Tag Archives: children

PGCPS Administrator on Leave After Charge He Chased Student for Littering

B678CA98-D9EB-48DB-A296-D8EDD6496E71An administrator for Prince George’s County Public Schools is on administrative leave after he was accused of chasing a student and grabbing her because she allegedly threw garbage out of a school bus window and it hit his car.

Associate Superintendent Mark Fossett is on administrative leave pending an investigation, officials confirmed.

“We expect all of our administrators to behave professionally, which is why we’re investigating,” PGCPS spokesman John White said.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told News4 that on Friday, Dec. 1 a student at Wise High School in Upper Marlboro was headed to school on a bus when she threw some trash, possibly an empty potato chip bag, out of a window.

Fossett happened to be driving behind the bus. The trash hit his car, White said school officials were told.
Once the bus got to the school, Fossett got on board and yelled at the students, the source said.

The teen who allegedly littered got so upset that she jumped off the bus and started running to the school.
Fossett then chased her, and the student said he grabbed her by the arm, the source said. He denied that he grabbed her, according to the source.

White declined to comment on the specific charges and said an investigation is underway.

via NBC4

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Mothers: Officer restrained children with handcuffs on arms

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A school resource officer placed two disabled elementary school students in handcuffs because they were acting out, causing physical and emotional pain to the children, their mothers say in a federal lawsuit filed against the official and his boss, the county sheriff.

In a video of one of the incidents released by the American Civil Liberties Union – which filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of the two women from northern Kentucky – an 8-year-old boy struggles and cries out as he sits in a chair, the handcuffs around his biceps and his arms locked behind him.

“You don’t get to swing at me like that,” School Resource Officer Kevin Sumner tells the boy in the video, which was taken by a school administrator. “You can do what we’ve asked you to, or you can suffer the consequences.” It was not clear why the administrator took the video, and school officials had not responded to a request for comment Tuesday.

The handcuffs were too large to fit around the boy’s wrists as well as those of the second child, a 9-year-old girl, the lawsuit says. Both children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and are identified in court documents only by their initials. The lawsuit says school officials were aware of the students’ disabilities, which include “impulsivity, and difficulty paying attention, complying with directives, controlling emotions and remaining seated.”

Col. Pat Morgan with the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment Monday, saying the office had not been officially notified of the lawsuit. Robert Sanders, Sumner’s attorney, said Sumner put the children in handcuffs because “they were placing themselves and other people in danger of harm, and that’s what the book says to do.”

The lawsuit says the boy, 3 feet 6 inches tall and 52 pounds, was removed from class last August because he was not following his teacher’s directions. The boy then tried to leave the principal’s office but was physically restrained by school administrators until Sumner arrived to escort the boy to the bathroom.

On the way back from the bathroom, the boy tried to hit Sumner with his elbow, according to a report from the Kenton County Sheriff’s office cited in the lawsuit, and that’s when Sumner put him in handcuffs.

The 9-year-old girl, about 56 pounds, was sent to an isolation room at her school last August for being disruptive. School officials asked Sumner to help after the girl tried to leave the room and was restrained by the principal and vice principal. A report from the sheriff’s office said Sumner put the girl in handcuffs because she was “attempting to injure school staff.”

The lawsuit said the experience caused “a severe mental health crisis” and Sumner called for a “medical crisis team.” The girl was taken by ambulance to a hospital for a psychiatric assessment and treatment.

The lawsuit asks for a judge to ban the school from doing this again and for money to compensate for the pain and emotional trauma and for attorneys’ fees.

Kentucky state regulations ban school officials from physically restraining students that they know have disabilities that could cause problems.

“Shackling children is not okay. It is traumatizing, and in this case it is also illegal,” Susan Mizner, disability counsel for the ACLU, said in a news release.

>>> Read more Sheriff defends deputy accused of illegally handcuffing disabled children at school

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Parent advocates fight for longer recess times

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GREENBELT – A parent-led advocacy group has started an online petition requesting Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) to extend recess time for elementary schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools (PGCABS), a parent-led advocacy group out of Greenbelt, started a petition on Change.org demanding PGCPS change its policy after finding out their children receive as little as 15 minutes a day of outdoor recess time.

