BALTIMORE – The head of Prince George’s County Public Schools faced the Maryland State Board of Education Tuesday, the first time since a troubling state audit showed grade-fixing and policy violations allowed students to graduate without meeting state requirements.
At the hearing, state board members pressed Dr. Kevin Maxwell on the root causes of the findings and whether there has been a shift in culture in the school system.
“It seems like something is going on here,” said Maryland State Board of Education President Andrew Smarick. “I don’t want to go too far, but it seems like some signal, something is happening to suggest to schools, to teachers, to someone, ‘We gotta graduate these students irrespective of some of these rules we have.’ And that is what I have been grappling with here.”
Smarick noted some of the most outstanding audit findings — grade changes that could not be verified, late changes to student transcripts and students graduating despite more than 50 unexcused absences.
In response to questions about the driving forces behind the audit findings, Maxwell spoke about staff confusion on grade change forms, lack of automation, high staff turnover and people who were not clear on policies. He emphasized the audit found no intimidation or fraud by him or his staff.
After the hearing, FOX 5 asked him again about the underlying causes of the problems uncovered.
“The audit, I think, gave us a very good roadmap to the fact that there are some issues that need clarification, there are some procedures that need to be updated, there is a lot of training and there are some compliance issues,” Maxwell said.
At one point, a school board member asked whether emphasis on graduation rates by the state and federal government was to blame, but Maxwell did not agree that outside pressure was a factor.
Maxwell and his staff outlined their plan to correct what was found by the audit and the ways the school district is tightening up policies, putting more oversight in place and retraining staff.
Janna Parker, a Prince George’s County community member who attended the meeting, said the plan is a good first step, but feels what she did not see from Maxwell was accountability at the top.
“I think when you base any plan on not fully accepting accountability or placing the accountability on who and where it needs to be, it’s flawed plan,” Parker said.
When asked about Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent statement that some of what is going on in Prince George’s County Public Schools is criminal, Maxwell said he did not agree with the governor.
Smarick said the state board is now going to decide how and if the state will intervene in the school system and what is legally possible. He said there should be decisions made by the next meeting in February.
There could be another audit, and while there has been no public talk of the state taking over Prince George’s County Public Schools, it is something that’s happened in other states.
After the meeting on Tuesday, the state released graduation rates for districts across the state. Prince George’s County had a record high of 82.7 percent for 2017.
Prince George’s County police say five teenagers are responsible for a string of robberies targeting cab drivers, including a shooting that left one driver critically injured.
The teens charged are linked to two separate robbery sprees, police said Thursday.
Malik Samuels and Robert Walker, both 17, are charged with the attempted murder of a cab driver.
Police say the cab driver went to the 9000 block of Ballard Lane in Clinton, Maryland, to pick up a fare at 2:35 a.m. Wednesday. When he arrived, the suspects approached him. The teens demanded money and then shot the victim, according to police.
Violent Night in Prince George’s Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Injured
Neighbors found the man lying in the street.
“All of a sudden we heard four or five shots. I got up and look out of the window and then I saw the guy lying on the ground,” said Ronald Currie, a neighbor who called 911.
As Currie looked from his window, he said he saw an act of kindness when it was needed the most.
“He brought a blanket and covered him up with the blanket. It all kind of happened at the same time,” Currie said of the neighbor who came to the aid of the victim.
The victim was taken to the hospital in critical but stable condition.
Two hours later, a cab driver expecting to pick up a customer in the area of Woodlawn Boulevard and Torington Place in Largo encountered the teens.
Both boys got into his cab and demanded money and the car. Police say the teens got away with the cab, and the driver was not hurt.
Three other teens are facing charges in a string of similar robberies. Police say the suspects targeted cab and ride-share drivers during the week of Jan. 15.
In each crime, police say one of the suspects posed as a customer and rode in the victim’s car before the crime was committed.
Jose Ponce-Coreas, 19; Demonte Johnson, 16; and Christian Tejada, 18, have admitted their involvement in the crimes, according to police. All three remain in police custody.
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Parents in Prince George’s County are calling for Prince George’s County Public School CEO, Dr. Kevin Maxwell, to step down after an independent audit revealed thousands of students had their grades changed to boost graduation rates.
This comes after Governor Larry Hogan held an hour-long meeting with the Prince George’s County NAACP and parents about the audit’s findings.
“The CEO must go! He does not care about our children. The CEO must go!.”, shouted a parent during a news conference following Governor Hogan’s meeting, calling for accountability in the grading scandal that has rocked PGCPS.
“That investigation turned up wide-spread corruption and wrongdoing.”, said Governor Hogan.
An independent audit commissioned by the Maryland State Board of Education found that thousands of graduates from 2016 and 2017 had failing grades for at least one quarter, which were later changed after the cutoff dates.
It further stated that over 150 students graduated in 2017, despite having over 50 absences for the school year.
Yolanda Rogers is a parent with five children who have attended PGCPS schools, of whom three have graduated.
She said the grading scandal has had a huge impact on her kids.
“I have two children that’s graduated with A’s in English, B’s in Math and when they tested in college, they tested for remedial English and remedial Math. That’s problematic for me.”, said Rogers.
