Tag Archives: Board of Education

PGCPS Task Force Tackles Student Safety and leaves Question marks

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The task faced its own criticisms for not holding public meetings. But Dr. Charlene Dukes, president of the Prince George’s Community College and chair of the task force, said that it was necessary for the task force to operate outside the public’s view which was false. The main reason was to cover up sexual harassment and other illegal activities involving Union officials and other senior officials at PGCPS Sasscer. We covered the story here previously.  (photo courtesy WTOP Kate Ryan)

After months of anticipation, unnecessary hide and seek, a student safety task force created by Prince George’s County Public Schools released its report Tuesday for the system to improve current policies, procedures, processes and practices designed to safeguard and protect students.

The 50-page document offers five dozen recommendations and more than two dozen suggestions with hopes of implement most, if not all, of the proposals by next school year, which begins Aug. 23, 2016.

“I know firsthand how important safety and well-being of our students is to the parents, families, the teachers, staff and the residents of this county,” said Charlene Dukes, president of Prince George’s Community College and chair of the task force. “It is the responsibility of adults to protect children from harm and that is the underlining theme in this report.”

The task force was created in February after former elementary school classroom aide and volunteer Deonte Carraway, 22, was charged with producing child pornography, child abuse and other offenses against at least 17 children. Police said the abuse took place at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary in Glenarden, a church in Bowie and other locations.

According to the county court administration office, the next court proceeding takes place June 10 at 9:30 a.m. Carraway remains in the county jail.

Dukes said the task force wasn’t charged with investigating the Carraway case, but put forth recommendations for improving student safety it said the school system should implement immediately, including:

• requiring schools CEO Kevin Maxwell to publically report each year on systemwide efforts to student safety;

• Maxwell ensuring all principals conduct safety assessments;

• creating an Office of Monitoring, Accountability and Compliance to oversee the procedures and policies approved by the school board and fidelity in training to support increased accountability on preventing child abuse;

• developing and applying a universal system, with the help of subject-matter experts, that will include a searchable database to identify those who pose risks to children; and

• updating curriculum on ways to prevent child abuse that in kindergarten through 12th grade and engage parents and/or guardians in the process.

Maxwell said he already instructed his staff to examine and implement most of the recommendations.

“We are still carefully and thoroughly reviewing the findings of this report,” he said. “The task force’s findings were clear [that] much work is to be done.”

About 405 people responded with nearly 2,900 comments to a survey from the task force on four areas: culture and climate; reporting and training; screening of employees, volunteers, vendors and contractors; and curriculum and counseling.

The report lists some of the comments provided by parents, students and current and former employees. One person wrote about a concern of inaccurate reporting: “I expect that when teachers and staff are well-trained in what to report they will feel more comfortable about placing reports. That is a big responsibility and it would be too bad to accuse someone wrongly, as well as overlook something that needs reporting.”

When asked about concerns some employees may have in reporting alleged abuse by their colleagues, Maxwell said, “Our job is not to protect each other. Our job is to protect the children.” However, the county schools led by the present administration of Dr. Maxwell has been at the center of covering up sexual harassments involving senior union officials and the senior staff at Sasscer in Upper Marlboro. Anyone who has tried to complain or report an issue is immediately targeted, fired or forced to retire. Dr. Charlene Dukes has been part of these problems and for as long as she is tied to the issues, nothing is going to change. Expect issues to crop up every now and then. The current regime is driven by greed and cover up but not public service. You can take that to the bank!

In the next few days, we are going to pin point the problems and how the unions within the county compromise security of students, union members themselves and other staff members to the detriment of the community. Other issues of concern includes interference of local courts and lawyers hired by employees due to corruption within the county. This way, a few individuals could  enrich themselves at the expense of the community beginning with Dr. Charlene Dukes herself and others hired in an organized scheme tied to the regime! Stay tuned.

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Maryland board considers two-tier high school diploma system

msde_store_frontSince most Maryland students didn’t pass a tough new test that eventually will be required for graduation, should the state lower the bar?

The state school board began considering the question Tuesday as members discussed options, including setting a lower passing grade or offering a second-tier diploma for students who finish required high school courses but can’t pass the PARCC test now used in a dozen states.

