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A Letter to Montgomery Blair High School Alumni - Eric Walstein Update

May 9, 2018

Dear Montgomery Blair High School Families,

As Principal Johnson shared in her January 19, 2018, message, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) received a letter from alumni regarding alleged inappropriate behavior of Eric Walstein, a former Montgomery Blair High School magnet program teacher who worked at the school from 1986 until 2013. I am deeply disturbed and appalled by the allegations of bullying, harassment, intimidation, and discrimination described in the letter. I commend all of the alumni who came forward to share their stories and concerns. In response to the letter from alumni, MCPS staff as mandatory reporters, immediately shared these allegations with law enforcement.

Let me be clear-bullying, harassment, intimidation, and discrimination will not be tolerated in our schools.

Ensuring a safe and welcoming learn environment is central to our educational mission. Since Mr. Walstein's retirement, MCPS has made significant changes to policies and programming that have strengthened harassment prevention efforts, enhanced reporting protocols, and encouraged greater cultural competency. This includes mandatory training for all staff on sexual harassment, and child abuse and neglect and instruction for all students on harassment and personal body safety. MCPS also requires cultural competency training for all staff to combat the impact of implicit bias in teaching and to ensure all students feel welcomed and supported in all subjects and classrooms.

Additionally, in response to the alumni letter, MCPS conducted an intern review of this matter. Although we were unable to corroborate all of the allegations made in the letter, our review gave us no reason to doubt the credibility of the alumni who came forward.

Based on our review, MCPS is taking several additional steps, including:

  • Reviewing reporting protocols and enhancing professional development to ensure clarity in reporting procedures for staff related to sexual harassment.
  • Improving communication with students and families to ensure they know how to report incidents of alleged bullying/harassment involving employees.
  • Providing frequent reminders to students that they are safe to report incidents
  • of bullying/harassment without fear of retaliation or retribution.

Equity and respect are the core values of our school system. Please know that staff and students at Montgomery Blair High School will continue to have conversations that promote inclusiveness and civility.

Students-if you believe you have experienced or witnessed harassment, bullying or discrimination by an MCPS employee, I encourage you to report them to Principal Johnson, a counselor, or any Montgomery Blair High School teacher with whom you feel comfortable, without fear of reprisal from any staff member. Additionally, students may use the anonymous Blazer Tipline, 240-688-7940, for students and community reporting. This line is supervised by school security. MCPS is firmly committed to swiftly investigating any incidents, and involving our law enforcement partners whenever necessary.

As always, our counselors are available to support you now and throughout your time at Montgomery Blair High School. Additionally, a list of community resources is available on the MCPS website.

Sincerely,

Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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