Overview

Our review of stories and interviews totaled almost 30 alumni, parents, former employees, and other witnesses; all identifying details have been removed to protect the confidentiality of our interviewees. We contacted seven local, state, and federal entities for questions, including the Maryland School for the Deaf [MSD]. The evidence consulted includes MSD and other local publications, official state department websites, the Maryland State Archives, the Maryland Manual, census records, online social networks, state and federal laws, state and federal regulations, and federal court rulings. All research was done to our best ability with a chief focus on racism against BIPOC students, families, and employees—especially those who are Black—and unless otherwise stated, the term “Deaf” encompasses Deaf, DeafPlus, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, hard of hearing, and late-deafened persons.

It is necessary to note this report has the following caveats:

  • we were not able to gather all possible perspectives or responses from individuals or entities who were alleged to have direct knowledge or involvement in the matter(s);
  • when looking through prior bulletins of graduating students, we are not able to identify with certainty the racial and/or ethnicity status for all graduates;
  • our list of employees may or may not be updated, as we discovered conflicting information for some names on whether they were still employed with MSD as of the end of the 2019-2020 academic year;
  • in our examination of racial and ethnic demographics of MSD employees, we are not able to identify with certainty the racial and/or ethnicity status for all employees;
  • our access to the State of Maryland’s historical legislative records were limited; and
  • all stories published are allegations that warrant a third-party institution based in the State of Maryland to perform an in-depth audit (possibly by the request of legislators) where the said institution does not have any existing conflict of interest with any of the individuals or entities alleged to have had involvement in the matter(s) and if the allegations are found credible, all appropriate actions must be taken immediately.

With that said, we anticipate that MSD students and their families, employees, policymakers, journalists, and a wide range of community stakeholders across the state will find this report useful for their benefit in demanding justice and accountability. We hope the report is not and will not be, as it should not be, misused as a means of retaliation. If you believe this report contains factually inaccurate information or broken links, please contact us directly at [email protected] or on Facebook. (A summary of the investigative report along with recommendations and Appendixes A-D are forthcoming. The resources section and Appendixes E-F are now up!)

If you feel that this report is valuable and you want to support our work in investigative reporting, you can send donations. Thank you!

Background Information

Oversight
There has been some confusion about the oversight and the organizational structure of the Maryland School for the Deaf. The following entities were cited as some possibilities: the Office of the Attorney General [OAG], the Maryland State Department of Education [MSDE], and the Maryland State Board of Education [MSBE]. We contacted all three entities on July 16, 2020, and only the OAG responded; we received a confirmation that the OAG does not supervise MSD. Upon examination of state law, we discovered the separate and contractual nature of MSD’s relationships with both the MSDE and MSBE, instead of surveillance.

§ 8-3A-08: Agreement between MSDE and MSD (pg. 694)

  1. The Department and the Maryland School for the Deaf shall enter into a written agreement.
  2. The agreement shall provide for monitoring and review of the Maryland School for the Deaf, including:
    • Review by the Department of the annual budget approved by the Board of the Maryland School for the Deaf;
    • Monitoring of the Maryland School for the Deaf’s program of enhanced services for deaf students by the Department who have other moderate to severe disabilities, including the criteria approved by the Board of the Maryland School for the Deaf for the admission of students to the program;
    • Consultation between the Department and the Maryland School for the Deaf on issues of deaf education;
    • Assistance from the Department in developing agreements between the Maryland School for the Deaf and local school systems and other State and local agencies for provision of services to deaf children; and
    • Monitoring by and assistance from the Department regarding other aspects of the Maryland School for the Deaf’s education program and services to deaf children as required by federal or State law.

§ 8-3A-06: MSD’s Obligation to the Maryland State Board of Education (pg. 693)

Under §2–206 of this article, the Maryland School for the Deaf shall keep the State Board fully informed as to the educational program and administrative policies of the schools under their jurisdiction.

Historical Origins
For a better understanding of the actual oversight of MSD, it is necessary to take a deeper look at its origins and evolution.

In 1827, the State of Maryland passed a law to send white Deaf children and young adults ages 12-25 to the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, which had just opened the previous year, and to pay for their tuition and transportation expenses. Another law was passed in 1860 for the Governor to send Deaf children to the Columbia Institute for the Deaf and Dumb in the District of Columbia, as the institute was closer in proximity (Maryland State Archives). Still, some families were not satisfied with the quality of education at the CIDD and wanted Maryland to establish its own state school for the Deaf.

What convinced state legislators it was necessary to do it? The Maryland School for the Blind, a state-funded educational institute that opened in 1853, admitted a DeafBlind student in 1864 only to later realize they could not accommodate the student to the full extent of their needs, and administrators reported this. A few years later on March 22, 1867, the No. 247 bill was passed to establish and incorporate an Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb Mutes of the State of Maryland.

For additional context, the Civil War occurred from 1861 to 1865 and Maryland, a slave-holding state, was one of the border states straddling the North and the South. A blend of Northern industrial commerce trade and Southern farming, Maryland found itself deeply divided between the Union and the Confederacy and many of her residents would fight against one another in battles. With the state torn apart and in considerable debt from the Civil War with a distrust of government, leaders met in 1864 to revamp the state constitution.

An important provision of the 1864 constitution is the Board of Public Works, the highest administrative body in the State of Maryland, which was created to ensure transparency with the handling of state taxes and other revenues for economic recovery and maintenance (Wilner, 1984). Only three officials comprise the Board of Public Works: the Governor, the State Treasurer, and the Comptroller. The constitution went into effect three years later in 1867 upon ratification, the same year the No. 247 bill was passed as well. No. 247 also assigned governing authority of the Maryland School for the Deaf to the Board of Public Works, which continues to this day. 

To further confirm the Board of Public Works’ oversight of MSD, we sought other primary and secondary sources. The Board of Public Works’ recent July 1, 2020 agenda contained a discussion of cuts to MSD’s budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year with a final statement on page 36 (MSD has a line code of their own, R99). A Frederick News-Post February 2014 article shows that Superintendent Tucker obtained the Board of Public Works’ approval for a change of name for the dining hall at MSD’s Frederick campus. Further information on the Board of Public Works, including their relevant website(s) and contact information, can be found in the Resources section.

The Columbia Campus
David Denton started his duties as the eighth Superintendent at the start of the 1967-1968 academic year, and Margaret Kent was the Principal at the time. In the March 1968 Maryland Bulletin, Denton and Kent wrote the rationale in support of Senate Bill 274, a bill that would authorize MSD to add a second branch campus near Baltimore City. Denton and Kent presented MSD’s philosophy first to provide the Maryland General Assembly additional insight before discussing the need for a second campus near Baltimore City. 

Denton and Kent emphasized how important it was for the deaf child to receive a quality education:

“We believe that the literate deaf person, as the literate hearing person, must be able to read and write well enough to gain information for himself from the printed page and must be able to express himself clearly in written language. This is the primary goal of education for the deaf—to provide the student with the tools for independent learning for the rest of his life” (Maryland Bulletin, 1968, pg. 73).

For lack of a better analogy, Denton’s and Kent’s shared perspective was that if you go out hunting and you feed the child food, the child is fed for one day; however, if you teach the child how to hunt on their own, the child is fed for their lifetime.

