Montgomery Co. conducting Rockville High safety audit

WASHINGTON — A full safety audit is underway at Rockville High School in the wake of two violent attacks on students, including a sexual assault that’s become national news.

The audit was announced by Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner on Monday after he spoke with Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent Jack Smith.

“Issues like cameras, you can imagine,” said Berliner. “They are looking at all their structures to make sure they’re as safe as they can be, and then try to extrapolate from that ‘what do we need to do for the system as a whole? What are the lessons that we’ve learned here’?”

The audit is being conducted at Rockville High School first. But Berliner said, depending on the findings, they could be applied to the other high schools in the county too.

The council president declined to get too specific and deferred many questions to MCPS, which is conducting the audit. But he  highlighted one area that could see changes in the future.

“I will say to you that one of the issues that was raised, that surprised me, was the question of bathroom doors,” Berliner said.

“Not something that I would have thought of on my own, but Dr. Smith raised the issue as to whether or not the bathroom doors should be more like airport doors, which is you don’t have a closed door so that something like this couldn’t happen behind a closed door. So they’re looking at that issue.”

“If they conclude that those are some of the structural changes they need to make, then that’s something I would certainly support providing the resources to help them get there.” he said.

Berliner said he’d leave it up to the school system to decide what would work best, and then he’d work with school officials to make sure any necessary changes are implemented.

“As council president, I’m not an engineer, I’m not someone who specializes in this,” said Berliner. “They have people that look at this every day.”

While the investigation into the sexual assault continues, Berliner said he also spoke with the superintendent about a beating WTOP reported on last week. In that case, a girl was jumped in what her attorney believes was a premeditated attack. Police first heard about the case from the parents of the girl who was attacked, and parents weren’t notified.

“I asked Dr. Smith about that as well, and he said they are reviewing their parent notification process,” said Berliner. “So again, I refer you to Dr. Smith for those sets of issues.”

Berliner also acknowledged both attacks, and the attention and protests they have provoked, have taken a toll on the county. “Nerves are frayed,” said Berliner. “People are on edge, people are angry.”

He vowed to make sure the sexual assault victim would have access to any and all resources she needs as she recovers.

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