Monthly Archives: December 2017

Happy Holidays from Reform Sasscer.

Dear Friends:

Reform Sasscer Team Wishes you and your loved ones, happy holidays and great success and joy in 2018.

For many years now, since the founding of Reform Sasscer Movement,  we have been an optimistic voice in suggesting that the forces of corruption can be effectively countered, indeed they will. But events in recent times have left many of us at year’s end with a less optimistic perspective in many ways.

We encourage the county citizens to be on the look out and to join forces with people of the world to create proper changes in 2018.

Very best wishes,
Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County


One of our favorite holiday tunes is the Christmas Canon, and there are a few different versions of it. This is the one we playing today… They are such talent and powerful show indeed.

Eat well and enjoy the holidays!image14



Man Arrested After Trespassing in PGCPS and MCPS, Stealing in Maryland Schools: Police


Tracee Wilkins reports on an unsettling case that led to an arrest Friday morning. A man walked into several schools — during the school day — and steal from teacher’s purses. Watch for more.
(Published Friday, Dec. 22, 2017)

A Germantown man was arrested after exposing serious security flaws in area schools by entering schools, walking among students and stealing from teachers.

Nakym John Sheffield was arrested Friday. Police accused Sheffield entering at least eight private and public schools in Prince George’s County. He would walk the hallways, sometimes with students present.

Students were in the schools as Sheffield trespassed onto the property. Police say he would target unlocked classrooms. Once inside, he took credit and debit cards out of teachers’ purses, police say.

“It’s an egregious act to go into schools, where you have children and educators that are teaching our children, to steal from them,” Detective Charles Earle said.

Sheffield then took the credit cards to stores including Giant, Safeway and Target, where he charged thousands of dollars to the teacher’s accounts.

Most of the teachers didn’t realize the theft until their banks contacted them, Earle said.

Teachers were targeted at Elizabeth Seaton High School, Bladensburg Elementary, Templeton Elementary and International High School in Bladensburg, among others.

Sheffield was charged with a number of credit card theft charges in Montgomery County after a similar string of thefts. In that case, 11 women who worked at nine different schools or childcare centers had their purses or wallets taken while at work.

He was arrested in July and released in September on $3,000 bond, according to police records. Prosecutors decided not to pursue seven charges against Sheffield related to credit card theft, court records indicate. He’s on probation for similar charges in Charles County.

He faces new charges in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

Secret Service, Prince George’s County Police, Bowie Police and Montgomery County Police all assisted the Bladensburg Police Department in the arrest.

Sheffield is a published author who wrote the book “Admire My Style.” On his Facebook page, he has posted pictures of himself next to expensive cars or in high-end stores, including Louis Vuitton.

“We’re just glad that none of the teachers approached him or none of the students approached him inside the schools. This could have turned to go violent.”

Via NBC4Man_Arrested_Accused_of_Stealing_from_Teachers_Purses.jpg


Parental Involvement Meeting Scheduled – December 30, 2017 at Bowie.

We have booked a room for Saturday Dec 30th, 2017 at the safeway Superstore at Bowie. The meeting will start From 10am to 12pm to discussion Educational issues in Maryland and Prince George’s County in Particular. 



4101 Northview Dr, Bowie, MD 20716
(301) 262-7992

Agendas for meeting-

  1.  Advocacy for TAG and IB programs within the schools.
  2. Better Ways for fight against corruption in Maryland. (Grade change scandal, physical and sexual abuse, mistreatment of children, and other issues done by Administration).
  3. focus on the next legislative session in Annapolis. And the PG County delegation bills.
  4. Seek support to help send 30 PGCPS students to Boston next April for the Harvard University Medical school diversity STEM conference.
  5. Seeking support for cases already in litigation.
  6. Improving communication with the administration to better serve the county.
  7. Other.

parent-engagement (1)


Police investigating large brawl at Suitland High School


– Prince George’s County Public Schoolsofficials are taking action after a weapon was brandished during a school fight.

