Tag Archives: Prince George’s County Public Schools

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your day.

If you are not making dinner, go to a church or homeless shelter to volunteer to serve others. It will remind you of your blessings and good fortune. Former President Obama helped prepare food bags for those in need in Chicago

The spirit of giving is contagious.

When we think of those to whom we are thankful, we Think first of family and loved ones.

We think of you, who take time from your day to read what we write.

We think of the teachers in Maryland, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado, North Carolina, and Arizona who taught the nation a lesson.

We think of all those who work tirelessly for others to make our communities better places to live.

Despite our woes in Maryland and in Prince George’s county in particular, we have much to be thankful for.

Reform Sasscer Movement’s secretariat.

Chaperones accused of drinking at prom for Prince George’s Co. school; principal placed on leave

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 – Three administrators, including the principal, at a Prince George’s County high school are on administrative leave while the school looks into allegations that chaperones were drinking during the school’s prom.

Northwestern held its prom on May 18 at a brand new hotel across the street from the University of Maryland.

An emergency staff meeting was held at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville Wednesday afternoon where an announcement was made to staff about the administrators being placed on leave.

According to Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesperson John White, the school system is investigating a claim that school administrators, who should have been sober and chaperoning the event, were instead drinking at the hotel bar.

White confirmed that Northwestern High School principal Carlene Murray was placed on administrative leave along with assistant principals Christopher Burrows and Patricia Duffy.

White said Duffy and Burrows are accused of drinking while Murray was put on leave for her conduct related to the prom. However, she is not accused of drinking at the event.

FOX 5 reached out to all three administrators through email, but have not received a response as of Wednesday evening.

A source familiar with the administration at the school said Burrows and Duffy were placed on leave immediately after the prom and Murray was placed on leave on Monday.

Hyattsville police confirmed a school resource officer went to the hotel after the prom and obtained footage from surveillance cameras.

A teacher at the school, who asked to remain unidentified, was at Wednesday’s emergency meeting at the school. He said he was not at the prom, but the allegations did not surprise him.

“We have lots of evidence with film, witnesses and people who were there, so it is not surprising at all,” he said.

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Via Fox5DC

Prince George’s County Officers File Complaint due to Discrimination

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Dozens of officers with a Maryland police department signed a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice alleging racial discrimination within their department.

More than 70 officers who are members of the local chapters of the National Hispanic Law Enforcement Association and the United Black Police Officers Association signed the complaint alleging unfair promotional practices and unfair disciplining among white and minority officers. Concerns also include how minority officers and white officers interact with each other, said Bob Ross president of the Prince George’s County chapter of the NAACP.

The complaint was filed in October.

“The Department of Justice is in receipt of correspondence from the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association about this matter,” a Justice Department spokesman said in a statement. “That correspondence has been referred to the Civil Rights Division for response. We have no further comment.”

The Prince George’s County Police Department is forming a panel to review internal practices. Police Chief Hank Stawinski has not received the complaint but is proactively creating the panel, police sources said. The goal of the panel is ensuring fair practices.

“The panel is a collaborative effort that has been months in the making,” Assistant Chief Hector Velez said in a statement released after News4 reported the complaint on Twitter. “If the panel discovers any concerns or issues, the chief wants to know. … The department is strong because of the men and women who make up our ranks. The Chief wants to hear from them directly.”

The panel is not being created in response to the complaint, police said.

The department’s independent Inspector General and a representative from Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89 will co-chair the panel, which will include union representatives and members of institutions outside the police department.

Source: Maryland Officers File Complaint With Justice Department Alleging Racial Discrimination in Police Department | NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Maryland-Officers-File-Complaint-With-Justice-Department-Alleging-Racial-Discrimination-in-Police-Department-412593953.html#ixzz4XszqqWke

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Photo by: Jose Luis Magana – Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski called Officer Jacai Colson “a hero,” saying he fired at Michael Ford, momentarily drawing the shooter’s attention away from the station and affording officers a chance to take cover. No other officers were injured. (Associated Press)

Read more >>>70 PG County police officers allege discrimination at work: Report

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Prince George’s New Planning Director Is Not Actually a Planner

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Ms. M. Andree Green – Prince George’s New Planning Director Is Not Actually a Planner. She began her tenure as Planning Director on January 18. She replaces Dr. Fern V. Piret, who retired after serving 26 years in that position.