According to PGCPS policy document 6130 states, “Recess should be given for no less than 15 minutes per day and for no more than 30 minutes per day,” leaving it up to administrations at individual schools to pick an amount of time that works for their schedule, according to Keesha Bullock, director of communications for PGCPS.

The county-wide minimum time is one of the shortest in the area. According to Howard County Board of Education policy 9090, elementary school children must 30 minutes of recess daily. Montgomery County policy allows for 20-30 minutes of recess. Fairfax County extended its recess to 20 minutes daily last October and a cut to 15 minutes of recess in Washington D. C. received backlash from parents in 2013, forcing school officials to push the minimum recess time to 20 minutes, according to a Washington Post article.

PGCAB began meeting in March after Genevieve Demos Kelley noticed many parents had similar complaints about the school system. The group, Kelley said, was founded to help foster greater parent and teacher advocacy. She said they do not typically take a group stance on any one issue, but longer recess times was something everyone could agree on.

“Normally what we stand for is greater parent and teacher involvement, especially relating to policy decisions, and greater openness and responsiveness from the school system,” she said. “With the recess issue we found that there was basically a consensus among the parents that we spoke to. I have yet to meet a parent who thinks that 15 minutes of recess isn’t inadequate. So for this particular issue, we felt comfortable about getting behind it as a group.”

Danielle Celdran, a member of PGCABS, said she is passionate about increasing movement and recess time in her son’s school. Her son Danzson, she said, needs more time to enjoy being a child at school.

“He’s excited to learn and he wants to learn, but he also needs time for enrichment,” Celdran said. “I just wish we could add more time for kids to be kids.”

Often Danzson will say he is sick or he doesn’t want to go to school, Celdran said, because he is tired of rigorous learning every day. She said children need to have some control of their day, a chance to make their own games and make friends.

“It’s a good thing to see kids grow and socialize with each other on the playground. They need these tools to grow and be independent,” she said.

Celdran said the lack of recess was at the “top of the list” of reasons why she is pulling her child from public school at the end of the school year.

“We have decided to home school him this fall,” she said. “Hopefully by the time we come back we’ll see some changes.”

Kenneth Haines, the president of Prince George’s County Educators Association, said the association does not have an “official” position on recess times, but is aware of the lack of physical movement children participate in at school.

“We have been concerned about the movement to increase ‘rigor’ in pre-school and Kindergarten through the elimination of nap time by a previous Superintendent, Dr. Hornsby, as well as the decrease in physical activity due to increased academic instruction,” he wrote in an email. “Children need movement to remain in good physical health which we consider a pre-requisite for optimal learning.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, in a policy statement published in 2013 recognized the importance of recess to the development of children.

“Recess represents an essential, planned respite from rigorous cognitive tasks. It affords a time to rest, play, imagine, think, move, and socialize,” according to the statement. “After recess, for children or after a corresponding break time for adolescents, students are more attentive and better able to perform cognitively. In addition, recess helps young children to develop social skills that are otherwise not acquired in the more structured classroom environment.”

Kelley said she was not sure what a good compromise to extend recess times would be, but said she hopes the school system can find a solution.

“Maybe the answer will be to lengthen the school day a little bit, I don’t know,” she said.

Haines also said he was not sure of what cuts or changes need to be made to allow more physical activity time, but said extending the day would be a struggle.

“That would be a subject to be settled at the bargaining table, and I would maintain that requiring teachers to spend more time at the work site would necessitate a change in compensation as well. Our teachers are already stressed to the limits of human endurance, so staffing ratios would need to be improved. There would definitely be cost implications,” he said.

PGCPS declined to comment on whether a policy change on recess is a possibility, but stated the power to change it lies with the administration.

via sentinel 

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Let the Kids Learn Through Play

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By DAVID KOHN
MAY 16, 2015
TWENTY years ago, kids in preschool, kindergarten and even first and second grade spent much of their time playing: building with blocks, drawing or creating imaginary worlds, in their own heads or with classmates. But increasingly, these activities are being abandoned for the teacher-led, didactic instruction typically used in higher grades. In many schools, formal education now starts at age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes, kids risk falling behind in crucial subjects such as reading and math, and may never catch up.

