After dropped rape charges, Montgomery Co. school safety review continues

WASHINGTON — After prosecutors announced they were dropping charges against two Rockville High School students accused of raping a 14-year-old classmate, the Montgomery County schools chief has called for “healing” in the school district.

But even with the dropped charges, the safety review spurred by the incident will continue, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith told WTOP.

Already, reviews have been completed at Rockville High and five other high schools.

“We’ve taken a good, hard look at six of the high schools. We’ll complete all 25 of them by the end of May,” Smith said.

Administrators will then focus on safety issues at Montgomery County’s middle and elementary schools, he added.

A summary of the review findings will eventually be issued, Smith said, but some information — about potential school vulnerabilities, for example — might not be released to the public.

“There are some things we don’t put on websites and print, because people who want to do bad things use the internet and use documents that we create and post,” he said.

That’s why maps and school floor plans, for example, are not posted online, he explained.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy announced Friday rape charges were being dropped against 17-year-old Jose Montano and 18-year-old Henry Sanchez Milian after an extensive investigation by the prosecutor’s office turned up “substantial inconsistencies” in the 14-year-old’s account of the reported March 16 assault.

The case sparked concern among parents and political outrage in some quarters over immigration policy.

Both Montano and Sanchez Milian were in the U.S. illegally, according to county authorities, and faced possible action from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

When the accusations were first made, Smith urged caution and caught flak for that, including what he characterized at the time as “racist, hate-filed” messages.”

“I think we always have to wait and see what investigations will show … In a society where we believe in the rule of law, it’s very important that people use restraint and not rush to judgment about anyone in any situation. And as a teacher and a principle for many years, I’ve seen many stories start and then finish very differently. And so that’s why I made that plea to the community at that time.”

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report

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