Tag Archives: PG County

The Day Former PGCPS Executive Cornered With Corruption Walked Away.

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro Schools director Dr. Shawn Joseph (Former PGCPS Executive) ordered his staff not to answer NewsChannel 5’s questions about his hiring practices, planning instead to attack the station’s reporting after a story aired.

That’s according to emails obtained under the Tennessee Public Records Act.

Joseph’s directive came after NewsChannel 5 Investigates questioned the hiring of two individuals with connections to the new schools director.

As previously reported, one of those hires, Kathleen Dawson, was named an executive lead principal to supervise other principals – even though she has never worked a full year as a lead principal in any school. Another hire, Tamika Tasby, was put in charge of professional development for teachers even though she has no classroom experience.

On November 10, in anticipation of that news report, NewsChannel 5 submitted specific questions to the district about the hiring of the two women.

According to the emails, the district’s senior communications director, Janel Lacy, forwarded that request to Joseph and other members of his leadership team.

“I believe it’s in our best interest to respond, since he’s likely to go forward with a story regardless,” Lacy wrote. “The story will be much worse without a response from us.”

Joseph’s chief of staff, Jana Carlisle, responded that same day: “Dr. J is disinclined to engage.”

The next day, Lacy again pushed Joseph’s team to respond to NewsChannel 5’s questions.

“I think at the very least we need to answer whether the positions were posted or not,” she emailed. “If they weren’t posted – and legally didn’t have to be posted – then let’s own that and the decisions to hire them…. Better to address it head on.”

Lacy prepared a draft statement in which Joseph would say he felt “confident that time will show we have the right people in the right places – and that we are moving at a rapid pace to give our students higher quality instruction in every school.”

Joseph responded: “No, I do not like it.”

“I don’t want us to respond,” he continued. “If he does a story, we will follow up with a very direct statement towards his conduct…period.”

JOSEPH: “I DON’T WANT US TO RESPOND” (p. 1)

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It’s not clear what Joseph intended, but the district ignored NewsChannel 5’s questions and never gave any explanation about why no statement was issued.

Since there was no response to our questions, NewsChannel 5 Investigates filed a public records request for the emails in an effort to determine Joseph’s thinking and understand his refusal to respond.

That attitude followed an earlier on-camera interview in which Joseph had become agitated about questions about his use of district employees as chauffeurs.

Ironically, in a separate exchange, emails show that Metro Council member Russ Pulley told the district’s lobbyist that “taxpayers should be more concerned about the money we are spending answering these open record requests from Phil Williams.”

That comment came after NewsChannel 5 Investigates raised questions about spending by the district under Joseph’s leadership.

Pulley shared his response to a constituent about Joseph’s spending. He told the constituent, “I agree the optics of this or [sic] not the greatest, but the reality is we can do a much better job of finding waste other than this.”

But, then, in an email to the district lobbyist, Pulley showed no concern over “the optics.”

“Please let Dr. Joseph know that he has my full and complete support,” Pulley wrote. “And I also have absolutely no problem with how he conducts his business.”

via NewsChannel 5

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Shawn Joseph was the Prince George’s district’s deputy superintendent of the teaching and learning division and oversaw numerous departments, including the early education department that oversaw the Head Start grant in which the federal government revoke a $6.4 million due to teachers mistreating students.

The notice of the revocation, sent to the PGCPS district on Aug. 12, 2016 found that teachers used corporal punishment on children, as well as humiliated them in the county’s Head Start program in the Maryland district, according to a Washington Post report.

Shawn Joseph was not listed in the report or in the notice of revocation. He officially began the Metro Schools job on July 1, 2016 in Nashville. However, emails shared later shown that, Mr. Shawn Joseph was made aware of the issues but failed to act.

The first incident of child neglect was first reported in December 2015, according to the report, and the revocation document says that a 3-year-old boy at a Prince George’s early learning school was forced to mop his urine in wet clothes.

The teacher sent a photo of the student mopping the urine to the parent, the report says. It adds that a family services worker likely discouraged the parent from filing a complaint, which was eventually filed in mid-January 2016.

The deficiencies in reporting the incident of neglect were shown to be corrected in April 2016 during a follow-up visit, according to the report. And Shawn Joseph said the investigation was handled by human resources personnel.

But further incidents occurred on June 10 2016 and June 15, 2016 according to the report, and led to the eventual revocation of the federal Head Start grant. It said efforts to ensure staff followed the standards of conduct training outlined by administrators weren’t effective.

Other issues were also found including during that time where a student left the school’s campus and walked home unnoticed by employees. Staff did not know the child’s whereabouts for more than an hour. Rather than address the issues, Prince George’s County public schools personnel together with others engaged in cover ups rather than address the issues properly.

