John Lee | WYPR

John Lee

Reporter, Baltimore County

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County.

John has worked in news for more than 20 years. He has been a news director, assistant news director, managing editor, assignment editor and reporter at various radio and television news stations. He’s won numerous awards from The Associated Press, including best news operation, best continuing news story, and best news series.

Before coming to WYPR, John spent more than a decade as a stay-at-home dad. During that time he raised a disabled child. He also listened to WYPR every day thinking, “I’d like to work there.”

In 2013, John did just that. He started as “the world’s oldest intern."

John has both a master’s degree in media management and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Baltimore County

The Baltimore County Council is poised to vote on legislation next week that would reform the county police department.

It was nearly two months ago that the council shelved police reform legislation.

Tuesday night, the council held a hearing on a reworked proposal that in its current form has the support of a majority of council members. But possible last minute changes to the bill could make the final vote uncertain.

WYPR’s John Lee listened in on the hearing and joined Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner to talk about it.

John Lee

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewsi said Governor Hogan is not communicating with local leaders. Olszewski said that is a missed opportunity for the governor to hear from county executives before making COVID-related decisions, like what to reopen and with what restrictions.

WYPR’s John Lee talked with Olszewski about that, as well as reopening schools and the county’s overall response to the pandemic, now in its seventh month. He joined Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner to talk about what Olszewski had to say.

Flickr

Nearly 85% of Baltimore County educators surveyed by the teachers union this week said they are anxious or very anxious about returning to classrooms before January.

John Lee

The Baltimore County teachers’ union will survey its members this week to learn what they think about returning to classrooms. This comes as the union calls on school superintendent Darryl Williams to rescind his decision to have teachers report to school buildings October 19.

John Lee

All of Baltimore County’s teachers and some of its students will soon be heading back to school buildings.

That announcement Thursday caught the teachers’ union, school board members and the county executive by surprise.

Baltimore County Public Schools

The Baltimore County Public Schools’ IT help desk was overwhelmed during the days leading up to the start of school, as well as during the first several days of virtual classes.

School administrators told the county school board Tuesday night that from August 30 until September 11, there were more than 8,000 requests for technical support.

Seth Sawyers/flickr

Special education students make up 12 percent of the enrollment in Maryland public schools.

With the school year just getting under way with virtual learning, advocates and parents say many of those students are already at risk of failure.

The Associated Press

Baltimore County’s elections director expects half the people who will vote in the county this fall will do it by mail.

John Lee

Baltimore County lawmakers struck a deal Tuesday to pass police reform legislation.

Last month, the county council shelved controversial reform legislation. Tuesday’s compromise has the support of the county executive, and six of the seven council members.

John Lee

There will be no school buses on the road Tuesday, even though it’s the first day of classes for a number of school systems in Maryland, including Baltimore City, and Baltimore and Howard Counties. Every school district in the state is starting the year with virtual learning.

Associated Press/Jeff Chiu, File

This is a Labor Day like no other, with millions of people out of work due to the COVID-19 economy.

In Maryland, Baltimore County has had more people filing for unemployment during the pandemic than any other locality. According to the Maryland Department of Labor, from March through August, more than 93,000 people filed jobless claims in the county.

John Lee

Baltimore County will follow the state’s lead and move into Stage 3 of reopening. That means all businesses in the county, including indoor theaters and other entertainment venues can reopen with restrictions.

Krissy Venosdale // Flickr Creative Commons

The Maryland State Board of Education Tuesday approved a plan that sets the minimum number of hours students must receive live, online instruction from teachers.

The board backed off a proposal to put those requirements in place later this month, after critics said that was too soon, and would have caused confusion and chaos.

John Lee

  

It’s been more than 3 months since the House of Representative passed the $3 trillion COVID relief plan called the Heroes Act. It remains stalled in the Senate.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said there are dire budget consequences ahead for the county if the money from the Heroes Act doesn’t come through.

Flickr

Weeks after Maryland’s school systems submitted to the state plans for virtual learning this fall, the state school board is looking at a proposal for a minimum level of live, online instruction time for students.

The proposal comes as school is already under way in some parts of the state and about to begin in others.

The Associated Press

If you are an eligible voter in Maryland, you should get your application for a mail-in ballot in the mail any day now.

It marks the start of a bizarre, unprecedented election season for voters and election officials alike.

Towson University

Towson University is throwing in the towel and sending most of its students home for the remainder of the semester. Online classes will continue.

Towson President Kim Schatzel said in a letter Wednesday in announcing that residence halls will be closed that her greatest responsibility is to protect the health of everyone on campus.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County schools are being accused of failing special needs students who need their own aides, by not sending assistants into those students’ homes because of COVID-19 fears.

The school system is wrestling with the dilemma of protecting its employees while at the same time making sure those students aren’t left behind in virtual learning.

Baltimore County

The state parks in Baltimore County are seeing a crush of people looking for things to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. And because of that, officials say, the parks are being abused and traffic around them can be a nightmare.

John Lee

The Baltimore Museum of Art remains closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the BMA is making changes on its grounds and putting local artists on display on its website, so the artist and art lover can still have what the director of the BMA calls “access to joy.”

Kate Breen and her 13-year-old daughter, Tess, were trying to find joy in the BMA’s outdoor sculpture gardens.

“My daughter loves art,” Breen said. “This is the only way that we can see it right now is to see it outside.”

John Lee

Four-year colleges across the country are deciding whether it’s safe to have in-person, classroom instruction. So are community colleges.

The Community College of Baltimore County is offering some in-person classes. But before you set foot on campus to get to that class, you will have to pass a test, a screening for COVID-19.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch said he has recovered following contracting COVID-19 several weeks ago.

Branch said he considers himself blessed because his symptoms were mild. He continued working while he was self-isolating and said he now is “back to my old self.”

Seth Sawyers/flickr

Public school students in central Maryland are starting the school year with a virtual learning model.

Thursday, three school superintendents laid out what needs to happen before those students can return to the classroom in a virtual discussion that got off to a rocky start with some technical difficulties.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County students will be doing distance learning through at least the first semester. Tuesday night the Baltimore County School Board got into the nitty gritty of what that’s going to look like. Everything from attendance, to class schedules, to conduct, to sports got an airing out.

WYPR’s John Lee listened in on the meeting and joined Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner to talk about it.

Maryland State Fair

Forget the rides, the games and the food. There will be no Maryland State Fair this year.

Fair officials announced Wednesday they have to cancel the 12-day annual event to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones

A controversial package of police reforms will be back before the Baltimore County Council next month, despite the council’s 4-3 vote Monday night to table it.

Baltimore County Police Department

The Baltimore County Council Monday night put the brakes on passing any sort of police reform legislation.

By a 4-3 vote, the council voted to table the controversial bill, proposed by Democratic Councilman Julian Jones. This issue touched off a debate between members over how the legislation was being written and whether the council was ducking its duty to vote it up or down.

John Lee

Towson is one step closer to getting free circulator buses, but at the same time COVID-19 is delaying when you will see them rumbling down York Road.

The Baltimore County Council is expected to approve Monday night accepting $1.6 million in federal grant money to pay for 12 buses.

The Associated Press

Baltimore County election officials fear they will find themselves having to play face mask police at the county’s polling places this November.

That’s only one of the headaches that likely lie ahead for the people who run our elections, the officials say.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement from the county health department, Dr. Branch was having a mild cough and a raspy voice and so he decided to get tested at a county clinic.

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