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Montgomery BOE approves new boundaries

  • Published in Local

MoCo BOEROCKVILLE — The Montgomery County Board of Education voted Monday night to approve new boundaries for the Richard Montgomery High School cluster to address enrollment at the fifth elementary school in the cluster, which is slated to open next year. 

The Board considered five proposed options to redraw the zoning boundaries. Option B, which was ultimately approved by the Board, calls for the reassigning students in zones currently served by Beall Elementary, College Gardens Elementary, and Ritchie Park Elementary – all of which are operating at over 120 percent capacity – to the as-yet-unnamed school currently designated as “Richard Montgomery Elementary School Number Five.”  Enrollment and zoning will be unchanged at Twinbrook Elementary, which is also over capacity, but to a smaller degree than the other three schools.

“Obviously, this school has been much needed and much desired by the community, and we're all very thankful to have the school,” said MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith at the beginning of the meeting.

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Lyft offers options to school parents without rides

  • Published in Local

lyft logoCarolina Gallae did not attend her two children's recent parent-teacher conferences. There just wasn't enough time for her to make the four-hour trip to Jones Lane Elementary School in Gaithersburg.

Gallee only lives six miles from the school, and her children have a relatively short ride on the school bus, but without a car, she would have had to take several buses and then walk four miles just to get to the school, and then repeat the lengthy trip to get back home.

“There are approximately 40 parents or so living in this neighborhood” who can't pick up their children when they are sick, attend meetings and school events, volunteer or be as involved as they want to be, Gallae said through a translator.

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MCPS redistricting gets mixed parental responses

  • Published in Local

MCPS logoROCKVILLE — Parents of Montgomery County Public Schools elementary school students told school board members they are concerned about redistricting plans in the Richard Montgomery High School cluster that might require more students to take the bus or redistribute the number of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

They raised the concerns during a school board hearing on the plan, which would cover College Gardens, Ritchie Park, Beall, and Twinbrook Elementary Schools.

Twinbrook ES parent Melissa Downs said she does not believe reducing FARM rates is a justified reason for changes.

"Our FARM rate does not define us," she said. "Our strong community is what defines us."

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Blair HS security investigating race-related fliers found on campus

  • Published in Local

Montgomery Blair High School LogoAdministrators at Montgomery Blair High School are investigating how fliers reading “It’s okay to be white” came to be around the Silver Spring school.

Security cameras captured an unknown person whose face was obscured by a hooded sweatshirt posting one of the inflammatory fliers -- which appeared at numerous schools across the United States and Canada – before they were discovered by staff members early Wednesday morning.

In a letter sent to parents of Montgomery Blair students, Blair Principal Renay Johnson explained that the fliers were found when staff arrived at the school at 5:45 am that morning, but were immediately removed before students arrived for school that day.

Johnson assured parents that she and her staff – whose research has found the fliers to be part of a national campaign to foment racial tensions – are taking the seriously and are continuing to investigate.

“I want you to know that Montgomery Blair is a very smart, diverse and inclusive community and we will not fall victim to attempts to divide us,” Johnson said. “We are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for every student.”

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Parents express concern to police about man charged with conducting illegal surveillance of kids

  • Published in Local

Jonathan Oldale MCP courtesy photoJonathan Oldale at the time of his arrest. COURTESY PHOTO

CHEVY CHASE — Parents of children from Somerset Elementary School questioned Montgomery County Police officials Wednesday evening for not informing them of a months-long investigation which culminated in the arrest of a man with deep community ties for allegedly hiding a camera in a bathroom at a local children's gymnastics center.

"These are our children," a parent yelled out at a meeting with police Wednesday. "We found out in October. That's totally unacceptable!"

More than 60 people attended the community meeting in the National 4-H Conference Center on Connecticut Avenue in response to the arrest of Chevy Chase resident Jonathan Oldale. Police arrested Oldale Oct. 18. He is charged with one count of “conducting visual surveillance of an individual in a private place without his/her consent with prurient intent” – a misdemeanor which carries a potential of one year in jail or a $2500 fine. 

