Montgomery Co. leaders launch task force to support students’ emotional, mental health

Montgomery County, Maryland, Council members Will Jawando and Craig Rice on Monday announced a task force aimed at providing more resources for students and less of a police presence in schools.

While Jawando and Rice have been on opposite sides of the discussion of school resource officers in the past, they have come together to lead the effort to implement more social and emotional services and mentoring for students — as well as the money to make it possible.

Restorative justice and services focused on positive reinforcement that will help students reach goals are also at the center of the new task force.

“We are going to ensure that our children remain safe,” said Rice during a virtual news conference announcing the effort.

The task force will be composed of students, parents and health professionals. School staff will help determine how much support is needed at each school.

“It’s going to be [composed] of the people most impacted. It’s going to be student-centered,” said Jawando, who recently led an effort to expand funding for similar services and training for more than 1,400 staff members in all of the county’s middle schools.

While Montgomery County has already shown support to remove SROs from schools, Rice and Jawando say the task force will help fill the gap, calling the use of officers a crutch for incidents on campus.

“While police intervention will still be needed in some instances, a daily presence doesn’t foster a positive learning environment,” said Rice.

The goal is to have a list of recommendations from the task force by June 30 and to begin implementation by the start of next school year.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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