PGCPS Parents protest over District Heights Elementary School air quality concerns

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Parents protest over District Heights Elementary School air quality concerns (ABC7)

“Repair our schools! Save our children!”

Those were the cries for help from parents, students, and community leaders outside District Heights Elementary School Monday night.

“I am not here to point fingers at anybody because I just want to call attention to the situation because we do want what’s best for our children,” said Lisa Gordon, whose nine-year-old son had to vacate his classroom because of problems with the air inside it.

On Monday morning, Prince George’s County School District CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell toured the school. The tour followed outrage from parents who claimed their kids and teachers were getting sick because of the air.

Testing confirmed there was inadequate ventilation, so several fans have been replaced.

“He guaranteed me today that it was 100-percent safe for the kids to come back to school,” said parent Phyllis Wright.

But the parents who showed up to Monday’s protest are still concerned their kids are in a school that is still being tested.

“Well it makes me feel sad because this is the school where our children have to come,” said Gordon.

Via ABC7

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Legislation restricting suspensions, expulsions for Maryland’s youngest students passes

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Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, chair of the legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, highlights the priority issues that the Caucus will be working on, during a press conference on the opening day of the Maryland General Assembly. At left is Del. Charles E. Sydnor III, and at right, Del. Darryl Barnes.

Legislation significantly restricting the circumstances under which Maryland’s youngest students can be suspended or expelled from school is headed to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk after receiving final approval Saturday in the House of Delegates.

The Senate already had approved an identical version of the bill. Both chambers passed the legislation by veto-proof margins despite sharp opposition from some Republican lawmakers.

Del. Brooke Lierman, a Baltimore Democrat and the bill’s sponsor in the House, said she was “really proud” of the legislature for passing the bill.

The legislation allows the suspension or expulsion of students in pre-K through second grade under only the most narrow circumstances. When permitted, suspensions may only last five days. Schools will be required to provide individualized interventions for students with behavioral issues.

Lierman said state statistics showed children of color and those with disabilities were more likely to be suspended, and studies show kids who have been suspended at an early age do worse in school later in life.

“The child just isn’t able to understand what the suspension and expulsion means, and instead takes away a negative attitude about school,” Lierman said.

Under the new legislation, teachers and others will have “the tools they need to help children work through any behavioral issues they may have,” Lierman said.

Read more >>> Baltimore Sun

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Maryland ethics legislation moves to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk.

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Gov. Larry Hogan, center, smiles after signing a bill earlier this year with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert), left, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), right. (Brian Witte/AP)

After a series of coordinated corrupt racketeering activities involving elected public officials in Maryland, the Maryland House of Delegates on Saturday gave final approval to a bill designed to strengthen the state’s ethics laws, sending the measure to Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who proposed the plan as part of his legislative agenda this year. House Bill 978 provides for stiffer penalties for bribery — a provision offered on the same morning a state senator was charged with taking cash payments in a phony development deal.

The bill, which passed the House and Senate with unanimous support, will increase financial disclosure requirements and expand the definition of what constitutes a conflict of interest for state public officials, state elected officials and lobbyists.

Hogan applauded the legislature and its Democratic leaders, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (Calvert), for working with him to enact the bill.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, added a provision Friday to increase the penalty for bribery to up to $10,000 in fines and 12 years in prison.

“With this legislation, we are reaffirming our promise and commitment to the accountability, transparency, and fairness that the people of Maryland deserve,” Hogan said.

 The bill’s approval came during a legislative session in which three current or former Maryland lawmakers have been charged with crimes related to bribery, and one was publicly reprimanded by the House for violating the spirit of ethics laws by taking stances on the state’s fledgling medical-marijuana industry without publicly making clear that he was working as a consultant for a related business.
 The scandals, two of which involved the Prince George’s County liquor board in addition to state lawmakers, led to several other ethics proposals this year, including legislation to overhaul the structure of the liquor board and subject liquor inspectors, commissioners and staff to stricter ethics rules.
Read more >>>Washington Post
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Maryland General Assembly overrides Hogan veto on struggling schools bill

The Maryland General Assembly voted Thursday to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that creates a formula for identifying and assisting struggling schools.

The Senate voted 32-15 Thursday for the override. The House voted 90-50 for it earlier in the day.