The Maryland board has until May to decide what standard to set for students entering ninth grade next fall.

High schools in the state gave the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, tied to the Common Core curriculum, for the first time last spring. A much smaller percentage of students passed than did the previous high school exam, known as the High School Assessment. Thousands failed.

 At its monthly meeting, the board engaged in a spirited debate over what to do about that.

Board member Chester Finn reacted swiftly to a suggestion that the state accept a lower standard. “I thought the move to PARCC was to increase standards,” he said. “We are headed toward telling Maryland students they will get a Maryland diploma and they are not ready.” He said a low standard would mislead the public.

He suggested the board consider adopting a two-diploma system, one for students who passed PARCC and are considered ready for college and a second diploma, equivalent to what is given today, for students who have fulfilled the course requirements and achieve minimum passing grades on state tests.

But school board member James H. DeGraffenreidt said he is opposed to such a dual diploma system because he believes it would institutionalize the achievement gap for groups of students with low pass rates, including low-income, minority and special education students.

DeGraffenreidt said he believes it would be better to keep the goal high but gradually phase in the standards, starting with a low passing score and setting specific dates to raise it. The question for the state would then be how quickly students might be able to meet the new standards.

On last spring’s tests, about 45 percent of students passed the 10th-grade English exam and only 40 percent of students passed the Algebra I test. If the state lowered the passing score to three on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest, the pass rates would rise to 65 percent for Algebra and 74 percent for English.

The goal of having high percentages of high school graduates ready for college is unrealistic in the near future, some education experts say. Less than half the states require passage of high school exit exams to get a diploma. And only in the past decade has the idea been entertained of making college readiness a graduation standard.

“There is no state in the U.S. that has made the high school graduation requirement the same as a college-readiness requirement,” said David Steiner, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. “It is just not possible politically or otherwise to introduce a system that would prevent that many students from graduating.”

Because last year’s test takers knew the results didn’t count for them, education officials say they believe pass rates will go up as students view the tests more seriously.

In addition, students can take the tests numerous times, and they can substitute a teacher-supervised project if they fail a test. Because the bar for passing state exams was relatively low in the past, very few students were prevented from graduating.

Whether all students will ever be college ready is still a question, said Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. He believes most states will phase in higher passing scores.

School board member Linda Eberhart, a former teacher, said she is deeply concerned that Maryland may raise standards too quickly for students who have not had the Common Core curriculum for most of their schooling.

“It is going to take 13 years to achieve these new standards,” Eberhart said, indicating that the first class likely to be fully prepared are today’s kindergartners.

She is concerned, she said, that next year’s ninth-graders will be held to an unrealistic standard.

“It is a high standard, and it would be unjust, in my view, to jerk up the standards,” Steiner said. “You have to build a ladder, but you also have to tell the truth.”

Via Baltimore Sun

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PGCPS launch task force to review policies after child porn case

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Charlene Dukes, president of Prince George’s Community College and onetime president of the Maryland State Board of Education with a history of misconduct and cover ups is to lead the task force. We must say “NO”.

Prince George’s County’s has created a task force to independently examine policies and practices designed to keep students safe following the arrest of an elementary school volunteer accused of making pornographic videos of children at school during the school day.

Leading the new panel will be Charlene Dukes, president of Prince George’s Community College and onetime president of the Maryland State Board of Education who left under a cloud. Millet can’t expect justice from a court composed of chicken. The conduct of Charlene Dukes who steered public funds in questionable circumstances and who in the past has chosen to suppress the truth plus evidence should be in everyone mind.

“I want parents, students, and all who care deeply about the welfare of children to know that the Student Safety Task Force will be methodical, exhaustive, and swift in our work. We will focus on bringing forth recommendations that keep our children safe,” Dukes said in a statement. However, we doubt that statement and if anything good will come out of such a committee based on Charlene Dukes engagement in misconduct in what appears to be ongoing basis.

As stated previously, If we are going to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the future and help the schools, what we need now is not more of the same, but a willingness to try new and better approaches to fighting corruption including electing or selecting new leaders with better record for engaging the truth to power and not cover ups.

Others on the task force include representatives from universities, a nonprofit group, the private sector, local government, public safety and the school district.