Denton and Kent were convinced that the deaf child “must, first of all, establish a reliable symbol system for communication in early preschool years” and reiterated sign language is not harmful to the child’s academic and personal growth (Maryland Bulletin, 1968, pg. 73). The March 1968 Maryland Bulletin was written in a decade where experts were beginning to recognize ASL as a full autonomous language (note: LSM, BASL, PISL, and other sign languages are just as valid). William C. Stokoe, a linguist himself who served as a professor and a chairperson for the English department at Gallaudet University, published Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication Systems of the American Deaf in 1960. While Stokoe’s Sign Language Structure was not the first known publication on sign language, it played a role in propelling further research on the linguistic structure of sign language and it had an impact on deaf education in the United States. 

The Maryland General Assembly granted MSD additional funding for new facilities on the Frederick campus and a second branch campus based on the following developments:

  • MSD’s physical capacity (all classroom and dormitory spaces) maxed out at 300 students for two years in a row;
  • the state’s overall population was rapidly growing, which meant possible new transfer deaf students from families who had moved to the state; and
  • a considerable increase in the numbers of children being born deaf across the state was anticipated, due to the 1964-1965 epidemic of pregnant women being sick with rubella.

On pages 22-4 and 22-5 of the United States Census Bureau’s 1970 decennial count, it is shown that the State of Maryland’s overall population rose 26.5 percent from 3,101,000 to 3,922,000, and the number of residents within the major metropolitan areas [District of Columbia/Maryland/West Virginia, Baltimore, and Wilmington, Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware/Maryland] alone increased by 36.4 percent.

Many are curious to know, why put the second branch campus near Baltimore City? Two key factors occurred, according to the March 1968 Maryland Bulletin:

  • Baltimore City was, and still is, the most densely populated area in the state and it was hit the worst with the maternal rubella epidemic. Denton and Kent wrote that the public schools in Baltimore City and the neighboring cities would not be able to accommodate an influx of young deaf children.
  • MSD was receiving a steady stream of transfer students ages 10 and older from strictly oral day school programs all over the state (with a large number from Baltimore City), and admissions staff noticed that nearly all of them could not read and write above the second-grade level. “Remedial services” were needed for the incoming students to catch up to their appropriate grade level in reading and writing first before they could be transferred into regular classes at the Frederick campus.

Given how severely behind Baltimore City’s deaf children were in education through no fault of their or their parents’ own, Denton and Kent deduced that perhaps it would be best for the second campus to be in an area close by to serve them in a day program or residential capacity. It is also possible that the campus location was such that Baltimore City hearing parents could benefit from exposure to sign language and have the opportunity to be more involved in their children’s education at MSD for improved outcomes.

Denton and Kent estimated that MSD would need to accommodate up to 1,000 profoundly deaf children ages 2-19 from all over the state for comprehensive educational services. Senate Bill 274 was passed March 23, 1968 and signed into law shortly after, and five years would pass before the Columbia campus opened in September 1973 to accept local students ages 2-16 for grades preschool through the eighth grade. Sure enough, the overall student enrollment numbers skyrocketed in the 1970s and MSD had to continually expand their workforce to adjust (as shown in the Fall editions in the Maryland Bulletin throughout the 1970s).

Why discuss the history of the Columbia campus? It is claimed that Deaf parents of MSD students are privy to this tidbit: if the family resides west of Highway 97, the student is sent to the Frederick campus by default and if the family resides east of Highway 97, the student is sent to the Columbia campus by default. Many believe that the Columbia campus was located such that it would promote racial segregation, as Baltimore is predominantly Black and Frederick predominantly white today.

When Denton and Kent sent their proposal to the Maryland General Assembly in 1968, which detailed the concerns regarding the academic struggles of Baltimore City’s deaf children at the time of transfer to MSD with the suggestion that the second branch campus be established nearby, most of Baltimore City residents (roughly 55%) were white. Baltimore City is historically a white majority, and it was only during the 1970s that the city began their transition to a majority of Black residents.

Upon interviewing multiple BIPOC alumni from Denton’s tenure as Superintendent, they reported having had good experiences at MSD and thought highly of him. ­­­­Of course, it does not mean racism did not exist at MSD–instances of covert and overt racism did occur—it just was not as noticeable, from the perspectives of those BIPOC alumni.

It has been rumored that although Denton had allowed students and their parents to choose which campus they wished to attend as both campuses provided the same range of services, Tucker enforced geographic boundaries to determine which campus students would attend upon approval for admission. On page 20, the MSD 2019-2020 Handbook states:

“Any student applying for admission to the elementary school or middle school program shall attend the campus to which they are assigned as designated by the Board of Trustees based on the student’s bona fide residence. Effective May 19, 2000, all student requests for a transfer from one campus to the other shall be governed by the procedures adopted by the Board of Trustees.”

The line of reasoning cited, as shown on page 20 of the 2019-2020 MSD Handbook, is the “effective use of school facilities, to provide sufficient capacity and staff at each campus, and to avoid the overcrowding of one campus, while underutilizing the other.”

Alumni interviewees have also mentioned a shared perception that the admissions process, including the geographical district policy cited above, promotes racial segregation, pointing out that students’ racial demographics are mostly white at the Frederick campus and mostly Black at the Columbia campus. Other instances of racial segregation the alumni cited were at the Frederick campus as of 2013 with the residential dorms, the cafeteria, within classrooms, and between the VOC and ELY buildings.

It is worth mentioning that Table 1 shows Frederick City going from 89% of residents being white in 1960 to 64% of residents being white in 2010. The same data is shown in a different way, in Chart 1, available in Appendix A. Chart 2 depicts the change in racial demographics over 48 years from five decennial censuses and the 2018 American Community Survey for eight counties in Maryland: Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Washington County (available in Appendix A). Altogether, a more racially and ethnically diverse population is anticipated in Frederick City and much of the counties west of Highway 97 and MSD must acknowledge this and adapt accordingly for current and future students.

The Admissions Process

Legal Parameters
As far as Deaf Vee Journal is aware, MSD is the only state-run, public taxpayer-funded school for the Deaf that accepts out-of-state students on a tuition basis. Current state law allows MSD to do so, and the origins of this specific law predates 1992 (The Maryland Bulletin, October-November 1992).

§ 8-304: Maryland School for the Deaf – Admissions

(1)The Maryland School for the Deaf shall adopt written standards for the admission of students.
(2) The standards shall define and distinguish between students who are bona fide Maryland residents and those who are out-of-state students, for purposes of admission and tuition.
(2a) Tuition – State Residents. The Maryland School for the Deaf shall admit free of charge students who: are bona fide Maryland residents; and meet its admissions standards.

(2b) Tuition – Out-of-state students. The Maryland School for the Deaf may admit for tuition out-of-state students who meet its admission standards. The School shall establish tuition rates on an annual basis.

