Writing

THE WASHINGTON POST

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY COPS AND COURTS

Prince George’s Police plan to live-tweet prostitution sting
(B1, May 3, 2013)
Prince George’s police say, vice officers will take to the streets to arrest people suspected of soliciting prostitutes. But in an unusual twist, they’re planning to give the public an inside look at the sting operation — detailing it live on Twitter.

After Relisha Rudd’s disappearance, who should care for her three younger brothers?
(A1, May 14, 2014)
Fighting for the children on one side is a homeless 27-year-old mother who allegedly gave police conflicting information about her missing daughter, prompting an investigation by a grand jury of possible obstruction of justice. On the other side is a 43-year-old father who was found guilty in the death of his toddler daughter, a girl who would have been Relisha’s much older half-sister. The current question before the court may be what should happen to three boys, but it will probably involve another question: What happened to two girls?

Before Relisha Rudd went missing, the 8-year-old longed to escape D.C.’s homeless shelter (A1, April 6, 2013)
A deep look at Relisha’s life — and the adults she came in contact with before walking away with Tatum, who was found dead last week — shows that the details of her disappearance may be unique but the circumstances of her life were not. In recent days, officials have used the phrase “other Relishas” to describe children who live on the edge but whose chances of falling are hard to predict, even by people supposed to catch them.

Warrant issued in woman’s death for man sought in Amber Alert case
(B1, March 21, 2013)
A close relative of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, a missing homeless girl who is the focus of an intense police search, said Relisha’s mother claimed in recent weeks that the child was safe, although she was in the care of a man who police suspect has vanished with her.

Temple Hills couple dead in apparent murder-suicide
(B1, March 13, 2013)
On Winston Street in Temple Hills, Md., a weathered wooden ramp leads to the red door of the small brick house where Amando and Virginia Velasco lived for nearly three decades. Amando Velasco built the ramp a few years ago after his wife had a stroke, friends say, so that he could care for her at home. But Virginia suffered more strokes, and Amando’s health began to deteriorate because of his diabetes, friends said. In recent months, he had begun to ask neighbors for help driving Virginia to doctor’s appointments.

Video of victim blinking might be used as evidence in Prince George’s murder trial
(A1, Nov. 1, 2013)
Can a dying man’s blinks be used as evidence in a murder trial?

Prince George’s police to transform photo lineups
(B1, Feb. 9, 2013)
The Prince George’s County Police Department is transforming how detectives conduct photo lineups in an effort to prevent innocent people from going to prison. But there is still doubt among policy experts as to whether the procedure is an improvement.

Late night warrant sweeps net nearly 600 arrests in Prince George’s County
(B1, Oct. 30, 2013)
In the middle of the night, a sheriff’s deputy thumped on the door as officers surrounded the Upper Marlboro house of a woman suspected of stealing from a family member. Lights flicked on, the door opened, and within minutes, they led the suspect to a squad car in her pajamas.

EDUCATION

I covered education in Montgomery County, Maryland while attending school full-time at American University. For more, this Montgomery County education blog comprehensively documented my work as graduate fellow in 2012-2013.

Montgomery examines fairness of private funding for school projects
(A1, August 11, 2013)
Booster clubs and parent-teacher associations have long been important sources of funding for schools, paying for items such as playground equipment, field lighting and other amenities that public money might not otherwise buy. But in Montgomery, one of the most affluent counties in the United States, officials are concerned that private fundraising for such public improvements is widening economic disparities in the community.

Montgomery special education program under investigation
(B1, July 7, 2013)
Special-education students would take a bus about two miles to a now-defunct teachers’ credit union during the school day. They withdrew cash from personal accounts that school employees helped them open. And when they finished, students handed envelopes full of money to adults. Now, parents and special-education advocates are questioning the legality and ethics of a Montgomery County schools program designed to teach students life skills as district and state officials investigate allegations of financial mismanagement.

Teacher pay gaps among Washington area schools could deepen
(A1, May 11, 2013)
Discrepancies in teacher pay across the region are large, and the recession has sharpened the divide, sending some teachers looking for better deals. Parents and school officials worry that if such disparities in teacher pay deepen, districts that are already struggling to stay competitive will fall further behind as their best teaching talent moves elsewhere.

Parents, food service directors debate snacks sneaking into kids’ diets at school
(C1, April 14, 2013)
Across the country, lunch directors, nutritionists and parents are questioning what snacks should be allowed in school cafeterias as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) crafts new federal nutrition standards limiting sugar, fat and sodium for school snacks and drinks. The rules would be the first update to school snack guidelines in more than 30 years and would come as first lady Michelle Obama continues to take aim at childhood obesity.

Montgomery County superintendent Joshua Starr’s prominence injects him into national debate on standardized testing
(C1, Dec. 16, 2012)
Prominent superintendent’s  sharp critiques come at a time of intense and often rancorous debate over the role of standardized testing in President Obama’s plans for improving instruction, closing the achievement gap, and holding students and teachers accountable.

It’s not easy to replace foam lunch trays with green options
(C1, Dec. 9, 2012)
From Maryland to Illinois to California, environmentally minded students are pushing to remove polystyrene trays from cafeterias and replace them with compostable, reusable or recyclable alternatives. But change has been slow.

Montgomery County pupils have new report-card goal: Straight ES’s
(B1, Sept. 30, 2012)
Say goodbye to the “A for effort” and hello to the “DEM.” Your kid not doing so hot in math? Don’t count on seeing a C or D. Look for an N instead. The Montgomery County public school system is joining other districts across the country in abandoning traditional letter grades for some students and instead matching student evaluations with specific curriculum standards.

Montgomery County Public Schools says, ‘goodbye’ to chalkboards and ‘hello’ to interactive whiteboards
(B1, Sept. 16, 2012)
A generation of students who could graduate from high school in Montgomery County without ever using a traditional chalkboard. Instead, netbooks, digital tablets and interactive whiteboards will drive their learning.

FULL PORTFOLIO

For a portfolio of my work from The Washington Post, The Arizona Republic and the Phoenix New Times, click buiportfolio to download a PDF.

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