The task force was formed about two weeks after the arrest of Deonte Carraway, 22, of Glenarden, who remains jailed on 10 counts of felony child-porn charges. Carraway admitted to creating videos of children between ages 9 and 13 performing various sexual acts, according to charging documents. Police say the victims in the case now number 17.

 The task force will begin meeting March 1, 2016 and move to review policy, procedures and practices to make recommendations by or before May 2, officials said. The school system outlined four phases of work, starting with expert presentations on key strategies for protecting children and a review of policies on background checks, reporting of abuse and volunteers, among other things.

Besides Dukes, other task force members include:

  • Joshua Sharfstein, associate dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • Gloria Brown, the county’s director of social services.
  • Renee Battle-Brooks, assistant state’s attorney in Prince George’s.
  • Judy Bresler, a lawyer with a private firm.
  • Kristina Kyles-Smith, assistant state superintendent with the Maryland State Department of Education.
  • Brenda Jones-Harden, associate professor in the department of human development and quantitative methodology at the University of Maryland at College Park.
  • Michele Booth Cole, executive director of Safe Shores, the D.C. Children’s Advocacy Center.
  • Blanca Abrico, a parent of a student at Robert R. Gray Elementary School.

School officials said the newly formed group will be supported by county and school staff members including George Margolies, chief of staff for the school system; Monique Davis, deputy superintendent; Shawn Joseph, deputy superintendent; Adrian Talley, executive director of the office of student services; Erica Berry, executive director of the school board’s office; and Tehani Collazo, education policy adviser in the office of the county executive.

Schools chief Kevin Maxwell said in a statement that he had formed the task force “to carefully scrutinize every single policy and procedure we have in place.”

“We will leave no stone unturned, but we will also act quickly,” he said.

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Unbeliavable! 2 PGCPS girls can still ride school bus after beating up 11-year-old boy!

 

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ACCOKEEK, Md. (ABC7) — A sixth grade student was brutally beaten by two girls on a school bus December 16, 2015, as the bus pulled out of Accokeek Academy. The entire incident was caught on camera.

At the time, the young boy’s parents wanted to know why the school that bills itself as a “bully free zone” did nothing to stop the attack.

The parents say that when their son sat down next to an older girl on Wednesday, Dec. 16, she told him he could not sit there. When their son refused to get up, that’s when his parents say the girl punched him in the face, and her sister joined in.

“They just maliciously and viciously beat my son,” Myles’ parents said.

Now a few weeks after the incident, Myles’ parents are upset again after they found out the two girls can still ride the bus with their son, says a representative from Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Accokeek Academy said it suspended the two girls for the attack, and initially told the Slade’s that the girls would be transferred to another school in the same county.

“The two young girls will be transferred to another school in the same school district,” Shawn Slade told us about what they were told from the school.

But now Shawn and Lesley Slade say they received word yesterday that the girls – seen beating up their son in the video – will remain at Accokeek Academy, and even be allowed to ride the bus.

“They will be allowed to ride the school bus,” Shawn Slade told us. “I was appalled. I mean, he’s the victim and this is how you treat him?”

The rep says that the school system is following its practices and procedures, and that nothing requires them to transfer these girls to another school.

Unhappy with that, the Slade’s say they are going to court on Monday to obtain a restraining order to keep these girls away from their son.

Read more>>>

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Many Prince George’s County citizenry are extremely disappointed

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County Executive Rushern Baker III

Many Prince George’s County citizenry are extremely disappointed in County Executive Rushern Baker‘s appointments to the Prince George’s County School Board of Education. Our county, schools and students are better off when we elect independent minded and qualified candidates to serve on the board over candidates hand picked by political leaders.

School board members make up the largest body of elected officials in the United States. We entrust them to set the policies of our most treasured institutions: our public elementary, middle and high schools. Every district has a board of education, and boards generally meet every month in meetings that are open to the public.

These gatherings range from tame rubber-stamping sessions to intense, provocative discussions with the community where controversial issues are debated and landmark decisions are made.