We were not able to pinpoint exactly which year or any explanation as to why it was first introduced to the Maryland General Assembly, as the furthest Maryland General Assembly’s online archives go back is 1996 and the Maryland State Archives has not yet optimized their search engine for all legislative records. While there is evidence to suggest the legal authorization of out-of-state admissions occurred as an amendment to existing law in either 1957 or 1978, a thorough search of legislative records from both years as an attempt to confirm this was futile. Without this information, we cannot provide the context that others may be looking for when it comes to answering the “why” and the “how” behind this law.

Page 14 of the MSD 2019-2020 Handbook shows that in-state applicants have admission priority over out-of-state applicants:

In-State students are given admission priority over out-of-state applicants. Out-of-State applicants who are eligible may be admitted to MSD provided that all eligible in-state applicants have been accepted and are being served. Out-of-State student enrollment will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that in-state applicants continue to have priority offers of placement.

Community members voiced the concern that MSD may be accepting a disproportionate number of out-of-state students compared to in-state students. It is also claimed that Baltimore children are being waitlisted for admission to MSD, and there are some conflicting theories as to why, if this is true, it is the case. Some say the Baltimore children are not able to enter due to procedural obstacles with the Baltimore City School District, while others say they are waitlisted only for the Frederick campus (primarily due to the geographical district policy cited in the MSD 2019-2020 Handbook) but they can still be admitted to the Columbia campus. A few have expressed disappointment that the Baltimore children are put on a waitlist when, to their knowledge at the time, out-of-state students do not seem to be in the same situation (being waitlisted) for admissions.

Last month we contacted the Admissions Department at MSD for both campuses as an attempt to get clarification on this and as of August 17, 2020, we have not received any response.

Some wondered whether it is possible to find a breakdown of MSD’s student body population across racial demographics and the categories of “out-of-state” and “in-state” from one academic year to the next. Table 2 below is an example.

It is our understanding that MSD is not required to report this and may not be able to release any of this publicly for two reasons: (1) the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act [FERPA] of 1974 protects the privacy of student records; and (2) the Deaf community is rather small.

Admissions Criteria
The 2019-2020 MSD Handbook includes their general admissions requirements on pages 14-15, which has six categories the student must meet to establish eligibility for enrollment at MSD: hearing status, age, vision, intellectual functioning, medical condition(s), and residency status.

Questions have been raised about MSD’s general admission requirements.

“I worked at a local school district with a young student who was struggling as the only deaf student in the mainstream program and, at my recommendation, the school district tried to refer the student to MSD only for the student to be rejected. I was upset, as I genuinely thought MSD would be a wonderful opportunity for the student. One of the district employees, who is hearing herself, was surprised, and she thought it was rather odd that MSD was able to reject student applicants. She commented that MSD is state-funded and yet it acts like a private school. How can they just do that?” (anonymous former employee).

One of MSD’s general admission requirements for out-of-state families is that they must establish in-state residency first for their child(ren) to have enrollment eligibility. One Black mother uprooted her entire family just to move to Maryland for her son, as she heard MSD would benefit her son greatly. The son’s application for enrollment was denied based on a “documented behavioral history” at his previous school(s), and the mother was upset:

“Schools discipline Black students more than all other students of different races for similar instances of behavior or disability diagnosis. The ‘documented behavioral history’ MSD’s admissions team referred to were records from several years earlier and, to me, it seems that they put more weight on those records than the more recent reports that show my son’s behavior as much improved and stabilized over the past few years. MSD has the Program of Enhanced Services for those on the Autism Spectrum Disorder or with emotional disabilities, and the diagnosis my son was given mirrored a learning disability. The admissions team does not seem to understand or accept the fact that given the appropriate supports, my son would thrive and any ‘behavioral issues’ would be minimal.”

State law describes the Program of Enhanced Services as being offered for Deaf students “who have other moderate to severe disabilities,” mentions that the Board of Trustees approve ESP admissions criteria, and states that the MSDE monitors the Program of Enhanced Services (§ 8-3A-08, pg. 694). Page 14 of the MSD Handbook states that enrollment will be denied to a student “(to all programs at MSD) who poses a safety risk to self or others,” including students who have a “documented history of severe behavior in a prior school, educational, or institutional setting.”

MSD is supposed to serve students with “other moderate to severe disabilities” according to state law and yet, based on their handbook and the mother’s testimony, they expect students not to have any “documented history of severe behavior” whatsoever at one point or another.

Academic Outcomes

Academic Performance
On multiple occasions, claims about the extent of academic excellence at the Maryland School for the Deaf have been made.

Since 1997, the Maryland School for the Deaf has won five Academic Bowl championships with four of them in a row from 2010 to 2013 (Gallaudet University, 2020), and that has often been cited as an instance. Is it an accurate representation, though? One counterargument is that the same group of students (mostly) could have been or were selected for MSD’s Academic Bowl team, year after year, and a review of Academic Bowl history confirms this.

Two years ago, Superintendent Tucker boasted that MSD outperformed other public schools on the state assessment scores (Dellinger & Dodd, 2018). It was an unsuccessful attempt to locate data that may justify or disprove this specific statement, and the explanation for why requires a mention of existing federal and state law.

Signed into law January 2002, the No Child Left Behind [NCLB] Act set forth accountability requirements for state educational agencies [SEAs], local educational agencies [LEAs], and schools to ensure that standards for academic performance were met; one such stipulation was the publication of report cards on student achievement. Twelve years later, the Every Student Succeeds Act [ESSA] was passed as law in replacement of the NCLB Act; the Congressional Research Service authored a summary of ESSA provisions where Section 1005 of Part A states that a “local educational agency shall prepare and disseminate an annual local report card” on student performance. One piece of evidence suggesting that MSD is a LEA would be the National Provider Identifier Database.

To be considered in compliance with COMAR 13A.01.04 et seq., the Maryland School for the Deaf is required to keep track of and report to the Maryland State Department of Education [MSDE] annual measurable objectives for each grade level in reading and mathematics, attendance rate, and the graduation rate; the reporting of supplemental information is also required, such as the annual dropout rate of students grades 9 through 12 and the Maryland High School Assessment test scores. Also, COMAR 13A.01.04.06 states that not only shall the Maryland State Department of Education publish the Maryland School Performance Report (now known as the Maryland Report Card) by state, school systems or districts, and schools, but also the “local school system” is expected to publish this information for their own district or individual school(s). The Maryland School for the Deaf is listed as a local school system, as displayed here on a MSDE webpage.

And yet, our extensive search indicates that MSD does not seem to fulfill the requirements of or practice transparency in publishing any public reports for student academic performance on standardized comprehensive and alternative assessments each year per federal law and state regulations.

Furthermore, the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014 Maryland Report Cards show that MSD had mixed Adequate Yearly Progress [AYP] results for reading and mathematics and was also marked overall as “not met” at both campuses. For reasons unexplained that we were not able to obtain from the Maryland State Department of Education, the Maryland Report Card for the 2013-2014 academic year is the last public data we could find on MSD. As of this investigative report, the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Report Cards do not list the Maryland School for the Deaf (even though we were able to find some data archives on the Maryland School for the Blind). One unconfirmed possibility is that the enrolled MSD student population is too small for public reporting requirements.