Via @PGUrbanist

In a curious move, somewhat reminiscent of President Trump’s recent cabinet appointments, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) has selected someone with no formal training or professional experience in planning to serve as the director of the Prince George’s County Planning Department. No other jurisdiction in the Washington region has made such a choice, and for good reason: such a decision defies common sense, and it likely contravenes Maryland law.

Attorney M. Andree Green (Checkley), of Upper Marlboro, began her tenure as Planning Director on January 18. She replaces Dr. Fern V. Piret, who retired after serving 26 years in that position. For the past six years, Green worked as the County Attorney for Prince George’s. Before that, she worked for approximately eleven years in the legal department of M-NCPPC, the quasi-independent state agency responsible for planning, zoning, parks, and recreation in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Without question, Green is an experienced government lawyer, with nearly two decades of experience working in Prince George’s County. But Green is not a planner. She has never worked as a planner as has no educational background in planning. So how and why is she now being paid $192,000 a year to be the county’s Planning Director?

Green is Unqualified for the Planning Director Position

The Prince George’s County Planning Director is supposed to be an experienced planning professional. The position description for the job, which we obtained from M-NCPPC, states that the minimum qualifications are “at least 12 years of progressively responsible and broad-ranged planning experience that includes four years of planning experience at the managerial level, preferably five years at the department manager level.”

Green has zero years of professional planning experience, either at the managerial or non-managerial level. The American Planning Association’s American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is the national body that verifies and certifies the professional qualifications of planners. According to AICP standards, Green lacks even the minimum level of professional planning experience to be eligible to take the certification exam.

Thus, Green did not meet the minimum qualifications for the job when she was hired. Indeed, Green does not even meet the minimum qualifications for the currently-posted position for Deputy Planning Director, which requires 10 years of professional planning experience and preferably two years at the managerial level.

By contrast, nearly all of the other planning directors in the Washington metropolitan area had more than 15 years of prior management-level experience in planning before assuming their respective positions, and most are AICP-certified. [UPDATE: For a comparison of the qualifications of the region’s planning directors, see this chart.]

M-NCPPC Likely Violated State Law By Hiring Green

The state law creating M-NCPPC specifically provides that the Planning Director and Deputy Planning Director in Prince George’s County “shall have education or professional experience in a field relevant to the responsibilities of that department.” As judged by the agency’s own criteria, as set out in the job descriptions, Green does not possess the requisite education or professional experience for either position. Therefore, M-NCPPC’s hiring of Green was arguably arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to Maryland law.

M-NCPPC spokeswoman Andrea Davey stated that the Planning Director position was posted on a variety of websites for approximately three months, from August 2–October 31, 2016, and that a total of four candidates were selected for interview. The agency would not disclose the identity of the other three candidates, citing confidentiality laws. However, Davey did indicate that the agency “did not deem it necessary to employ an executive search firm” in connection with this position.

Dorothy Bailey, Vice-Chair of M-NCPPC’s Prince George’s County Planning Board and a member of the selection committee, stated that Green was “second-to-none in her commitment to Prince George’s County, and in her know-how of the critical nuts and bolts involved in the planning process.” Board chairwoman Elizabeth M. Hewlett also cited favorably to Green’s “proven managerial experience and keen legal acumen.”

Green may well be a committed public servant, and she certainly has relevant legal knowledge and managerial experience. But she lacks any prior professional experience or training in planning—and that makes her selection as Planning Director untenable, and possibly unlawful.

How Can M-NCPPC Fix This?

Green’s employment contract is for two years, and it contains a “sweetheart” severance provision requiring the agency to pay her 12 full months of salary ($192,000) if it breaks the contract without cause. However, M-NCPPC could likely still void the contract without penalty, since Green did not have the requisite experience for the job to begin with. Additionally, the severance provision could itself be unlawful, since state law requires that the Planning Director and Deputy Planning Director shall “serve at the pleasure of the Prince George’s County Planning Board.”

Ideally, M-NCPPC should consider reopening the Planning Director position and conducting a national search for a truly qualified and experienced professional planner with a proven track record in leading a large urban planning department. If possible, Green could be offered another position within the agency that meets with her actual qualifications and experience (e.g., a position in the legal department or in intergovernmental affairs).

