Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Weast's latest phony excuse

Our superintendent says he decided to spend $125,000 to prevent high schools from holding graduations in churches, in part because he wants to avoid a lawsuit from fringe groups.

School board member and Weast loyalist Sharon Cox says the money - enough to pay two or three MCPS teachers for a year - is a good deal because it's cheaper than defending against a lawsuit.

"I absolutely believe that there would have been a lawsuit -- not if, it would have been when -- and we would have spent a lot more money on litigation than this $125,000," Cox says in the Washington Post.

That's a phony argument, and they know it.

Weast and Cox have no problem with suing people they don't like (which is why this blog has always been anonymous), or defending their politically correct policies.

When he was superintendent in Guilford, North Carolina, Weast threatened to sue a local newspaper that criticized him.

Weast reportedly budgeted $1,000,000 in 2005 just for litigation against parents of handicapped children.

School board candidates last year criticized MCPS for free-spending on litigation, and called for a "culture change" in the school system.

More recently, MCPS disregarded potential litigation about its new "sexual variations" curriculum. Gay activists praised Sharon Cox earlier this month when she defended the program. "I believe that regardless of what we put forward, we will be sued," Cox said in the Washington Blade. "That's fine. Bring it on."

“That was a good sign,” a gay education advocate said about Cox's comment. “The board is willing to stand up to these litigious whiners.”

Weast isn't trying to save MCPS any money with this move. He's trying to assert his authority over the Board of Education, which had countermanded his decision to bar public high schools from using church facilities for graduation ceremonies. The board ought to show him who's boss.

Test of wills: Weast asserting authority over school board

Superintendent Jerry Weast is already asserting his self-anointed authority over the new Board of Education.

Weast overruled the Montgomery Blair High School PTA, which voted to have this year's graduation ceremony at a huge church that can accommodate all the families, saying that somebody might get offended.

Then, the Board of Education voted to overrule Weast so that the PTA could use the church, which wasn't charging the school for use of its facilities.

Just to show who's boss, Weast effectively overruled the school board, raiding the education piggy bank of $125,000 to hold graduation ceremonies at the expensive Comcast Center.

This tit-for-tat stuff is just starting. The board hasn't even appointed Weast to his next four-year term yet. Just think of how it will be once it approves him on February 13?
The board ought to keep its integrity as an elected body, save the school system four more years of grief, and vote against renewing his contract.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

School board readies to cede its power to Weast

The new Board of Education is preparing to cede its political independence and authority to the iron-fisted bureaucrat who has run the school system like a personal fiefdom.

‘‘So far, I have not heard from any board member who did not want to renew his contract.” board President Nancy Navarro tells the Gazette.

Navarro received a lot of campaign help from people who want the school board not to renew Weast's contract.

Opponents cite a string of abuses of power, intimidation of MCPS teachers and personnel, bullying of critics, and shady real estate deals that included an aborted plot to turn Seven Locks Elementary School into a high-density development, and the turnover of another school to crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Friday, January 19, 2007

As contract deadline looms, Weast panders to parents

Right after asking the school board to appoint him to another four-year, $1.4 million term, Superintendent Jerry Weast yielded yet again to angry parents and ditched his plan to close programs for special ed kids.

The Washington Post reports that parents of special ed children benefit more in existing learning centers than in what the Post calls "regular classrooms."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How many 'sexual variations' will MCPS teach?

The Montgomery County Board of Education unanimously approved a new sex-ed curriculum that promotes teaching of "sexual variations" in middle and high school. The question now is, how many "variations" will MCPS teach our kids?

In a story headlined, "Wide Berth Allowed on Teaching About Homosexuality," the Washington Post reports that the new MCPS curriculum "goes deeper into sexual and gender identity than most other Washington area schools have dared."

According to the Washington Blade, a homosexual newspaper, "Students in 10th grade receive a more robust curriculum, including an examination of topics like coming out. It also asks students to consider the challenges a transgender student might face."