Just like Tennessee Metro School District under Shawn Joseph,  Prince George’s County Public Schools is run in similar version in which appointments are made based on family or friends without proper regard to their qualifications to positions of authority.

Read more >>>BOE political cronyism-nepotism refresher

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Pr. George’s liquor commissioner accused of bribery resigns –

img_7911A Prince George’s County liquor commissioner accused of accepting bribes resigned from his post Friday, and Gov. Larry Hogan called for the reform of Maryland’s system of regulating alcohol sales, which he called “antiquated” and “without oversight.”

Commissioner Anuj Sud was one of four people charged Thursday in a long-running federal corruption investigation. The others were two business owners and the administrator of the liquor board.

Sud, 39, is accused of taking money from a lawyer representing restaurants and liquor stores with business before the Prince George’s Board of License Commissioners.

In court filings, law enforcement authorities indicated that they expect to charge more people in connection with the case, including a former elected official and a state lawmaker, whose names have not been released.

Liquor board members are appointed by the governor. They wield significant regulatory power over about 600 business outlets in the county — authorizing alcohol sales, imposing fines for infractions and suspending or revoking licenses in response to serious violations.

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, shown through a video camera viewfinder, speaks to news organizations at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post) 

In an interview Friday, Hogan (R) described the case involving the liquor board as a “real mess” and said he had accepted Sud’s resignation.

The governor said he is bound by tradition to appoint to liquor boards people who are nominated by state lawmakers and party officials from the specific counties. He also said the state government does not have the power to oversee the actions of liquor boards.

“Maybe that is something we can talk to the legislature about: How do we revamp the system? . . . It’s the last vestiges of the patronage system,” Hogan said. “We could have problems in other places, and this may be the tip of the iceberg, but certainly this is the worst case I’ve ever heard of.”

Maryland law requires governors to appoint local liquor board members from a list drawn up by party officials from the particular county. But it also allows the governor to reject those choices and demand new options.

In Sud’s case, state officials say, his appointment was not confirmed by the state Senate during the 2016 legislative session for reasons that remained unclear Friday.

A Hogan spokesman said the governor reappointed Sud, a College Park lawyer, to the board after the legislative session and after consulting with the office of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert).

Miller could not be reached Friday to comment on Sud’s resignation.

FBI investigators were monitoring the commissioner as he met with a lawyer representing liquor sellers in September 2015, according to the charging documents. Sud allegedly promised that he could “make s— happen” on the county liquor board and asked how he could “start getting paid.”

The lawyer — who was cooperating with the FBI as an informant — offered to charge his clients an extra $1,000 that he would steer to Sud in exchange for favorable votes, the charging documents state.

In the months that followed, prosecutors say, illicit payments greased the wheels of routine liquor motions made by Sud, such as a restaurant’s request for a new liquor license and permission to sell alcohol on Sundays right before Christmas 2015.

According to minutes from that meeting, a representative for the restaurant promised that proceeds from some of those alcohol sales would help children through donations to St. Jude’s Hospital and soccer jerseys for local schools. Sud made a motion to grant the request, which was unanimously approved.

Two weeks later, Sud got into the lawyer’s car outside a restaurant, took $1,000 from the lawyer and put it into his left pocket, authorities say.

Almost a year later, charging documents and meeting minutes state, the lawyer greeted Sud at his office to thank him for helping a client with a drive-through sales application and offered a “wedding gift” — another $1,000.

Sud made a brief court appearance Thursday and was released until his next hearing.

In his legal practice, Sud has represented a company that federal and state agencies say violated the law by taking advantage of victims of lead-paint poisoning, many of whom are mentally impaired. The company made millions of dollars by persuading lead-poisoning victims to sell “structured settlements” from personal-injury suits for lump-sum payments worth a fraction of the settlements’ many incremental payments.

Sud’s resignation on Friday follows the December resignation of the liquor board chairman, Charles Caldwell, who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving while leaving the grand opening of the MGM National Harbor casino.

David Son, who became the board’s chief inspector in 2015 after serving nearly a decade as a commissioner, was also arrested Thursday.

Authorities accuse him of facilitating three bribes to an elected official between 2012 and 2014 — while Son was a commissioner — and arranging bribes from a liquor store owner to that official and a state lawmaker in 2015 and 2016 for their work on legislation expanding alcohol sales.

Kenneth Miles, one of the three remaining Prince George’s liquor commissioners, welcomed Sud’s resignation and the governor’s call for changing oversight of liquor boards.

“They should monitor us,” said Miles, a former part-time liquor inspector and local Democratic Party official. “This should have never happened.”

But he disputed that local liquor regulation and politics were closely intertwined, saying he never hears from elected officials under normal circumstances.

