by Nichelle Mandjilla
To view the agenda for this meeting, go here.
1. Public Session
Segun C. Eubanks, Ed.D, Board Chair/Appointed Member
Edward Burroughs III, District 8 Member
David Murray, District 1 Member
Lupi Quinteros-Grady, District 2 Member
Mary Kingston Roche, Appointed Member
K. Alexander Wallace, District 7 Member
Sonya Williams, District 9 Member
Dinora A. Hernandez, District 3 Member
Amanya Paige, Student Member
Chief Executive Officer Kevin M. Maxwell, Ph.D.
*Board Members Carolyn M. Boston, Vice Chair/District 6 Member, Curtis Valentine, M.P.P., Appointed Member, and Donna Wiseman, Ph.D., Appointed Member arrived at a later time after meeting had been called to order.
*Board member Raaheela Ahmed, District 5 Member was away on business travel.
*Board member Patricia Eubanks, District 4 Member was “under the weather” and would not be in attendance at meeting.
- Adoption of the Agenda: December 19, 2017 Board Meeting at 2:25 in the video.
Board Member Burroughs interjects with concern regarding the cancellation of executive session. Board Member Burroughs put forth a motion to add executive session at the conclusion of meeting to discuss legal and personnel matters. Board Member Burroughs brought it to the board’s attention that he received documentation on the subject of the graduation rate audit. According to this documentation, it appears that top level administration were aware of students graduating who did not meet basic graduation requirements a year prior to the independent audit. Appears no action was taken at that time to address these findings. Mr. Burroughs is aware his concerns cannot be fully expressed during public session, as it involves personnel. Board Chair Eubanks solicited any further discussion; there was none. Eubanks then proceeded to request a roll call of vote:
- 8 Ayes – Burroughs, Hernandez, Murray, Paige, Wallace, Williams, Wiseman, Eubanks
- 2 Nays – Quinteros-Grady & Roche
Executive session scheduled to convene following public session.
After this vote, motion carried unanimously to adopt amended agenda.
2. Public Comment on Agenda & Non-Agenda Items
2.01 Public Comment on Agenda & Non-Agenda Items
15 registered public comment speakers.
- 4 speakers registered for item 3.01.
- 4 speakers registered for item 4.01.
- 7 speakers registered for non-agenda items.
Registered speakers for item 3.01 PGCPS Response to MSDE Graduation Rate Audit Report
- Prince George’s County Resident & Parent at 8:20.
Systematic grade change epidemic has become a culture in the county. Frustrated with corruption surrounding county, and including PGCPS administration. Standing in representation of parents, community leaders and groups of Prince George’s county in calling for the resignation of PGCPS CEO, Deputy Superintendent, area Instructional Directors, and County Executive. Requesting transition to a PGCPS Board of Education elected by Prince George’s County Residents. Spoke of PGCPS administration’s involvement in grade change scandal due to prior knowledge of unauthorized grade changing or failure to bring attention to matter prior to audit. Spoke of no improvement of PGCPS since the arrival of current CEO, Dr. Maxwell. Spoke of unfavorable reputation of Deputy Superintendent, appointed by Dr. Maxwell.
- Prince George’s County Resident at 10:32.
Speaking on disappointment in lack of transparency regarding the graduation rate audit. Dysfunction of PGCPS Board of Education, along with nepotism and cronyism is largest contributor to grade change scandal. Lack of oversight and irresponsibility of CEO, Deputy and Associate Superintendents, along with Instructional Directors is proof of necessary change in PGCPS administration. Spoke of “witch-hunt” beginning with those following orders. Administration needs to take responsibility for lack of leadership. PGCPS students and teachers have been disgraced by past and current events within PGCPS. Current and future PGCPS graduates fear scrutiny of their transcripts, and school system has been marred by scandal. Accused board members of pledging loyalty to county executive, rather than the job that they have sworn to perform. Their focus does not seem to be directed towards preparing every PGCPS student for future academic and professional endeavors.
- Prince George’s County Resident at 13:39.
