MCPS pledges to investigate alleged sexual harassment incidents

On Instagram accounts with titles like @survivorsatwootton and @survivoratblair, Montgomery County, Maryland, students — past and present — detailed incidents ranging from lewd comments to sexual assault.

The experiences detailed in social media posts at schools across the county have shaken school officials.

When the Montgomery County Board of Education opened its Monday meeting, Board President Shebra Evans referenced the accounts and said, “We are enraged and saddened by all of these allegations.”

“MCPS is actively looking into the allegations to address these reports as quickly as possible,” she said.

Evans urged parents and students who have been victims of assault or harassment to notify the Montgomery County Police Department. Police have posted on social media asking victims to come forward.

Superintendent Jack Smith similarly expressed his concerns at Monday’s meeting.

“When I read the information from our students around sexual harassment and sexual assault, I feel sick.”

He said it’s “incumbent” on the school system to make certain students feel safe.

Monifa McKnight, deputy superintendent of schools, noted the lasting damage abuse and harassment can have.

“The feelings and the impact of that go far beyond the moment of the act,” McKnight said.

Concerns about students’ welfare aren’t limited to allegations of sexual assaults — students who detailed incidents where they were bullied or belittled because of their race or sexual orientation also appeared in the social media accounts.

Evans said the school system will look into those reports as well and that MCPS staff undergo training to address issues of bias “so that all students feel safe, welcome and supported in all of their subjects and in their classrooms.”

To report incidents of sexual assault or other crimes, Montgomery County police can be reached at 301-279-8000.

The county’s Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program (VASAP) can be contacted weekdays at 240-777-1355 and on its 24-hour hotline at 240-777-4357.

Montgomery County also has a Youth Crisis Hotline, which can be reached at 301-768-9697.

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