Graduation Data
According to federal regulations 34 C.F.R. §200.19(b) (1) (i)-(iv), the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is the “number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduation class.” A cohort is a group of students who enter high school as freshmen for the first time and it is “adjusted” if any other student transfers in or out, moves to another country, or dies within the next three years (The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2020). The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate does not include students who receive certificates of program completion, per Section 1111(b)(2)(C)(vi) of the Elementary and Secondary Act.

Withdrawals or drop-outs, expulsions and subsequent re-entry options, graduation extensions, and the student’s inability to satisfy the requirements for a high school diploma are additional factors that affect the estimated and actual numbers for both graduates and program completion students. Table 4 below shows the numbers of students MSD reported as having graduated or may graduate with a high school diploma for the last six academic years, which was submitted directly to the Department of Budget and Management [DBM] (the figures are reported every year to the DBM). Table 4, however, does not provide a full and accurate picture of how many of their first-time freshmen go on to graduate four years or five years later.

On page three of the Winter 2011-2012 Maryland Bulletin, Superintendent Tucker wrote: “Every year, nearly 100% of our graduating seniors who are on track for the Maryland High School diploma pass the required academic classes and pass the High School Assessments (HSAs) and receive state diplomas.”

Given the absence of data from the Maryland Report Cards, formal MSD publications, and public reports in submission to other state departments, we are unable to present evidence that may support or reject the current Superintendent’s claim.

Racial Disparities
We offer an in-depth analysis of decades’ worth of available data in Appendix B, which may be of interest for those with questions about racial disparities in graduation data and differences of racial/ethnic identity representation between the faculty/staff and the student body.

Athletics

Allegations of Athletic Exploitation
The Maryland School for the Deaf boasts their reputation of athletic excellence: 88 National Deaf Prep Championships, 55+ National Deaf Prep Player of the Year Honors, the representation of 50 MSD athletics for the United States team at Deaflympics, and ten Maryland Independent Athletic Conference [MIAC] championships. A closer look, however, reveals a darker side to their Athletics Department…

BIPOC and white alumni have stated disproportionate numbers of Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and biracial/multiracial student-athletes being coerced into the position of redshirting as freshmen so they end up staying a fifth year at MSD for their physical prowess, and they argue that both the Academic and Athletic Departments do not make it a high priority for quality education to come first before sports for BIPOC student-athletes. A review of MSD athletic varsity team rosters on MaxPreps shows some discrepancies between some athlete names and their corresponding grades (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, senior).

Alleged Nepotism & Conflicts of Interest
Given how small the Deaf community is, there is no existing documentation to indicate that MSD is doing all that they can to minimize any potential conflict of interest for their Athletics Department. The details listed below are public information found on the official MSD Athletics website.

  • The Athletic Director is related to the Head Coach of the high school varsity football team.
  • The Assistant Athletic Director is the Head Coach for the middle school boys’ basketball team at the Frederick campus as well.
  • The Director of Academic Affairs is also the Head Coach for the 3rd-4th grade girls’ basketball team, and his daughter is on the basketball team.
  • The Athletic Operations Coordinator is also the Assistant Coach for the boys’ varsity high school basketball team.
  • The Athletic Program Specialist is also the Head Coach for the boys’ basketball varsity high school team.

While the occurrence of dual roles is certainly not isolated to MSD (hearing small schools do it, too), the handout of MSD’s organizational structure does not make it clear what department or who directly oversees the Athletic Department (including the Athletic Director himself) in the case of suspected or actual staff misconduct and student-athletes and their parents are left unsure what to do or who to trust. 

Recruiting
In 2007, the United States Supreme Court made a unanimous 9-0 decision that forbids athletic department personnel or coaches from recruiting athletes. Many may recall that last year, MSD’s varsity volleyball team was barred from participation in the SpikeOut tournament after allegations surfaced that MSD engaged in illegal recruiting practices to gain a new player on their roster who had previously played for California School for the Deaf-Riverside. One former MSD parent asserted that the school has even had parents of the recruited athletes live on-campus as a “perk.”

MSD is an approved “non-member school” of the Maryland Public Secondary Sports Athletic Association [MPSSA], a Maryland Independent Athletic Conference member, a member school of the Eastern Schools for the Deaf Athletic Association [ESDAA], and also listed as a member school under the National Deaf Interscholastic Athletic Association [NDIAA]. The MPSAA Handbook seems to focus on student-athlete and coach conduct in the context of tournaments only, not regular league play, and the MIAC, ESDAA, and NDIAA websites in addition to MSD’s official websites do not display policies related to student-athlete and coach conduct; as such, it is not clear which or what standards MSD follows.

The need for a national-level athletic association for all schools for the Deaf has long been discussed, a topic featured in the Daily Moth’s September 24, 2019 video post on Facebook, and the NDIAA has existed for the past 13 years. (The NDIAA’s official website also shows that the Athletic Director for MSD’s Athletic Department is a NDIAA Board Member.) On July 21, 2020, we contacted the NDIAA to find out more information and received no response.

Student Discipline

Ineffectiveness of the PBIS System
As shown in the 2019-2020 Handbook, MSD joined more than 21,000 schools across the United States in following the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports [PBIS] model, often lauded as the “gold standard” for dealing with students who engage in challenging behaviors (Wilson, 2015). It looks good on paper, but there is an emerging body of research to indicate it may be ineffective with students overall—all the more so for those with intellectual/developmental disabilities, with pre-existing trauma and/or undiagnosed/untreated psychiatric conditions, and those who engage in behavior that educators, administrators, and employees may consider to be socially “abnormal” and yet it is normal in their own culture(s) or at home (Michael Hunsaker, 2016a, 2016b, 2018, 2019; Hassiotis et al., 2018; Marshall, 2009, 2011, 2016).

One common theme in the critique of PBIS is the heavy use of a rewards-based system that focuses on external motivations, and it creates a biased system where the odds are stacked against certain student groups (i.e., students with disabilities, immigrant students, and Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, biracial students—especially if they have additional disabilities),  and the result is those students are disproportionately disciplined.

For a better understanding of the cons associated with the PBIS system, read the works of Dr. Michael Hunsaker, Dr. Ross Greene, and Dr. Marvin Marshall. Dr. Hunsaker has suggested replacing the PBIS system altogether with Dr. Ross Greene’s non-punitive, trauma-informed Collaborative and Proactive Solutions model or Dr. Marvin Marshall’s Discipline Without Stress model. For a list of additional notable works related to the issues of a rewards-based system, such as the PBIS system, to consider looking at, look at Chris Wejr’s 2011 blog post.

Physical Restraint and Seclusion
Several allegations have surfaced of students being confined to a small room dubbed “the black room” (also called “the dark room”) as recent as 2015 and of students being physically restrained. Faculty present at the time reported that for any misbehaving student, the Behavior Specialist’s disciplinary method was to either cross the student’s arms around their torso and tie their hands to their back or put a straitjacket on them, depriving them of their ability to sign and communicate, and place the student alone in a room with no lights until the Behavior Specialist felt the student had calmed down enough. One MSD parent claimed that the room was oftentimes empty and cold, and the student would not be provided a blanket or a comfortable seat. 