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MoCo launches new suicide and drug abuse prevention campaign - ‘BTheOne’

  • Published in Local

BTheOnePosters at bus shelters, public service announcements and a website marked the County’s new campaign to curb teen suicide and drug abuse.

The public education campaign, entitled “BTheOne,” launched Oct. 19.

“Suicide and substance abuse are not the answer,” County Executive Ike Leggett said during the brief opening event. “Far too many teens believe it is, and the results are tragic.”

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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conquers MoCo

  • Published in Music

P4010213 copy Baltimore SymphonyMarin Alsop conducts the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. COURTESY PHOTO  The story of Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” has had a lasting cultural impact.

Many literary critics and authors consider the classic book by the 17th-century Spanish writer to be the first modern novel, with an immense influence on language that continues to the present day. Consider the expression “tilting at windmills” or the word “quixotic.”

“Don Quixote” and Cervantes’s dramatic life also have inspired other works in many artistic genres – including short stories, novels, ballets, operas, classical music pieces, plays, films, and of course, the hit Broadway musical “Man of La Mancha.”

Among the classical music pieces that have drawn inspiration from “Don Quixote” is the eponymous tone poem by Richard Strauss for cello, viola, and orchestra, which will be part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s program for their Oct. 21 concert at the Music Center at Strathmore.

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MCPS unaware of investigation prior to HS counselor’s arrest for sex crimes

  • Published in Local

ColinBlack e1508424533352MCPS officials said they were unaware of police investigation of Colin Black prior to his arrest.  FILE PHOTO  Officials from Montgomery County Public Schools said they were unaware police had been conducting an investigation of a local high school guidance counselor for sexual assault allegations until the man was arrested this week. The investigation began nearly seven months ago, according to Montgomery County Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti.

"We just learned of the investigation and arrest yesterday," Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala said.

Colin S. Black, 33, a guidance counselor at Albert Einstein High School, was arrested Thursday morning on charges of second-degree sexual offense and second-degree assault, according to an Oct. 19 MCPD press release.

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New Approaches

  • Published in Local

County leaders gather to deal with rising local gang violence

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE – State’s Attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy said the County’s gang problem is on the rise.

“When you see the recent rise in crime at the level and the extent to which you see it, new strategies are called for, new approaches are called for when you see this,” McCarthy said.

On Tuesday, four police chiefs, the County’s Sheriff and the Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools signed a memorandum of understanding to help facilitate cooperation in combating the County’s rising gang problem.

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Two Arrested

  • Published in Local

Local educators charged with child sex abuse in separate cases

Cory Boatman Roy SimmonsCory Boatman (left) and Roy Simmons (right). COURTESY PHOTOS  Police arrested two Montgomery County Public Schools staff members last week in separate incidents involving child sex abuse charges. 

Police charged Cory Boatman, 27, a teacher and an assistant football coach at Montgomery Blair High School, Oct. 6 with sexual abuse of a minor for an alleged sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student.

According to police, Boatman began sending the student "suggestive text messages" in early August. In late August, Boatman allegedly picked up the victim at her residence and drove her to his address where they engaged in sexual intercourse. Boatman was placed on administrative leave Monday, Sept. 25. A preliminary court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 3.

Roy A. Simmons III, a 41-year-old afterschool program facilitator for Kids Adventure, was charged Oct. 3 with one count of second-degree assault and one count of fourth-degree sex offense involving a 10-year-old girl at Carderock Springs Elementary School in Bethesda, according to a police report.

The alleged offense occurred in November 2016 when Simmons, a group leader, inappropriately touched the child when she was separated from students. Police said Simmons admitted to the inappropriate contact during a police interview. At the time of the incident, Simmons was also employed as a temporary para-educator at Carderock, a job he had held since the fall of 2015, according to MCPS.

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