Spoke of having initially prepared to give a gentle admonishment in regards to the programs and initiatives brought to Prince George’s County by CEO that would generally help PGCPS students. However, heard of story by Fox News regarding an internal audit conducted in 2016 by PGCPS officials stating their awareness of grade changing issues, which were brought to their attention by the minority board members. The findings of this Fox Five investigation were contrary to testimonials by PGCPS principals at prior board meetings, tweets and interviews by PGCPS administration and board members stating allegations to be false and praising the efforts and transparency of PGCPS administration. Elected officials were being threatened with sanctions from appointed board members for not relinquishing names of “whistle-blowers” as it relates to the grade change scandal. However, it has come to light that there was no need for names of whistle-blowers when the CEO and members of PGCPS administration were already aware of issue with grade changes that resulted in misleading graduation rates. Appealing to parents and Prince Geroge’s County residents to vote all of the elected and appointed board members out. Appealing to residents to contact local legislator to request the repeal of the law that gives the county executive the power to appoint members to the PGCPS Board of Education.
At 16:43, BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks interjects before calling for the next public speaker, in an attempt the express his disappointment with the personal attack on himself, Dr. Maxwell, and other board members.
Board Member Murray interjects to bring to Eubanks’s attention that he is in fact responding to a public speaker, which board members are not authorized to do.
BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks expressed his right to respond to a personal attack against him. Stated he was simply exercising his right as BOE Chair.
Board Member Murray then attempted to clarify whether each board member is allowed to respond to every public speakers comments.
Board Member Burroughs requests a “point of order” from the attorney.
Board Member Burroughs addresses the attorney; would like to know under what authority does the BOE Chair have a right to respond to public comment that displeases him, and do all board member have this right. If the BOE Chair does in fact have this right, Board Member Burroughs would like the attorney to reference the board policy that gives him that right.
The attorney expresses her inability to respond to his inquiry prior to conducting some research.
Board Member Burroughs then directs his question to BOE Chair Eubanks.
Chair Eubanks references the board guidelines which request public comment speakers to refrain from using derogatory terms. Eubanks then pointed out that he considers comments made by the last public speaker to be derogatory and therefore felt compelled to respond. He promised to refrain from responding to any other public comment speaker for the remainder of the meeting.
Registered speakers for Item 4.01 Educational Online Programs
- Jacqueline Slay – Veteran PGCPS Teacher at 19:01.
Has served as the coordinator for the credit recovery program at Largo High School for the past 3 years. In this role she has encouraged and nurtured numerous students who are “on the bubble” or in danger of not graduating. All students do not progress in the same manner nor learn at the same rate as their peers. Completing and turning in homework for seven or eight classes can be a challenge for many students. Which may lead to poor performance on assessments and possible course failure. She has witnessed as students learn, grow, and mature they become better equipped to navigate their classes and improve academically. If a student fails one or more courses during this process of maturing they are faced with the financial burden of paying to earn credits and repeat courses in evening high school or in summer school. The credit recovery program offers a cost-effective alternative. The platform used in the past for this program was compass learning. She is advocating for some type of continued program for online courses. Compass designed a full length online course which aligned with Maryland State standards, combining direct instruction from on-screen teachers with rigorous assignments, performance tasks and assessments to engage students and ensure subject area mastery. Students also gained computer usage skills and were exposed to exposed to the online learning environment, which will be an asset as they continue the continue their education beyond high school. Many of the students we serve in our afterschool program would not have been able to earn their high school diploma without the credit recovery program. She appealed to the Board to consider reinstating the online credit recovery program as it is a necessity for many PGCPS students.
- Candace Leach – Largo High School PTSA President at 22:43.
Parent of two Largo High School graduates and a current Largo High School students slated to graduate in 2020. Urging the board’s approval of the Credit Recovery Program. Encouraging the board to consider what will happen to current PGCPS students who cannot afford the $480 for evening high school or summer school. Having an afterschool online credit recovery program can aid in the reduction of dropout rates while encouraging PGCPS students to catch up and graduate on time. Having a safety net for a scholar is keeping the best interest of all PGCPS students a priority. Other jurisdictions across the state have some type of credit recovery program. Failure is also apart of the learning process. It’s not always about getting it right the first time, but about having the drive and will to keep trying until you succeed. With an affordable option, such as the current $150 online credit recovery program, gives each scholar the opportunity to work on learning the content or standards of the course, so they can continue to work on meeting the requirements of a Maryland State diploma. Families have been waiting all semester for an option, and going into the second semester we still do not have an option for our scholars at Largo High School and other PGCPS that are on track for graduation as long as the have the option to take advantage of the credit recovery program.