Another story shared with us stood out in particular, from one of the faculty members’ perspective. An eight-year-old girl with severe trauma from prior sexual abuse was put in the room on several occasions and each time this occurred, the mother was notified. The door to the room had a small plexiglass square in place of a doorknob, allowing the psychologist to watch her and take notes from a seated position. For reasons unknown, the girl was placed in the room once without a straitjacket and she started masturbating. When the on-duty watch staff brought this to the psychologist’s attention, he went into the room, pulled her out, bound her into a straitjacket, and put her back in the room. The mother cried at this sight, feeling as if she had no choice other than to accept this “intervention,” as she was struggling to manage her child at home. The faculty member stated the room could not be any bigger than 5 feet by 8 feet, and it had a small ceiling light that was either green or blue.

The United States Senate’s Majority Committee Staff Report asserts there is no existing evidence to support the claim that using seclusion (the word “isolation” is also used interchangeably) or physical restraint gives the student any “educational or therapeutic benefit.” In situations where it is not an emergency, the use of seclusion and/or restraints is rather traumatizing for the student, and is well documented that in general, schools use disciplinary methods disproportionately with students with disabilities, BIPOC students, and students who are perceived as boys.

It is believed that the Frederick campus has two “black rooms” and the Columbia campus has one, and there is reason to believe that MSD employees are still using seclusion and physical restraints. BIPOC students reportedly were disproportionately targeted, being physically restrained and put in those rooms for untold amounts of time on a more frequent basis compared to white students, and some alumni stated the staff did not communicate with their parents about any disciplinary actions or measures being taken against them. We did find some collaborating data from the Office of Civil Rights [OCR] at the United States Department of Education on the extent of physical restraint and seclusion at both campuses for the 2011-2012, 2013-2014, and 2015-2016 academic years, and it is presented in Appendix C; the OCR data for the 2017-2018 academic year is scheduled for release this coming fall, for which a follow-up Deaf Vee Journal article is also planned.

{An Important Note: The Office of Civil Rights requires each public school district to report discipline numbers and biennial survey results are made available online for viewing. When reviewing the OCR data, there are two important weaknesses of the OCR data you need to keep in mind: (a) it is all self-reported on MSD’s part and it does not seem to be audited on a regular basis, so we have no way of knowing if all the data is 100% accurate and (b) it is every other academic year rather than every academic year, meaning there are gaps of knowledge in between each report.}

Three years ago, Governor Hogan signed Senate Bill 786 into law [§ 7-1101], which concerns the use of physical restraint and seclusion in K-12 educational settings. Senate Bill 786 added the Maryland School for the Deaf to the list of public agencies for the first time related to requirements on policy considerations and reporting for physical restraint and seclusion.

Beginning on the 2018-2019 academic year, MSD is to submit a report to the Maryland State Department of Education “for the prior school year on the number of physical restraint and seclusion incidents, disaggregated by the student’s jurisdiction, disability, race, gender type, age, and type of placement” as well as the “professional development provided to designated school personnel related to positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports and trauma-informed interventions” (Child Trends & EMT Associates, 2019, pg. 36-37). MSD has to observe and review their seclusion rooms, their training plans on the use of seclusion, and report this information as well.

For a very thorough explanation on the State of Maryland’s definitions for, laws, and regulations on physical restraint and seclusion, go to pages 37 – 42 of the Child Trends & EMT Associates report. While state law does not require MSD to notify parents for physical restraint and seclusion incidents (Child Trends & EMT Associates, 2019, pg. 85), the Maryland State Department of Education’s regulations do; according to the regulations, each time physical restraint and seclusion is used, MSD is to notify the student’s parent(s) verbally or in writing within 24 hours, document the incident, add the documentation to the student’s educational records, and provide the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) access to the said records (pg. 87-88).

If parents or legal guardians believe MSD is not complying with the Maryland State Department of Education’s regulations in regard to physical restraint and/or seclusion incidents, contact Dr. Deborah Nelson at [email protected] or 410-767-0294.

Deborah Nelson, Ph.D., Section Chief for School Safety and Climate
Division of Student Support, Academic Enrichment, and Educational Policy
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Suspensions and Expulsions
A number of Deaf community leaders and stakeholders in the state of Maryland expressed concerns about the ease of access to accurate data in suspensions and expulsions for students at MSD. As of this publication, all available data on student suspension and expulsion at MSD is found on the OCR’s Civil Rights Data Collections database as well, and again, we do not know how accurate the OCR data is. Appendix C includes an exhibition of the OCR data we found on suspensions and expulsions at MSD with subsequent analysis.

The Maryland State Department of Education has published data on the number of student suspension and expulsion classified by racial identity and disability status every year since the 1999-2000 academic year, and the Division of Assessment, Accountability, and Information Technology [DIATT] is currently responsible for data collection and publication. Appendix D contains DIATT data for the academic years 2008-2009 through 2018-2019, individually and collectively. Whether the DIATT data includes MSD’s reported suspensions and/or expulsions, we do not know as we did not receive a response to our attempts of contact.

Staff Misconduct

Child Abuse
As of 2015, the State of Maryland defines the term “mandated reporter” as any individual who works with children ages 17 and younger during their work hours, including K-12 personnel, and has “reason to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect” (Maryland Family Law § 5-705). Mandated reporters must verbally inform the local department of social services or law enforcement right away and follow up with an official written report within 48 hours of having discovered for the first time the possibility the said child may have been or is being subjected to child abuse (Maryland Family Law § 704).

Child abuse, in the state of Maryland, is defined as:

  1. the physical or mental injury of a child by any parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of a child, or by any household or family member, under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed; or
  2. sexual abuse of a child, whether physical injuries are sustained or not (Maryland Family Law §5-701; COMAR 07.02.11.03B).

State law has required mandated reporters to report any and all suspected incidents of child abuse since 1978 (Fraser), and yet a number of former MSD employees shared with Deaf Vee Journal that they were never provided mandated reporter training at any time during their employment.

One individual disclosed that when they witnessed an incident of child abuse in the classroom as a teacher aide at the Columbia Campus, they told the school principal immediately and notified CPS a short time later, only to be retaliated against for trying to do the right thing. A falsified police report was filed against the said teacher aide and law enforcement showed up at their home, which had them reeling in shock and they had to seek out behavioral health services to get through the ordeal. The teacher aide did not know it was standard protocol to inform Child Protective Services [CPS] then report it to the school principal, and only later did they learn more thoroughly on this from formal training for a later job at a different school district after leaving MSD.

At the time of this report, the educator who bent the Black young child’s wrist backwards until the child screamed is still working at MSD. The anonymous former teacher aide lamented, “Parents trust us to take care of their children at school and look at what happened! Look at what is happening. I cannot help but feel that I failed the children whom others abused. Others have told me that I did not fail the children… the school did.”

Effective October 2019, personnel in the State of Maryland who fail to report suspected child abuse will face criminal penalties (Criminal Law § 3-602.2), a full seven years after the Editorial Board for The Washington Post wrote a piece in the aftermath of the infamous Freeh investigation into Penn State’s years long child sexual abuse scandal that Maryland was one of just three states that did not include criminal and/or civil penalties for the failure to report suspected child abuse and should do so.

If you want to know where or how you can obtain mandated reporter training, visit the Baltimore Child Abuse Center [BCAC].

