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& INTO THE BLENDER Violinist creates a marriage of classical, contemporary sounds B-5 The Gazette OLNEY DAILY UPDATES ONLINE Wednesday, January 29, 2014 25 cents Women accused in exorcism deaths face evaluation The mobile generation n Both have been transferred to Perkins hospital BY ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH STAFF WRITER A Montgomery County District Court judge has ordered the two Germantown women accused in the killings of two toddlers to undergo further psychiatric evaluation at a state mental hospital. Judge Eugene Wolfe on Tuesday ordered Monifa Sanford, 21, to be transferred to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup. Zakieya Avery, the mother of the two toddlers, was ordered to the maximum security psychiatric hospital Friday. Avery, 28, and Sanford told police they were trying to cast out demons they Sanford Avery believed had possessed the children. The women told investigators that they saw the children’s eyes turn black, and observed demons possessing them, skipping from child to child, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said at Avery’s Jan. 21 bail review. See EVALUATION, Page A-10 Plans for new Farquhar Middle taking shape n Land swap for adjacent property advances BY TERRI HOGAN STAFF WRITER TOM FEDOR/THE GAZETTE Deisy Izquierdo, who is 21 weeks’ pregnant, learns the sex of her next child from a mobile ultrasound unit test during her baby shower Sunday in Silver Spring. Izquierdo is holding the hand of her husband, Josue, as technician Betelhem Seleshi of Baby Joy 3D/4D Mobile Ultrasound conducts the exam. See story, Page A-4. A plan to swap parkland for a middle school site in Olney is in county planners’ laps now that the Board of Education gave a nod to the concept. Plans to build a new William H. Farquhar Middle School continue to move forward, after the Board of Education recently approved the project’s preliminary plans on Jan. 14. Farquhar, located at 16915 Batchellors Forest Road in Olney, was built in 1968, and except for the addition of a gymnasium, has not been modernized. Earlier plans would have sent students to the Tilden Holding Center in Bethesda, while the school was razed and rebuilt. Parents, not wanting their children to be bused across the county, lobbied for a “land swap” involving a 17.9-acre property just north of the existing school. The adjacent property was designated as Rural Open Space, as part of the approval for the development under construction on the other side of Batchellors Forest Road. It is recommended for use as a local park in the Olney Master Plan, updated in 2005. Current plans call for students to remain in the existing school while the new school is built on the adjacent site, and then the existing building will be razed See FARQUHAR, Page A-10 Montgomery grad rate rises Cherri Branson named newest n Most student groups improve; decline in ESOL BY LINDSAY A. POWERS STAFF WRITER A larger percentage of Montgomery County Public Schools seniors tossed their mortarboards in 2013 than in 2012, according to Maryland State Department of Education data released Tuesday. The county school system’s four-year graduation rate rose to 88.3 percent in 2013, an increase of about 1 percentage point from the 2012 senior class. The rate has increased about 1.5 percentage points since 2011. Montgomery’s rate stands about 3.3 percentage points higher than the state’s rate. Rates for student subgroups generally rose from 2012 to 2013 with the exception of the graduation rate for English for Speakers of Other Languages students, which declined slightly. Black students’ graduation rate increased by 1.6 percentage points to 83.9 percent. Hispanic students’ graduation rates rose by 0.8 percentage point to 77.5 percent. Special education students gained 4.7 percentage points for a 67.5 percent rate. Students who receive free and reduced-price meals — an indication of poverty — climbed 1.5 See GRAD, Page A-10 SPORTS Montgomery council member Hill staffer will finish Ervin’s term in District 5 n BY STAFF WRITER Silver Spring resident Cherri Branson will serve out the remainder of former Councilwoman Valerie Ervin’s term on the Montgomery County Council after being unani- PASSION, PATIENCE AND COMMUNICATION The best players aren’t always the best coaches: a look at the qualities of a great coach. B-1 RYAN MARSHALL Automotive Business Calendar Celebrations Classified Entertainment Opinion School News Sports Please mously chosen by the other councilmembers Tuesday. The position opened up when Ervin resigned Jan. 3 to take a job as the chief executive of the Working Families Coalition, a New York nonprofit advocacy organization. Branson is chief oversight counsel for the Committee on Homeland Security working for the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Bennie Thomp- Cherri Branson, newly appointed See BRANSON, Page A-10 B-14 A-11 A-2 A-13 B-10 B-5 A-14 A-12 B-1 RECYCLE Check out our Services Directory ADVERTISING INSIDE B SECTION 1906236

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