According to district officials, the incident happened after school Tuesday at Suitland High School.

The large fight was captured on video and sent to FOX 5. In the video, several students are seen punching each other while others film with their cell phones.

School district officials tell FOX 5 the students planned the fight and positioned themselves between buses so they were not immediately seen by security officers in the area. Once the school’s security officers saw the fight, they broke it up.

According to a letter emailed to parents, a weapon was used during the brawl and three people got hurt.

FOX 5 showed the video to several parents at Suitland High School who said they hadn’t seen the email.

“It’s scary,” said one parent. “I mean, it’s something to think about. To have my daughter come here every day and deal with stuff like this.”

“Wow,” said another parent reacting to the video. “It’s rough. It’s rough.”

District officials tell FOX 5 the students involved have been identified and will be disciplined. According to the student code of conduct, that discipline could range from suspension to expulsion. At least one person could be facing charges for the weapon.

Prince George’s County police confirmed the school’s special police officer (SPO) responded to the incident and not the school resource officer (SRO).

The SRO is employed through the police department, whereas the SPO is employed through the school. Both have the ability to file charges.

via Fox5DC



assess_programs_wordweb-013Monday January 8, 2018

9:30 A.M. Room 120
to House Appropriations
5:00 P.M. Committee Room
House Office Building
6 Bladen Street
Annapolis, MD

Subject: Work session.
(Full agenda will be posted online prior to the meeting.)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT: Rachel Hise or Erika Schissler, Dept. of
Legislative Services
Telephone: 410-946-5510



Nashville public schools administrator resigns amid harassment investigation


Moreno E. Carrasco came from Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where he worked in the Office for School Support. He was the Executive Officer for Priority schools in the Metro Nashville Public Schools before resigning.

According to Tennessean,  a Nashville schools administrator under investigation for harassment by the district announced his resignation on Friday, adding that he would also retire from education entirely. He was part the team which transferred corruption in Tennessee. We covered their story here previously.

Moreno Carrasco, Metro Nashville Public Schools executive officer of organizational development, said the allegations against him were unfounded, but the investigation had drained him.

“It has been very hard for me,” Carrasco said in a telephone interview in which he also confirmed he would be retiring. “This has been the hardest challenge of my life. I stand by my innocence. I did not do anything wrong.”

Carrasco has worked in education for 34 years. He earned $155,000 at Metro Schools.

The district placed Carrasco on administrative leave on Nov. 16 following allegations he harassed female employees. In the letter sent to him by the district’s human resources office about the accusations, it said the leave was procedural.

► More: Nashville schools administrator placed on leave amid harassment allegations

“Please know that this period of administrative leave is not a form of disciplinary action, it is just for the purpose of the investigation,” Scott Lindsey, executive director of employee relations, said in the letter.

The district will continue its investigation until the process is concluded, district spokeswoman Michelle Michaud said.

Carrasco, in the interview, questioned the investigation, calling the process flawed.

“I am concerned that I was setup in a way where I couldn’t defend myself,” he said.

He said he has no interest in fighting the district legally.

“I have no interest in fighting this because it would be painful for everyone and it would be disruptive to the district,” he said. “I don’t think it is necessary to fight this. I only regret that I end my career with false a allegation.”

A statement from the district at the time said it takes all such complaints seriously and immediately began an investigation.

Carrasco’s position is overseen by the Human Resources chief, but he was hired in July 2016 as the district’s priority schools officer.

He was one of several Metro Nashville Public Schools administrators that the state flagged earlier this year for not obtaining his Tennessee administrative license upon his move from Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools. He had since received an administrative license.

Read more>>> A Look at How PGCPS Executives transferred Corruption to Tennessee.


Former Professor Alleges Hostile Work Environment


Charlene Dukes was sued for allegations of showing bias and racist tendencies in Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) after her staff engaged in retaliation. The case is current pending in Federal Court.