Earl Howard, another commissioner, said the governor was overreacting by calling for an overhaul of liquor boards.

“You can get a bad apple in any barrel,” said Howard, who is the husband of Del. Carolyn Howard (D-Prince George’s).

“It can happen at the state level, it can happen at the county level, it can happen at the federal level.

“And it does happen.”

Via Washington Post

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Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert). controls parts of Prince George’s county and influential leader for liquor 

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Del. Carolyn Howard (D-Prince George’s) is married to one of the liquor  Board commissioners. 

Ulysses Currie

Sen. Ulysses Currie  (Seen here) In 2012, The ethics panel urged Maryland senators to strip Sen. Ulysses Currie of all but one committee assignment and to bar him from any role in House-Senate negotiations to resolve differences over bills due to his rampant corruption which became too much until he got arrested by the FBI >>> Read more

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To enable the eating to proceed smoothly, institutions like the Ethics and Anti-Corruption offices got crippled largely through appointment of user-friendly top brass. County Executive Rushern Baker III should not pretend he was not aware of these violations. He has enabled corruption to flourish in many ways including to the schools. 

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Federal bribery charges filed over Prince George’s County liquor licenses

img_7911Two liquor store owners looking for an advantage with Sunday sales bribed public officials in a scheme that involved money drops in the men’s restroom of a restaurant and bank deposits by an elected official who pulled stacks of cash from his pockets, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Four people were charged in federal court in connection with what prosecutors said was a long-running conspiracy that paid off a Maryland state lawmaker and officials with the Prince George’s County liquor board.

Two people with the liquor board and two business owners in the county are accused of conspiring to influence public officials, and the investigation included undercover FBI agents, wiretaps and an envelope of cash stashed in a car’s glove compartment.

Among those charged were David Dae Sok Son, 40, the liquor agency’s administrator, and board commissioner Anuj Sud, 39, a College Park lawyer.

“The defendants allegedly paid cash bribes to state and local officials in Prince George’s County in return for favorable action concerning liquor licenses,” Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. “Our government is not supposed to work that way.”

Prosecutors assert that the conspiracy dates from at least 2012 and extended through 2015, and includes a series of bribes, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Rosenstein said Thursday that the investigation is ongoing. At least two more government officials are expected to be charged, according to court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

The affidavit does not name the officials but describes them as a former elected official and a state delegate, who is a member of the House Economic Matters Committee who voted to extend Sunday alcohol sales in 2015.

The arrests of the Prince George’s businessmen and public officials extend the county’s troubled history of pay-to-play politics, a history that second-term County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) has fought to leave behind since succeeding disgraced former county executive Jack B. Johnson (D).

Baker vowed to “root out any and all county employees or appointees that are involved in any nefarious activity.” He said he is concerned that “the perception of corruption will be directed at the county government, setting us back in our war against unethical and illegal behavior.”

 Johnson, Baker’s predecessor, was county executive from 2002 to 2010 and pleaded guilty to extortion and witness and evidence tampering after masterminding a corruption conspiracy in which prosecutors said he received more than $1.6 million in bribes. His wife, Leslie Johnson, made headlines when she flushed a $100,000 check down the toilet and hid $79,600 in cash in her underwear as federal agents pounded on the couple’s front door.

At the heart of the conspiracy outlined in court papers Thursday is the Board of License Commissioners, a state entity that regulates the sale of alcohol in the county at more than 600 liquor stores, restaurants and other businesses. The board’s five commissioners are appointed by the governor to three-year terms.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who appointed Sud in 2015, called the situation “a mess” and said that Sud should resign immediately in light of the allegations.

“It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if we had the entire liquor board in Prince George’s County resign over these disgraceful things,” Hogan said.

Son, the current director of the board, was a commissioner from 2005 through 2014 and is accused of soliciting and arranging bribes from lobbyists and business owners, including being a middleman in arranging a $4,000 payment from a businessman to an elected official in the men’s bathroom of a restaurant.

An affidavit filed by a federal agent describes a series of bribes paid in return for government grants and to push through legislation to expand liquor sales in the county.

During the 2015 Maryland legislative session, Son served as a liaison for the county’s Senate delegation, the charging documents state. Son specifically worked with lobbyists and business owners who were interested in the passage of a bill to allow up to 100 permits to sell alcohol on Sundays in Prince George’s County.

Son allegedly asked an unnamed elected official to help get the bill passed by pressuring one of his colleagues. Both officials subsequently voted in favor of the bill, according to prosecutors.

 Two business owners also were charged Thursday: Young Jung Paig, 62, the owner of Central Avenue Restaurant & Liquor Store and Shin Ja Lee, 55, owner of Palmer Liquor Store.