- Robert Pettis – Girls Basketball Coach @ Largo High School; President of Largo Mitchellville Boys & Girls Clubs at 25:49.
In agreement with both Ms. Slay and Ms. Leach in regards to reinstating the credit recovery program for PGCPS students.
Priority and focus of PGCPS Board of Education should be on preparing our children for their future beyond grade school. Encourage our children to work towards more through higher education and dedication. It’s not about misleading the public or other jurisdictions regarding our graduation rates, or even our standing amongst other school systems within the state. Our PGCPS administration and officials should do what is right for our kids. Do what you have been appointment or elected to do.
- PGCPS Parent at 29:20.
Pleading for more credit recovery options for her son as well as other PGCPS students in need. She as well as other parents had just been informed in the past week of the need of and cost of credit recovery for courses not passed prior to the 2017/18 school year. Although many parents’ expectation was for the course work to be made up prior to graduation, they did not expect that there would be such a severe financial impact of $450 nor did they anticipate that the course would take place outside of the existing school location. Many students may have obstacles preventing them from succeeded as hoped during the academic school year, not to mention challenges that have taken place in the school setting. Her son faced life threatening challenges that made it difficult for him to attend the school which is currently listed as a credit recovery school option. Having our son attend this particular credit recovery school location leaves us concerned for his physical and mental safety. A lack of educational opportunities can be a serious problem for all. Many of our students see not being able to achieve academic goals as life ending. We as parents, educators, and PGCPS administrators need to be a united foundation for our students in order to assist them in meeting their educational goals. In the past credit recovery options were available at the home school and online for the much more affordable cost of $150. With the many expenses already associated with senior year, we should not have to incur what seems to be an inflated cost as well. Pleading with the board to reconsider options, and allow students to receive credit recovery in their home schools where possible. Feels it is important for her son to be able to learn in a safe, supportive and well-resourced school within an affordable credit recovery program.
Registered speakers on Non-Agenda Items
- 10th Grader at Annapolis Road Academy at 32:19.
Believes the major goal at an alternative school include provide opportunities for students not succeeding in traditional institutions to obtain academic credit, career exploration activities, vocational work experience, as well as extended teacher or peer support. Providing an alternate path for obtaining a diploma. In actuality, the operation of Annapolis Rd Academy mimics that of an institution housing dangerous youth. Students are only allowed down one hallway, are granted minimal bathroom breaks, and are subject to random searches of locker and personal items without warning. We are treated as criminals and not students aspiring for a high school diploma. Our concerns with the environment are not addressed or regarded with an appropriate level of seriousness by the school administration. This type of treatments affects a student’s mindset towards school and his/her academic efforts. There are also no clubs/after school programs geared towards teaching students how to become well-rounded and productive men and women.
- PGCPS Parent at 35:37.
Speaking on topic of active criminal investigation of PE instructor at daughter’s school. Initially informed of PE teacher’s misconduct by another parent on November 12, 2017. Later became aware that her daughter was also a victim of the inappropriate student/teacher interactions for which this PE instructor is currently under investigation. She immediately requested transparency in communication regarding these infractions from the school’s principal in order to ensure her daughter’s safety. The principal’s response was limited to the recognition that it is a confidential personnel matter. She then requested that she be kept informed and given all information she was entitled to as a parent whose child has been and is directly affected by these infractions and ongoing investigation. She requested a formal report from Prince George’s County police on November 15, 2017, and in turn brought her daughter into Child Protective Services to assist in the completion of a formal report. She then proceeded to go a step further by reaching out once more to the school’s Principal, as well as the instructional director, and Associate Superintendent. The only response she received from the school’s Principal was a confirmation that her email was received. There has been no follow-up regarding this serious matter from neither the Principal, instructional director, or Associate Superintendent’s office. The PGCPS administration is not taking the expected steps to advocate for our children. Believes they are doing a disservice to not only her daughter, but every student at her school.
- Arun Puracken – Teacher @ Accokeek Academy at 35:45.