A former Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) professor is suing the institution for what he calls a culture of favoritism and hostility. Frank Phillips taught public relations at the school from 1997-2016, when he retired to avoid being dismissed for performance that did “not meet college standards and is, in fact, unsatisfactory.”

According to Phillips, his firing was a direct result of retaliation that occurred after he filed complaints about unfair scheduling and inquired about illegal grade changes made for two students in the school’s communication and theatre department. He also alleges the department’s former chairwoman, Tammy O’Donnell, coerced students to write letters bashing his teaching abilities. O’Donnell, who is no longer employed by PGCC, did not respond to the AFRO’s request for comment.

“I noticed the hostility and scheduling inequities in fall 2012, but the retaliation occurred after filing a grievance in March 2015,” said Phillips, an Army veteran and former press secretary for Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). “There were no negative employment actions prior to this time. Faculty evaluations were at least ‘meets expectations’ and student evaluations were well above average.”

Phillips claims O’Donnell approached at least two students during the Fall 2015 semester and urged them to file complaints attacking his teaching style and personal character. In return, Phillips alleges O’Donnell boosted grades from a C to a B for a female student, and a B to an A on two incidences for a male student. Phillips said he was not aware of the changes until another student inquired about rumors that classmates received higher grades without merit.

“Three students in my PRJ 2210 class approached me with concerns. They were very adamant about ensuring I knew they were not part of an attempt to write a letter of complaint about me. I was surprised, but I later assured the students that I was ok with it, but I would have preferred if students just shared their concerns with me,” Phillips said. “I told them I am here for students and that I don’t hold grudges. All three of those students have made statements confirming a conspiracy between Ms. O’Donnell and others to have me removed.”

A student present for Phillips’ public relations course said she believes O’Donnell and other members of the faculty were involved in a “conspiracy to get [Phillips] out.”

“They were trying to recruit people to say something negative about Mr. Phillips, but nobody had anything to say,” the student, who wished to remain anonymous, told the AFRO. “He maintained his professionalism the whole way through. Even with the nasty e-mails [the administration] was sending him.”

Documents reviewed by the AFRO show O’Donnell did, in fact, sign a grade change approval form during the Fall 2015 semester. The form cited “grade miscalculated” as the reason for the change. In most cases, the student’s instructor signs the grade change approval form, not the chair of the department, Phillips said.

The AFRO also reviewed numerous e-mails, text messages, grievance reports and other school documentation showing Carolyn F. Hoffman, the school’s dean of liberal arts; Charlene Dukes, president; Alonia Sharps, chief of staff; and Sandra Dunnington, vice president of academic affairs, were all made aware of the grade change, which allegedly occurred without Phillips’ knowledge.

Phillips suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and said hostile exchanges with O’Donnell, Dunnington, and Hoffman triggered “anxieties that take me back to places I care not to remember.” Phillips also alleges he was unable to complete doctoral studies due to an overwhelming course load deliberately created by O’Donnell.

Marcia Pearl, a former assistant professor of visual communications at PGCC, said she also experienced intimidation, harassment and racism at the hands of school officials during her 11-year tenure. Pearl claims a White administrator in the Art, Music and Philosophy Department regularly made racially insensitive jokes and referred to her as “Buckwheat” while calling Black students “niggers.” After the administrator and another White colleague continued to call Pearl “Buckwheat,” she filed a grievance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and wrote a letter of complaint to Dukes. She said PGCC did little to address the complaint and she resigned from her position at the school in 2015.

According to PGCC’s most recent “Performance Accountability Report,” three-fourths of its students identified as Black and 8.6 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino. When asked if she thought school officials corroborated to oust Phillips, Pearl adamantly said, “yes.”

“It’s obvious to me that both Carolyn Hoffman, dean of Liberal Arts, and Tammy O’Donnell worked to undermine professor Phillips’ classroom authority. As a faculty member, I experienced unwarranted sanctions leveled against me by Dean Hoffman and others following the filing of my complaint of racial harassment and discrimination. As such, I am familiar with their unethical tactics.”