Patricia O'Neill, one of the few staunch Weast allies on the board, is taking the most extreme positions. The board defeated her attempt to include sexual advocacy language that was moderate in tone, but open to extremist interpretations.

Weast loyalist Sharon Cox, one of the unsuccessful lead advocates of the discredited cucumber sex curriculum that the board was forced to withdraw under court order, sarcastically invited traditional family groups to sue the school system over new sexual variations program. The last Weast ally on the board, Steve Abrams, tried to water down the language, fearing lawsuits.

In 2005 the Board of Education identified its own curriculum as "inappropriate content" that "surpassed the threshold set in the Adult Content dictionary."

“I believe that regardless of what we put forward, we will be sued,” Cox said. “That’s fine. Bring it on.”

MCPS: Medically correct or politically correct?

“I believe, though, that this is a wonderfully, medically correct lesson,” school board member Pat O'Neill says about the new "sexual variations" school curriculum. “It is the 21st century.”

But Dr. Ruth Jacobs, an infectious disease specialist affiliated with Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, told the board that the new curriculum is not medically correct but politically correct. Jacobs "said the curriculum was written not to advance healthy living but rather political correctness," according to the Washington Blade.

Jacobs told the school board that by mandating a biased, positive approach toward sexual variations, MCPS is preventing teachers from telling students about the Surgeon General's warning that "anal intercourse is too dangerous to practice."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Martin Luther King Weekend: A perfect time for Weast to rebuke Abrams' racism

Martin Luther King Weekend is the perfect time for Superintendent Jerry Weast to show that his professed intolerance for bigotry is real and not selective.

This weekend marks two months since Board of Education member Steve Abrams, a longtime Weast attack dog, allegedly assaulted an African-American man physically and abused him with racial slurs.

Weast has been silent about the matter, even though Abrams spoke to him about it shortly after the November 13 incident.

If the superintendent can't publicly distance himself from Abrams and rebuke him on Martin Luther King's holiday for racist conduct, then he's proving that his sudden concern for ethnic minorities is just cynical pandering to get officials to renew his $1.436 million contract.

Leggett hacks Weast budget request by 95 percent

New Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is doing just what he promised he would do, and is carefully scrutinizing the MCPS annual budget for waste, fraud and abuse.

He also fired a warning shot at freespending Superintendent Jerry Weast, recommending that Weast's $28 million budget to reduce "portable" classrooms be hacked nearly 95 percent to $1.8 million.

Leggett seems suspicious of the turf-possessive superintendent.

Not dependent on developers for his campaign funding, Leggett says he will move "more cautiously" rather than "full speed ahead" on capital construction projects, the Washington Post reports.

Weast announced a plan to slash the number of unpopular and often unhealthy unportable classrooms last October, with "considerable fanfare," just before the elections.

Marilyn Praisner, the new County Council president, agrees with Leggett. She says in the Post that "starting cautiously is a good idea."

Leggett's budget signal comes just days after the school board rebuffed Weast's attempt to railroad through a controversial set of middle school reforms before the board members could understand what they were all about.

Tension expected between Leggett and Weast

The superintendent is unlikely to enjoy the slap-happy days of the Doug Duncan era, when the county executive never interfered with MCPS spending unless it meant providing more money, and when the County Council and school board were in slavishly supportive hands.

Duncan's successor Ike Leggett has sent a signal that times have changed.

"Leggett's reaction to Weast's portable classrooms plan, which was announced with considerable fanfare in October, could foreshadow tension between the seven-year superintendent and the new county executive," the Washington Post reports.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Churchill PTA to MCPS: Support our principal

Following press reports that MCPS would punish Churchill High School Principal Joan Benz for expressing politically incorrect thoughts, the Churchill PTA Executive Board unanimously stated that Benz must not be fired and called on Superintendent Weast and others to support her.