School boards are supposed to be nonpartisan. However, in Prince George’s County, they are not.  In most districts, members serve four-year terms, and terms are staggered so seats don’t become open all at once. In general, to run for school board, you have to be at least 18 years old, a citizen of the state, a resident of the district, a registered voter and eligible under the state constitution to be elected to public office.

In most cases, a school district employee can’t be a board member in that district. This means no teacher, principal, librarian, custodian or anyone else that works in a school in the district can serve on the school board, unless they resign from the employed position.

School districts are complex corporations; they’ re often the largest employers in a community and the decisions they make reach far, affecting jobs, resources and most importantly, the education of all children.

What do they do?

Somewhere in between the agendas, public comment sessions and resolutions, school boards make a number of important decisions. School boards establish a vision for the community’s schools. They have to set up and maintain an effective, efficient organizational structure for the district that lets the superintendent or CEO and administrators manage the schools, teachers teach and students learn.

They are responsible for hiring and evaluating a superintendent, evaluating and adopting policies that affect all schools in the district, serving as a judicial and appeals body when conflicts go unresolved, monitoring and adjusting district finances, and managing the collective bargaining process in the district.

A school board has a symbolic role as well. The behavior it shows off in the meeting room, the rapport among school board members and the relationships that members have with teachers and administrators in the district all add up to the climate of public education in a community. Whether healthy or dysfunctional as seen here in Prince George’s County, a school board has a heavy influence on the spirit that characterizes a community’s impression of its school system. This is why is not a good idea to leave a politician or politicians who have no interest in education to run the schools with some other interior motive.  Since the take over of the county school system, Prince George’s County Board of Education has gotten worse than ever before.

On this note and as stated above, Our county, schools and students are better off when we elect independent minded and qualified candidates to serve on the board over candidates hand picked by political leaders as seen here in Prince George’s County.

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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

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County refuses to release names of Board of Education applicants

imageUPPER MARLBORO – Eight people have applied for the Board of Education seat vacated by Dan Kaufman, but county officials refused to disclose the names of the applicants to The Sentinel.

Tehani Collazo, the county executive’s education policy advisor, said County Executive Rushern Baker III’s office will not release the names, citing issues of confidentiality and privacy. The legal counsel for Baker suggested that under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) general provisions (GP) four through 101 and beyond, they have a justification for withholding names since they are only in the “accepting applications” stage of selecting an at-large board member.

“If you are simply jotting down a list of names to consider for the BOE vacancy, a strong argument can be made that the list of names could be withheld as an ‘intra-agency letter or memorandum’ under the MPIA exemption, found under GP 4-344,” Collazo said in an email response to The Sentinel.

In addition, the legal counsel advised that because the application process remains ongoing, all information pertaining to the applicants will come from the application documents, which are also considered “personal documents.”

“If you are at the stage where you are accepting applications, under GP 4-311, the names of those seeking appointment to an office may not be disclosed if the information is derived from their applications because they would be considered as ‘personnel records,’” Collazo said.

Baker’s legal counsel sought the rulings of the case of Office of the Governor v. Washington Post Company from 2000 and a letter from Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe to Senator Leo E. Green in 2002. The case in 2000 ruled that government officials have no obligation under the MPIA to disclose any memoranda, letter, or similar internal government documents, which contain confidential conversations, that are used in the decision-making process. The letter from Rowe to Green speaks specifically to the release of the names applicants to the Board of Education citing applications as personal records, which are prohibited from being disclosed under law.

While Baker’s office cites the law as justification for not disclosing the applicants’ names, some citizens involved in Prince George’s County Public Schools said feel the county administrations needs to have more transparency.

Felicia Meadows, an employee and “product” of Prince George’s County Public Schools, said she believes one person shouldn’t have “sole responsibility in the selection of something that affects a large organization.”

“There is a distrust of political officials overall, therefore transparency is needed to regain the trust of the people,” Meadows said. “In every other arena, full disclosure of applicants is made available to ensure that candidates are qualified and can meet the needs of the positions for which they are applying.”

Meadows, said she hopes Baker will select a board member who is dedicated to the needs of the children in the district, rather than personal agendas.

“People who are selected to sit on the Board should have a vested interest in education and our children and not use their position for personal or professional gain,” Meadows said.

Via Prince George’s county sentinel

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