Phillips’ initially filed a lawsuit against Dukes and Board Chair Samuel Parker, Jr. on June 9 for employment discrimination. The lawsuit is still pending in Maryland District Court. You can review it here ~~~>>COMPLAINT

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education’s website, PGCC’s graduation rates are sluggish at 7 percent and well below the national median. A report issued by the Department of Education and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found full-time community college students graduate at a rate of 39 percent. “The system totally failed. It failed for me, definitely,” said Phillips. “It’s failing for the students. Their objectives don’t seem to be in line with cultivating our future.”

Via Afro News


Frank J. Phillips, former Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) professor. (Screengrab from YouTube video)



In ‘Operation Dry Saloon,’ FBI confronted Md. delegate with bribery


Former Maryland delegate Michael Vaughn (D), right, and his attorney William Purpura leave federal court in Greenbelt in March after an early proceeding in his case. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

A former Maryland state delegate facing federal corruption charges was confronted last year by FBI agents in a hotel room decorated with poster-size surveillance photos purportedly showing him collecting bribes — a meeting that occurred the same morning he allegedly accepted a $5,000 cash kickback bundled up in a rubber band.

The new details in the Prince George’s County liquor board scandal emerged after attorneys for Michael Lynn Vaughn filed a court motion in his ongoing case arguing his statements from the hotel room meeting should be barred at trial because he was not properly informed of his rights during the interrogation.

Federal prosecutors contend the April 12, 2016, meeting at a Holiday Inn in College Park was voluntary and Vaughn didn’t need to be told his rights because he was not officially in government custody at the time.The FBI searched the Board of License Commissioners in Largo, Md., on Jan. 5. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Vaughn, who was a Democratic legislator from Prince George’s County until he resigned in January citing health issues, was one of eight people arrested in connection with a wide-reaching bribery scheme involving the county liquor board, liquor store owners, lobbyists and lawmakers. He is the only one of the eight who plans to go to trial.

In the hotel room, one FBI agent asked Vaughn if he had received something during a breakfast meeting that day and if so, “would Vaughn like to give it to” the agent.

“Vaughn then reached into his pocket, pulled out a bundle of cash wrapped in a rubber band (which contained $5,000), and handed the cash” to the agent, the government’s court filings state.

A judge is set to consider the recent filings Thursday morning at a motions hearing in federal district court in Greenbelt.

Almost a year after the meeting in the hotel, a federal grand jury indicted Vaughn on eight counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and bribery in connection with actions that occurred during his time in office between 2012 and 2016. The government accuses Vaughn of accepting more than $10,000 in cash from liquor store owners in the county in exchange for official actions that would boost their sales. Authorities also accuse Vaughn of misusing campaign funds to cover his personal expenses.

The government alleges liquor store owners paid Vaughn and former state delegate and Prince George’s Council member Will Campos (D) thousands of dollars in exchange for favorable votes on legislation that would help their businesses in a case the government calls Operation Dry Saloon.

[Former Md. State Del. Will Campos pleads guilty to accepting bribes for official favors]

In the court documents filed Nov. 22, Vaughn’s attorneys argue that FBI agents told Vaughn they were taking him to a hotel room to “explain the evidence gathered against him” five days after obtaining search warrants for his house, office and social media accounts. When Vaughn arrived, he found the hotel room was “decorated in evidence gathered by law enforcement, including among many items, poster-size surveillance photos of Mr. Vaughn purportedly taking bribe money.”

The photos were an effort to intimidate him while he was being interrogated, Vaughn’s attorneys assert in court filings. They say he was then interrogated and kept in custody but denied access to a lawyer.

“Specifically, Mr. Vaughn was not advised that he had a right to an attorney prior to speaking to the agents. Notably, part of the planned enforcement action included having an attorney waiting at the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland,” the court filings state. Vaughn’s attorney William B. Purpura “waited four hours after having been appointed to represent Mr. Vaughn. The agents did not inform Mr. Vaughn he had appointed counsel, nor did they contact Mr. Purpura to allow access to Mr. Vaughn.”

