Montgomery County Council has no plans to review Rock Terrace -- Gazette.Net



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The Montgomery County Council is not planning to review the possible mishandling of money in Rock Terrace School’s work-study programs because the county’s state’s attorney is investigating.

County Council President Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) said in a statement Friday that the council “understands that the State’s Attorney is currently investigating the pertinent facts.”

Montgomery County Public Schools and the state’s attorney’s office began investigating the Rockville school after parents raised allegations that staff misappropriated money their children earned.

The school serves developmentally disabled students.

Rice continued that it is the responsibility of the county school board to oversee the “most specific matters” in county school programs like those at Rock Terrace.

“Montgomery County Public Schools has indicated it has looked into this matter and taken steps it felt were appropriate,” Rice said in the statement.

Council spokesman Neil Greenberger said Rice was asked by “a number of people” to look into Rock Terrace’s programs.

Rice wanted to make it clear that he and the council do not plan to get involved “right now, if at all,” Greenberger said.

Greenberger said that the way the county is structured, the council approves funds for the school system, which can use the money as it sees fit.

“The council rarely ever gets involved in something like this,” he said.

Should the matter need more investigation, Greenberger said, the state’s attorney’s office is the entity to handle it.

In the statement, Rice referred to Superintendent Joshua P. Starr’s plan — which the school board voted to support — that will pay some Rock Terrace students who participated in two work-study programs.

Lyda Astrove — a Rockville-based lawyer and special-education advocate working with Rock Terrace parents — said she requested that the council look into the school’s work-study programs.

“It looks like they’re not going to, which is disappointing,” she said.

Astrove said she thinks there are roles for the state’s attorney’s office, the school board and the County Council when it comes to Rock Terrace.

The County Council has a financial oversight role and, as a result of the issues arising from Rock Terrace, should look into the school system’s financial management, she said.

Astrove said she and Rock Terrace parents she is working with do not support Starr’s plan.

Under his plan, the school system will pay about $30,000 to $35,000 to students who participated in the program as far back as 2006, said Larry Bowers, chief operating officer for the school system.

The school system will base payments on whether students worked inside or outside the school.

Starr previously said the school system would wait for the conclusion of the Montgomery County state’s attorney’s investigation. However, in a Jan. 14 letter to school board members, Starr said he thinks waiting for the investigation before acting would “delay resolution of this matter indefinitely.”



lpowers@gazette.net