Tag Archives: David

Maryland middle school cancels play but now says the show might go on


For months, students at Hyattsville Middle School in Maryland practiced for their spring musical. They recited lines, learned songs and imagined the world of the spelling bee contestants who were at the heart of their show.

Then, just before spring break, performances of the “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” were canceled with little explanation — setting off a wave of concern and criticism from parents who questioned whether the decision was related to gay characters in the musical.

“This is Hyattsville, Maryland, in 2019, and I can’t believe that is a reason,” said Elizabeth Tornquist, whose daughter was rehearsing for the show in the Prince George’s County school.

By Tuesday evening, school officials had agreed to revisit the issue, saying they would look into whether it would suffice to simply let people know the show was for more mature audiences so that they could decide whether to bring younger children.

School officials also said they would go back to the licensing agent for the Broadway hit to ask again about modifying language they said contributed to a decision that the musical was not appropriate for middle school.

None of the changes being requested involve eliminating the gay characters, they said, despite chatter on social media.

“I know that there was a rumor and a concern, but we’re not seeking to remove gay characters, nor was the play canceled because of gay characters,” schools spokeswoman Raven Hill said.

Parents gathered at Hyattsville Middle for a meeting Tuesday, demanding answers for the abrupt cancellation. A small group protested before the meeting, bearing signs with messages that included, “The Show Must Go On!” and “Three Months of Work For Nothing?”

Robert Kapler, whose 13-year-old daughter was involved in the musical as part of the school’s creative and performing arts program, said he was dismayed to hear of the show being halted so close to curtain time.

“She would wake up and practice,” he said. “She practiced after school, and she practiced at night. She practiced her singing. She practiced her dancing. She practiced her lines.”

“My main concern is that they’re shutting down something that should have been allowed to go forward because they put so much work into it,” he said.

The issue hit a nerve in Hyattsville, a community that many say prides itself on being diverse, welcoming and LGBTQ-friendly.

School officials sent a letter to parents in mid-April, abruptly canceling a show not long from opening.

“Unfortunately we have decided to cancel the Spring Musical dates of May 2nd, 3rd and 4th,” the letter said, adding that a parent meeting would be held Tuesday to answer “any of your questions, comments or concerns.”

Some parents complained that they went through spring break without knowing why the show was being stopped.

Justine Christianson, president of the school’s PTSO, said she had received an email Tuesday morning from Monica Goldson, interim chief executive of the Prince George’s school system, saying the cancellation came after teachers expressed concerns about “the extended use of profanity” in the musical.

That email said the play’s content had been reviewed by school officials who decided to cancel the play because copyright laws did not permit a change in language.

“It was then deemed more appropriate for high school and not middle school,” the message from Goldson said. It added that school system officials would create a process for approval of plays before students begin practicing “to ensure this does not happen again.”

At the parent meeting Tuesday, school officials mentioned a number of concerns — with racial humor, sexual innuendo and what one described as some “cuss words.”

Parents pressed to know more about when and how concerns had arisen — and where the process had gone wrong.

“This play is two weeks out. . . . I find it completely unacceptable,” one mother said.

The decision to revisit the issue came after a student who was at the gathering suggested the disclaimer about more mature content, so families could decide if the show was suitable for the very young.

A school board member, Pamela Boozer-Strother, who represents the area and attended the meeting, supported the disclaimer.

“It was something that had been on my mind,” she said later. “I was glad the student asked it, and she was able to take us in a new direction of a solution that may be possible.”

The school system said it would report back within two days about whether the show will go on, Boozer-Strother said.

“I don’t think the reasons for all of this were made very clear, but I am glad there is a way forward and that the students don’t feel all of their hard work was for nothing,” Christianson said.

Karl Kippola, a professor and director of the theater and musical theater program at American University in Washington, directed a campus production of the musical. He called it a “lovely” show — lighthearted and irreverent but also moving as it depicts the struggles of young spelling bee contestants.