After Hogan signed a Sunday sales bill into law in April 2015, prosecutors said Son arranged a lunch with Paig, Lee and the elected official whose help he had sought. During the lunch, prosecutors said Son told the elected official to meet Paig in a men’s bathroom, saying, “He’s going to hook you up, alright?”

In the bathroom, Paig allegedly handed the elected official a white envelope with $3,000 in cash and another envelope with $1,000. The official was working as an informant for law enforcement at the time, but stopped cooperating in July 2015, according to the affidavit. The official has agreed to plead guilty to bribery charges, according to the filing.

Prosecutors said Son later received a $4,000 payment from a lobbyist for his help in getting a client a Sunday license.

In November 2015, a second elected official who helped push the Sunday sales bill went with Son to a Panera Bread restaurant in Bowie with the two liquor store owners, according to the affidavit. When the four left the restaurant, the state delegate got in the car with Paig.

FBI agents watched as the delegate immediately drove to the Capital One Bank in the same shopping complex. He pulled up and deposited $2,000 in the drive-through ATM and went inside to deposit another $2,000 with the teller, according to surveillance footage and bank records.

Son did not enter a plea during his brief appearance in court Thursday. Prosecutors said he had agreed to work for law enforcement as an informant, but then allegedly began tipping off other targets. Son was the only one of the four arrested ordered to remain in federal custody due to fears from prosecutors that he would further obstruct the case. Son’s attorney Christopher Nieto disputed the prosecutors’ characterization.

Sud, who is accused of taking cash bribes in exchange for votes on liquor board matters, also made a brief court appearance Thursday and was released until his next hearing.

 In his legal practice, Sud has represented a company that federal and state agencies have said violated the law when it targeted victims of lead-paint poisoning in scores of financial deals that made the company millions of dollars.

Before the charges were filed, federal agents on Thursday morning searched the Largo offices of the liquor board, interviewing workers and gathering documents in the offices of the agency’s fourth-floor suite on Basil Court, in a Largo office park.

Last month, the board’s chairman, Charles W. Caldwell III, resigned after being arrested on drunken-driving charges outside the MGM National Harbor on the casino’s opening night.

Caldwell took the helm of the agency in March 2015 after a standoff with his predecessor, Franklin D. Jackson, who said he was never properly notified that he was being replaced.

via Washington Post 

Franklin D. Jackson, the former leader of the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners initially refused to hand over power  to Mr. Charles W. Caldwell III who resigned after being arrested on drunken-driving charges outside the MGM National Harbor. 

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Charles W Caldwell, III. The chairman of the Prince George’s County liquor commission was charged with DUI outside the MGM National Harbor resort in Oxon Hill. He denies he was drunk.

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Franklin D. Jackson, the former leader of the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners cradled the gavel with both hands, like a football. He then refused to surrender it to the new chairman, Charles W. Caldwell III leading to a power struggle due to corruption.

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PGCPS’ year a mix of loss and success Featured

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Maxwell and Eubanks 

UPPER MARLBORO – Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) was no stranger to front-page news in 2016.

This year was marked by multiple tragedies in the school systems, headline-grabbing scandals, and quiet successes. PGCPS celebrated 30 years of The Science Bowl, increased testing scores and graduation rates and saw grand achievements from their students, but the school year was also marred by allegations of child sexual abuse and the loss of the federal Head Start grant.

Two of PGCPS’s leaders, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell and Board of Education Chair Segun Eubanks, reflected on the school year and how they gauged PGCPS’s progress and shortfalls.

“There’s no doubt that there were certainly some big, significant challenges for our school system this year, and certainly the issues about reporting and child abuse and those kind of things have been big conversations, as was the loss of the Head Start grant,” Maxwell said. “That said, I have to tell you, I’m pretty proud of how people reacted and responded to it.”

PGCPS had a pretty rocky start to its year. In February, then-school aide Deonte Carraway was arrested in connection to the alleged making of child porn and other child sexual abuse allegations at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden.

Carraway allegedly produced more than 50 videos with children between the ages of 9 and 12 that included at least 23 alleged victims. A grand jury later indicted Carraway on approximately 270 counts of sex offenses, child porn and sexual abuse of a minor.

In response, the school system set up a Student Safety Task Force to guide PGCPS on what it can and should do to ensure student safety. That task force made several recommendations to Maxwell and the county board of education, which the board then started to put into place during an emergency summer session.

Since then, the system has been actively updating policies and retraining teachers, principals and school employees on appropriate behavior, reporting policies and knowing the signs of child abuse.

“We have been doing the retraining and we have been very aggressive, I think, in our response ,” Maxwell said. “We’re a lot farther along and we’re a lot better educated in terms of training of our staff and in the issues surrounding that work.”

