Friday, February 15, 2019

Elementary Redistricting Information

Is your child going to be affected by the elementary school redistricting for the 19/20 school year?

Sixteen of the 21 elementary school zones will change next school year with the opening of Billinglsey Elementary and the reopening of the newly renovated and expanded Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School.

Individual letters have been sent to the parent of each elementary-aged student affected by the redistricting identifying their school zone as well.

Still unsure?  Parents and students can now access the School Locator (Redistricting) attached to the CCBOE Transportation webpage to identify their elementary school zone for SY 19/20. 

Kirwan Commission Releases Report

Conduit Street

by Michael Sanderson
February 14, 2019
Kirwan Commission Releases Formal Report, Much-Awaited Legislation Still Pending
The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, Chaired by former University of Maryland Chancellor William "Brit" Kirwan, has released its interim report, wrapping months of work throughout 2018 and into 2019. Read the full report online.
The report itself mostly formalizes and formats elements that have already been distributed - see previous Conduit Street coverage.
From the "Remaining Work" section, a view on steps ahead for the Commission:
With the total estimated cost of implementing the Commission’s policy recommendations finalized, the Commission must now determine the distribution of the costs between the State and local jurisdictions. The Presiding Officers of the General Assembly have asked the chair of the Commission to recommend membership of a small working group that will work with staff to develop recommendations for the Commission to consider in fall 2019.
The small working group and the Commission will be considering, among others, issues related to enrollment, wealth, equity, and local effort, as discussed further below. It also must determine how the costs will be incorporated into existing or new funding formulas (e.g., foundation per pupil amount), and whether costs will be wealth equalized and shared between the State and local jurisdictions or will be distributed as categorical programs funded by the State. Commission staff and APA presented preliminary formula recommendations on the allocation of costs in December 2018; however, these figures must be further reviewed and finalized. The Commission was also asked to make a recommendation for the 2019 session on the appropriate regional inflationary index to be used in adjusting education aid formulas.
Many of the Commission's recommendations are expected to be incorporated into one or more bills, still yet to be introduced during the 2019 legislative session.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Judges rule school system did not violate student’s rights

A Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled this week that La Plata High School and its administrators did not violate a student’s First Amendment rights during a world history class that included lessons about Islam.
In the fall of 2014, the family of Caleigh Wood, then a junior at La Plata, sued the school system and some of its administrators claiming two lessons violated Wood’s right to freedom of religion and speech.
One lesson contained a comparative PowerPoint slide titled “Islam Today,” which contrasted “peaceful Islam” with “radical fundamental Islam.” Additionally, the lesson included a fill-in-the-blank worksheet asking students to complete information on the “Five Pillars” of Islam. Wood’s father objected to the lessons, claiming they violated his daughter’s Christian beliefs. He told his daughter to refuse to complete the assignment. The three-judge panel found that the assignments did not advance any particular religion and was introduced for a genuine secular purpose.
The court disagreed with Wood’s claim that the assignments promoted and endorsed Islam and noted in its opinion that the challenged materials constituted a small part of the school’s world history curriculum. “A reasonable observer, aware of the world history curriculum being taught, would not view the challenged materials as communicating a message of endorsement,” Judge Barbara Keenan, who was joined by Judge James Wynn and Judge Pamela Harris, wrote.
“Our schools play an important role in ensuring that our children are provided with information that best prepares them to understand and thrive in a society with many different cultural and religious viewpoints. We present a curriculum with that goal in mind. We are pleased that the Fourth Circuit agreed with us that there was no violation of any student’s rights,” Superintendent Kimberly Hill said.
 “School authorities, not the courts, are charged with the responsibility of deciding what speech is appropriate in the classroom. …Although schools are not ‘immune from the sweep of the First Amendment,’ academic freedom is itself a concern of that amendment. Such academic freedom would not long survive in an environment in which courts micromanage school curricula and parse singular statements made by teachers,” Keenan wrote.
“We are pleased with the court’s opinion and believe it rightfully affirms the ability of public school educators to teach students about the role religion has had on world history without violating the First Amendment.  We also believe the court’s ruling properly affirms the ability of public school educators to require students to complete assignments with which they may have personal disagreements as long as those assignments are reasonably related to a legitimate educational purpose,” said Andrew Scott, an attorney who represented Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and several of its administrators.
The Fourth Circuit opinion affirms an earlier ruling by a U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland judge who granted summary judgment in favor of several of CCPS’ employees. The Woods appealed that decision.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Notes from Board of Education Meeting, 2/12/19

The Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, February 12 will be re-broadcast on Comcast Channel 96, Verizon FIOS Channel 12 and is available via webstream at . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs .

The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes.

Executive session – 11:30 a.m.
Call to order – 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance, Henry E. Lackey High School
Recognition of student state winners
Superintendent’s update - Report
Correspondence/Board Member updates

  • Hancock - EACC legislative reception; Mt Hope recognition; Mitchell and Stethem visitation; CCASC Meeting
  • Brown - Stehem visitation; Night to Shine
  • Wilson - Stethem visit; Malcolm visit; CCASC Meeting
  • Battle-Lockhart - CCASC Meeting
  • McGraw - CCASC Meeting; Equity & Diversity; Scholarships
  • Abell  - Polar Bear Plunge and congratulations to Washington Post and MD State teacher nominees & finalist
Education Association of Charles County update - Report

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees update - Report

Student Board Member update - Report

Significant disproportionality in special education - Presentation
  • Still waiting on additional data to determine course of action.
  • If child is NOT suspended but parent picks child up from school, it's still determined a removal from school.
  • Submission for federal grant needs to include data toward end of May.
  • Hill - consider discipline implications 
  • Lukas - As long as we arent disproportionate we can still suspend
  • Volunteered with MSDE for self-assessment program
  • Abell - Alternative Elementary education is for K-2, prior to special education identification 
  • Hancock - Funding ramifications?  YES

Projects update - Report
  • Facilities tour on March 20th for Billingsley and Mudd.
FY 2020 operating budget - Presentation

Legislative update - Report

  • School Calendar Bill just passed Senate this morning

Unfinished business
·         Grading policy #5132.2 - Presentation

  • Hancock - clear up language on "alternative" and "initial".
  • Lukas - students placed in last quarter?  Yes
  • Abell - rewording of policy to incllude one-time and therapeutic
·         Retreat – March 11

  • Topics team building and review core values
·        Teacher Town Hall – March 25, 4:15 to 5:45 p.m., work session, 6 p.m. 

  • Teacher -  workload
New business
  • March for Our Schools - Resolution
Future agenda items

  • Hancock - Discipline Review
  • McGraw - Discipline Committee requests email interest by 2/19
Recognition – 4:30 p.m.
  • James E. Richmond Leadership Award: Accepting: Marvin L. Jones, executive director of schools
  • Resolutions:  
    • Read Across Charles County: Accepting: Indian Head Elementary School:  Janie Chang, reading recovery teacher; Sarah Fleck, reading resource teacher; Joshua Boadu, fifth-grade student; Madison Jennings, second-grade student
    • Women's History Month: Accepting: Charles County Commission for Women; Maxine Somerville, chair; Robbie Wilson, member; Patty Stine, member; Sandra Swinsonsecretary; Jennifer McSwaintreasurer
    • Fine and Performing Arts Month: Accepting: Austin Gore, theater arts teacher, Henry E. Lackey High School
  • Students
    • Kush Patel; twelfth-grade; St. Charles High School; Principal: Richard Conley
    • Lauren Kahler, sixth-grade; Academic Achievement; Benjamin Stoddert Middle School: Principal: Christienne Warren
    • Nya Whitney, fifth-grade; Dr. James Craik Elementary School; Principal: Michelle Beckwith
    • Hunter Headley; fifth-grade; Malcolm Elementary; Principal: Mary Finneran
    • Renata Ashton; fifth-grade; J.C. Parks Elementary School; Principal: Gregory Miller
  • Employees:
    • Terence Stone; business education teacher; St. Charles
    • Vincent Batts; building service worker; Stoddert
    • Dana Moyer; learning resource teacher; Craik
    • Kathleen Stafford; reading resource teacher; Malcolm
    • Kelsey Jones; third-grade teacher; Parks
Public Forum – 6 p.m. 