The unanimous January 10 resolution stated, "The Executive Board supports the continued tenure of Dr. Joan Benz as Principal. Under Dr. Benz’s leadership, Winston Churchill High School has risen to o­ne of the top performing high schools in the United States, ranking 76th in the nation o­n the 2006 Challenge Index, has the second highest SAT scores in competitive Montgomery County, and is o­ne of two high schools in the state of Maryland to be honored with the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award for student performance."

The resolution also said, "The Executive Board accepts Dr. Benz’s apology contained in her letter of January 4, 2007. The Executive Board urges Superintendent Jerry Weast, Montgomery County Public School officials, and the Montgomery County Board of Education to support Dr. Joan Benz, a 33-year employee of the school system, who has dedicated her life to serving our students and our community."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Post editorial: Weast ignored 'longstanding' racial tensions

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast and his administration have been too busy to pay attention to years of complaints from minorities, and were caught by surprise by the January 3 police incident at Churchill High School.

Weast immediately smacked down Churchill Principal Joan Benz, saying through an aide that she would be "disciplined," after she lamented in a note to parents that black kids were assaulting other black kids at her school.

The usually fawningly pro-Weast editorial page of the Washington Post tapped the superintendent on the wrist on January 10, gently chiding him for being clueless.

While trying to stick to its PC editorial policies by calling the Benz note a "spectacularly stupid memo," the Post said the principal actually clarioned a "needed wake-up call" for MCPS leaders:

"That [Dr. Benz] felt, as she has said, that she made the racial reference to rebut horrid, racist remarks from some Churchill parents and students gives powerful credence to the complaints of African-Americans about being marginalized. So, too, does the fact that Superintendent Jerry D. Weast and his administration were caught unawares by the tensions at the school even though, as The Post's Daniel de Vise and Lori Aratani reported, the complaints of the small African American community have been longstanding.

"Mr. Weast needs to grapple with this issue; it is encouraging that he is putting together a working group to study the situation at Churchill. As painful as this episode has been, it was a needed wake-up call for a county that prides itself on being inclusive."

Weast tells BoE he wants $1.436 million contract

The superintendent has made it official: He wants his four-year, $1.436 million contract renewed. Apparently he isn't seeking a raise after all.

The Gazette reports that Superintendent Weast has formally written the Board of Education asking for a four-year renewal of his existing $359,000-a-year salary and tax-sheltered perks.

"While I won’t stay forever, I would like to stay another contract term because I think there’s more work to be done," the 59 year-old Weast tells the Gazette. "I’m at a pivotal point in my life [where] I really want to make a difference, and I believe that we can do it here."

That four more years will put an extra $400,000 cash in his tax-sheltered retirement fund. Weast also gets a free automobile with the deal.

School Board President Nancy Navarro, who has sparred with Weast in the past and who won re-election from voters who don't want Weast contract renewed, says the contract must be "treated as a personnel matter."

The board intends to vote on whether or not to extend Weast's contract on February 13.

Weast sees blue skies ahead for himself. ‘‘I haven’t got any communications from my employer that they want me to go. I haven’t [gotten] any signals that . . .weren’t anything but positive,” Weast tells the Gazette. ‘‘I didn’t see that as a negative. I saw that as a positive, and I was told that it was coming, and I encouraged it.”

Dr. Jerry suddenly discovers racial problems

Oh, what an election can do to change a public official!

Superintendent Jerry Weast didn't care much for dealing with things like racial tensions, school security and other minority concerns, and enjoyed the support of the all-white majority on the board of education and a tight relationship with County Executive Doug Duncan.

Now, with his political power base completely gutted since the November elections, Weast is suddenly pandering to new political leaders.

New County Executive Ike Leggett has cast a skeptical eye on Weast's secretive school budget machinations, and didn't take kindly to Weast's hostility toward a county Inspector General probe of the superintendent's ill-fated Kendale scandal.

Weast hatchet-man Michael Subin was the only local incumbent Democrat whom Montgomery County residents kicked out of office; Weast nemesis Valerie Ervin replaced Subin on the County Council Education Committee.

