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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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Award-winning author speaks at Gaithersburg High School

ngozi adichieChimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke at Gaithersburg High School on Sept. 26, as part of the One Maryland, One Book program. COURTESY PHOTO  GAITHERSBURG — Award-winning and world-renowned author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke to an audience of about 1,000 people at Gaithersburg High School on Sept. 26 as part of the One Maryland One Book program.

Adichie is a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award and her work has been translated into over 30 languages.  She divides her time between nearby Columbia and Lagos, Nigeria.

The Maryland Humanities Council established the One Maryland One Book program 10 years ago to encourage Marylanders to read and discuss a certain book every year. A committee with the council chooses a book that aligns with the year’s theme. This year’s book is “Purple Hibiscus” by Adichie and the theme is “Home & Belonging.”

This year, there are 350 programs in the state focused on this book, including three events with the author, said Phoebe Stein, executive director of Maryland Humanities.

“Purple Hibiscus” is a coming-of-age novel that follows the account of 15-year-old Kambili as she navigates a fraught relationship with her abusive father during political upheaval in Nigeria. Kambili and her brother spend time together living in two different homes: one with their parents, and another with their aunt who, while having less money than Kambili’s family, has a home full of laughter and life. The novel tackles themes such as colonization, religious hypocrisy and gender and family dynamics.

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BOE Talk Equal Opportunity in Schools

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ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Board of Education discussed access and equal opportunity in the county’s schools system Tuesday.

“We want to make sure that our students have opportunities, and what we found in implementing this program is that we were missing kids who had the capability, the interest in participating in advanced placement and as well as IB courses,” said Deputy Superintendent Kimberly Statham.

In 2016, Montgomery County Public Schools partnered with Equal Opportunity Schools, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap, to analyze and address disparities in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate enrollment. The study showed that students enrolled in AP and IB courses showed higher chances of graduation from high school than those not enrolled in either type of course.

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Federal judge rules in favor of MCPS in religion case

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MCPS logo

A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judge affirmed a U.S. District Court judge’s decision that religion is not one of the educational needs that Montgomery County Public Schools must meet by law.

Judge G. Steven Agee of the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit said Monday under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, MCPS is providing a free and public education (FAPE) for the plaintiff’s child M.L., who was born with Down syndrome. The parents, Rabbi Akiva Leiman and Shani Leiman, had alleged that the proposed plan for M.L.’s education was inadequate because it did not include teaching practices observed in M.L.’s Orthodox Jewish community.

“MCPS provided M.L. with equal access to an education, on the same basis as it provides to all other students with disabilities,” Agee said in his opinion. “It does not provide religious and cultural instruction to its students with or without disabilities and has no duty under the IDEA to administer such instruction to M.L.”

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Beattie leaves indelible mark on sports as he retires

  • Published in Sports

094BBC38 B480 4E9B 9F9A 3EA1B188268DDuke Beattie. PHOTO BY LEM SATTERFIELD  Duke Beattie isn’t sure what the future holds, and the retiring Montgomery County Director of Athletics is okay with that.

“I don’t have an exit strategy,” said Beattie, during an hour-long interview last month in his Rockville office. “After 39 years in the school system and 19 years in the central administrative office, I don’t want to leap into anything without stopping, looking and seeing what I may want to do next.”

The notion may serve as a sharp contrast to those who have known Beattie as an organized stickler to detail who’s governed with high moral and ethical standards.

“To have principles means that you have a good idea of what is right and what is not right, and that you’ll stand up for what is right even if that’s difficult to do,” said Beattie who will be replaced by former assistant Jeff Sullivan.

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Former elementary school teacher found guilty of sexual abuse of students

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ROCKVILLE — A former Montgomery County Public Schools teacher was found guilty Friday of sexual abuse of students.

After nine hours of deliberation Friday night, a jury found John Vigna, 50, of Silver Spring, guilty of four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense, according to Ramon Korionoff, spokesperson for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

John McCarthy, state’s attorney for Montgomery County said Vigna was arrested in June of 2016 after five Cloverly students, both current and former, reported that they had been touched inappropriately while sitting in Vigna's lap during the school day. Victims came forward after taking a mandated body safety class which helped them understand inappropriate contact.

“Body safety classes instituted by MCPS helped expose this child sex offender,” said McCarthy. “We commend the jury for working hard through a Friday night to render this verdict. It holds John Vigna accountable.”

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MoCo athletes win state titles in track and field at championship meets

  • Published in Sports

BALTIMORE – Montgomery County Public Schools athletes earned multiple titles in track and field at the State Championship Meets at Morgan State University Friday.

Walter Johnson junior Abbey Green (10:46 minutes) beat her long-time distance rival Annapolis High School senior Maria Coffin (10:56 minutes) to become state champion.

It was her second track and field state title, her first for the outdoor season. Green said she and Coffin became friends during the last few years as they competed in track and field and in cross country.
Poolesville sophomore Nandini Satsangi came in first place in the 3A 3200m race (11:07). Satsangi held the second-place spot for most of the race, and then she led the final two laps. Her legs suddenly gave out a couple of feet from the finish line and she fell, but she won the race by finishing a few seconds ahead of Northern-Calvert junior Abby Sweeney (11:12).

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MCPS employee charged in sex crime

  • Published in Crime

Security assistant accused of having sex with 14-year-old female student

 

Police charged a public school security assistant with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student following a short investigation this week.

The assistant, charged with sexual abuse of a minor, was released from jail after he posted bond Monday night, County State’s Attorney spokesperson Ramon Korionoff said.

Kimberly Hayden Williams, principal of Col. E. Brook Lee Middle School – where the accused man worked – said she was disturbed by the charges.

“These charges are troubling and completely unacceptable, particularly given that security staff are placed in schools to keep students safe,” she said. “The charges represent a violation of the core values of our school and school system.”

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Shay named MCPS 'Teacher of the Year'

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MPI MoCoTchr 0010Nancy Shay, 2017 Montgomery County Teacher of the Year, strives to bring out the best in her students. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

Nancy Shay sat perched atop her chair, encouraging her Richard Montgomery High School students not just to sing “Happy Birthday” to a fellow student, but to do it with as much feeling as they could possibly muster.

Whether it’s a simple song, a book the class is reading or a review of a movie they just saw, Shay, who was just named Montgomery County Public School Teacher of the Year, is determined to challenge every single one of her teenage students.

And her students know it.

“Her intonation, the way she gives life to books and films, and the way she is passionate” are the things that make Shay such a good teacher, said Emma McLeond, a junior.

“She’s always energized,” said junior Skyler Bozeman.

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Board of Education discusses restorative justice

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MoCo BOE

ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Board of Education discussed restorative justice April 22 as part of an effort to improve student relations and reduce suspensions and other punitive measures.

“Restorative justice really is about a change in mindset from one in which we think the only way to address issues that students may present in school is through the use of student code of conduct,” said Dr. Jonathan Brice, an Associate Superintendent at the MCPS Office of Student and Family Support Engagement.

Discussing the numerous advantages of restorative justice techniques, Brice emphasized that the approach allows students to learn social and emotional skills by understanding harm that can be caused by certain kinds of behavior.

“We’re changing a mindset from wrongdoing and misbehavior on one where there are opportunities to learn about social and emotional skills like empathy and compassion and to really repair the harm that has been done in the school community,” said Brice.

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