Monthly Archives: April 2015

Baltimore ‘mother-of-the-year’ goes viral after…

Meet the mom who slapped her son to get him away from Baltimore rioters. CNN’s Jeanne Moos reports on tough love that melted hearts.


Monday’s riots in Baltimore offered a powerful warning about what lies ahead for many countries around the world not just for America if its epidemic of inequality continues. We have seen the same in South Africa “brother against brother” through xenophobic violence. Over 300 people were arrested there. What is going on? But will we understand the message in the chaos? Are countries around the world not just inner city America doing enough?

“A riot is the language of the unheard,” the Rev. Martin Luther King said. What gets lost in translation is the logic that motivates rioters, whose inability to articulate their frustration finds expression in rocks thrown at police, looting neighborhood stores and setting fires. To outside observers, these actions appear irrational and self-defeating, writes David Cay Johnston.

Read more >>> The Cry of the Dispossessed in Baltimore




L.A. Unified delays release of audit on school with ties to candidate


A charter school with ties to L.A. school board candidate Ref Rodriguez is the subject of an audit withheld from public release. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

An audit of a charter school co-founded by a Board of Education candidate has been withheld from public release at the request of a school board member, L.A. Unified district officials have confirmed.

Two well-placed district sources said that the release of the audit was delayed at the request of school board member Monica Garcia, a political ally of candidate Ref Rodriguez. Rodriguez works for the charter organization.

L.A. Unified School District general counsel David Holmquist confirmed that a board member requested the delay, but would not specify which one.

Garcia did not respond to attempts to reach her through her staff and email.

Rodriguez would not comment until he had reviewed the document, his campaign manager said.

Insiders who read the audit said it was not overly critical of the school and that the charter’s management agreed with many findings. The audit faults the charter for failing to consistently follow some required business practices, they said.

Lakeview Charter Academy is among the local campuses run by PUC Schools, which have a generally solid reputation as academically sound and popular with parents.

Senior district officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said a board member wanted the audit handled in private because it could result in litigation. It’s permissible under state law to keep discussions about potential litigation confidential.

>>> Read more

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Councilmember gets upset after Maxwell leaves worksession


UPPER MARLBORO – Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell decision to leave a county council budget work session early in order to attend a gala has caused one councilmember to signal she may vote “no” to tax increases next month.

County Councilmember Karen Toles asked Maxwell about how the additional funding the school system is asking for would help raise graduation rates around the county, but Maxwell said he would leave it up to Ray Brown, the school system’s chief financial officer, to answer Toles’ questions.

“I’m more troubled by your boss leaving because it shows the council doesn’t get respect,” Toles said. “I’m not the one asking for $1.9 billion – he is. And that just, really, it increases my no even further.”

Toles said she felt disrespected by Maxwell leaving the work session before it adjourned because she and her colleagues had been meeting with various departments since 10 a.m. She said her colleagues had previous engagements as well, and she understands that, but the budget must be done.

“We’re all in this together, and sometimes our schedules will run together. We’re all having schedules run together. I wanted him to stick around for the discussion – it probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer,” Toles said.

The council and other officials are at a heightened stress level with what is going on, Toles said, and emotions can run high. Toles said their discussions were important and she did not want to feel like Maxwell was walking out when the stakes were high.

“When you’re talking about laying off county employees, that is important to me. These are people who make the government run,” Toles said. “And these are also budgets that we don’t really control. Once we give the money, they can say what they are going to do with the money, but we have to make sure that we stay the course and we have these conversations because this is an unprecedented amount of money.”

Should this funding not go through, Maxwell said, the school system will not have the means necessary to meet the goals of its strategic plan. He said they will have to reprioritize as a school system, even if the state is granted the rest of the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) funding from the governor’s office.

The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 183, which says the governor should fully grant GCEI funding to all jurisdictions in Maryland instead of cutting the funding at 50 percent as originally proposed in his state budget.

“Pretty much none of this is going to happen (if we aren’t funded) and the expansion of some of the programs that we already have in place is not going to happen,” Maxwell said. “If we achieve half then we’ll have to go back and reprioritize that. It’s going to affect the outcome that we were asked to produce – that’s the bottom line.”

Deputy Superintendant Monique Davis said the school system will use the money it has requested to help improve graduation rates in the county and bring them to a high level according to the school system’s new strategic plan, which has a goal of making PGCPS a top 10 school system in the state by the year 2020.

“We have a target of 3 to 5 percent in graduation rate for most of our high schools. Most of our high schools made that 3 percent last year and that is how we got the increase for the county,” Davis said.

Davis said graduation rates are on the radar; the school board is looking to use state help to continue to increase graduation rates.

The school system has been funded more than $300 million in increases over the last four years, Toles said, and needs to have results to show for it. Toles said the council talks with public safety about staying under on their overtime pay expenses at $20 million, but crime has dramatically reduced and the county is seeing results.

“We know public safety crime has gone down. The numbers reflect it. We can see what they have done, we see the results of them doing more with less,” Toles said. “But if we’re getting on them for doing more with less, I want to know what (the school system) is doing with their money.”