Ervin's only ally on the school board who had challenged Weast, Nancy Navarro, is the new school board president. And two new African-American board members are also on the board - no thanks to Weast, who had unofficially favored only white candidates last year.

So it's no accident that he would highlight racial issues in pandering to the board to renew his $359,000-a-year contract.

According to the Gazette, Weast sent the board an official letter last week, seeking his contract renewal: "The letter . . . outlines several successes during his seven-year tenure, which includes raising test scores in elementary schools and narrowing the achievement gap for some black and Hispanic students.

"If his contract is renewed, Weast intends to focus on increasing school safety and addressing racial tension in schools."

Weast is walking quite a tightrope: He's still sphinxlike about the racist behavior of his diehard school board ally Steve Abrams.

58 days and counting: Weast still silent on Abrams racism

When Churchill High School Principal Joan Benz for used politically incorrect language in a letter she had intended, the words of a Washington Post editorial, to "rebut horrid, racist remarks from some Churchill parents," confederates of Superintendent Jerry Weast wasted no time trashing her to reporters and declare that she would be punished.

There's no room for such talk at MCPS, officials said.

But it's been about 58 days now since Weast's main ally on the Board of Education, Steve Abrams, hurled all 300 pounds of himself at a local African-American man whom Abrams had pressured to stop running for County Council, and abused the man with racial epithets. Abrams pinned the man to the wall of a stairwell and, in the words of the victim, tried to choke him.

Abrams reportedly had promised the candidate, Adol T. Owen-Williams (pictured) to pay his $5000 campaign debt as long as Owen-Williams would quit running so that Abrams could run in his place. It was an agreement sealed with a handshake. After the election, after voters trounced Abrams, the rotund Republican refused to keep his word. When Owen-Williams approached him at a Montgomery County GOP meeting on November 13, Abrams reportedly assaulted him and heaped him with racially-tinged invective. Owen-Williams has charged Abrams with assault and extortion.

Weast has said nothing.

Stubborn facts from an African-American dad

An African-American dad brings up some facts that the hypersensitive types wish would stay at the back of the bus.

"Once again, some students engage in bad - in this case violent and allegedly criminal - behavior, and the brunt of the concern gets directed at the school principal, on the grounds that she has been racially insensitive," Alan Hairston of North Bethesda writes in a letter to the Washington Post.

"A number of violent incidents have occurred at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac in the past two months. And though the school population is only 6.6 percent black, all of the incidents involved black students.

"As a black parent of a son in a school in a neighboring cluster with similar demographics, I don't find noting such facts to be 'racially insensitive'; I find it to be 'racially accurate,'" Hairston says.

"If anyone had taken the time to read Principal Joan C. Benz's original letter, he or she would have seen that Ms. Benz was stating that the actions of a small part of a small population of the school were tarnishing the accomplishments of all Churchill's African-American students (SAT stores up an average of 203 points, for example)," he continues.

"Instead of worrying about Ms. Benz's 'insensivity,' the NAACP should be concerned about the inactivity of the parents whose children were involved in the brawl. The principal attempted multiple interventions with the parents, to no avail. I'm tired of the apologists who blame achievement gaps on the schools instead of the parents."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New school board rebuffs Weast railroad attempt

The Board of Education has derailed Superintendent Jerry Weast's attempt to railroad through a controversial and complicated set of reforms for MCPS middle schools. Wise to the superintendent's ways, the new school board majority decided to postpone a vote until February 13 after they, as well as PTA leaders, realized they didn't know what they were being asked to approve.

"We do not think moving ahead before all stakeholders, including board members, have had adequate time to evaluate the report enhances our partnership," Jane de Winter, president of the county council of PTAs, told the board, according to the Gazette.

"Board member Christopher S. Barclay (Dist. 4) of Takoma Park agreed, also asking for more time to consider the companion policy. 'My concern is one, we’re getting this policy and the reform report, pretty much, with a few days to look at it.'"