In August, PGCPS faced another setback when the system announced they would lose the more than $6 million federal Head Start grant after reported noncompliance with fixing concerns raised by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF).

The ACF had sent a report to the school system detailing deficiencies it found with the county Head Start program, which included examples of broken policies regarding student punishment. Though Maxwell and the report noted PGCPS did make efforts to correct the deficiencies, when the ACF reviewed progress, they found different instances of noncompliance and decided to rescind the grant.

Since then, Maxwell announced the school system would relinquish the grant rather than fight to keep it and initiated a similar program titled Early Start. The school system eliminated its office of Head Start and moved the new program into its early childhood office without a break in services to families and students.

“We were able to keep our promise with the Head Start work and made sure every single child that was affected continued to have service provided and we have done that,” Maxwell said. “I think we should be judged on how we responded and I think we responded well.”

PGCPS has faced other controversies and hardships as well. The decision to close both Forestville High School and Skyline Elementary was heavily debated and fought by the communities and families impacted by those schools.

Former Board of Education member Lyn Mundey was convicted in a school lunch theft scheme, a Forestville teacher was arrested for alleged sexual abuse of a student and the school system lost two teachers to domestic violence, lost students to both gun violence and vehicular accidents, and lost a principal to an undetected heart disorder.

“We know and understand that how we respond to these crises and how we get through them together, that we need to figure out how to be more unified after crises and loss than we were beforehand,” Eubanks said. “I think we’ve seen that kind of response through this year. I don’t know that we could have had a year with quite as much loss and difficulty as we had this year.”

However, 2016 was also a year of great improvements and successes for the school system.

In February, the school system received half of the state Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) Awards, and Angela Malone, an Oxon Hill Middle School teacher, received the acclaimed Milken Family Award, also known as the “Oscar of Education.”

In March, PGCPS celebrated a 2 percent increase in overall graduation rates from the previous year, according to state data. The 79 percent overall graduation rate is the highest on record for the school system and puts it just behind the national graduation rate of 82 percent, which is detailed in a U.S. Department of Education report.

“We said that in order for us to really improve as a district in dramatic ways, we need to improve not just as everybody else is improving but faster than the state average,” Eubanks said. “We’ve done that in both our kindergarten readiness assessment and in our graduation rate.”

The school system also saw a 1.2 percent improvement on the overall pass rate for Advanced Placement tests, a 1.7 percent overall increase in International Baccalaureate pass rates, and a slight increase in ACT scores, according to the state department of education. At the same time the system did see a slight dip in Maryland School Assessments and SAT scores.

Both Maxwell and Eubanks attributed these increases to a large effort from all school employees. Maxwell said the school specifically tackled graduation rates by taking a new approach to the matter, including utilizing a credit recovery system and systematically identifying which students needed support.

And the hard work put in by teachers and administrators alike has not gone unnoticed, considering the school system welcomed nearly 1,000 more students this year and a growing list of public-private partnerships with community businesses and large names like Venture Philanthropy, Junior Achievement, and County Executive Rushern Baker, III’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative.

“Even through all of those things with the head start and what happened early in the year with Carraway, we didn’t lose enrollment in our schools. None of our parents took their children out of the head start program,” Baker said.

Baker also lauded recent changes the system has made to improve the overall culture at PGCPS and touted the improving and trailblazing arts and language programs, something that Economic Development Corporation President Jim Coleman also applauded.

“The results are clear: 2,000 more kids are enrolled in our school system today versus when County Executive Baker went into office. Second thing is 11 out of 24 of our high schools saw double-digit improvements in SAT scores last year. And lastly, he’s got so many hotshot programs going on in technology and STEM. It’s off the charts,” Coleman said.

In 2016, PGCPS also launched its Family Institute to increase and improve family engagement across all facets of the school system, celebrated 30 years of French Immersion, and began the year with only 33 teacher vacancies, which is no small feat for a system of its size.

The body also increased the number of arts integration schools to 65, continued expanding its language programs and is now home to more than 300 National Board Certified Teachers.

“To see the work that we’ve done in Prince George’s County is really incredible, especially considering that, not too long ago, people said that teachers who teach high-need students, teachers who teach in predominantly urban schools and teachers of color have a significantly harder time achieving National Board certification,” Eubanks said. “We’re breaking the mold in all three of those categories.”

PGCPS was also home to a number of Gates Millennium Scholars, the regional Science Fair champ, numerous Ivy League acceptances, and millions of dollars in college scholarships.

In addition to academic successes, county school students also shone bright in athletics. County students claimed three state titles and broke records at the state track and field championships; Prince George’s dominated the basketball scene with both Forestville and Largo girls winning their divisions and Eleanor Roosevelt boys doing the same; and Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School also just won back-to-back state championships in football.

