Montgomery Co. schools release findings on sex abuse

WASHINGTON — In 2013, Montgomery County Public Schools added a screening tool for new hires that included a records check with Child Protective Services, along with the already established fingerprinting and background checks.

Five years later, the school system is working to finish the CPS screening of all high school employees. The CPS inquiries into elementary and middle school staff have been completed.

In the latest update on child abuse and neglect policies, the school system reported it logged 3,087 cases of suspected abuse or neglect in FY 2018. That’s up by 94 cases over the previous year.

Of those cases, 357 involved allegations against school system employees, volunteers or contractors, though 317 of those were “screened out,” a designation by the school system that meant there was “insufficient evidence that abuse or neglect occurred.” Twenty cases were “ruled out,” meaning that abuse or neglect did not occur. 

Six cases were “unsubstantiated,” meaning there wasn’t enough evidence to make a determination, and 10 cases were “indicated,” meaning there was credible evidence that “had not been satisfactorily refuted.”

Allegations involving volunteers during that time were screened out, and there were no accusations of neglect or abuse involving contractors in the FY 2018 reporting period.

Currently, 13 cases involving school system employees are “pending,” including the case of a former part-time lunch hour aide who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and was sentenced to five years of supervised probation last month.

In one case, an employee’s certification was revoked. Another employee’s certification — which is needed to teach in public schools — is pending, and two others had their certifications suspended.

The school system is updating training materials on child abuse and neglect to comply with a new Maryland law that went into effect July 1. Under the bill, schools are required to provide annual training on recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect to staff and volunteers.

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