He said one contestant’s gay parents appear briefly, and there are a couple of instances of mild profanity “but not anything that people have not heard in school before.”

Jesus is invoked in an exclamation, he said — which leads to the appearance of an actor dressed as Jesus, who gives the speller advice.

“The idea that people would be offended by it, that seems to be a little bit of a stretch,” he said. He said he could not call it a safe, traditional pick for a middle school but could see how students would find it fun to work on.

“It would be something they could relate to much more personally and directly,” he said. “Above all, the musical is funny and it makes the problems accessible but not overwhelming.”

He added: “People who are looking to be offended can find something offensive in it, but I think you can do that with most musicals.”

Via Washington Post 


Swamp Watch:Bill Would Make Background Checks by School Officials Rigorous


The Maryland General Assembly is deliberating legislation to stiffen the background checks conducted by public school districts.

The bill is gaining supporters and poised to be approved by the state House of Delegates, multiple officials told the News4 I-Team. It was introduced months after an I-Team investigation revealed loopholes in the safety net that protects public school children from abuse by predatory teachers.

The bill sponsored by Del. C.T. Wilson, D-Charles County, requires school districts contact prior employers listed by job applicants before hiring those applicants. It also requires teachers to confirm in writing that they’ve never been the subject of a child abuse investigation, unless the investigation found the allegations to be false.

“We don’t do the proper background checks,” Wilson said. “We only do a criminal background check, which is pretty useless in these matters.”

He said the bill provides civil liability from lawsuits for school administrators who release records about substantiated sexual misconduct investigations involving former employees. It also bans non-disclosure agreements between schools and teachers involving child abuse investigations.

Wilson said his bill offers much needed protections.

“I know (teachers) support this bill, because this is about them,” he said. “They don’t want to be viewed as the enemy, because they’re not. But there are a few bad apples, and they spoil the whole barrel.”

A 2018 investigation by the I-Team revealed a music teacher who’d lost his job in Florida — for sending text messages with sexual language to a female student — avoided detection and later found work in two Maryland public school districts. Among the revelations in I-Team report: The two Maryland school districts acknowledged they don’t contact all prior employers for background information about teachers who apply for jobs.

University of Maryland law student Kevin Redden testified on behalf of the bill before the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee in mid-February. Redden said the legislation will help flag teachers who have groomed children for possible misconduct.

“It’s a preemptive strike. It helps principals, teachers and parents identify individuals,” Redden said. “It would tip off principals not to hire these individuals.”

“The Maryland State Education Association supports this legislation to prevent child sex abuse and misconduct in our schools. We are working closely with Del. Wilson to strengthen the bill so educators are empowered to police their own profession and make sure anyone who commits these horrible actions never works in a school again,” said a Maryland State Education Association spokesman. The organization represents public school teachers throughout the state.

via NBC4


Driver recalls crash with embattled Md. council member.


Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) (Mark Gail/For The Washington Post)

Prince George’s County paid nearly $7,000 to the owner of a sport-utility vehicle that Council member Mel Franklin rear-ended in 2012 while driving a county-issued SUV.

Gerardo Loredo said he was heading home to New Jersey when the GMC Yukon he was driving was struck from behind by Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) on the Capital Beltway. The impact injured Loredo’s brother and propelled the vehicle about 30 feet forward, crunching its frame.

It was the second of at least three collisions involving county-issued vehicles driven by Franklin over the past four years, county records show.

The most recent incident was Nov. 21, when Franklin was charged with driving under the influence after his vehicle smashed into the rear of a sedan with two people inside and the second-term lawmaker tested above the legal alcohol limit.

Franklin has declined repeated requests this week to discuss any of the collisions.

In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday, Loredo said that he, his brother and his son were headed north on I-495 around 7 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2012, when Franklin’s vehicle collided with theirs.

