Board of Education Discusses Choice and Other Special Programs; Takes Tentative Action on Child Abuse and Neglect Policy

April 28, 2015

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Monday, April 27, 2015, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Among other items, the Board discussed the ongoing review of MCPS Choice and other special programs; took tentative action on the Child Abuse and Neglect policy; and set the Extracurricular Activity (ECA) fee for Fiscal Year 2016. The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website. You can also watch the video of the meeting by clicking here.

Study of MCPS Choice and Other Special Programs

The Board received an update and held a discussion on the study that is being conducted of the Choice and other special programs in MCPS. As part of its Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget, the Board authorized an external review of the programs that the district provides as options for families to enroll students in schools outside their home attendance zones. On January 13, 2015, the Board awarded a contract to Metis Associates to conduct the study. During the past months, Metis has worked with MCPS staff and stakeholders to develop a plan for Phase One of the study. The plan was developed with input from MCPS central office staff and school-based staff, as well as leaders of the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations, Inc. In addition, staff provided an update on this planning process during a recent meeting of the Board’s Policy Management Committee. The plan is posted on the MCPS website along with other information on the study. Choice and other special academic programs (for the purpose of the study) include language immersion programs; magnet application programs, including the elementary centers for highly gifted students; and the regional consortia schools (Northeast, Downcounty, and Middle School Magnet consortia).

The study has been designed to focus on four main objectives:

• Understanding the unique history and current state of each of MCPS’ Choice and other special academic programs;

• Identifying the original purposes of each of these programs and assessing whether they are fulfilling those purposes;

• Assessing whether all students have equitable access to these programs, especially in light of the continuing growth of MCPS student enrollment and the changing demographics of the region, both countywide and at the neighborhood level; and

• Ensuring that these programs, both individually and collectively, are well-positioned to effectively advance the mission; core purpose; core values, including equity; and core competencies set forth in the MCPS Strategic Planning Framework.

The study will proceed in three phases:

• Phase One will gather and analyze data and information on the unique history and current state of MCPS Choice and other special programs.

• Phase Two will benchmark MCPS programs with innovative, high-quality programs in other districts and review academic research on access to educational options outside students’ home schools.

• Phase Three will engage community stakeholders in the development of a collaborative action plan for MCPS Choice and other special academic programs going forward that is informed by the data, information, and the benchmarking analysis from Phases One and Two.

Read the memo to the Board and plan for Phase One of the study

Policy JHC, Child Abuse and Neglect
The Board took tentative action on Policy JHC, Child Abuse and Neglect. Policy JHC reaffirms the Board’s commitment to the safety and physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all children and vulnerable adults, and sets forth a comprehensive approach to recognizing, reporting and preventing abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adults.

Policy JHC was presented at the March 3, 2015, Policy Management Committee meeting and further discussed at the April 20, 2015, meeting. A work group was convened in the fall of 2014 to recommend ways for the school system to enhance awareness of child abuse and neglect among parents, staff, and students and improve how MCPS monitors and reports allegations of abuse or neglect. The Work Group included subject matter experts from county partner agencies, leadership from the three employee associations, parents, community members and representatives from the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations. The Work Group assisted MCPS staff in developing six strategic areas of focus for the district. The revised policy, which sets forth the Board’s approach to preventing child abuse and neglect, was developed in close collaboration with partner agencies, including the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Montgomery County Police Department, and Child Welfare Services in the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, commonly known as Child Protective Services.

The policy sets forth implementation strategies for ensuring that: all employees understand and are held accountable for the highest ethical standards in their conduct, as well as adhering to legal mandates and the moral imperative to recognize, report, and prevent suspected child abuse and neglect; children and vulnerable adults who are alleged victims of abuse and/or neglect are supported; human resource management systems and processes for screening new and existing employees, as well as volunteers and outside contractors, are developed; professional development for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) employees is developed and implemented; and opportunities are provided for parents, outside contractors, volunteers, and the broader community to develop awareness on recognizing, reporting, and preventing abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adults. Additionally, MCPS staff has prepared protocols for reporting and investigating child abuse and neglect cases.

Policy JHC will now be distributed for public comment and will be considered for final approval at a future meeting.

See the revised policy

Fiscal Year 2016 Extracurricular Activity Fee

The Board of Education approved the Extracurricular Activity (ECA) fee for Fiscal Year 2016. The Board voted to increase the fee from $30 to $32.50. The reduced fee will remain at $15 for income-eligible families. The ECA fee supports adult-supervised extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs, for middle and high school students. Students who pay the annual ECA fee are entitled to participate in one or more programs during the school year. The ECA fees help to offset the costs for operating after-school programs and for the transportation costs for activity buses. The ECA fee was last increased in FY 2008 and remains lower than the fee charged in many other districts in the Washington, D.C.-area.

Read the memo to the Board

Administrative Appointments

The Board of Education approved the following administrative appointments:

Niki T. Hazel, currently acting director, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, as director, Department of Elementary Curriculum and Districtwide Programs

Charles L. McGee, currently acting director, Department of Infrastructure/Operations, as director, Department of Infrastructure/Operations

Scott W. Murphy, currently principal, Watkins Mill High School, as director, Department of Secondary Curriculum and Districtwide Programs

Joel S. Smetanka, currently director, Division of Instructional and Information Services, as director, Department of Learning Management Systems, Office of the Chief Technology Officer

Floyd D. Starnes, currently principal, Kemp Mill Elementary School, as coordinator, ESOL and Immigrant Bilingual Support Programs

Peter J. Cahall, currently staff coach, Prince George’s County Public Schools, as principal, Thomas Edison High School of Technology

Carl R. Bencal, currently principal, Seven Locks Elementary School as principal, Clarksburg Elementary School

Facilities and School Construction

The Board approved the following item related to school construction projects and facilities:

-Appointed an architectural firm for the Thomas S. Wootton High School Revitalization/Expansion Project Feasibility Study

Resolutions: The Board approved the following resolutions:

- A resolution honoring Michelle Schultze, principal of the John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (RICA), as the recipient of the 2015 Mark Mann Excellence and Harmony Award, given annually to an outstanding MCPS administrator;

-A resolution recognizing May 4-8, 2015, as Teacher Appreciation Week
-A resolution declaring the month of May 2015 as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

-A resolution proclaiming May 4-8, 2015, as Pupil Personnel Worker Week in MCPS

-A resolution recognizing May 4-8, 2015, as School Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week

Future Meetings

The Board will hold its next regular business meeting on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Please check the Board of Education meeting calendar for further information


About the Board of Education
The Montgomery County Board of Education is the official educational policymaking body in the county. The Board is responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system. The Board consists of seven county residents elected by voters for a four-year term and a student elected by secondary school students for a one-year term. Board members are elected countywide but run at-large or from the Board district in which they reside.

Montgomery County Board of Education: Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, president; Mr. Michael Durso, vice president. Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Philip Kauffman, Ms. Jill Ortman-Fouse, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, and Ms. Dahlia Huh, student member. Mr. Larry A. Bowers, interim superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.


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