Standing in solidarity with other District 9 students, families, and educators to express a variety of concerns. He values success as an educator, within his classroom and amongst the students body, and within the school system as a whole. Believes 30+ students to one teacher and no aide is counterproductive. Believes denying parents and communities Honesty, Transparency, and Compassion (which he believes are the fundamental promises of any school system) is also counterproductive. Especially when that transparency relates to student safety. Feels PGCPS has created a culture of fear amongst parents who come to a PGCPS Board meeting to express their concerns and/or dissatisfaction with the school system. Spoke of students of those parents being unfairly targeted by PGCPS leadership as a result. Lack of funding should not be and is not an excuse for shortfalls in the school system as it relates to student safety. Believe there is culture of excused and negligence, rather than a culture of possibility and excellence within PGCPS. PG County communities will mobilize to ensure that all appointed and elected officials who put their own interests first will no longer have a seat at the table making decision for our schools and students.
- Prince George’s County Resident & Parent, at 42:02.
Works with IEP students who need additional support and resources their schools are not able to provide for them. Bringing attention to classroom size reduction. Delegate J Walker has introduced a bill proposing classroom reduction to 30 students per classroom. However, 30 students to 1 teacher is not a sufficient or significant reduction. Stated research that highlighted the effects larger classroom sizes have on students healthy development. His community group has drafted the SOAR Scores legislation. A budget neutral plan to reduce class sizes to 20 students per class. SOAR Scores shifts 10 students from the average 30 student classroom by offering grants to those parents who would prefer to send their child to a community based religious institution, allowing for additional remaining allocated per pupil funding to be invested in Teacher’s Aides, increased teacher salaries, and much-needed beneficial springboard technology for each classroom.
- Parent, Mt. Rainier Community School at 45:25.
Has worked with students of all ages, particularly in private institutions. Deeply routed in her community. Spoke of some of the challenges her community faces on a daily basis from poverty and lack of parental involvement to under trained and overworked teaching staff at community school. Parents and students are not being given necessary preference as it relates to communication from school administration. Believe there must be ample transparency with teachers, parents and community in time of stress, for the well-being and continued academic success of our students. Good teachers were lost due to a lack of transparency from PGCPS administration.
- Parent, Maya Angelou French Immersion School at 49:01.
Present to bring attention to and address transportation issues. School buses are arriving 60-90 minutes late to transport students to school. There have been occasions when the buses have never arrived to transport students to Maya Angelou. Parents are aware of the staffing shortfall due to either a decline in applicants and budgeting constraints as it relates to the operation of PGCPS school buses. However, the lack of communication from the county is not acceptable. Parents have extensively utilized the contact/reporting tools designated by the county, with very little response and/or feedback. Calls have been made and emails have been sent to the director of the PGCPS school bus operations, with no feedback. This habitual tardiness and lack of consistency has forced parents to utilize private transportation options, which are neither the most cost-effective or safe forms of transportation for our children. We have also had to rely on a Facebook page created by a frustrated Maya Angelou parent to coordinate transportation options. On behalf of the parents of Maya Angelou French Immersion he asks that the county simply communicate with parents regarding tardiness or lack of transportation in a timely matter. This will enable parents to make other transportation arrangement to ensure their child does not miss valuable instructional time waiting to be transported to school.
3. Discussion Item
3.01 PGCPS Response to MSDE Graduation Rate Audit Report at 52:12.
BOE Chair Eubanks yields floor to PGCPS CEO Dr. Maxwell.
Dr. Maxwell’s introduction was as follows:
From the outset our leadership team has taken this matter seriously, and viewed the audit finding as a roadmap to how we as a system can improve.
We will enhance academic integrity to ensure this is foundational to out work as educators. The work of educating our 132,000 students is undertaken each day by our amazing teachers, support staff, and administrators. Our job as school system leaders is to provide the supports accountability and structure so that they can successfully educate each child who walks through our doors. That is our goal, that is why we come to work each day, and that is why we have embraced these audit findings. The audit was exhaustive, the findings were sobering, as they focused our attention on the need to strengthen our governance structure, policies, procedures and school level record keeping, related to grading and graduation certification.
