Principal apologizes for delay in notifying parents of sex-offense allegations

GERMANTOWN, Md. — On Tuesday night, the principal of Roberto Clemente
Middle School came to apologize.

Khadija Barkley says she should have told parents sooner that a substitute
teacher had been arrested on charges he inappropriately touched a student.

“I want parents to unequivocally understand that I was never attempting to
up this incident,” Barkley said at a community meeting held at the school.

“I would very much like to share my overall regret and apology for placing our
school community in this realm of distrust.”

The student’s accusation against substitute teacher Jose Pineda was made Sept.
30, but parents were not notified until early this month.

“I realize that my decision not to send a letter to the community prior to
Nov. 7 was a mistake, and for that I apologize,” Barkley said.

She was informed by the student’s parent on or around Oct. 16 that Pineda
would be charged in the case.

“We discussed the fact that the victim would now have to testify in court, and
we were both concerned about the student now having to go through additional
emotional turmoil,” Barkley said. “This, I believe, is where I should have
made the collaborative decision with the Office of Human Resources and
Development and the Office of School Support and Improvement to inform the
school community about the incident.”

Barkley says she was so focused on trying to protect the student that she
didn’t initially consider that there could be other victims.

Since the case has gone public, other students have made complaints about
Pineda, although no additional charges have been filed.

Barkley says she knew she had to speak out about the situation at her school
after news came earlier this month that a contractor at Baker Middle School in
Damascus had been arrested and charged with inappropriately touching a 12-
year-old girl.

Barkley says another mistake was made at Roberto Clemente the day the student
reported the accusations to a staff member during lunch.

“One thing I want to acknowledge and own is that it was a misstep for this
student to be sent back to class. A contributing factor for the child’s
return to class that day was the day’s alternative schedule. This does not in
any way excuse that mistake, but it does provide important background that it
was an alternative schedule for that day.”

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