Over the summer, Montgomery County students came forward to report more than 350 allegations of sexual assault on social media. School leaders recently held a town hall with students to outline the resources available to them and what’s being done to prevent future incidents.
About 200 students attended the online meeting and were greeted by fellow students and County Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith.
“We are committed to maintaining an environment in which every student can learn and thrive,” Smith said. “All of the allegations that have come to our attention are being thoroughly investigated.”
He added that the mission of the town hall was to help students understand the steps necessary to report incidents, the resources available to them and how to prevent such incidents.
Deputy Superintendent Monifa McKnight also spoke, calling the allegations “sickening” and “heartbreaking.”
Greg Edmundson, the director of student welfare and compliance for Montgomery County Public Schools, said many of the incidents happened outside of schools and many of the allegations didn’t identify victims or the accused. But he said the school district immediately began investigating. “If we determine that a situation is sexual assault, we are going to involve police right away,” he added.
New tools being used to help educate and protect students include increased training for school staff, body safety lessons for students in grades pre-K through 12 and an online training course called Culture of Respect. “You’re worthy of deserving the respect that you should get and frankly, I think it’s important to demand that respect,” McKnight said.
Edmundson said students who need to report an incident should contact him directly, their school principal, other school administrators or the anonymous Safe Schools Maryland Tipline at 1-833-MD-B-SAFE. The EveryMind hotline is another resource for students, who can call or text 301-738-2255.