Below is a statement from Dr. Jack Smith regarding the March 16 serious incident at Rockville High School. This morning, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office announced that the 18- year old student involved in the incident will be charged with one count of possession of child pornography. The 17-year-old student will be referred to the juvenile court system. No other charges are being pursued.
I would like to thank the Chief of Police (Tom Manger), the Superintendent of Montgomery CountySchools (Dr. Jack Smith) and the President of the School Board (Michael A. Durso) for joining me today. In addition, here today from my office is Mary Herdman, Debbie Feinstein and Rebecca Macvittie. We are here to announce the results of an extensive investigation that followed the original filing of charges against two individuals for an alleged sexual offense at Rockville High School on March 16, 2017.
Read the full statement here
The recent tragic incident at Rockville High School has caused all of us to stop and reflect on our work to ensure the safety and security of our students. While MCPS has a robust security system that includes thousands of cameras in schools, school- and central office-based security personnel, engaged teachers and administrators, and a partnership with the Montgomery County Police Department, we must always consider opportunities to improve school safety.
With this in mind, I want to share with you the steps we are taking to review our school safety and security protocols. In collaboration with school administrators and other departments, the Department of School Safety and Security will be conducting security reviews at all schools, beginning with high schools in early April.
As you may have heard or read, a serious incident occurred at Rockville High School on March 16, 2017. While I can’t share many details because it is an ongoing police investigation, I can share that the incident involves allegations of rape and the arrest of two students.
MCPS Press Conference, Regarding Rockville HS
March 21, 2017
Rockville High School Community Meeting
Yes. Our enrollment policy is strictly aligned with Maryland law, which states that all individuals who are 5 years old or older and under 21 must be admitted free of charge to public schools in Maryland (Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article § 7-101 (2017) and Maryland Code of Regulations (COMAR) 13A.02.06.04). Moreover, the Maryland General Assembly enacted the Compulsory School Age Law in 2012, which increased the age that students are mandated to attend school from 16 to 17 years old for the 2016-2017 school year, and to 18 years old for the 2017-2018 school year. Students with special services are able to attend public school until they are 21 years of age.
It is not uncommon or unusual for students who are 17 or 18 years old to participate in the same classes or activities with younger students in a high school setting. That is not only true for MCPS but for nearly every public or private high school across the country. This could be through an academic course elective, such as band, theatre/drama, journalism, or world languages; or a school-sponsored extracurricular activity, such as chess club. MCPS is committed to providing the appropriate level of course work for students, which will have younger students taking advanced courses that are typically for students in the upper grades. (Example: middle school students taking high school math courses)
Yes. Students are designated to a particular grade based on their academic credits rather than their age. Ninth graders are typically 13 to 15 years old, but MCPS, like other districts across the nation, has some ninth graders who are older because they are uncredited. Students who are 17 years old or older account for less than 8 percent of the current MCPS ninth grade enrollment, and students who are 18 years old or older are approximately 3 percent of the current MCPS ninth grade enrollment.
Students come to our doors in various ways and with a variety of histories. If they reside in Montgomery County, we are required to educate them. That is clear from both state and federal law as reflected in Board of Education Policy and MCPS regulations. Parents registering their children for the first time in a Montgomery County public school must provide proof of age, identity, county residency and immunizations (unless they are homeless). More information is available on the MCPS website, https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/info/enroll/.
No. The U.S. Constitution prohibits schools from denying access to public education based on immigration status. The U.S. Supreme Court has made this clear in its landmark 1982 ruling, Plyler v. Doe. The ruling also requires that schools not take any action that may discourage participation or exclude students based on their immigration status.
Consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Plyler v. Doe, a student’s immigration status, including pending immigration proceedings, do not preclude enrollment in public school. Under federal law, when a child is apprehended by immigration authorities, ICE transfers them to the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Federal law requires ORR to release those children, if possible, to a sponsor, usually a family member, while they await immigration proceedings. Those sponsors live in many states, including Maryland.
When students are coming from international countries or they have studied abroad for more than two years, they register through the Office of School Counseling, Residency, and International Admissions, which ensures students meet the requirements for enrollment in MCPS. International students are screened for English language proficiency. Most international students attend their home school, where they are scheduled in academic courses based on their course transcripts and identified need for academic support. A limited number of students are placed in the Multidisciplinary Educational Training and Support (METS) Program. METS is designed for students who have limited or no previous schooling or significant schooling gaps due to interrupted or disrupted education. More information is available on the MCPS website, https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/curriculum/esol/instruction/mets.aspx.
All MCPS secondary schools are outfitted with an array of cameras in the hallways and central areas to ensure students remain safe. In addition, security staff are provided to all secondary schools to support school staff with monitoring student safety. While elementary schools do not have designated security staff, they have access to school system security coordinators when necessary.
MCPS works with the Montgomery County Police Department to ensure a police officer known as a School Resource Officer (SRO), is assigned to every high school. In addition to the SRO, schools also have security teams that work to keep students safe during the school day. The number of security members at a school is based on size of the student population. MCPS has a Department of Safety and Security to consult with school staff on security matters. The school staff is under the direct supervision of the principal.
MCPS has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Montgomery County Police Department and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office that helps guide our actions in response to serious incidents.