‘Our call to action:’ Montgomery Co. school system promises zero tolerance for weapons, drugs

The school system in Montgomery County, Maryland, is currently reexamining safety measures for restrooms, which have seen an uptick in drug use over the past year.

In a letter to students, staff and families, school officials promised more frequent and detailed communication during emergencies, ensuring that students and parents alike know and follow the guidelines for serious or emergency incidents and that they will be increasing the frequency of staff’s monitoring of restrooms throughout the school day.

“We must have zero tolerance for weapons, fights, drug use and behaviors that threaten any one of us. Our call to action for each of us is if you “see something, say something,” doing so is important and an easy way to partner in this work,” the letter said.

Among the main concerns in the county’s 210 public schools are the threat of guns and opioid overdoses.

School leaders are promising that despite these concerns, the schools are “the safest places in our community because of the attention and processes we have in place to support safety.”

In January, MCPS Superintendent Monifa McKnight, police chief Marcus Jones and other county leaders urged the community to be more vigilant about drug use and offered available resources in response to the rise in youth opioid overdoses.

Overdoses overall are down in the county, Jones said, but the numbers among young people are rising — with youth overdoses up 78 percent from 2021 to 2022.

Later in January, MCPS held a public forum to discuss the dangers of fentanyl and the life-saving potential of Narcan. At the forum, the panel discussed the importance of parents talking with their children, the law that prevents students from being penalized for reporting overdoses and how to administer Narcan and other life-saving techniques.

MCPS spokeswoman Jessica Baxter told WTOP that the school system has administered Narcan a total of 11 times since the first day of the school year, and that seven of those instances have occurred since mid-December.

The Montgomery County school system faced criticism for lax communications with parents during a lockdown at Albert Einstein High School in January when a student brought a BB gun to the campus.

Another school in Rockville was put on lockdown after a student reported seeing someone with a gun outside Richard Montgomery High School. After securing the school, the lockdown was lifted and no weapon was found on the school’s property.

The school system reminds everyone that weapons are not allowed on school property and there is a zero tolerance policy regarding violence and disobeying procedure in the case of emergencies.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is the Evening Digital Editor at WTOP. She is a graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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