Each year, the Montgomery County Board of Education maps out when different topics will come up on its calendar.
This year, the topic of school safety was slotted for April. That prompted a suggestion from board member Brenda Wolff.
“The majority of the school year is over by April,” Wolff said to her colleagues. “And in my visits around the county, the most important topic I’ve heard about, right behind math and literacy, is safety.”
Noting the concern, Wolff said, “I don’t think we can wait until April.”
She added, “Especially in light of what happened after the football game the other day, people are very concerned about the safety.”
Wolff was referring to the violence that broke out after a football game between Walter Johnson and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High schools in Bethesda. That violence prompted the school system to announce that attendance at varsity football games would be restricted districtwide.
Board member Shebra Evans said that in the past, topics had been shifted when the board members found an issue should be moved to the top of their priorities during the year.
Superintendent Monifa McKnight told Wolff, “I do think you raise a great point and I think that’s an adjustment that we are happy to make.”
Wolff has also asked for meetings across the county to get a sense of the impact of moving from having school resource officers, or SROs, to the current system of having community engagement officers, or CEOs, who provide public safety coverage to schools.
McKnight said, “We all acknowledge that the environment has been different since COVID-19 as we look at safety and security measures … but it’s almost like we have to do a study of a new landscape.”
Chief Operating Officer for MCPS Brian Hull said when the school year agenda was set, “We said we would provide the board a memo in November, kind of highlighting where we’re at with security and anything that has come up since the beginning of the school year. … We’re willing to come back and talk about it anytime.”
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