Sexual and Other Misconduct with Students
Numerous individuals affirmed their participation in or knowledge of inappropriate relationships between employees and students at MSD. It has been reported that BIPOC employees are more likely to be terminated than white employees for similar inappropriate relationships with students (a form of racism). Most of the time, the staff-student relationships go unreported and the staff in question goes on to gain employment at another state school for the Deaf, interact with students, and possibly engage in inappropriate relationships with them all over again. Based on anecdotal data Deaf Vee Journal has received, this goes beyond just MSD; it seems to be common at many schools for the Deaf. Consider JJ as an example, an individual who had a relationship with a student from the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind [ASDB] while JJ worked there (“JJ” is a gender-neutral pseudonym for this person).

When another ASDB employee learned of JJ’s inappropriate relationship with the student, the employee swiftly reported it to the Superintendent at the time, which was approximately the 2011-2012 academic year. ASDB administrators opened an investigation against the reporting employee based on unfounded accusations and it is not clear whether an investigation was conducted on JJ. The reporting employee was never provided a straight answer as to what exactly the accusations were, and the investigation was dropped. JJ later went on to work at the California School for the Deaf-Riverside [CSDR] and, as of right now, is employed at the California School for the California School for the Deaf-Fremont [CSDF].

As of December 2015, when Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act [ESEA] of 1965 with the Every Student Succeeds Act [ESSA], Congress also included a new section on the prohibition of aiding and abetting sexual abuse of students at schools. Section 8546 prohibits states, state educational agencies, and local educational agencies receiving ESEA from assisting current and former employees, contractors, or agents in their search for a new job at another school if there is probable reason to believe or knowledge that the said employee, contractor, or agent engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor or a student (Botel, 2018). Instances of assisting the said person may include but are not limited to, verbal or written recommendations, positive references, feedback on the cover letter/resume, requests for certain staff to interview the applicant, interview coaching, and efforts not to mention the applicant’s prior sexual misconduct history. If the school district or the school is found to be noncompliant with Section 8546, consequential actions from the U.S. Department of Education include additional stipulations with or withholding of ESEA funds.

If you have good cause to believe that MSD has violated Section 8546 of the Every Student Succeeds Act, you can contact the Maryland State Department of Education and/or the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the United States Department of Education.

Mary Gable, Assistant State Superintendent
Div. of Student Support, Academic Enrichment & Educational Policy
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
[email protected] | 410-767-0472

Mark Washington, Deputy Assistant Secretary
Office of Administration
The Office of Elementary & Secondary Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave SW
Washington D.C. 20202
[email protected] | 202-453-5563

One contributing factor to the number of student-employee relationships at MSD may be the confusion between two different laws in the State of Maryland: the legal age of sexual consent in the State of Maryland, which is 16 [it has not changed for the past 100+ years (Robertson, 2020)], and sexual abuse of a minor.

While state law does not consider it illegal for a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old to date, it is illegal for the 14-year-old and the 18-year-old to have sex because the 14-year-old is considered legally unable to give consent even if the 14-year-old says “yes.” Below is Table 5, which shows the circumstances under which the older partner, even if the older partner is a fellow student, would be charged for having sex with the younger partner. Table 5 only includes the simplest of cases, and the crimes and penalties do change depending on what happened, such as the victim partner did not consent, if they had an intellectual/developmental disability, or if drugs or alcohol were involved (The People’s Law Library of Maryland, 2019).

Table 5 does show that it is not illegal for a 16-year-old and another person older than 18 years of age to engage in sexual acts they both clearly agreed to… unless the other person in question has “permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for the supervision” of the 16-year-old (Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, 2020; §3–602). As in, if the other person is an employee (i.e., teacher, coach, overnight watch staff, dorm counselor or supervisor, etc.) who is responsible for the 16-year-old during school hours or after-school hours and is doing sexual acts with the 16-year-old, it is an automatic felony the person faces for up to 25 years in prison (Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, 2020).

Deb Myers is one of many former students who had relationships with employees at MSD and were sexually exploited in the process. In her 2014 memoir Deception: A Deaf Girl’s Journey through Trust, Betrayal, Abuse and Redemption, Myers does not specify who she had a relationship with, nor does she elaborate in her interview with the Frederick News-Post that same year, other than the fact he was a teacher of hers: “He crossed the boundary between student and teacher. I was 17 and vulnerable and did not recognize he was an adult and should have maintained his role as such.”

The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network [RAINN] has some useful information on how adults target vulnerable youth, including red-flag behavioral patterns. One interviewee asked us to share that youth need to watch out those red flags that signal the interactions may be taking an inappropriate turn or that it may be going too far: “They [the adult] will give you candy, they will take you somewhere, and they will be there for you as your friend as your supporter. They will show you they care about you and your wellbeing. The real intent behind that is to groom you and eventually make you do things that you are not comfortable doing.”  While there are good staff who do genuinely care about the students’ well-being, there are lines they would not cross in their interactions with the students.

Sexual Assaults
Unlike universities and colleges, national requirements to track cases of sexual assaults on students do not apply to K-12 schools. It was only 2015 that the OCR began to gather data on the occurrence of sexual assaults for the first time on a biennial basis, and MSD reported that a sexual assault other than rape happened at both the Frederick and Columbia campuses that year (two total).

An Associated Press 2011-2015 survey of state education departments across the nation reveals that although the State of Maryland does track incidents, the school districts report sexual assaults only if it led to suspension or expulsion—which means the reported numbers is lower than the actual numbers, as it does not include adult-on-student sexual assaults and student-on-student sexual assaults that did not result in suspension or expulsion. For every adult-on-student sexual attack on school property, seven student-on-student sexual assaults happen (Associated Press, 2017).

The State of Maryland does not require schools to have training on how to address or prevent sexual assaults, and the MSD 2019-2020 Employee Handbook does not have any listed protocols on how employees can handle or prevent student-on-student sexual assaults. Such a lack of mandate by state law on this matter does not mean that MSD should not thoroughly consider all potential student situations and create appropriate procedures in the event any of those situations occur, or that Maryland’s Deaf communities should not expect MSD to do better.

Making Reports
One barrier often cited in interviews with alumni and former personnel for reporting misconduct or failure to act on the part of involved staff is the potential conflict of interests within the workplace, which increases the risk of retaliation. One ex-employee said, “How is it possible for the administration or the Board of Trustees to be impartial?”

At least three allegations have surfaced, some as of the 2019-2020 academic year (some of the public information found on MSD’s website backs those allegations up):

  • the current Ombudsman at MSD’s Frederick campus is married to the brother of one Board of Trustee Member (the Board of Trustees oversees the current Superintendent);
  • a second Board of Trustee Member’s brother is married to the Assistant Principal for one of the academic programs at the Columbia campus; and
  • the current Superintendent’s fraternal relations with the majority of the Board of Trustees account for his ability to “get away with it.”

For those who want­ to report instances of suspected/actual staff misconduct, the first thing to do is documentation. Write down any and all occurrences (who, when, where, what, and when) and keep any evidence you may have in a safe place.