  • Derrick Terry - 2 solutions for fair and equitable compensation for educators.  Here as a parent.  Only 4.6% of college students choose teaching.  Charles County has highest starting salary in region.  Lack of instructional autonomy.  Allow employees to contract out for a second job.  Provide compensatory time for work outside of class.
  • Perry Jones - parent.  curriculum that is more inclusive and diverse.  curriculum not reflective.  Need to tech history from all aspects.  need educational reform.  more subtle type of racism.need to teach multicultural prejudice.
  • Carolyn Fisher - A lot of negativity around teaching and schools in general.  Want to talk about TAM.  11th year with TAM intern.  Amazing opportunity for her elementary students as well as the high school students.  TAM students learn first hand what it's like to teach.  They have helped her grow as a teacher as well.  Home grown teachers.  Everyone should nurture and mentor.
  • Peter Ulman -  Hanson MS teacher.  Discipline behavior matrix.  Code of Conduct needs some clauses.  Chronic disruptive students should not be allowed.  Love the progressiveness of matrix.  Many behaviors continue to receive a Level 1, multiple times.  Please escalate.  Make students/families fiscally responsible for items.  Attacks on school personnel in any fashion (verbal, physical, electronic, etc.) will not be tolerated.
  • NAME? -  Elementary School teacher - sharing the good not the bad.  special handshakes with all kids.  teacher kicked or bitten.  a students blood smeared on her.  cursed out.  punched, hit, kicked while protecting her other students.  Something has to change.  Teachers need to be respected. 
  • Heather Hartman Jansen - MS teacher - safe spaces have been created in some clubs, book clubs, DI etc.  Teachers tutor.  Knocked down, seriously injured, cleanig and repairing bathrooms, flooded or damaged, bullied, hard to teach and learn.
  • Sean Heyl - HS teacher - recruit programmers, influence athletes and pop stars.  teachers are cursed, pregnant teacher put on medical leave after a fight in class, concussion,  show you positive and negative,  we need your help.  give us homework.  come up 
  • Amani Harrold -  Marine Corp veteran.  Mother St. Charles.  daughter GPA 3.4 is a senior made a bad choice in error.  disciplinary action was given.  suspension of 10 days.  hearing.  no extra curricular activities.  Policy was passed that music was not extracurricular.  Daughter was accepted to Hood College.  If she doesn't perform she doesn't get a grade.  She should be allowed,
  • Dyothea Sweat - NAACP.  asking for assistance on youth initiative.  Year long program for HS students of color.  Need assistance of advertisement to students.  April 13 at NP competition.  Helps students that struggle with self esteem.  
  • Kate Omera - Performing Arts students at St. Charles HS.  Due to a few students, the entire class will suffer.   Students should be allowed to perform and not disciplined on classroom requirements.
Action items
·         Minutes
Motion to accept the minutes by Abell; Second by Hancock
Yes = Abell, Battle-Lockhart, Brown, Hancock, Lukas, McGraw, Wilson

·         Personnel
Motion to accept Personnel by Abell; Second by Brown
Yes = Abell, Battle-Lockhart, Brown, Hancock, McGraw, Wilson; Abstain = Lukas

·         Textbooks: “Therapeutic Exercises: Foundations and Techniques” and “Muscles: Testing and Function with Posture and Pain”
Motion to accept the textbooks by Abell; Second by Wilson
Yes = Abell, Battle-Lockhart, Brown, Hancock, Lukas, McGraw, Wilson

·         FY2020 proposed operating budget
Motion to accept the operating budget by Lukas; Second by Abell

Yes = Abell, Battle-Lockhart, Brown, Hancock, Lukas, McGraw, Wilson


Board of Education 2020 Proposed Operating Budget Snapshot

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Board of Education Meeting Agenda for 2/12/19

The Board of Education’s next monthly meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 12 at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 1 p.m. and student and staff recognition starts at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12 and is rebroadcast throughout the week.
Board meetings are streamed live on the school system website at The following is a tentative meeting agenda and is subject to change.
Executive session – 11:30 a.m.
Call to order – 1 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance, Henry E. Lackey High School
Recognition of student state winners
Superintendent’s update
Reports of officers/boards/committees
·         Correspondence/Board Member updates
·         Education Association of Charles County update
·         American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees update
·         Student Board Member update
·         Significant disproportionality in special education
·         Projects update
·         FY 2020 operating budget
·         Legislative update
Unfinished business
·         Grading policy #5132.2
·         Retreat – March 11
·         Town Hall – March 25, 4:15 to 5:45 p.m., work session, 6 p.m. (retreat discussion)
New business and future agenda items
·         New business
o    March for Our Schools
·         Future agenda items
Recognition – 4:30 p.m.
·         James E. Richmond Leadership Award – recipient, Marvin Jones, executive director, school administration
·         Resolutions: Read Across Charles County; Women’s History Month; and Fine and Performing Arts Month.
·         Students
·         Staff
Public Forum – 6 p.m.
Action items
·         Minutes
·         Personnel
·         Textbooks: “Therapeutic Exercises: Foundations and Techniques” and “Muscles: Testing and Function with Posture and Pain”
·         FY2020 proposed operating budget