In a Sept. 20 letter to the president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, Inspector General Megan Davey Limarzi confirmed her office is opening the probes, one of which will review how Montgomery County Public Schools handles complaints of misconduct.
The school system has been mired in controversy for more than a month over the promotion of Joel Beidleman to be the principal of Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville.
Last month, The Washington Post reported Beidleman has been the subject of at least 18 verbal or written reports submitted to the school district over the past seven years. All told, according to The Post, 39 current and former staffers said they had been harassed or bullied by Beidleman,
The inspector general’s letter was posted to the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, by Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass.
“This independent review is an important step toward increased oversight, transparency and accountability,” Glass said.
The Montgomery County Inspector General is opening two investigations related to allegations against Montgomery County Public Schools.
This independent review is an important step toward increased oversight, transparency and accountability. pic.twitter.com/gCufjzlgsT
— Councilmember Evan Glass (@CMEvanGlass) September 21, 2023
The letter from the inspector general said one of the investigations would focus squarely on “all allegations of misconduct by Dr. Beidleman that have been received since July 2023 as well as any previous allegations that were no yet investigated.”
The other investigation will look at the school system’s process for receiving and responding to allegations of misconduct against school system employees.
“Through this review, we will assess whether MCPS has effective procedures for the receipt, assignment, investigation, referral, resolution, documentation, and retention of allegations of misconduct by its employees,” the letter said.
MCPS Superintendent Monifa McKnight said in a statement that she and her team will be “fully cooperative, responsive, and supportive” of the inspector general’s office throughout their investigation.
“I remain eager and ready to take decisive action based on the IG’s findings — including holding anyone implicated in wrongdoing to full account, and developing an aggressive and comprehensive action plan to ensure no one is failed by the system again,” McKnight said.
Council member Will Jawando also said in a statement that he welcomes further investigation, and he believes that the inspector general will provide a “thorough and independent review of MCPS’s policies procedures, and conduct.”
The inspector general’s investigation is separate from a review carried out by the school system.
A summary of that report, made public last week, concluded that some school system leaders knew Beidleman was being investigated at the time he was promoted but that they did not “exercise enough diligence to ascertain important details about the investigation” and did not inform the board of education when they learned more.
Board of Education President Karla Silvestre said the law firms’ report detailed “significant and troubling failures by senior management in MCPS.”
The council’s Education & Culture Committee, which Jawando chairs, said in a statement that the Jackson Lewis summary report was “telling regarding the systemic issues within MCPS related to investigating, reporting, and addressing formal and informal complaints.”
The committee will hold a public meeting on Sept. 28 to discuss the investigation and complaint processes and “the action plan(s) the Board will be implementing to address findings from this report.”
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.