Weekly News Roundup: Health Director Placed on Leave, New U.S. Secretary of Education

Dr. Angela Wakhweya, PGCPS’s director of health services, has been placed on leave for reasons that are not entirely clear. School records indicate that thousands of students have not been properly immunized (NBC 4).

Related stories: Dr. Wahkweya discussed challenges of immunization and blamed PGCPS administration for failing to help her get the job done (NBC 4). Almost 2,000 students were not permitted to attend Prince George’s County schools on October 1, because they did not have up-to-date vaccinations on record (NBC 4).

Forty-one schools are participating in PGCPS’s arts integration program, where students learn academic concepts through visual art, music, and movement. PGCPS hopes to expand the program to all schools in the county within five years. (The video at WUSA 9 is a more complete story than the text below the video viewing window.)

Twenty-nine elementary schools will benefit from a federally funded grant of $911,200 aimed at helping students sample fresh fruits and vegetables that they might not otherwise experience (e.g. asparagus, star fruit). Schools will be given $50-75 to spend per student for a vegetable or fruit snack during the day. (PGCPS News Release)

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will step down in December. President Obama has chosen deputy secretary John B. King, Jr. as his successor. King previously served as New York state’s commissioner of education, where he came under fire for implementing new teacher evalutions tied to test scores and for pushing the state to adopt new Common Core tests. King also has a background in charter school leadership. (Washington Post)

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Will 28,000 PGCPS students miss school tomorrow because of missing vaccinations?

by Kate McElhenny

http://www.nbcwashington.com/video/#!/news/local/Health-Director-Blames-Discrimination-on-Immunization-Rates/330012861

This clip from NBC Washington misstates the number of students missing vaccinations as 28,000. (That would be almost 25 percent of the total student population!) A quick call to Sherrie Johnson, PGCPS Public Information Officer cleared up the confusion. Drop a zero.

The number remains disturbing at 2800. For comparison, Montgomery and Charles Counties have numbers of students without proper vaccinations in the single digits.

In the above clip, Dr. Angela Wakhweya, PGCPS Health Director, cites PGCPS for failing to reach out to residents with language and economic challenges as the reason for the high number of those without necessary vaccinations.

Missing student records were also mentioned as a cause. Some parents have questioned whether the number of students without proper immunization is actually as high as reported.

As a parent of a kindergartener, I was contacted by the district (after registration and before the start of school) for not having her immunizations on file. When reached, staff at her elementary school assured me that they did possess her files and there was no need for concern. A district employee called days later again stating that they did not have our daughter’s immunizations on file.

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