Vaughn then spoke to agents without being warned of his right to remain silent, a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights, his lawyers argued.

“A statement taken at a familiar location such as a home is one factor, but not the determining factor in evaluating the totality of the circumstances,” Vaughn’s attorneys wrote. “Mr. Vaughn was taken to a hotel, an unfamiliar location designed and decorated to intimidate him with evidence of his guilt.”

Vaughn’s lawyers did not respond to a request seeking comment on the recent filings.

Assistant U.S. attorney Menaka Kalaskar argued in a court response filed Dec. 11 that Vaughn was not in official government custody at the hotel. FBI agents said they wanted to “explain some of the evidence gathered against Vaughn during the course of an ongoing FBI investigation,” court documents from prosecutors state.

Vaughn, the government argues, was told he could leave at any time at least five times and was offered food, water and bathroom breaks during the interview.

“The defendant knew that he was not in custody, knew that he could leave at anytime, but instead consented to an interview in which he gave incriminating statements,” the government wrote. “Any claim to the contrary is just buyer’s remorse.”

A motion Vaughn’s attorneys filed in June also asked that a judge suppress information collected from wiretaps of his phone numbers and a number associated with state Sen. Doug J.J. Peters (D). Peters has not been charged in the case or named as an investigative target. The motion does not indicate why Peters’s conversations would be of interest.

Bruce Marcus, an attorney representing Peters, said he does not know why Vaughn’s attorneys named his client in the motion.

“There’s no reason for us to know,” Marcus said. “Public defenders are representing Michael Vaughn and they are slinging as much mud as they can sling. As to why they would write stuff, I have no earthly idea.”

Asked if Peters is a target in the investigation, Marcus said that he has “not received any kind of letter or notification to that effect. They don’t really involve us with what their plan is or what their investigation outline is.”

Vaughn is scheduled to go to trial in February.

The payments in the broad bribery case were made through former Prince George’s liquor board director David Son, the government has said.

Liquor store owners Young Paig and Shin Ja Lee, Hyattsville lobbyist Matthew Gorman, Rockville accountant Felix Ayala, Son and Campos have all pleaded guilty in their cases. Former liquor board commissioner Anuj Sud pleaded guilty in the case on Dec. 15.

Via Washington Post


Prince George’s offers plan to tighten grading controls after claims of fraud

MAXWELL-1672x1254Prince George’s County officials will tighten practices for changing student grades, monitoring absenteeism and certifying graduation requirements under a plan that follows an investigation of alleged fraud in graduation rates.

The 40-page plan, slated for discussion by the county school board Tuesday evening, is expected to go to state officials by month’s end, in answer to wide-ranging problems detailed in a state report last month.

That report found nearly 5,500 grade changes in the days before commencement in 2016 and 2017 in the Maryland school system. A sampling of records showed that about 30 percent of students with late grade changes lacked documentation that justified graduation or were clearly ineligible, according to the report.

“We’re making a lot of significant changes,” said Kevin Maxwell, chief executive of the school system, the state’s second-largest. “It’s a serious issue and this is going to help us make sure we are doing everything possible to make sure that our students are ready to graduate on time and that the processes and procedures are followed.”

 The plan calls for stricter controls on access to student records, added training for employees and elimination of controversial “packets” of make-up work given to students hoping to recover from failing grades.

The district will move toward electronic grade-change forms, starting in a handful of schools in spring, to strengthen monitoring. Next school year, graduation certification also will be done electronically, rather than manually through “tally cards” — a change that officials said will improve and automate the process.

The district also will revise procedures for tracking attendance and clarify how unexcused absences will affect student grades. Students in jeopardy of failing a course may still enroll in credit recovery through an online program.