Many are now calling for Prince George’s County Executive, Rushern Baker, to get rid of the current chairman and superintendent.
In a statement, John White, spokesperson for PGCPS pointed out that the school system was not invited to today’s meeting, but says Dr. Kevin Maxwell and his leadership team have taken the state audit findings and recommendations very seriously.
PGCPS has until the end of the month to respond to the audit and submit a plan of action.
Officials from Prince George’s County Public Schools have said that an action plan is in the works to improve grading and graduation certification.
County Executive, Rushern Baker could not be reached for comment.
We finally have a Teacher Running for Board of Education. This is the way to go Mr. Arun Puracken. Education matters and it is the key to life. It should matter now more than ever.
Mr. Arun Puracken school board campaign launch was more lit than some delegate, Senate, and Council campaign launches. There is lots of love and support from the community and the board members themselves starting with Mr. Edward Burroughs III, Mr. David Murray and Ms. Raaheela Ahmed our “rebellious, fearless leaders”.
we encourage more teachers and others to step up to run for various political offices and lead the way forward in Maryland. This is one way to shake up the state and the county Leadership in order to make a difference in the future.
Nominate a Leader to be Featured in Education Matters
Do you know a leader in your community supporting our schools and making a difference in the lives of children both in and out of school? We are seeking nominations for individuals to be highlighted in our Leadership Spotlight segment. Nominees could be principals, superintendents, teachers, teacher assistants, guidance counselors, parents, students, business leaders, community volunteers, afterschool providers, and more.
Here are Some pictures from Mr. Arun Puracken Friday December 8th, 2017 event.
LANDOVER, Md. – A Prince George’s County middle school student says after orientation day at his new school, his bus driver dropped him off at the wrong stop and he was robbed of his new Nike sneakers and cell phone.
The seventh grader’s mother says her son was left at Kenilworth Avenue and Eastern Avenue on Tuesday, which is nearly two miles from their home in Fairmount Heights.
Tameika Jackson didn’t want her 12-year-old son to be identified, but she let him speak with FOX 5 about what happened. He says a group of men approached him soon after he got off the bus.
“This one guy, he came up to me and then he said, ‘Give me your phone and then your shoes,'” the boy said. “And they were at least 20 years old, so I didn’t know what else to do. So I gave them my shoes and my phone. And after that, there was this one girl at the [Metro] bus stop, I walked up to her and asked her if I could use the phone to call my mom.”
The boy said he had told the bus driver where he lived, but was dropped off there anyway. Jackson says she is furious.
“I picked him up, he was barefoot, no shoes on,” she said. “And there was a bunch of junkies out there. He was upset, he was shaking and I just told him everything was going to be fine, but I will get to the bottom of it. And I brought him home. He says he doesn’t want to go back to school tomorrow.”
Jackson says she called FOX 5 because she couldn’t reach anyone at G. James Gholson Middle School in Landover where her son attends.
A Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesperson says they are now investigating what happened and alerted the school’s principal to the situation.
The principal later called Jackson and apologized, saying she will personally make sure the boy is on the correct bus headed to the correct location on Wednesday and in the days to come. The transportation director also contacted Jackson by phone Tuesday night.
Jackson says she never got bus information in the mail prior to the start of school, so her son’s father drove the boy to school Tuesday and spoke to school staff about which bus he was supposed to be on.
She says the child got on the bus he was told to ride. Jackson says she has an older child who attended Gholson and he got dropped off at a bus stop two blocks from their home.
“I’m to the point now that I don’t want to go to work the rest of the week because I want to make sure that he feels comfortable getting on the bus and getting off the bus,” Jackson said.
School officially starts on Wednesday in Prince George’s County, but some students had orientation on Tuesday.
By Adam Pagnucco.
Labor Day is the one day of the year when the press discusses one of America’s great historic institutions, the labor movement. Much of the press’s discourse contains annual descriptions of labor’s decline, some sympathetic and some not. Whatever its causes, the story is true: union influence over the economy and American quality of life has been shrinking for decades. Maryland is not immune.
Labor unions are important protectors of working class and middle class people. Unlike political parties, corporations and the press, labor unions were created directly by working people, are governed by leaders those working people elect and are accountable to their memberships. In their heyday from the 1930s through the 1970s, they played indispensable roles in passing laws on social security, civil rights, wage and hour standards and benefit protections. They also reversed the income inequality that prevailed from the Gilded Age through the 1920s and built America’s first large, influential middle class. Under assault by corporate America, hostile politicians, problematic trade policies and economic change as well as – in some cases – handicapped by myopic leadership, they have mostly retreated to the public sector and a few urban strongholds in the Northeast, the Midwest and the West Coast. Many of today’s economic problems, like stagnant wages, vanishing pensions and the increasing dominance of the one percent can be linked to union decline.