The previous night, in a town listening session at Dwight Eisenhower Middle School in Laurel, Dr. Alvin Thornton, Chairman of the Commission on Education Finance, Equity and Excellence, said citizens need to write letters to the governor’s office granting the jurisdiction the rest of the GCEI funding.

“The legislature has ended, but the governor still has to make a decision. He should give in to you as citizens and release those funds,” Thornton said.

via Prince George’s county sentinel


New CPS boss suspends $20.5 million contract that is part of federal probe.

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Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, shown at a Chicago Board of Education meeting May 28, 2014, worked for the SUPES Academy before being hired at CPS. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune)

Acting Chicago schools boss Jesse Ruiz announced Wednesday that the district was suspending payment on a $20.5 million no-bid contract at the center of a federal criminal probe, but he also defended his own vote for the 2013 deal in his role as vice president of the Chicago Board of Education.

Speaking at the first board meeting since news of the investigation broke last week, both Ruiz and board President David Vitale sought to calm concerns over their support of the controversial contract with an executive-training company tied to schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. She took a leave of absence Monday amid the federal probe, and Ruiz was chosen to become acting CEO.

>>> Read more 

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Leaders discuss importance of women’s equality at the Nile Basin


Women play a vital role in the use, management, and supply of resources such as water, food, and energy at community and household levels in all the Nile Basin countries. However, they are often overlooked in decision-making and planning processes. What would a Nile Basin look like if its women were fully empowered, and how do their challenges relate to broader regional gender issues?

The Female Perspectives on the Nile, presented by the UMD School of Public Policy and Artist Partner Program, will talk about just that at noon on Monday at the Van Munching Hall at the UMD School of Public Policy Atrium.

Join several female musicians from Nile Project Collective, along with Prof. Sahar Khamis, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and an Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Women’s Studies and the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity at the University of Maryland, Prof. Chloe Schwenke, McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, with moderator Prof. Stacy Kosko, Assistant Director, Minor in International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland..

This event is part of The Clarice’s presentation of The Nile Project. A free lunch will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The event if free, but RSVP is requested. For more information, visit or call 301-405-2787.



“If she is to be equally efficient with her
brother for work in the world,
a girl must be given equal
chances with him…”Baden-Powell


CASA holds rally in support of deportation deferral.

Executive action would affect approximately 16,000 undocumented county residents


Maya Ledezma Dominguez of Hyattsville said she has been living with the fear of being deported while her 7-year-old American-born daughter was at school.

“I imagine what would happen if my daughter were alone by herself,” Dominguez said through a translator provided by immigrant advocacy nonprofit CASA.

Speaking at a rally held April 16 at CASA headquarters in Langley Park, Dominquez said she and her husband, who are both undocumented, hope to apply for deportation relief through the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DOPA, program, created by President Barack Obama’s executive action in November.

Shouting “Si se puede,” Spanish for “Yes we can,” roughly 500 people attended the CASA rally in support of DOPA and another executive action, which extended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The DACA extension would include children who came into the country before 2010.

A temporary injunction preventing implementation of DAPA and DACA was issued by Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in February blocking the program while a lawsuit challenging the program proceeds.

>>> Read more 



Forestville Military Academy “Community Day” Invitation.


Sharing Our “Sparkle” With Our Village!!!

“Community Day”

To Celebrate the Accomplishments of

Our Cadets/Students!! Staff!! The School!!

*Community Circle * Vendors Circle*

* Children’s Circle * Food Court *

*Featured School and Community Performances*

*Farmer’s Market * Onsite Parking*


 Vendors –


Sharon R. Sims, PTSA President

Forestville Military Academy/ H.S./Academy of Military Sciences

7001-Beltz Way, Forestville Maryland, 20748

Sharon R. Sims, PTSA President
Forestville Military Academy/ H.S./Academy of Military Sciences
7001-Beltz Way, Forestville Maryland, 20748



Baker endorses Van Hollen while majority of Council endorses Edwards.

Rep. Donna Edwards

Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-4)


Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-8)

County Executive Rushern Baker III and the County Council may find themselves at odds once again.

Baker announced last Wednesday he has endorsed Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-8) for the U.S. Senate in the upcoming 2016 election, but some members of the County Council have chosen to go a different route and elected to endorse Donna Edwards (D-4).

Baker said he chose to endorse Van Hollen rather than Edwards, a Prince George’s County representative and native, because of their experience working together in the state legislature. The two have a history of working together, he said, and “rolling up [their] sleeves” on difficult issues.

“That’s the type of relationship I’ve had with Senator (Barbara) Mikulski. I know that Chris, going over to the Senate, will do that,” Baker said. “It was an easy decision in this respect. I don’t just know him as a name or as a congressman—I know him personally and I know the working relationship.”

However, all members of the Prince George’s County Council except for Councilman Todd Turner and Councilwoman Deni Taveras announced their support for Edwards at Prince George’s County Community College Wednesday.

Edwards thanked the council members for their support and said she looks forward to working with them at the Senate level.

“I am thrilled to stand with my partners on the Prince George’s County Council,” Edwards said. “Together, we have worked tirelessly to improve education, expand economic development, and stand up for our seniors. I thank them for their support, and look forward to continue working with them in the United States Senate.”