Meanwhile, momentum is building to convince the school board that Weast has abused his power and lost the public trust, and that he should be replaced as soon as his $350,000+ annual contract expires.

Washington Post: 'Benz's apology read like she'd been packed off to reeducation camp'

Churchill High School Principal Joan Benz seems well-conditioned to respond to Montgomery County's moonbat politicians and MCPS thought police.

Washington Post columnist Mark Fisher discusses the uproar over Benz's lament that the kids involved in the January 3 fight were black, and writes that Benz didn't follow the "unwritten rules" about the latest fashions on matters of race.

Says Fisher, "At Churchill, Benz rushed to apologize. 'I did not intend to single out one group of students in a negative light,' she wrote the next morning. 'I value each and every student. . . . Churchill is a safe school. . . . I am sorry that my initial letter caused hurt to members of the Churchill community.' Benz's apology read like she'd been packed off to reeducation camp."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Weast vows to punish Churchill principal

Superintendent Jerry Weast won't criticize white School Board member Steve Abrams for assaulting an African-American politician and taunting him with racial slurs - but he vows to punish Churchill principal Joan Benz for lamenting "black on black violence" in her school.

Weast has been silent on the November 13 incident in which Abrams, one of Weast's only open supporters on the Board of Education, assailed Adol T. Owen-Williams, whom Abrams had pressured to quit running for the County Council so he could be the candidate instead.

But the superintendent was quick to stomp on Dr. Benz for publicly lamenting in a letter to Churchill parents that kids involved in school violence happened to be black.

"School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast 'is very upset that this letter was sent and that these racial comments were made,' said Brian Edwards, spokesman for the school system. He stressed that Benz's letter was not reviewed or approved by senior staff, which is standard operating procedure. Benz said that she attempted to send it to a supervisor but that it was not reviewed in time. Edwards said the supervisor did not receive the letter until 3:30 p.m., well after the school's dismissal," the Washington Post reports.

"A source close to the superintendent, who asked not to be quoted by name because he was discussing a personnel issue, said of Benz: 'She'll be disciplined.'"

And what of kids who commit criminal violence in public schools? Weast's spokesman had no comment.

Churchill PTA stands by Principal Benz

"Churchill PTA President Robyn Solomon said she fully supports Benz and said she had received many phone calls from parents who also support the principal," the Gazette reports.

Black and white parents back Benz

Even as politically correct school board members trashed Churchill High School Principal Joan Benz for having the audacity to lament in writing that the small group of violent kids happen to be black, Dr. Benz is getting support from white and black parents alike.

"Leaders of the Montgomery school system quickly condemned the principal's statement as racially insensitive, even as some Churchill parents, black and white, rose to defend her as a caring educator who tripped over some ill-chosen words," the Washington Post reports.

Under attack from superiors, Principal Benz says she's sorry for being so insensitive

Churchill High School Principal Joan Benz, finding that the school board and superintendent have left her out to hang after cracking down on violent kids, has issued the customary groveling apology for being so insensitive.

"I deeply apologize to our Churchill students and parents who were offended and want to reassure you that I value each and every student in our school community and work every day to make sure each student is successful," the principal of the nation's finest public high school writes in a public self-flagellation. "I did not intend to single out one group of students in a negative light. I am particularly sorry that my choice of words reflected racial insensitivity."

Other bloggers razz MCPS, back principal

Other bloggers agree with that the school board members and superintendent obsess more about white people who try to solve violence among black kids, instead of helping the African-American kids.

Blogger Casey Lartigue (pictured), in his African-American-oriented site called What Would You Say If You Weren't Afraid? says, "The community activists and others upset about the letter may not know what to do about the youngsters fighting, but they certainly know how to spring into action when a white administrator makes a comment about race. Those are fighting words! To hell with the actual fight!"

Lartigue adds, "I don't know about you, but I've concluded that the best way to really fight black-on-black crime is to wait for someone white to say something about it, and then pounce on that..."