Perhaps more than any other jurisdiction in the Washington region, Prince George’s County needs an experienced and innovative professional planner to lead its planning department—someone who can advocate effectively against the county’s overdependence on outer-Beltway sprawl development, help develop a workable plan for transit-oriented development and revitalization around the neighborhood gateway Metro stations near DC’s border, and oversee the implementation of a new 21st century zoning ordinance, among other priorities. Let’s hope M-NCPPC will make that happen.

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Ex-School PGCPS Aide Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse of at Least 11 Students

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Deonte Carraway, 23

GREENBELT, Md. – A former elementary school volunteer in Prince George’s County appeared in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, Monday morning and entered a guilty plea in connection with a child pornography case that shocked the county’s school system.

Deonte Carraway, 23, pleaded guilty to all 15 federal counts of sexual exploitation of a minor to produce child pornography. He faces 60 to 100 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.

Carraway admitted to directing young students to engage in sexual activity with each other and with himself. Federal prosecutors say he used cellphones to record the sexual acts, had victims send him pornographic videos and photos and also sent child pornography to victims.

The sexual acts occurred at several locations including Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School and inside private homes, according to prosecutors.

Police arrested Carraway last year after a family member of one of the victims discovered nude images on the victim’s phone and reported it to authorities. Federal prosecutors outlined their case against Carraway Monday, saying he had victimized at least 12 children between the ages of 9 and 13 between October 2015 and February 2016.

In addition to the federal case, Carraway faces 270 Maryland charges related to child abuse and child pornography. The local charges were pending as the federal case unfolded, and it is not clear if Carraway will enter a guilty plea in connection with them.

Between the local and federal cases, prosecutors believe he is responsible for abusing at least 23 children between the ages of 9 and 13.

The case caused outrage among parents who have filed lawsuits against the school system, claiming administrators did not do enough to stop Carraway.

School leaders established a student safety task force in response to the case last year. In May, the task force released a report and education officials announced they would set up a new office of accountability and would roll out dozens of policy, training and even curriculum changes in an effort to protect students from physical and sexual abuse at the hands of adults they are supposed to trust.

via WTOP

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Shots Fired in PGCPS, 2 Schools Locked Down as Precaution

2017-01-26_1054.jpgTwo schools in Prince George’s County were locked down Thursday morning after shots were fired nearby. The incident did not involve students, Prince George’s County Police said.

No one was struck.

Police received a call for the report of shots fired near Oxon Hill High School. According to a preliminary investigation, police said an argument off school grounds led to shots being fired.

A suspect is in custody.

Oxon Hill High School and John Hanson Montessori were locked down as a precaution while authorities investigated, Prince George’s County said. Police said about 10:50 a.m. that the lockdown at Oxon Hill High School was being lifted.

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PGCPS Elementary School Students Witness Shooting at School Bus Stop

img_8311A man shot a women in front of 15 elementary school students waiting to catch a school bus at a bus stop in Maryland Tuesday morning.

A woman in her 30s was waiting with her three children about 7 a.m. at Winthrop and Chester streets in Oxon Hill when a man jumped of the bushes and tried to grab one of her girls, witnesses said. An argument escalated into a fight and then shots were fired.

The woman fell to the ground, and the shooter ran.

“It’s really sad kids have to deal with that,” said Keith Grant, whose daughter witnessed it. “Kids were running everywhere.”

Forest Heights Elementary School got police protection and counselors to console the students Tuesday.

“A number of them were shaken up by the incident, which is understandable, but they’re all doing pretty well,” said Raven Hill of Prince George’s County Public Schools. “Psychologists and counselors have been with them all day.”

Police are looking for 42-year-old Roland Eugene Simms. They consider him armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees him should not approach him but call 911.

The victim is recovering in a hospital.

Source: Elementary School Students Witness Shooting at School Bus Stop | NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Elementary-School-Students-Witness-Shooting-at-School-Bus-Stop-411709815.html#ixzz4WmvXvwiq
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PGCPS Family Asks for Witnesses to Hit-And-Run Crash

img_8310A Prince George’s County, Maryland, family is asking for help in identifying the driver involved in a hit-and-run crash in November that injured three people.

Diamond Frazier, 17, and her family were heading north on Route 301 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, when their car was rear-ended, spinning out of control. Frazier was thrown out of the car through the rear window, landing on the opposite side of the highway.

Police said the driver of the car ran away from the scene, leaving behind the vehicle. According to the family’s attorney, the owner of the vehicle is not cooperating with the investigation, and police still have not identified who was driving the car.