Mel Franklin, Chairman of the Prince George’s County Council, said he will stand with Edwards as works to stand in Senator Mikulski’s “trailblazing” shoes in her senate seat.

“Donna’s experiences and values have made her who she is today, a principled, progressive fighter with a unique, proven record of improving the lives of working families,” Franklin said. “That is what she has done in Prince George’s County, and that is what she will do for all Marylanders.”

Van Hollen said he is happy to have the support of Baker, as well as Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett who also attended the press conference where Baker made his announcement.

Van Hollen represents Congressional District 8, which used to include part of Prince George’s County as recently as 2013. In Congress, Van Hollen said he has done his best to give citizens the best opportunities to “live the American dream.”

>>> Read more 


Prince George’s County Council

Rushern Baker - Appears to be driving corruption to new heights

County Executive Rushern Baker III



Board of Education for Prince George’s County violates Open Meetings Act.


UPPER MARLBORO – The Prince George’s County Board of Education will announce at its next meeting it violated the Open Meetings Act after the Open Meetings Compliance Board (OMCB) ruled the Board’s staff failed to provide copies of minutes to a county resident.

Thea Scarato, an activist who opposes cell phone towers, said she was attempting to track the history of the school system’s cell phone tower policy by making open records requests and looking through minutes of meetings by the school board and its subsidiary committees.

However, when Scarato went to the Board office to look at the minutes, she was told by a staff member she needed to speak to the Board’s counsel. Scarato then called the counsel, according to the OMCB’s opinion, who told her the school system was still processing a previous Maryland Public Information Act for copies of the minutes. Scarato said she had only filed the MPIA request because she had called three days before her visit to see the minutes, but was told by staff she had to file a formal MPIA request in writing.

“It shouldn’t be this difficult to get information,” Scarato said. “It’s no wonder people are not getting involved because it’s not easy to be.”

Scarato said she sought the assistance of Craig O’Donnell, an activist and former reporter for the Kent County News who has filed several previous Open Meetings complaints with the OMCB.

In his complaint, O’Donnell said the school board failed to provide him with records upon request, but the OMCB ruled that O’Donnell was using the Open Meetings complaint process to subvert the MPIA process.

“We inform complainant that our authority extends only to Open Meetings Act matters and that we will not address Public Information Act disputes,” the OMCB wrote in its ruling.

O’Donnell also complained that the Board did not meet the OMA’s requirement that at least one employee or officer meeting the law’s training requirement. The (OMCB) ruled in O’Donnell’s favor, and the Board pledged to come into compliance.

“The Board of Education has come into compliance with the Act,” said Sherrie Johnson, spokesperson for Prince George’s County Public Schools. “(Board administrator) Erica Berry has been re-trained as the Board’s designee.”

According to PGCPS, Board members Carolyn Boston, Zabrina Epps, Verjeana Jacobs, Beverly Anderson and Dinora Hernandez have received training from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE). Three other school system employees also received training in Open Meetings from MABE.

The OMCB also ruled the school board failed to provide open inspection of its minutes during ordinary business hours.

“Those minutes should have been provided to Ms. Scarato when she appeared,” the OMCB wrote in its opinion. “At the same time, it is too bad that no one told her at the outset that if she needed the minutes quickly she should begin by appearing at the office. Unfortunately, by the time she visited the office, the waters had been muddied by complainant’s and her own multiple Public Information Act requests to the school board. Just to add to the confusion, she arrived at the school board’s office on a day in which staff were preparing for a board meeting that night and before staff had found a flash drive on which some minutes had been kept.”

O’Donnell said he was not surprised by the ruling and he thinks all public bodies should make all of their minutes available online. He also said he does not think public information should be so difficult to access.

“You argue with lawyers over minutes but the public is entitled to them, so why are we having this argument?” O’Donnell said. “…It’s annoying to have to be such a stickler about these things.”

Johnson said the Board received the OMCB opinion on March 27 and will announce it violated the OMA at its next meeting on Thursday.

“While the Board was found to be in violation on the official OMA training requirement, the Open Meetings Compliance Board acknowledged on page 5 of their opinion: ‘We note from MABE’s website that MABE’s class is an hour longer than two live courses specified by the Act and is focused on the issues that school boards might encounter. This is not a matter in which a public body’s members have been operating without any training in the Act,’” Johnson said in an email.

Board Chairman Segun Eubanks said he takes time before each meeting to ensure that the agenda and minutes are in compliance with the OMA. Despite the OMCB’s ruling, he said he is glad the Board has met the training requirements.

O’Donnell said he is glad the Board has come into compliance because it means they might improve future situations where people ask to see minutes because he does not want to see people go through the hassle Scarato went through.

Scarato, on the other hand, said she thinks more training needs to be done.

“Someone who is in charge needs to know what they are doing and how to do it,” Scarato said.

Though he encourages all board members to undergo training, he did not say he would make it a requirement for all board members.

“We take our responsibility for transparency very seriously and I always make sure we are well within compliance, Eubanks said.

He promised to continue meeting with Berry and the Board’s counsel to monitor compliance with the law.