The ultimate source of union power is labor’s percentage of the workforce, commonly called union density. When unions establish collective bargaining for a critical mass of employees in a given market, whether industrial, geographic or both, their compensation becomes the standard that even non-union employers must meet. That’s right – even non-union workers benefit from unions. But when unions are unable to organize significant percentages of workers in their markets, they struggle to maintain high levels of wages and benefits in the face of overwhelming non-union competition. Hence, union density is a critical measure of union effectiveness.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, union density in the United States was 10.7% in 2016, down from 24.0% in 1973. Maryland’s union density in 2016 was 11.0%, almost exactly the national average. New York was the only state in 2016 to have a union density of more than 20% while 27 states had densities of less than 10%.
One might suppose that Maryland would be an exception to the rule of declining unionization given the size of its public sector, its long-time control by labor-friendly Democrats and the status of Baltimore as a once-great manufacturing and shipping center. But the truth is that Maryland has mirrored the rest of the country in falling union density. In 1983, 18.5% of its total workforce was in unions. By 2016, that share had fallen to 11.0%.
Union decline in Maryland has been uneven. Protected by laws allowing state and local government collective bargaining and friendly politicians, public sector unions have mostly held onto their power. Their density in 2016 (27.4%) was little changed from 1983 (29.9%). The real fall of Maryland unions has taken place in the private sector. In 1983, 14.4% of Maryland private sector workers were union members. In 2016, that share had dropped to 5.6%.
Private sector union collapse in Maryland has been broad and deep. Construction unions saw their density fall from 16.0% in 1983 to 12.7% in 2016. In the services sector, the drop was from 10.7% to 5.0%. And in private manufacturing, unions in Maryland have been almost obliterated. Union density in that sector fell from 29.2% in 1983 to a shocking 3.9% in 2016.
Progressive elected officials and advocacy groups have focused on measures like minimum wage laws, sick leave laws, tax legislation, health care reform and education funding to help the working and middle classes and reverse income inequality. All of those things matter. But a long-term, sustainable progressive agenda may be impossible without a healthy labor movement. Independent labor organizations are critical to passing good laws, holding corporations and politicians accountable and preserving the gains made by working people against constant attempts to reverse them. Without them, the one percent will continue their march to total domination.
Disclosures: Your author holds two degrees in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and worked for sixteen years as a strategic researcher in the labor movement.
USE OF GRIEVANCE SYSTEM IN PGCPS
The Grievance system is unique process that governs dispute resolutions in the schools. Principal, supervisor are made aware of the grievance and can address it before it comes to the attention of the principal’s supervisor. If the grievance remains unresolved at Step 1, it then proceeds to the attention of the principal’s supervisor. The purpose of a grievance is generally to enforce the terms of a collective bargaining agreement between the unions.
The following unions in PGCPS District led by ASASP, PGCEA, ACE-AFSCME Local 2250 and SEIU Unions filed grievances on behalf of several members on several occasions. These grievances proceeded all the way up the chain of command for Prince George’s County Public school district to various managers, Directors and Chiefs, Superintendent William Hite Jr., Dr. Crawley who resigned recently and others also received grievances. However, the PGCPS management did nothing to address the discrimination, retaliation and other corrupt activities, despite being aware of the issues. The management failed to respond to any of the Union grievances filed by the Union because the Unions themselves are involved in questionable activities. It is this egregious conduct fueled by Thatcher Law firm corruption which has polarized the whole school District. The whole school District will never move forward until corrupt lawyers are cleansed from the system.
The terrorist attacks in 2001 were aimed not only at destroying buildings and human lives, but also at undermining Americans’ confidence in their government. While the terrorists’ attempts at the latter ultimately backfired, they did illustrate that our country is only as strong as the commitment of our people and leaders to protect the ideals upon which it is based: individual liberty, freedom of expression, and the ability to redress grievances through a system of laws rather than violence. When lawyers for the local board retaliate and acts unethically on behalf of the School District, when the unions appointed lawyers and other attorneys hired by staff are compromised, they undermine the rule of law and faith in the system. The image of lawyers is not just a matter of professional or personal pride; it affects the public’s belief in our justice system, and ultimately, our faith in our democracy. The fact that there has been so many cases in both the State and Federal courts filed against PGCPS by several employees in recent years, is a clear manifestation that there are many problems within the PG County School District. We must demand answers from our elected officials in regards to the Thatcher Law firm which is engaged in criminal conspiracy with Mr. Bryan A chapman, Mr. Damon Felton and others in defrauding staff within the PG County district. One female employee who protested mistreatment of her colleagues was fired in the middle of her discovery case with malice rather than settle the dispute. There is a big possibility that she might never even win the case because of what her attorney did to the case in conjunction with the Thatcher Law Firm and Mr. Roger Thomas. Only time will tell. It’s clear there’s a criminal cabal around the Thatcher Law Firm that’s giving deadly advice to lawyers hired by various personnel. The Book of Mark, 8:36, sternly asks: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Other PGCPS employees have been chased away recently like goats in the middle of Savanna after filing cases… Who does this to employees for exercising their rights and fighting for the rights of others? Who does this? Who else is involved in this criminal enterprise? What happened to common decency ladies and Gentlemen?
In the past, we reached out to the County Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kevin Maxwell s, however, nothing came out of it. There have been more problems in Prince George’s County than any other time in history. Time has come to move in the right direction with new leadership and a new agenda due to cover ups which are ongoing in Maryland at the expense of past and current workers.