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New effort to end abuse at Montgomery County schools

Students of Montgomery County schools will have a shorter spring break next year. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

WASHINGTON — A recurrence of high profile abuse allegations involving children have one local school system trying to figure out what can be done to stop the incidents from happening again, or end the abuse faster when it does occur.

This week, Montgomery County Public Schools announced the formation of a compliance unit that will provide oversight and monitoring of all the training required by the school system. MCPS is also expanding who will get training and be subject to background checks.

School spokesman Derek Turner says the county is building on efforts that started two years ago.

For one, the background check process will cover more ground to “not only include a federal background check through their services, but also through child protective services,” said Turner.

“And this applies to contractors who would have any interactions with students, but also any volunteers who are going to be on overnight field trips or even volunteers who are going to be on field trips that last past 7 p.m.”

But even Turner acknowledges that “screening is not enough.”

“Everyone who is working close with students has to get training on preventing, reporting and recognizing child abuse and neglect,” said Turner. “We have to be vigilant about training our fellow colleagues and community members to recognize signs of child abuse and neglect.”

“A background check won’t solve all your problems. But we have a multipronged approach that we believe will help us keep our schools safe.”


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