• Published in Local

Federation confronts school system over sex abuse cases

MCCF MCPSMontgomery County Public Schools officials are up in arms following a contentious meeting of the Montgomery County Civic Federation last month, during which audience members angrily confronted Superintendent Jack Smith over MCPS’ handling of lawsuits related to child sex abuse in County schools.

“I am extremely disappointed that Dr. Smith was treated disrespectfully by audience participants, who were misguided about the approved agenda for the meeting,” MCPS Chief of Staff Henry Johnson wrote in a letter to MCCF president Jim Zepp. “In fairness to the superintendent, the MCCF leadership should have interceded and accepted responsibility for not informing the superintendent of the alternative agenda.”

According to Johnson, Smith’s attendance at the Jan. 8 meeting – which had an announced topic of “What’s in the MCPS Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget?” – was secured in August of last year after Smith was invited to discuss the MCPS budget around the time it would be considered by the County Council.

While Smith did deliver remarks on the budget, as planned, he was later accosted by audience members demanding he comment on a resolution the Federation passed late last year relating to child abuse and neglect and concerns of how much money the District was spending on legal settlements.


Judge sets bond at $75k for MCPS security guard

  • Published in Crime

Yantsos-225x300Mark Yantsos. COURTESY PHOTO  

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Special Victims Investigations Division arrested a man Thursday who was a security officer for Montgomery County Public Schools, on the charge of inappropriate contact with a minor, according to a news release. A County District Court Judge placed the suspect on $75,000 bond Friday.

Police arrested Mark Christopher Yantsos, 57, at his home on the 600 block of Warfield Drive, according to the release. Police charged him with sexual abuse of a minor and fourth-degree sexual offense and then took him to the Central Processing Unit.

“It was reported to us by the school that he (Yantsos) was having an ongoing sexual relationship with a 17-year-old,” Montgomery County Police spokesperson Officer Rick Goodale said.


More Rockville Violence

  • Published in Local

Local lawyer claims school didn’t inform students and parents about fights


ROCKVILLE – Two recent altercations at Rockville High School, captured on video and then posted on Facebook have angered a local attorney representing the victim in one of the altercations.

Local attorney Rene Sandler said MCPS should have contacted parents at the school to inform them of a fight between two female students, and an attack involving two other female students that occurred March 6 and March 7.


Outrage over high school rape

  • Published in Local

Parents worry for safety while school system defends actions in wake of crime

Sanchez mug shotHenry E. Sanchez        POLICE COURTESY PHOTO

WASHINGTON D.C. – The federal government will take no special actions against Montgomery County or Rockville, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, following a rape of a 14- year-old female student at Rockville High School allegedly involving an 18-year-old and 17-year-old undocumented immigrants.

Both Rockville and Montgomery County do not cooperate with federal authorities on enforcing immigration law unless the person is a violent offender.

“Our policy and executive order speak for themselves,” Spicer said, but added there was “nothing special” planned against either the city or the county.

On Friday, police arrested two students from Rockville High School and charged them with first-degree rape, after allegedly raping a fellow female student Thursday morning around nine a.m.

Henry E. Sanchez, 18, and Jose O. Montano, 17, are both charged with one count of first-degree rape and two first-degree sex offenses and are being held without bond.


Parents and teachers express education concerns

  • Published in Local

GERMANTOWN – Teachers, parents of students and family members of teachers said at a budget meeting Feb. 15 they were concerned about items such as minimum wage, allocation of staffing, availability of materials and class size.

County Council member Craig Rice (D-2),chair of the education committee, Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard and Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith led the town hall at Northwest High School.

Rocky Hill Middle School teacher Lisabeth Belman said she wanted their concerns to be heard.

“My issue is that teacher voice,” said Belman.


MCPS considers budget changes

  • Published in Local

MCPS logo

ROCKVILLE -- The Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent proposed to change student grade entry, kindergarten registration and staffing of elementary school reading classes.

Superintendent Jack Smith recommended MCPS adopt a new electronic grade entry system, allowing for the elimination of data collection staff in schools.

Janet Wilson, associate superintendent of the Office of Shared Accountability, said the new grading platform, Performance Matters, will allow data from tests outside MCPS to be included with student test scores.

"We can put pretty much all that information into the platform,” Wilson said.


Watkins Mill and Gaithersburg students join protest movement

  • Published in Local

Gaithersburg and WM protest 2Watkins Mill students, including sophomore Charisse Warfield (front, left), walk down Montgomery Village Ave. on their way toward Lakeforest Mall during their protest. Warfield said people called her and her friends racial slurs in the days immediately following the election. PHOTO BY KATHLEEN STUBBS  

GAITHERSBURG – Dozens of students from two high schools met last Friday at Lakeforest Mall to protest Donald Trump’s election, despite Montgomery County Public Schools’ superintendent asking them to stay in class. 

Watkins Mill students left campus at 9:10 a.m.

They followed directions of police officers on campus and walked on Apple Ridge Road, then Montgomery Village Avenue, police following them along the way.

They carried “Students against racism,” and “No hate, no racism no Trump” signs and intermittently chanted “not our president.”


School board directs MCPS superintendent to request calendar waiver

  • Published in Local


The Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education advised MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith in a resolution on Monday to request a waiver from the governor’s executive order so it can start classes before Labor Day next year. 

If the waiver is approved, classes would begin Aug. 28, 2017, the Monday before Labor Day, and the last day of school for students would be Thursday, June 14, 2018, according to Board member Rebecca Smondrowski (District 2). 


New superintendent concerned about readiness

  • Published in Local



MCPS logo

ROCKVILLE –Montgomery County Public Schools’ new superintendent told the County Council Monday he is concerned about how well students are prepared at the end of high school for college or careers. 

MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith pointed out that not every senior desires to take college courses after finishing high school, and that a number of students are graduating unprepared for either college or a career. He told the County Council and the Board of Education that MCPS should be able to prepare students across the county for either college or a career, whichever they decide. 

“We need that collaborative effort, and then we need to be able to tell students, ‘Whether you want to get a career right out of high school or (attend) Montgomery College; College Park; UVA; the University of California, Berkeley, we don’t care,’” Smith said. “‘We want to make sure you are well-prepared.’”


New school chief begins

  • Published in Local

superintendent JackSmith-courtesyMCPSNew MCPS superintendent Jack Smith. COURTESY PHOTO 

Jack Smith, the new superintendent for Montgomery County Public Schools, said he will not turn a blind eye on one of the school system’s continuous goals: reducing the achievement gap between racial groups.

Smith brings more than 25 years of experience in education, including 2.5 years at the Maryland State Board of Education.

Smith’s term began July 1, the start of the MCPS fiscal year. Smith hasn’t said how he plans to reduce the achievement gap but said he plans to prioritize it.

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