Democratic lawmakers joined the ranks of those huddled at a press conference Thursday morning before casting their final votes to override the governor’s veto of the Protect Our Schools Act.

“We’re standing with Maryland students, parents, teachers and civil rights activists. So I’ll be proud to cast my vote for an override of his veto,” said Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery County.

Supporters say the bill takes a creative approach to provide a big-picture view of how schools succeed and protects public schools from privatization.

“His narrow agenda of private school vouchers and for-profit charter schools is not supported by the vast majority of Maryland families who rely on public schools in their neighborhoods,” said Betty Weller, president of the Maryland State Education Association.

Hogan and other Republicans who oppose the bill say it’s too lax on academic performance standards and makes it difficult to fix struggling schools. The governor is also concerned that the Protect Our Schools Act will tie the hands of the state Board of Education, limiting their power in helping to improve failing schools.

The governor posted a response to the veto override on Facebook, saying:

“I’m sad for the kids they are trapping in failing schools, and concerned about losing our federal education funding. This will long be remembered as a low point in Maryland’s legislative history.

The bill’s supporters accused the administration of taking a narrow view of how to turn schools around.

“We’re not interested in giving up our responsibility to provide a public education,” said Delegate Mary Washington, D-Baltimore City.

The governor did make good on his promise to continue funding to make vouchers available for students who want to attend non-public schools. The state’s PTA council is among those calling for unity.

“It’s not about politics. It’s about whether our children have access to strong, high-quality public schools,” said Elizabeth Leight, president of the Maryland PTA.

The measure is the Legislature’s response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. It allows states to decide how to use a mix of test scores, academic growth and other factors to identify failing schools.

via WBALTVmarylandmap2

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Maryland Democrats Wave White Flag on 2018 Election Cycle

JN2_78881458674712If you take the broad view of what Maryland Democrats have been doing during this General Assembly session, you’ll notice one common trend;

  • Democrats have pushed the Protect Our Schools Act, a bill that does nothing to help students get a better education, but does give a number of concessions to the Democrats preferred interest group, the Maryland State Education Association;
  • As a part of the Capital Budget the General Assembly has moved to strip power away from the Board of Public Works, taking away the Board’s ability to review the school construction plan approved by the Interagency Committee on School Construction
  • Democrats have worked to take discretionary authority away from the Governor when it comes to the approval of suits against the federal government, setting up the office of Attorney General Brian Frosh as an unconstitutional fourth branch of government that can sue for slights both real and imagined at his discretion;
  • Democrats and interests groups have pushed a radical plan to give the Attorney General the authority to regulate the costs of generic prescription drugs, a move towards the Democrats dream of enacting Medicaid for all.
  • After 30 years of debate, Democrats in the Anne Arundel County delegation have relented and are supporting an elected Board of Education that will se all members elected by the people of the county instead of appointed by the Governor.

These are just some of a number of bills that Democrats have pushed that seeks Democratic pet projects, reward Democratic interest groups and hangers on, and remove authority from the Office of the Governor.

The unspoken meaning of all of this is that the Democrats are waving the white flag of surrender on the 2018 General Election. How so? Democrats would not be racing to take away power from the Governor, empowering the Attorney General if they truly believed that a Democrat would be sitting on the 2nd floor in 2019. The only times that the Democrats are ever interested in transferring power away the Governor is at times when the Governor is a popular Republican.

This is not the first time that we have noted that the Democrats know they have their backs against the wall in the 2018 election. Governor Hogan remains wildly popular with voters when running against “generic Democrat.” The House of Delegates have thrown up their hands and said that finding an opponent for the Governor was not their problem. And every week it seems like another pretender with no natural constituency within the Maryland Democratic party are publicly musing about seeking the Democratic nomination including Rushern Baker III.

None of this is a sign of strength for a party that has a nearly 3-1 voter registration advantage over Republicans.

The General Assembly session has been, as a whole, a disaster for the people of this state. But the political silver lining is there. Democrats know that the gig is up. They expect to lose to Governor Larry Hogan next year. And this entire session has been a very expensive and annoying exercise that has allowed the Democrats to throw in the towel on next year’s election.

Read more at http://redmaryland.com/2017/04/democrats-waive-white-flag-2018/

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Maryland Democrats Wave White Flag on 2018 Election Cycle and surrender! The Maryland Democrats’ candidates being fronted for Governor’s post have no proper agenda nor ethics.