“We end 2016 moving into 2017, I think in many ways, more united, more determined as a board and as a team with the administration,” Eubanks said.

via Prince George’s sentinel.

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PG County Teen killed in Capitol Heights police-involved shooting

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Terrence Thomas Jr.

CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md.

A 19-year-old Prince George’s County teenager was killed Thursday morning and another man was taken into custody following an officer-involved shooting in Capitol Heights.

Prince George’s County police said they responded at around 8 a.m. to Byers Street when two officers were sent to check on a report of a suspicious vehicle.

Police found two men sleeping inside. Terrence Thomas Jr. was in the driver’s seat and a second older man was in the front passenger seat when police arrived to check out the car.

“The male officer was on the driver’s side and the female officer was on the passenger side,” said Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski. “As they woke the individuals, the passenger immediately moved to exit the vehicle and simultaneously – and this is important, these things all occurred at the same time – simultaneously, the driver of the vehicle armed himself with a handgun and then pointed it at both the passenger and at the female officer.”

The police chief said the officer on the driver’s side of the vehicle fired two shots, which appear to have gone through the windshield.

Police released photographs on social media of a handgun on the floorboard of the driver’s side of the car, and a long gun, which was taken from the car and laid out on the street.

Stawinski said officers immediately took the passenger into custody and began CPR on Thomas. He also said the vehicle the officers walked up on was one they had been looking for.

“This vehicle does match a description for a vehicle that we believe to be involved in some robberies and shootings in this vicinity,” Stawinski said. “That is not for certain, but that is one of the investigative leads we are currently, actively working on for you.”

The shooting took place just a few blocks from Thomas’ home. He was well known here in this neighborhood.

“Everybody knew him, he was funny, he stayed around here laughing,” said Darnell Bell. “He was a serious dude, but he was also a funny dude too.”

Bell said Thomas was all about looking out for his family and friends.

But according to online court records, Thomas has recently been in trouble with the law. He pleaded guilty to a drug charge and had an upcoming court date on a gun charge. He had also been convicted on an assault charge in D.C. He went on trial and was found guilty. The judge in that case sentenced him to 180 days in jail, but all of those days were suspended.

“I just want to say that I’m very proud of our officers this morning,” said Stawinski. “Under tremendously stressful conditions, they responded well, they were measured in their response.”

Watch the video below for the full media briefing held Thursday morning by Prince George’s Police Chief Hank Stawinski:

Via Fox 5 ~~~~ See video here

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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PG County Liquor Board Chair resigns after DUI charge as Mel Franklin refuses.

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Charles W Caldwell, III. The chairman of the Prince George’s County liquor commission was charged with DUI outside the MGM National Harbor resort in Oxon Hill. He denies he was drunk.

Charles Caldwell who was charged with DUI charge about an hour after the MGM Casino celebrated its grand opening with the public, has resigned from his position, a spokesperson for Md. Gov. Hogan said in a statement Tuesday according to ABC7 News.

The spokesperson said that the current vice-chairman will take over for Caldwell for the time being.

Prince George’s County police responded to a report of an accident around 11:40 p.m. When they arrived, officers found Charles W Caldwell, III, behind the wheel with a “strong odor” of alcohol. Caldwell, 72, refused to take a breathalyzer test and police said he failed a field sobriety test.

He was arrested and charged with DUI and was released a few hours later.

Caldwell told the press that he’s going to fight the DUI because he was not “impaired.”

Police said three vehicles were involved in the crash and no one was injured.

Caldwell, of Bowie, had an unidentified passenger in his car.

No injuries were reported in the crash.

In 2015, Former board leader Franklin D. Jackson refused to budge and pass the gavel to the new Chairman Mr. Charles W. Caldwell in what was considered a bizarre hand over of power. We covered his story here

Recently, Pr. George’s council member Mel Franklin was charged with DUI after crashing county vehicle and leaving scene.  He has refused to resign despite significant outcry from the public. Many citizenry interviewed by Reform Sasscer stated that, there should be no double standards in the system and they expect the state government to act.

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EnteFranklin D. Jackson, the former leader of the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners. In 2015, He cradled the gavel with both hands, like a football, and refused to surrender it to the new chairman, Charles W. Caldwell III.

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Pr. George’s council member Mel Franklin was charged with DUI after crashing county vehicle And leaving scene.  He has refused to resign despite overwhelming evidence and causing damages on several occasions.  

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Md. politician Mel Franklin has wrecked a government vehicle before

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Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) was charged with driving under the influence in an injury crash on Nov. 21. (Mark Gail/For The Washington Post)

By Arelis R. Hernández December 1 at 7:22 PM

Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin, who was charged with driving under the influence last week in a crash that injured two people, also damaged another government vehicle on two separate occasions four years ago, according to county records.

Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) totaled a county-owned Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle in a distracted-driving crash in 2012, the records show, two months after banging up the same vehicle in an incident that he did not report to police.

The more serious collision involved Franklin rear-ending a car on the Beltway and resulted in more than $33,000 in repair costs and losses to the government, according to damage reports. Neither crash was reported to the public when it occurred.

Franklin was behind the wheel of another county-issued SUV last week, late on the night of Nov. 21, when he allegedly plowed into the back of a sedan on Pennsylvania Avenue near Forestville. The driver and passenger from the sedan went to the hospital. Police said no one else was in Franklin’s vehicle.

The second-term council member was charged with driving under the influence after state troopers tested him and found he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10, greater than the legal limit of 0.08. Police said Franklin was about 70 yards away from the Ford Explorer, in the median of the roadway, when they arrived at the scene.

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This car was allegedly struck by an SUV driven by Prince George’s Council member Mel Franklin on Nov. 21. (TWP)

Franklin, 41, has not responded to repeated requests for comment. His attorney also declined to answer questions.

In Prince George’s County, lawmakers can be assigned a full-time car from the county’s fleet of vehicles, or seek a travel stipend to cover the cost of driving their own cars on official business. The county vehicles are for work-related travel and incidental personal use.

County Council spokeswoman Karen Campbell said Thursday that because of his driving record, Franklin will no longer have access to the fleet.

The lawmaker was issued an SUV when he was elected to office in 2010, according to Roland Jones, director of the county’s Office of Central Services. On Oct. 5, 2012, he was involved in a crash that damaged the SUV’s front end and grill but was not reported to police. It cost the county about $1,500 to fix the vehicle.

On Dec. 5 of that year, about 7:30 p.m., Franklin slammed the SUV into the back of a GMC Yukon on the Beltway. He told state troopers “he took his eyes off the road for a moment” to change the radio station and did not receive a citation.

The county’s body shop declared the vehicle a “total loss,” which cost the government $33,171.92 to replace, according to documents provided to The Washington Post.

Neither Franklin nor his attorney have said where he was headed at the time of each of the collisions.

Franklin at that point began to use his personal vehicle, Jones said. In May of this year, he asked for a county vehicle and was issued the SUV that was involved in the crash that led to the drunken-driving charge.

Campbell, the council spokeswoman, would not say whether Franklin needed approval to be assigned the SUV.

Franklin isn’t the first Prince George’s elected official to get in trouble while driving a county-owned vehicle. In 2012, council member Karen R. Toles (D-Suitland) was clocked going more than 100 mph on the Beltway and charged with reckless driving. She avoided getting points on her driver’s license by agreeing to be sentenced to probation before judgment after a two-hour trial before Anne Arundel District Court Judge Megan Johnson.

Toles still uses a take-home vehicle, Campbell said, as do council members Andrea C. Harrison (D-Springdale), Obie Patterson (D-Fort Washington), Todd M. Turner (D-Bowie) and Mary A. Lehman (D-Laurel). Council Chair Derrick Leon Davis (D-Mitchellville), vice-chair Dannielle M. Glaros (D-Riverdale Park) and council member Deni Taveras (D-Adelphi) receive the automobile allowance, Campbell said.

Other Washington-area jurisdictions appear to have more stringent policies on when elected lawmakers can use government vehicles.

Members of the Montgomery County Council drive their own cars and are reimbursed for mileage, officials there said. In Arlington County, board members and the appointed county manager have access to the county’s fleet of vehicles on an as-needed basis, for county business only, spokeswoman Mary Curtius said.

Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors do not have full-time access to vehicles but can reserve a car if needed for government business or work-related trips. The District of Columbia has a pool of two cars and a van that the 13-member council and its staffers share for official business only.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who has a government-issued car and driver, said he has limited the number of people in the executive branch who have access to the fleet. He added that his administration does not police the council.

“It’s clearly within their purview to make the rules,” Baker said. “I think they’ll look at the policies now and see if they need to be changed.”

via Washington post. 

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PGCPS to pay for AP exams -System Backs Down in face of protest

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UPPER MARLBORO, MD. (WUSA9) – Prince George’s County school officials restored their promise to cover the cost of Advanced Placement exams for low-income students, hours before protestors who launched at petition planned to picket the Board of Education.

“We understand your concerns and we do not want any family to feel anxiety over paying for AP Exams,” the school system said in an on-line announcement Thursday. “For the 2016-17 school year, PGCPS will continue the practice of covering AP Exam fees for all students.”

As part of an effort to boost AP exam participation, PGCPS had been spending nearly a half-million dollars a year covering the cost of AP exams for low-income students who qualify for free and reduced lunches. Each exam costs $93 to take.