In instances where you think an employee may be having an inappropriate relationship with an underage student or involved with child abuse, it may be best to contact the local police department first, confirm the complaint has been filed into the system, obtain a copy of the police report, then proceed to notify the appropriate authorities at MSD in writing via e-mail. Appendix E has detailed instructions on how you can report a case of suspected child abuse—keep in mind, you are not required to have proof that child abuse or neglect has happened.

Should a teacher in fact did have an inappropriate relationship with an underage student or knowingly failed to report or participate in child abuse/neglect in the state of Maryland, it is grounds for the teacher to lose their certification. The Certification Branch at the Maryland State Department of Education uploads new information on the revocation of certificates every month on their official website. To verify whether a teacher has a valid and active certificate or report ethical violations, you can contact the Certification Branch directly by e-mail at [email protected]; their telephone lines are closed for now due to COVID-19.

Certification Branch
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 767-0406 | [email protected]

If the situation you are in does not fit the above description, review the next section. Save all e-mails (either by taking screenshots, pictures, or forwarding them to your personal accounts), and write down what, where, when, and who if MSD employees or administrators attempt to engage in retaliation at any point­. Doing so could be the only way to ensure the best outcomes for you.

Employee & Student Rights

Whistleblower Reporting & Protections
A whistleblower would be an employee who exposes information about secretive activities that are considered illegal or not ethical at the school, corporation, or organization they work at. Appendix F has a clean copy of the internal grievance process for MSD faculty and staff from pages 81-83 of the MSD 2019 Employee Handbook. It is best for you to take pictures, screenshots, or make copies of any and all evidence you have, including your complaint(s) in writing. If you can, submit your complaint(s) in writing first before you report it verbally. You are entitled to whistleblower protections under the Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1988 if you work at MSD, you followed the internal grievance process, and one of the two following scenarios fit you below:

(1)MSD initiated negative personnel actions or retaliation against you at work after you reported to them what you believed to be evidence of
(a) an abuse of authority;
(b) gross mismanagement;
(c) gross waste of money;
(d) a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety [i.e., affecting others]; or
(e) a violation of state and/or federal law [including discrimination, harassment, etc.].

(2) MSD initiated negative personnel actions or retaliation against you at work after you objected to or refused to participate in any of their activities, policies, or practices that would be a violation of state and/or federal law.

If you are a current MSD employee and you find out information that implies or confirms a violation of law, you must submit a completed complaint form (download it here as a PDF file) to the Secretary at the Department of Budget and Management [DBM] within six months of first finding out. You can CC the Office of the Statewide Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator, who is the Secretary’s designee.

David Brinkley, Secretary
Department of Budget & Management
45 Calvert Street, 1st Floor
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-260-7041| [email protected]

Glynis Watford, Statewide EEO Coordinator
Department of Budget & Management
301 West Preston Street, Room 607
Baltimore, MD 21201
410-767-3800| [email protected]

Even though it is against federal and state law to be retaliated against as a whistleblower, it would be best for you to document anything and everything that happens after you file a complaint. DBM investigations take up to two months, or 60 days, prior to their written decision on whether any violation(s) has happened—for more information, here is a brief overview of the complaint process (downloadable PDF file).

Discrimination
State and federal law prohibit harassment on the basis of a protected class (i.e., race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity) and retaliation for filing a complaint or being involved in the investigation of allegations. If you experienced or are experiencing harassment or retaliation at work for filing a complaint, what do you do?

As stated earlier, make sure you have a log of everything that has happened (who, what, when, where) and save any evidence you have or can find. You have two state-level options and one federal option.

  1. You can file a complaint of discrimination with the Statewide Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator’s office (downloadable complaint form in PDF), and their website provides a quick description of the process.

    Glynis Watford, Statewide EEO Coordinator
    Department of Budget & Management
    301 West Preston Street, Room 607
    Baltimore, MD 21201
    410-767-3800| [email protected]
  2. You can go to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights’ website, fill out their online intake form, and wait for the Intake Unit to contact you for a phone or face-to-face interview. You will need to finish the interview and sign all necessary documents for the MCCR before the MCCR officially opens a case on your complaint.  If English is your second language or you have a hard time accessing the intake form, you can contact the MCCR at (410) 767-8600 or [email protected].

    Maryland Commission on Civil Rights
    William Donald Schaefer Tower, 9th Floor
    6 Saint Paul Street
    Baltimore, MD 212202
  3. The third and final option is the U.S. Equal Employment Commission [EEOC], and you can use their online Public Portal to find out if the EEOC is the best-fit federal agency to handle your complaint related to fair employment practices. You have only six months from the date of the last incident to file a charge; if you went to the MCCR first and you are not satisfied with the case outcome, the time limit is extended to about a year (300 calendar days, to be exact) for you to file with the EEOC. There are three different ways you can file with the EEOC.

    Online: Use the EEOC Public Portal to fill out an inquiry and wait for an interview.

    In-Person: You can use the EEOC Portal Portal to schedule an appointment at the George H. Fallon Federal Building at 31 Hopkins Plaza, Suite 1432, Baltimore, MD 21201. Bring all information and papers to help EEOC staff better understand your case.

    Mail: If you have only two months left until your time limit runs out, you can use mail to file a charge more quickly. Be sure to review what information you need (click the link here) and know that the EEOC Public Portal will give you special instructions.

For more questions, you can call the EEOC Baltimore office and speak with an ASL fluent representative on VP at 844-234-5122 or a regular representative at 800-669-4000.

Student Rights
Students and their families can file complaints of discrimination with the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education (they also can have someone file a complaint on their behalf). We previously wrote an article about the process, and you can view it again here (click on this link).

Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education — Philadelphia Office
The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Suite 515
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3323
215-656-8541 | [email protected] </p>

Resources

The Board of Public Works [BPW]
Louis L. Golstein Treasury Bldg., Room 117
80 Calvert Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
[email protected] | 410-260-7335 bpw.maryland.gov
BPW Notes: The Board of Public Works has only three members: The Governor, the State Treasurer, and the Comptroller of Maryland.  

Next BPW Meeting: September 2, 2020 @ 10 a.m., click on this link for all BPW meetings  
Governor Lawrence Hogan 
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
Meeting Request | 410-974-3901 www.governor.maryland.gov
Notes: Governor Hogan’s direct e-mail is either [email protected]. Other possibilities include [email protected][email protected], or [email protected]  
Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford
100 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401
Meeting Request | 410-974-3901 www.governor.maryland.gov/ltgovernor
Notes: Lieutenant Governor Rutherford’s direct e-mail is [email protected] He also may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]  
Peter Franchot, Comptroller of Maryland
Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Bldg., Room 121
80 Calvert St., Annapolis, MD 21401 [email protected] | 410-260-7801  www.comp.state.md.us  
State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp
Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Bldg., Room 109
80 Calvert St., Annapolis, MD 21401 [email protected] |410-260-7160  www.treasurer.state.md.us  
David Brinkley, Secretary
Department of Budget & Management
45 Calvert St., Annapolis, MD 21401 [email protected] |410-260-7041  www.dbm.maryland.gov  | [email protected] or [email protected]
Glynis Watford, Statewide EEO Coordinator Department of Budget & Management
301 West Preston Street, Room 607
Baltimore, MD 21201
410-767-3800| [email protected] or [email protected]
Charlton T. Howard, Maryland State Prosecutor
300 E. Joppa, Suite 410
Towson, MD 21286
[email protected] | 410-321-4067 www.osp.maryland.gov  
State Prosecutor Notes: The State Prosecutor may investigate certain criminal offenses, including misconduct in office by public officials or employees and extortion, perjury, or obstruction of justice related to any of the above.  
The House of Delegates
House Office Building
6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
The Directory includes office addresses and contact information for all House of Delegate Members. The legislative session is closed until next year, 1/21/2020.
House of Delegate Directory (visit this link)  