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Mold concern at PGCPS School

– After many parents at District Heights Elementary School voiced their concerns and anger earlier this week over what they fear is a health hazard from conditions inside their school, Prince George’s County Public Schools said independent testing performed last week found there was no significant evidence of toxic mold in the building. However, the results did find there was inadequate air quality in some classrooms.

School board members debated this issue for over an hour at a meeting on Thursday with many of them saying if they believed the kids and staff were in danger, they would have already moved them out to another school. They also pointed out to the results of the independent testing.

“It is safe and we are confident that the work is done on increased air flow and the test results that we have tell us that building is safe or we would not be sending people there,” said Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell.“I know that some of my colleagues may want to relocate the school, but the leader of that school, in evaluating the logistics of it, understanding the science behind it, does not want to relocate,” said school board member K. Alexander Wallace.

However, two school board members said they are still concerned about the situation.

“We are still testing and based on testimony … some of the issues will take six to eight weeks to fix, some will take two [weeks] to fix, and as we do that, I’m requesting that we remove those students and staff out of that environment until we know for sure that they are safe,” said school board member Edward Burroughs.

“I’m frustrated because I’m not sure what more we need to hear,” said board member David Murray.

Earlier this week on Monday, a public meeting at the school became very heated after some parents and staff members said the building is not safe and is to blame for the widespread respiratory sickness going around the school. It got so emotional that kids had to be escorted to another room.

Video and photos provided to FOX 5 showed what appeared to be mold and water damage on the ceiling tiles inside the school that are believed to have been taken within the last month. But some at Thursday’s school board meeting said those pictures were old.

Read more >>> WUSA 9 and Fox 5.

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Unions want elementary school closed as air quality is improved

District+Heights+ElementaryUPPER MARLBORO: Concern about air quality has cut attendance nearly in half at District Heights Elementary, according to the Prince George’s County teacher’s union that’s demanding students be moved while issues are resolved.

 Prince George’s County Public Schools released results of air quality tests Thursday in a new release that detailed mediation efforts underway to address inadequate ventilation throughout the school.
Efforts to improve air flow, according to the schools, include installing new HVAC roof top units, repairing broken exhaust fans and cleaning air ducts — measures that the union claims are disruptive.

“There are things blowing out of the vents,” said Theresa Mitchell Dudley, head of the Prince George’s Educators’ Association. “Those babies should not be exposed to all of that stuff in the ventilation system that’s now coming out into the building.”

School system responds

Dust analysis done as part of the air quality assessment found that the tested areas came in below federal guidelines.

“The health and safety of District Heights Elementary School students and employees remains our highest priority,” the school system said in a statement Thursday. “The initial round of indoor air quality tests did not reveal toxic mold. We are moving as quickly as possible to rectify and remediate the school’s air flow problems.”

Unions representing all workers in the school have sent a letter to school system CEO Kevin Maxwell asking that a decision be made by Friday to move school operations out of the building until repairs are completed.

The letter was signed by representatives of PGCEA in addition to Service Employees International Union Local 400 (maintenance); the Association of Supervisory and Administrative School Personnel (principals); and the Association of Classified Employees, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 2250 (support staff).

“Employees that are working there and the children are having respiratory issues,” Dudley said.

The air-quality tests were initiated because of concerns initially expressed about mold.

Elevated mold spore counts were detected in one classroom, the PGCPS said. But the independent vendor hired to do the tests told school officials that levels do not suggest an indoor source of contamination that would adversely affect indoor air quality.

As a precaution, the school system said children will not use that classroom.

Dudley said school staff reported approximately 200 students out of 500 were absent Wednesday because of concerns over air quality.

“Students there live in poverty”

Board of Education member Edward Burroughs III said he believes students and staff would be removed immediately if the school were in a more affluent area.

“District Heights Elementary is a Title I school, which means the majority of students there live in poverty,” Burroughs said. “If this were Bowie, College Park or Laurel — a community with a higher socio-economic status, I seriously doubt these employees and these students would be treated in this manner.”

Burroughs encouraged community members to appeal to County Executive Rushern Baker to initiate action to close the school until all test results reveal it’s safe.
Community groups, elected leaders and others will meet at the school Monday evening to protest, he said.
Read the letter sent to PGCPS CEO Kevin Maxwell here:

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