Tonight, we will walk through the auditors’ key observations and recommendations, thus the work we have completed to date; and go deeper into the work that is to come as we improve our systems, policies and operations. Our response we crafted through the lens of urgency and integrity with the class of 2018 being foremost in mind. This response provides many overdue corrections to ensure integrity, accuracy and accountability as we continue working towards the goal of equipping all students with the requisite skills for college, career, community and life.
**The remainder of Dr. Maxwell’s remarks are included in “An Open Letter to the PGCPS Community”, which has been inserted at the end of these notes and can be found at:
A slide show presentation of the abridged version of the “PGCPS Response To Independent Perform Audit” was presented to the Board.
The presentation can be downloaded from this webpage: http://www.pgcps.org/graduation-audit/
Dr. Maxwell expressed his administration teams’ intent to submit the PGCPS’s formal Response to the Independent Audit later in the week.
Dr. Maxwell expressed his administration teams plan, following the winter break, to assist the public in understanding how this response validates PGCPS students’ achievements, improves long-standing practices that underline student progress and needs, provides necessary supports and ensure integrity across schools, offices and departments.
BOE Chair Eubanks’s initial comments in response to Dr. Maxwell and his team’s presentation is as follows:
Through the process of an audit like this, it is the administration’s responsibility to prepare a thorough response and the boards responsibility to review that response to ensure the response is going to meet our needs, and make sure the administration implements the work that is recommended.
In addition, there were very specific pieces of work that were specific to the board that will be included in a letter that will go to the state department that has been shared with the board, and when finalized will be shared with the public as well.
The letter talks about 5 specific steps that the board will be engaged with alongside the administrations work.
- Two of our committees, both the Academic Achievement Committee (chaired by Board Member Roche), and the board’s Policy, Legal, and Legislative Committee (chaired by Board Member Valentine). These committee have started the process of both reviewing the report, and will take the findings as well.
Eubanks requests each committee chair to give a brief overview of their plans.
BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks continues…. In addition, one of the implications and recommendations in the audit report was that the boards internal audit, which has traditionally done occasional reports on academic progress, should take a more active role in monitoring and auditing around academic progress and the boards internal office has completed a review to their capacity. We will make sure their role is expanded to take this work on more regularly.
BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks yields the floor to Board Member Roche.
Board Member Roche speaks regarding the plans and current work of the Academic Achievement Committee.
BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks yields the floor to Board Member Valentine.
Board Member Valentine speaks regarding the Policy, Legal and Legislative Committee’s review of the independent audits findings to examine implications for new and existing policy.
BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks opens the floor to board members who have questions or concerns in response the Dr. Maxwell and his teams “PGCPS Response To Independent Perform Audit”.
4. Budget Consent Agenda
4.01 Educational Online Programs, at 2:44:43
BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks yields the floor to Dr. Maxwell for an introduction to item 4.01.
Item 4.01 is before the board for approval of contracts for ingenuity, the educational online program and APEX.
BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks requests a motion for approval of item 4.01.
Board Member Paige interjects with inquiry directed to Dr. Maxwell’s team regarding a fee waiver for students of low-income houses who receive free/reduced lunch, as it relates to the fees associated with item 4.01.
She was informed the option of a fee waiver to supplement free and reduced meal students will be further explored.
Board Member Quinteros-Grady would like to know if the contract aims to serve a particular number of PGCPS students. Is there an outreach plan? How will this program be made available and accessible to all students in need of these services, with an emphasis on undocumented ELL students.
Dr. Maxwell’s team appreciated Board Member Quinteros-Grady’s perspective, and intend to look further into the accessibility of the Educational Online Programs for undocumented ELL students.
BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks then proceeded to request a roll call of vote for item 4.01.
Motion unanimously carried to fund item 4.01.
5. Follow Up Items
5.01 Follow Up Items from November 9, 2017 Board Meeting are posted in BoardDocs
BOE Chair Dr. Eubanks formally convenes Executive Session. Will not call for adjournment until the conclusion of executive session.
A Washington Post Opinion on this issue that appeared on 12/26/17 can be found at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-prince-georges-getting-serious-about-questionable-graduations/2017/12/26/b315e186-e4ce-11e7-833f-155031558ff4_story.html?utm_term=.3fc313dd8cc6