The idea seems obvious: Starting sooner means learning more; the early bird catches the worm.

But a growing group of scientists, education researchers and educators say there is little evidence that this approach improves long-term achievement; in fact, it may have the opposite effect, potentially slowing emotional and cognitive development, causing unnecessary stress and perhaps even souring kids’ desire to learn.

One expert I talked to recently, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., describes this trend as a “profound misunderstanding of how children learn.” She regularly tours schools, and sees younger students floundering to comprehend instruction: “I’ve seen it many, many times in many, many classrooms — kids being told to sit at a table and just copy letters. They don’t know what they’re doing. It’s heartbreaking.”

The stakes in this debate are considerable. As the skeptics of teacher-led early learning see it, that kind of education will fail to produce people who can discover and innovate, and will merely produce people who are likely to be passive consumers of information, followers rather than inventors. Which kind of citizen do we want for the 21st century?

In the United States, more academic early education has spread rapidly in the past decade. Programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have contributed to more testing and more teacher-directed instruction.

Another reason: the Common Core State Standards, a detailed set of educational guidelines meant to ensure that students reach certain benchmarks between kindergarten and 12th grade. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia have adopted both the math and language standards.

The shift toward didactic approaches is an attempt to solve two pressing problems.

By many measures, American educational achievement lags behind that of other countries; at the same time, millions of American students, many of them poor and from minority backgrounds, remain far below national norms. Advocates say that starting formal education earlier will help close these dual gaps.

But these moves, while well intentioned, are misguided. Several countries, including Finland and Estonia, don’t start compulsory education until the age of 7. In the most recent comparison of national educational levels, the Program for International Student Assessment, both countries ranked significantly higher than the United States on math, science and reading.

Of course, these countries are smaller, less unequal and less diverse than the United States. In such circumstances, education poses fewer challenges. It’s unlikely that starting school at 7 would work here: too many young kids, disadvantaged or otherwise, would probably end up watching hours of TV a day, not an activity that promotes future educational achievement. But the complexities of the task in this country don’t erase a fundamental fact that overly structured classrooms do not benefit many young children.

Some research indicates that early instruction in reading and other areas may help some students, but these boosts appear to be temporary. A 2009 study by Sebastian P. Suggate, an education researcher at Alanus University in Germany, looked at about 400,000 15-year-olds in more than 50 countries and found that early school entry provided no advantage. Another study by Dr. Suggate, published in 2012, looked at a group of 83 students over several years and found that those who started at age 5 had lower reading comprehension than those who began learning later.

Other research has found that early didactic instruction might actually worsen academic performance. Rebecca A. Marcon, a psychology professor at the University of North Florida, studied 343 children who had attended a preschool class that was “academically oriented,” one that encouraged “child initiated” learning, or one in between. She looked at the students’ performance several years later, in third and fourth grade, and found that by the end of the fourth grade those who had received more didactic instruction earned significantly lower grades than those who had been allowed more opportunities to learn through play. Children’s progress “may have been slowed by overly academic preschool experiences that introduced formalized learning experiences too early for most children’s developmental status,” Dr. Marcon wrote.

Nevertheless, many educators want to curtail play during school. “Play is often perceived as immature behavior that doesn’t achieve anything,” says David Whitebread, a psychologist at Cambridge University who has studied the topic for decades. “But it’s essential to their development. They need to learn to persevere, to control attention, to control emotions. Kids learn these things through playing.”

Over the past 20 years, scientists have come to understand much more about how children learn. Jay Giedd, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, has spent his career studying how the human brain develops from birth through adolescence; he says most kids younger than 7 or 8 are better suited for active exploration than didactic explanation. “The trouble with over-structuring is that it discourages exploration,” he says.

Reading, in particular, can’t be rushed. It has been around for only about 6,000 years, so the ability to transform marks on paper into complex meaning is not pre-wired into the brain. It doesn’t develop “naturally,” as do other complex skills such as walking; it can be fostered, but not forced. Too often that’s what schools are trying to do now. This is not to suggest that we shouldn’t increase access to preschool, and improve early education for disadvantaged children. But the early education that kids get — whatever their socioeconomic background — should truly help their development. We must hope that those who make education policy will start paying attention to this science.

