The Montgomery County Board of Education is pledging to follow the recommendations in a report that found deficiencies with how the school system handles complaints of employee misconduct.
“We have heard your calls for transparency, and we understand,” said Montgomery County School Board President Karla Silvestre at Tuesday’s meeting.
During the board meeting, Silvestre laid out the timeline of events that led to the report from the Montgomery County Office of the Inspector General.
“Sept. 8, 2023, was the first time that the Board had ever been briefed regarding large-scale failings within DCI,” she said, referring to the Department of Compliance and Investigations, the body responsible for handling complaints of employee misconduct within the school system.
The Sep. 8 briefing came after the Jackson Lewis law firm hired by the school system completed its report regarding complaints of sexual harassment and bullying lodged against former middle school principal Joel Beidleman, who was promoted in July of 2023.
During the school system’s investigation of those complaints, Beidleman was put on leave and, as of last month, was “no longer with” the Montgomery County school system, according to MCPS.
The Board of Education has been under pressure to release the unredacted version of the Jackson Lewis report. Montgomery County Council President Andrew Friedson has also repeatedly called for the release of the report without redactions.
Silvestre said the board is “taking another look at the report to see if there are any areas in which we could redact less.”
Silvestre said Tuesday that “since the release of the report, personnel actions have been taken against those named” in the report. Some, she said, “have been terminated, some are no longer with the district and some have gone through an investigation, have been cleared, and returned to a position within MCPS. … People have been, and are being, held accountable.”
During Tuesday’s board meeting, Silvestre also said the board only learned in late November and early December of 2023 that “the system had been on notice of the significant deficiencies of DCI.”
“The board will oversee and ensure that all corrective actions recommended by the OIG are taken,” Silvestre said. “The board will update the OIG every 90 days on progress toward fully implementing” the OIG’s recommendations.
The board will also “bring in a team of experts to help us ensure that we are implementing best practices in restructuring DCI going forward.”
She said the board would also do a “comprehensive review of policies” to make sure that there are “robust reporting structures and processes” for handling employee misconduct complaints.
Also during Tuesday’s board meeting, the new Interim Superintendent Monique Felder was introduced. Felder is a veteran educator, and spent two decades in the Montgomery County School system. She most recently served as Superintendent of Orange County’s school system in North Carolina.