“This decision does have financial implications that will require some additional adjustments, but we feel that this is the right thing to do,” the statement said. “We will revisit this practice for the 2017-18 school year, allowing students and families’ adequate time to plan and adjust, if needed.”

Before restoring the promise, PGCPS planned to cut the benefit to low income students as a budget trimming measure.

Students who score well on the exams can receive college credit, and can therefore save hundreds or thousands of dollars in college tuition expenses in the future.

The PGCPS policy of paying for AP exams significantly boosted the participation rate, which is one metric sometimes used to measure the quality of a school system. However, the rate of students who passed the exams was between 26 and 28 percent, according to sources familiar with the policy.

Currently, Prince George’s County Public Schools is the only system in the region to assume the cost for all students.

via wusa9

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Major Protest Planned For PGCPS Sasscer On Thursday to contend cutbacks in AP test funding.

14724603_1138732846212191_6665790808825559636_nMany Students and parents in Prince George’s County are outraged after learning they will have to start paying for their Advanced Placement exams. As a result of this action, Prince George’s students plan to protest outside the School Board meeting (Sasscer Administration Building) on Thursday over the cutback in funding of AP tests.

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County reports that, as a result of the budget cuts,  Prince George’s schools will no longer pay for AP tests for all students who take Advanced Placement courses in the county’s school system, spurring petitions and a protest this coming Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016.

Fox 5 Channel news covered the story here. The tests cost more than $90 apiece and for students taking several AP courses – or for families with more than one AP student in the schools – that amount can add up. Students who are not receiving free or reduced-price meals at school will have to pay for the tests themselves.

Student School Board Member and a leader on his own right to reform the school system (Parkdale High School senior Juwan Blocker) said students are horrified. Blocker, a senior at Parkdale HS, said an online petition against the move is launched and students and their allies would mass for Thursday’s School Board meeting to protest the move without further delay to the situation.

Almost 70 percent of the county’s 129,000 students are receiving free or reduced price meals. About 36 percent, if they are taking AP courses, will have to foot the bill for their tests. A schools system spokesperson told media that students who scored 3, 4, or 5 on the test would also have their testing paid for.

The schools system argued in a letter to parents that recent budget cuts have caused this cutback from full funding of AP tests. The school system got less than requested from the County Council’s budget this fiscal year, though more than last year. Fully funding the tests costs the schools about a half-million dollars.

In a post on his Facebook page, State Sen. Anthony Muse D-26th said “This is a shame. Parents have to absorb this half million dollar budget , so called shortfall. Yet we are pushing for two more council persons to be be added to our county budget [a]t a cost of 1 million dollars which we do not need. . The CEO is paid over 300 thousand dollars a year . He has more hired executive staff then any county , costing millions of dollars, but we are going to make students pay for exams. What kind of nonsense is this. This is not good for our County nor fair to our students.”

Muse was referring to ballot Question D, which proposes two additional Prince George’s council members and is estimated to cost a million dollars a year when implemented. It will be voted on in the Nov. 8 election. Reform Sasscer Movement is asking the county citizenry to vote “NO” on Question D and vote against any candidate who has allowed this situation to escalate to the detriment of the county.  Reform sasscer Movement is also calling on volunteers to help organize the community now, during and after the general elections in November.  Those interested in assisting with the county agenda and to help solve the issues needs to email their information to ReformPGCPS@gmail.com.

>>>Read more>>>PG Co. NAACP demands CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell be removed ASAP!

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PG Co. NAACP demands CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell be removed ASAP!

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Dr. Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, reads a statement about calling for an state audit of the Head Start program. (ABC7)

LARGO, Md. (ABC7) — The NAACP in Prince George’s County is demanding County Executive Rushern Baker, III, remove Kevin Maxwell, CEO and Superintendent of the county school system, immediately, a press release states.

In the statement, the NAACP says Maxwell has “failed to protect the health, safety and civil rights of the students” within the school system.

“Every child in the Prince George’s County school system deserves to attend school in a safe, secure and protected environment. Those who are entrusted with the children’s care and well-being are hired to teach, transport and deliver our county’s most vulnerable citizens to their homes safely every day. The Prince George’s County school system has failed to properly vet and oversee the staff and teachers it has entrusted with the care of our children.

The abuse that has occurred at the hands of those hired to teach and transport our children is an intolerable situation. The children of Prince George’s County can no longer “wait” for things to “turn around”.

The children of Prince George’s County cannot tolerate another incident of abuse. The children of Prince George’s County deserve responsible, accountable and trustworthy leadership. There is no longer time for excuses, plans or studies. The change must happen now. CEO Maxwell must be removed immediately. We recommend independent oversight by the Maryland State Department of Education .”

A press conference will be held by the NAACP on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Largo.

via wjla 

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