Via New York Times

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Seven Children, One Adult Dead in Princess Anne After Carbon Monoxide Incident.

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A divorced father and the seven children he was trying to raise on a kitchen worker’s salary were poisoned in their sleep by carbon monoxide only days after the power company discovered a stolen meter and cut off electricity to their rental home in Princess Anne, Maryland, police said Tuesday.

Delmarva Power said it did not cut off the family’s electricity because they were behind on their bills, but for safety reasons after discovering the illegal connection March 25.

Rodney Todd, 36, then bought a gas-powered generator and installed it in his kitchen to keep his two sons and five daughters warm. Friends and relatives last saw them alive March 28.

“The children were all in beds, and it appears as though they were sleeping,” Princess Anne police Chief Scott Keller said. “Probably it was bedtime and they decided they needed some light and probably some heat, because toward the end of March even though it was spring we were having some pretty chilly nights.”

Police found their bodies Monday inside the one-story wood-frame home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore after school workers, friends and Todd’s co-workers knocked on the door with no answer.

“I’m just numb. Like it’s a nightmare but it’s not,” the children’s mother, Tyisha Luneice Chambers, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “If I had known he was without electricity, I would have helped.”

>>> Read more

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Advocates aim to save Baltimore children from impact of violence.

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The first time she witnessed a student’s major tantrum — a 2-year-old hurling a toy stove filled with plastic pots and pans — Shanikia Johnson had just started as a teacher at Little Flowers Child Development Center in West Baltimore.

She knew toddlers acted out. But the rage-filled reaction, triggered when Johnson wouldn’t allow the boy to play with a toy, stunned the 22-year-old teacher. Then, time and time again, she saw other children throwing classroom furniture. Bookcases, chairs, tables — all were flung around the room.

Some students bit classmates, leaving teeth marks on hands and cheeks; a few threatened to hurt staff members. Other children, dubbed “runners,” darted out of the building and down barren city blocks, with frantic teachers on their heels. The encounters exhausted Johnson and other teachers, who began to see the children as troublemakers.

Science increasingly shows that Hardy-Flowers is right. Even as shootings, stabbings and murder trials grab the spotlight, violence in Baltimore is exacting another insidious, often invisible, toll — warping the health and development of the city’s youngest residents. For every child who is shot, provoking public outrage, hundreds of others hear gunshots or see fights and stabbings in neighborhoods across the city. After the ambulances drive off and the crime scenes are cleared, many of these children are left with deep psychological wounds that can trigger physical ailments.The first time she witnessed a student’s major tantrum — a 2-year-old hurling a toy stove filled with plastic pots and pans — Shanikia Johnson had just started as a teacher at Little Flowers Child Development Center in West Baltimore.

She knew toddlers acted out. But the rage-filled reaction, triggered when Johnson wouldn’t allow the boy to play with a toy, stunned the 22-year-old teacher. Then, time and time again, she saw other children throwing classroom furniture. Bookcases, chairs, tables — all were flung around the room.

Some students bit classmates, leaving teeth marks on hands and cheeks; a few threatened to hurt staff members. Other children, dubbed “runners,” darted out of the building and down barren city blocks, with frantic teachers on their heels. The encounters exhausted Johnson and other teachers, who began to see the children as troublemakers.

But the day care center’s owner, Crystal Hardy-Flowers, urged the staff to be patient with the children, who often were like any other preschoolers — dancing to music, playing tea party and climbing onto a teacher’s lap. The former social worker understood something that her teachers did not. The kids were growing up in Upton/Druid Heights, where police chases are common and sirens wake up kids like unwelcome alarm clocks at night. Almost every day, in some way, the kids were exposed to violence.

“It’s not just bad behavior. It is not just defiance,” Hardy-Flowers said. “No, it is deeper than that. People just don’t pick up chairs and throw them at you. Children don’t just run out of the building.”

>>> Read more Baltimore Sun.

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