Blogger Betty on Teacher Lingo says the punishment for the reputed gang members seems rather mild, and that Dr. Benz's new dress code is appropriate and overdue. She makes fun of the complainers: "The consequences don't seem that bad. I can just hear the complaints now. 'Oh, no, I can't wear my do-rag to school.'"

Parents of Churchill thugs say their kids are nice boys

The police say that most of the local thugs arrested at Churchill High School belong to a street gang named "54 MOB," but the parents of the suspects say the mob is "merely a club of young men," according to the Washington Post.

A Montgomery County police statement says that one group of Churchill assailants is from “Criminal Street Gang 54 MOB."

"In general, the type of non-legal activities the 54 gang has been involved in has included tagging graffiti and truancy, as well as robbery and drug possession," according to the police.

But parents of the gang members and neighbors in their segregated Scotland community on Seven Locks Road disagree. The Washington Post reports, "54 MOB, they say, is merely a group of young men from Scotland who dress in red and black, the colors of their Michael Jordan sneakers, and play on the last two digits of their Potomac ZIP code."

Gang mom: Dress code unfair to her son & friends

The mother of one of the Churchill High School gang members arrested for the January 3 assault says the school's anti-gang dress code unfairly targets her son and his friends.

The Washington Post reports that she "said school administrators recently created a dress code that applied only to her son and his friends and used it to suspend him when he wore a red-and-black Michael Jordan cap."

MCPS says gang members 'feel unloved at home'

An official MCPS flyer about gangs says that gang members tend to "feel unloved at home, do poorly in school, and have difficulty in making decisions and communicating with others."

The gang problem at Churchill has little to do with race and lots to do with poor parenting.

Superintendent Weast and the Board of Education ought to back off Churchill Principal Joan Benz and give her the support she needs.

As for the parents of the 54 MOB thugs, if they look in the mirror, they'll see who is most to blame for their kids' criminal conduct.

County government issues gender-phobic report on Churchill assault

The Montgomery County government has released an official statement on the January 3 Churchill assault - a report that neighborhood residents say is sexist and insensitive to the feelings of men and boys.

In the statement, the County government identified the assault suspects by their gender at least eight times. Critics say that mentioning the suspects' gender was unnecessary and hurtful.

"This is a shockingly sexist, insensitive, gender-phobic statement from a county that says it's committed to diversity," says Seven Locks Road resident Doug Frederick. "I just can't believe that in 2007 our local leaders would stoop to sexist attacks on troubled high school kids."

As proof of the county's gender-phobia, Frederick cites the following passages from the county statement, in which hateful officials specified the suspects' gender at least 8 times:
  • "the fight began between six male students. . ."
  • "What began as a verbal argument, escalated when one of the boys suggested they take it outside."
  • "A 16-year-old male student who was charged in the assault. . ."
  • "A 16-year-old male student from Potomac. . ."
  • ". . . a 14-year-old male student from Potomac. . ."
  • ". . . and a 15-year-old male student from Silver Spring were charged as juveniles with one count each of second-degree assault and disturbing school activities."
  • "A 16-year-old male student from Potomac was charged with one count of disturbing school activities. . ."
  • ". . . a 16-year-old male from Potomac was charged with two counts of second-degree assault."

"This gender-phobia must not stand," Frederick insisted. "It is demeaning and damaging to males' self-esteem."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Gang violence at Churchill High School

It was bound to happen in a school system that allows armed robbers to play varsity football.

Recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the finest public schools in the nation, Winston Churchill High School in Potomac is now the home to gang violence.

Two years after MCPS officials verbally abused Seven Locks Elementary School parents who warned that Superintendent Weast's social policies would bring gang violence into the area, the first major incident has taken place.

Churchill Principal Joan Benz wrote a letter today to the school's students and parents explaining the January 3 incident.

Dr. Benz described "a multi-faceted fight" in which "three students were charged with second degree assault on other students" and "a fourth student was charged with second degree assault on one of our Security Staff members."