Although all three family members were injured in the collision, Frazier was hurt the most seriously. Since the crash, she’s had countless surgeries and is still unable to walk.

Frazier said she has been on bed rest and missed most of her senior year at Wise High School. The family said Maryland State Police are close to making an arrest but need witnesses to come forward.

The detective on the case would like people to contact them if they have any information at 301-568-8101, the number for the Forrestville Barrack of the Maryland state Police.

Source: Prince George’s County Family Asks for Witnesses to Hit-And-Run Crash | NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Prince-Georges-County-Family-Asks-for-Witnesses-to-Hit-And-Run-Crash-411693735.html#ixzz4Wmnqr400

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Cold classrooms a hot issue in PGCPS

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About 50 concerned Bowie parents gathered at Whitehall Elementary School for a meeting last week during which heating problems at several local schools was discussed. (John McNamara / Capital Gazette)

Cold classrooms have some Bowie parents fired up.

About 50 of them gathered at Whitehall Elementary last week to exchange information about the problem and try to figure out how to solve it.

Representatives of parent-teacher organizations from Whitehall Elementary, Samuel Ogle Middle School and Bowie High School were among those in attendance.

Heat has been spotty in some classrooms at Whitehall, Ogle and Bowie during the recent cold snap, parents said. Large sections of Ogle and Bowie High School were without heat earlier this week before maintenance workers rectified the problem.

Katie Moran, the president of the Whitehall Parent-Teacher Association, organized last week’s meeting after county education officials seemed unresponsive to her concerns about the temperatures inside some classrooms.

Whitehall Elementary PTA president discusses lack of heat in classrooms

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Katie Moran, president of the Whitehall Elementary PTA, talks about the lack of heat in some classrooms at the Bowie school. (John McNamara / BSMG)

“It started when kids were reporting to their parents that they were having to wear their coats in the classroom and parents were having to keep their kids home more often because they were having colds and things like that,” she said. “That’s when our parent base really started to build some momentum in realizing the county wasn’t responding in the way we would expect them to when it comes to the conditions in our classrooms.”

After repeated requests from Moran and others, the county was able to provide space heaters in classrooms, which brought temperatures up to the low 60s – 68 degrees is considered standard. One parent reported a classroom temperature reading at Samuel Ogle of 49 degrees one morning, she said.

According to Sam Stefanelli, Director of Building Services for Prince George’s County Public Schools, the problem is that the county doesn’t have to money to replace all the failing heat systems at its schools. So, his department must do the best it can to provide temporary fixes.

Priorities are also an issue, he said at the meeting with parents.

“When I have 20 schools that don’t see heat at all, you’re not going to see my mechanics” at places where the temperature problems are less severe, he said. “It’s not that they’re not coming here. But they have to get those (non-working) systems up first. Then they’re working their way to other systems.

“It’s gotten to the point where there’s so many of them, we’re not able to keep up on a daily basis. So, we’re bringing in contractors to try to supplement our work force.”

According to school system documents, there were more than 800 open work orders for heat-related problems inside the county’s 230 school buildings as of last week. Ten of those work orders involved problems at Bowie High School.

Cold classrooms aren’t the only temperature issue. According to Katie Eckenrode, the PTSO president at Bowie High School, some classrooms there are unbearably hot – even during the winter months.

The temperature problems at either extreme are creating a learning environment that is less than ideal, she said.

“I think it seriously impedes your ability to pay attention to a teacher,” she said. “It makes it impossible to focus on the work in front of you. What I’m hot, I’m grouchy. The teachers are grouchy. They’ve been in these classrooms all day long. Research shows that the learning environment is a huge factor in kids’ ability to pay attention to their schoolwork … I just don’t think the research is wrong there.”

The key to fixing the problem is to lobby elected officials for more money from the state for county schools. Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith urged parents at the meeting to email elected officials at the county and state level.

“This is a huge problem – much bigger than any of us suspected,” Valentino-Smith told those at the meeting. “Bowie has a problem, the county has a problem. We’ve got the big picture now.”

Moran and Eckenrode say they need to channel the parental frustration into action and will try to formulate a strategy to convince officials to make necessary changes in the school budget and policy.

“I think tonight we saw a show of real frustration, a real boiling point, where people are saying ‘I can’t take this any more,’ ” Eckenrode said. “Parents need to take that passion and that fire to the governor, to (County Council member) Todd Turner and it needs to be relentless. You can’t let up.”

via Capita Gazzette

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