‘Unacceptable’ behavior prompts new Montgomery Co. schools’ sports safety rules

Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland’s largest public school district, is out with new safety rules for sports competitions in an aim to keep fans and spectators safe and under control.

The move comes after a fight last Friday at Seneca Valley High School, which was hosting rival Northwest High School. The ruckus involved a large group of students in which one student ended up in the hospital. Montgomery County Public Schools said such incidents “are entirely unacceptable.”

“The Athletics programs at MCPS are designed to support and enhance the academic experience for our students and help build school and community spirit. Each week, our students participate in and attend hundreds of athletic contests, and they almost always demonstrate the respect and sportsmanship that we expect,” Montgomery County Public Schools said in a statement.

Increasing the presence of police officers, school security personnel and other staff, along with enhanced lighting and “limiting the number of attendees, rescheduling events to weekend days, and/or changing event start times” are some of the steps MCPS said it would take when appropriate “at events where large crowds are expected.”

Requiring student IDs for attendance and requiring elementary and middle school students to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, along with possibly closing concession stands are other steps MCPS said it could take.

“It is our hope that these measures will help to eliminate any future problems at athletic events,” said Montgomery County Public Schools.

The school system added that along with county leadership, it “will review each large event to determine the necessary safety measures and those will be communicated by the school.”

Quince Orchard and Northwest high schools said they are changing the time of Friday’s game to 4:30 p.m. A statement from the schools said the change is in collaboration with Montgomery County Public Schools and the county police department.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

Lauren Hamilton

Lauren Hamilton is an Associate Producer at WTOP and a graduate of the University of Maryland. She enjoys covering the intersection of arts, culture and social justice in local communities. She began as an intern with WTOP in the summer of 2021.

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