Loredo said he was unnerved when he realized the car that hit his was a government vehicle. He said that Franklin initially identified himself as a police officer, said not to worry and that he would call 911.

Franklin denied Loredo’s recollection through his attorney, Theresa Moore. “Mr. Franklin never indicated he was a police officer,” Moore said in an emailed statement. He “called 911, waited for officers to arrive and the matter was handled as any other minor motor vehicle accident.”

Loredo said he did not tell police officers who responded to the collision that Franklin had introduced himself as a member of their ranks.

“I wasn’t thinking about that,” he said. “I was focused on getting to my brother, who they took to the hospital, and going home.”

He said he did share the detail with his brother-in-law, Oscar Menes, who was the owner of the GMC Yukon Loredo was driving. Menes confirmed Loredo’s account in an interview.

Menes said the damage to the 11-year-old Yukon could not be repaired. Three months after the collision, the county sent him a check for $6,800 — the Kelly Blue Book value of the vehicle.

 “It was a nightmare,” Menes said. “I had no idea what was going on, and I kept calling my insurance to check. I sent them the crash report that showed the other guy was at fault.”

The SUV Franklin was driving was also totaled. It cost the county more than $33,000 to replace.

Franklin was not cited for any violations in connection with the collision, according to the report filed by Prince George’s County police officers. Police spokeswoman Jennifer Donelan said Friday that such decisions are left to the reporting officer’s discretion.

The difficulty with accidents is that without an independent witness, they can be hard to prosecute,” Donelan said.

The officer who wrote the report told officials this week that he does not recall the crash, Donelan said, and did not know he was dealing with a council member.

Via Washington PostCewlqwEXIAA-xKw


Arrest made in shooting that left 1 PGCPS & 1 DCPS teens dead, 4 injured


Police arrested 22-year-old Bravon Freeman of Southeast D.C.

PRINCE GEORGE’S CO., MD – According to WUSA9, a man has been arrested in connection to a shooting that left a 14-year-old and a 18-year-old dead.

Police arrested 22-year-old Bravon Freeman of Southeast D.C.

On Saturday, police responded to the 6800 block of Walker Mill Road in Capitol Heights after reports of a shooting. When they arrived, officers found six victims in a parking lot.

Todd James Webb Jr., 14, and Brian Davis, 18, were pronounced dead on the scene. Davis was a star athlete at Roosevelt Senior High School in Northwest D.C.

According to police, Freeman and the six victims were outside watching a dice game when for unknown reasons, a suspect(s) started to shoot into the group. That is when Davis was killed.

A short time later, police said Freeman went inside the building, got a gun and shot and killed Webb.

Three of the four other victims are doing better and one person remains in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Freeman was arrested and is charged with first and second degree murder. He is in the custody of the Department of Corrections being held on a no bond status.

Police are working to identify the suspect(s) who shot and killed Davis.

A gofundme page has been set up for Todd Webb. His sister told the press he wanted to be a police officer. Click this link to help his family. 

Another gofundme page has been set up for Brian Davis who lived in Northwest Washington D.C. and attended Roosevelt Senior High School.  Click this link to help his family as well.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Homicide Unit at 301-772-4925. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), text “PGPD plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) on your cell phone or go to http://www.pgcrimesolvers.com and submit a tip online.


Brian Davis, 18 (Left) and Todd James Webb Jr (Right), were pronounced dead on the scene.

>>>Read more

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Peace of God Transcends ALL.


Psalm 146:3

‘Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.’

  • We can be tempted to misplace our trust and look to humans for help.
  • We may even think that powerful people can open doors for us.
  • But there is only One who can open a door that no one can shut.
  • There is only One who has your best interests at heart.

PRAYER: Lord, we place our confidence and trust in You and You alone. Help us to be like David, who trusted in You alone and destroyed the giant in the process. Amen.

Have an empowered rest of the week.


Reform Sasscer Movement Secretariat for Prince George’s County


“For God so loved the World that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~ Jesus Christ