing is scheduled for a “Guilty Plea-Arraignment Hearing” in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

The government has accused Carraway of persuading and directing several children to engage in sexual activities that were recorded on cellphones, with Carraway supplying some of the phones.

Some of the videos and alleged sex acts occurred on the campus of Judge Sylvania W. Woods Sr. Elementary School in Glenarden, Md., during the school day, federal prosecutors charge. Police and prosecutors said incidents also took place in private homes, a church, a public pool and a Glenarden government building, with Carraway leveraging his position as a teacher’s aide, school volunteer and community choir director to coerce the children involved.

No tentative plea agreement has been listed in public court files.

Plea agreements can be rescinded. A judge would need to accept any guilty plea at a public hearing.

Monday’s scheduled hearing comes almost one year after Carraway’s Feb. 4 arrest. Carraway pleaded not guilty at his first federal court hearing in March.

A federal grand jury indicted Carraway on 15 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor to produce child pornography. The federal charges involve 12 children. Carraway also faces 270 counts of child pornography and related charges in Prince George’s County. All told, local and federal investigators have said they believe Carraway abused at least 23 children between the ages of 9 and 13 over a year.

Carraway told police he gave children phones and told them to send explicit images of themselves through an anonymous messaging app, according to federal and local charging papers. Carraway’s federal public defenders have said in court filings that Carraway’s confession to the incidents should be considered invalid because he did not give it voluntarily and did not fully understand his rights when speaking with law enforcement.

The case shocked the Prince George’s County school system and angered Woods Elementary parents, who questioned why Carraway was allegedly allowed to be alone with students.

After Carraway’s arrest, the county school system created a task force to review how employees are trained to identify and report suspected child abuse. The task force issued a report in May, saying the system should make sweeping improvements to better protect students.

The criminal case has spawned at least nine civil suits against the school system or Glenarden officials, including at least one class-action lawsuit.

Via Washington Post 

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Shots Fired in PGCPS, 2 Schools Locked Down as Precaution

2017-01-26_1054.jpgTwo schools in Prince George’s County were locked down Thursday morning after shots were fired nearby. The incident did not involve students, Prince George’s County Police said.

No one was struck.

Police received a call for the report of shots fired near Oxon Hill High School. According to a preliminary investigation, police said an argument off school grounds led to shots being fired.

A suspect is in custody.

Oxon Hill High School and John Hanson Montessori were locked down as a precaution while authorities investigated, Prince George’s County said. Police said about 10:50 a.m. that the lockdown at Oxon Hill High School was being lifted.

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PGCPS Elementary School Students Witness Shooting at School Bus Stop

img_8311A 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
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PGCPS Family Asks for Witnesses to Hit-And-Run Crash

img_8310A 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

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