"No weapons were involved in this incident," Dr. Benz stated. "The students have been suspended for ten days with a recommendation for expulsion."

Churchill principal clamps down on gangs

In an action sure to raise the ire of the ACLU, Churchill High School Principal Joan Benz (pictured) is cracking down on gang activity.

She's going further than recommending after-the-fact expulsions of violent thugs in her school, and hope to choke off future gang operations.

She tells students and parents in her January 4 letter, "I have resisted making the following decision, but now it is essential to guarantee the safety and security of all Churchill students and staff members. Because gang members use 'visual cues' to identify themselves for affiliation and intimidation purposes, effective o­n Monday, January 8, 2007, Churchill students will not be allowed to wear hats except those directly related to a specific culture or religion. No bandanas, do-rags, skull caps or hoods are to be worn over the head. No bandanas, flags, banners, pieces of fabric, are allowed to be attached to the student or to his/her belongings. Notebooks or books, containing or upon which graffiti appears, will be confiscated."

Good for you, Dr. Benz! Why this hasn't been a long-standing MCPS policy is something for the superintendent to answer.

Churchill gang activity surfaced in November

"The problems and behaviors of this small group of students surfaced in early November," Winston Churchill High School Principal Joan Benz wrote parents on January 4.

"Numerous individual conferences with the students and their parents have occurred in the past two months, often before and after suspensions for intimidating behaviors, abusive language and fighting. These behaviors were directed at other students, staff members and members of the Montgomery County Police Department. Similar assaults and threats have continued in various parts of our community.

"On November 14, 2006, I required the identified students and their parents to attend a mediation meeting conducted by four members of the Montgomery County Police Department. The lead officer was an Inspector with the Gang Unit. Parents were made aware that the behaviors exhibited, intimidation, group retaliation, wearing of certain colors, and lack of respect for any authority aligned with police knowledge of gang development and recent increased activity across the County. On December 4, 2006, the same panel of officers presented gang related information to the Churchill staff to make them aware of these increased activities in the community and in our school."

'Small group of students' changed Churchill climate

"A small group of students have changed our educational climate," Churchill High School Principal Joan Benz continues in her January 4 letter.

"The many behavioral interventions I’ve put into place for these students have not assisted them to make good choices. There is a devastating contrast when students are assaulting each other and a Churchill Security Team member next to a marquee stating our Maryland Blue Ribbon status.

"I have failed to mention to this point another devastating fact. Every incident revolving around this two month ordeal has been Black-on-Black violence. At the very time yesterday’s assaults were taking place, I learned that the SAT mean scores for our African-American students had risen an amazing two-hundred three points with an increase by thirty-three percent in their participation rate. Do you see how a very few students can paint a very negative and inaccurate picture?

Weast being timed on reaction to gang violence

Let's see how quickly our contract-hunting superintendent sucks up to public concern about gangs, now that violence has hit Churchill High School.

In 2005, Montgomery County Police and some County Council members thought that MCPS wasn't taking the gang problem seriously.

The Gazette reported at the time that Montgomery County Council members questioned "how seriously Montgomery County Public Schools perceived the threat gangs presented to the county's young people."

Churchill Principal Joan Benz's letter to parents went out at 12:51 p.m. on January 4, 2007. We'll start our clock at that minute to see how long Superintendent Weast "discovers" the gang problem and brown-noses the public with some long-overdue tough talk.

Exclusive: Abrams and Subin not involved in Churchill assault has it on good authority that Board of Education member Steve Abrams (pictured), who is being charged with assault and extortion against an African-American Potomac politician, was not involved in the Churchill High School incident.

Neither was former County Council Education Committee Chairman Mike Subin, though Subin has repeatedly threatened violence against his colleagues, local citizens, and even a Seven Locks Elementary School dad. (At least two of Subin's ex-wives - Sandra, Wife No. 2; and Catherine, Wife No. 3 - reportedly say he did more than threaten to beat them, but that's another story.)