House of Delegates Notes: The directory organizes all Members by District. To contact your House of Delegate Member, you need to know which District you currently live in. Find out here (click on this link).  
The Senate
James Senate Office Building
11 Bladen Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
The Directory includes office addresses and contact information for all Members. The legislative session is closed until 1/21/2020.  
Senate Directory Access (click on this link)  

Senate Notes: The directory organizes all Senators by District. To contact your Senator, you need to find out which District you currently live in. You can look it up here (click on this link).
MSD Board of Trustees
101 Clarke Place, P.O. Box 250
Frederick, MD 21705
[email protected]  
MSD Board of Trustees (Cont.) Attempts made to locate specific e-mails yielded no results. You could try using the Members’ names in this format: (first).(last)@msd.edu.
Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Nancy S. Grasmick State Education Bldg.
200 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201 [email protected] |410-767-0462 
Jennifer Judkins, Assistant State Supt. (MSDE) Division of Assessment, Accountability, & IT Nancy S. Grasmick Education Bldg.
200 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201 [email protected] | 410-767-0048
Marcella Franczkowski, Asst. State Supt. (MSDE)
Division of Early Intervention & Special Education Services
Nancy S. Grasmick State Education Building
200 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201 410-767-0238 | Website (click on this link) [email protected]  
Mary L. Gable, Asst. State Supt. (MSDE)
Division of Student Support, Academic Enrichment & Educational Policy
Nancy S. Grasmick State Education Bldg.,
200 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD, 21201
410-767-0472 | Website (link) [email protected]
Deborah Nelson, Ph.D. (MSDE)
Division of Student Support, Academic Enrichment, and Educational Policy
200 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201 [email protected] | 410-767-0294  
Certification Branch (MSDE)
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
[email protected] | 410-767-0406
Office of Civil Rights, Philadelphia Branch
U.S. Department of Education
The Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square East
Suite 515 Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-656-8541 | [email protected]  
OCR Notes: Robert Ford, one of the Civil Rights Investigators at the OCR Philadelphia Branch, confirmed that the OCR does investigate MSD and if the allegations are found credible, engages in meditations.  
Maryland Commission of Civil Rights
William Donald Schaefer Tower, 9th Floor
6 Saint Paul St., Baltimore, MD 212202 www.mccr.maryland.gov |410-767-8600  
Notes: Please contact the MCCR at 410-767-8600 or [email protected] if English is your second language or you need additional support.  
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
George H. Fallon Federal Building
31 Hopkins Plaza, Suite 1432
Baltimore, MD 21201 | www.eeoc.gov  
Notes: The EEOC Baltimore office has an ASL fluent representative on VP at 844-234-5122 or a regular representative at 800-669-4000.

Appendix E: Mandated Reporting for Child Abuse / Neglect

If you are a mandated reporter and suspect child abuse, you are to report it immediately to Child Protective Services [CPS]; you are not required to have proof that child abuse has occurred. Any person making a report of suspected child abuse in good faith is immune from civil liability and criminal penalty (Maryland Department of Human Services). If you knowingly fail to report, you may lose your job and be subject to civil liability and criminal penalties. Pages 14-16 of the 2019-2020 Employee Handbook lists out all CPS contact information by county; after contacting CPS, you are to contact the appropriate Principal or their designee right away. Mandated reporters must fill this form out (DHR/SSA 180) and send it to the appropriate CPS county office within 48 hours of calling them and send it to the appropriate State Attorney’s county office.

Additional information, including how to proceed from this point, is available on the Department of Human Services’ official website. If you are curious about training for mandated reporters, Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC) is the place to check out information. 

Appendix F: The Special Education Ombudsman

Governor Hogan signed Senate Bill 504 into law on May 20, 2020, which creates a new Special Education Ombudsman position in the Attorney General’s office that is to be filled by July 1, 2021 (the Attorney General will appoint the Special Education Ombudsman). Schools, however, are responsible to communicate this information to parents of students with disabilities for the 2020-2021 academic year (read Senate Bill 504 here).

Once the Special Ombudsman position is filled, schools also must provide the parents all available information about the Special Education Ombudsman, including their contact information.

When arranging an interdisciplinary team of professionals to meet with parents to discuss the identification, evaluations, educational program options, or accommodations for a free and appropriate education of a child with an existing or a potential disability, Senate Bill 504 states the parents must have ample opportunity to participate in the initial evaluation meeting(s). It is a requirement for the interdisciplinary team to notify parents at least 10 calendar days prior to the meeting (unless it is an expedited meeting only for disciplinary issues, the determination of placement for a child who is not currently receiving educational services, or an attempt to meet the child’s urgent needs). Senate Bill 504 requires the school to provide parents oral and written explanations of their rights and responsibilities, all in plain language, including a written handout about the Special Education Ombudsman and their toll-free phone number for calls.

Senate Bill 504 requires the school to provide parents oral and written explanations of their rights and responsibilities, all in plain language, including a written handout about the Special Education Ombudsman and their toll-free phone number for calls.

The creation of the Special Education Ombudsman position is to ensure that information and resources are given to parents and educators pertinent to the student’s rights and services.

The duties of the Special Education Ombudsman are stated as the following, as shown in Senate Bill 504:

  1. Serve as a source of knowledge and information on state/federal laws, rules and regulations related to education and students with disability parents, students and educators and interested members of the public;
  2. Give impartial information to parents of students with disabilities on how to navigate the Special Education system, including evaluations and services;
  3. Provide impartial information to parents, public schools, and educators on the procedures for resolving disagreements and disputes regarding the provision of special education or disciplinary action against the student;
  4. Explain to parents of children with disabilities the rights they have as parents and students as well as how those parents may avail themselves of those rights;
  5. Work neutrally and objectively with all persons involved to ensure that the education system functions as intended;
  6. Identify any patterns of complaints made by parents of students with disabilities and inform the state department of education about any such pattern; and
  7. Serve as a general resource for disability-related information and make referrals to available state and federal services and programs for individuals with disabilities.

On or before July 1, 2022, and each July 1 thereafter, the Ombudsman shall, consistent with federal and state privacy laws and in accordance with § 2-1257 of this article, submit a report to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and the House Committee on ways and means that includes:

  • the number and type of calls received on the toll-free telephone number during the previous year;
  • any patterns of complaints filed by parents identified under §6-504(A)(7) of this subtitle;
  • a summary of the services provided by the Ombudsman during the previous year; and
  • any recommendations the Ombudsman determines are appropriate and necessary concerning the state’s implementation of special education services and procedures.

The toll-free phone number is available in English and other appropriate languages to assist individuals looking for information and advice about special education-related programs and services.