An outside firm will be hired to review how the district of more than 132,000 students has implemented recommended changes. Later, an outside firm will also audit a random selection of student grades and graduation requirements.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered the investigation in Prince George’s after a minority bloc on the school board urged that he look into evidence from whistleblowers that grades and credit counts were manipulated.

A D.C. firm — Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services — conducted the seven-week inquiry, looking into complaints, examining records and doing interviews at the county’s 28 high schools.

[Firm hired to probe graduation rates in Prince George’s County schools]

Four-year graduation rates in Prince George’s climbed from 74.1 percent in 2013 to 81.4 percent in 2016. While the rate is still lower than last year’s state average of 87.6 percent, the gain over that period was the largest of any school system in Maryland.

Maxwell had cited improvement in graduation rates as a signature accomplishment.

In an interview, he said he did not think the changes being made would reduce graduation rates in coming years.

“I certainly hope not,” he said, adding that educators are working hard to make sure students get the support they need.

The state-ordered report that was released in November did not find any improper action was ordered by school system leaders.

Asked what went wrong, Maxwell spoke about longtime procedural issues and high turnover among administrators in schools and the central office. He noted that some schools used out-of-date forms to make grade changes.

Others have said in recent weeks that more investigation is needed.

Edward Burroughs III, a member of the Board of Education’s minority bloc, said this month that the audit did not go far enough. He hinted that there were other complaints that were not explored.

Maxwell said he saw no reason to examine the issue further, calling the investigation a “very, very thorough” review that provided useful information about a serious matter.

Raaheela Ahmed, also a member of the board’s minority bloc, said she thinks accountability for improper action is important but wants to ensure the school system focuses on those who called the shots, not those who may have been pressured.

“I want to make sure the right people are being held accountable for the situation we’re in, and not the foot soldiers,” she said. “It’s a very complex situation, and you don’t want someone to be held responsible for something they were told to do by someone else.”

Curtis Valentine, a member of the board majority on this issue, said he appreciated the urgency Maxwell and other leaders gave to the problems identified in report, adding that they were proactive in addressing issues on credit recovery before the report came out. “This is one step, and I think another step is that parents and educators feel comfortable enough to come forward with any concerns about the implementation of the changes,” he said.

Via Washington post


PGCPS performed internal audit on student records, documents show

– Documents obtained by FOX 5 DC show that more than a year ago, Prince George’s County Public Schools performed its own internal audit that found student records were not being properly maintained as well as “non-compliance with state mandates” pertaining to graduationrequirements.

The existence of the audit reveals top brass at PGCPS knew about deficiencies and problems with records of graduating seniors prior to a state-mandated audit that started over the summer. The state audit was prompted by a FOX 5 investigation into PGCPS staff members claims that teachers were being told to change grades so failing students would graduate, as well as allegations by several board members that there was top down corruption to boost the high school graduation rate.

The PGCPS internal audit has never been made public and was never presented to the full school board.

“It is extremely troubling to know there was a prior audit done that showed we were graduating students that didn’t meet state requirements and our records weren’t properly managed,” said board member Edward Burroughs, one of the members who requested the state audit. “What else don’t we know? Based on this report, it is very clear board leadership is actively withholding information from the full board.”

FOX 5 obtained a nine-page document as well as a 13-page document with a memorandum from the auditor, Michele Winston, to Student Service Associate Superintendent Gwendolyn Mason and Executive Director of Student Services Adrian Talley that details the internal audit findings, recommendations and subsequent action plan.

One recommendation says high school guidance counselors must be required to tally graduation credits for students prior to submitting the list of graduates.

Another states, “(The Office of Student Records, Transfers and Archival Services) should also continue to identify schools with disorganized and incomplete records.”

The internal audit raises new questions about how much schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell knew of the troubles with student records prior to the state audit which showed students are graduating without meeting state requirements.

FOX 5 reached out to PGCPS for a response Monday evening, but still has not heard back. Dr. Kevin Maxwell has agreed to an interview Tuesday afternoon.

A spokesperson for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker says he did not know about the prior internal audit.

Via Fox5DC