Saturday, February 12, 2005

Hawes of MCPS thinks corruption Is funny; Tokar evades questions

Here is the text of a widely-circulated e-mail from one Seven Locks Elementary School parent to James Tokar and Richard G. Hawes of Montgomery County Public Schools:

Dear Mr. Tokar,

As a Seven Locks Elementary School parent and PTA member, I appreciate your responsiveness to our community’s questions about costs and other factors concerning the “replacement school” planned for the Kendale Road site in Potomac.

However, you have not answered repeated questions asking for your professional opinion of how corruption generally affects the costs of public school construction in Montgomery County. You have not answered questions about procedures and practices in place to ensure against corruption. You have apparently ignored questions about whether or not your department was involved with prosecuting even a single corruption case over the past 15 years, and you have been silent when asked your professional and personal opinion about whether an outside prosecutor should be appointed to investigate concerns about corruption in county school construction.

Your colleague, Richard Hawes, ridiculed these questions at a recent meeting at Seven Locks School, and declined to answer them.

These are serious questions to a serious issue: MCPS unofficially agreed to a politician’s request to shut down Seven Locks School in Bethesda, so the politician can build a huge housing project on the soon-to-be-former schoolyard. MCPS railroads the construction of a new “replacement school” that’s triple the size of the surplused school. The new mega school will sit on a plot of usable land that’s only 60 percent the size of the soon-to-be-surplused school, with no room for expansion to accommodate the hundreds of children likely to live on the site of the existing school on Seven Locks Road and Bradley Boulevard.

All this despite the overwhelming, repeated objections of the doomed school’s PTA.

You as the MCPS project manager solicited written questions from PTA members, and you answered them all, to varying degrees – except questions concerning corruption.