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A Message from Superintendent Jack R. Smith: Arrest of MCPS Bus Driver
Dear MCPS Community:
I am writing to inform you about the arrest of Etienne K. Kabongo, a Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) bus operator. Mr. Kabongo, known to some students as "Mr. Steve," is charged with second-degree rape, sexual abuse of a minor, and third-degree sexual offense. According to the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), the charges stem from his contact with a student on his bus route.
Words cannot convey my anger, disgust and disappointment in the alleged behavior of Mr. Kabongo. Abusing a position of trust and authority to take advantage of the most vulnerable among us is despicable. This behavior is a violation of our values and policies, as well as the law, and it will not be tolerated.
MCPS staff immediately contacted MCPD when we were made aware of these allegations. We are fully cooperating with MCPD, who is leading this investigation. Pursuant to our memorandum of understanding with law enforcement and MCPS policies and regulations, MCPS has not shared any details broadly with the community until now to avoid prejudicing the police investigation and interfering with law enforcement’s ability to prosecute its case.
Mr. Kabongo has worked for MCPS since 2006 as a bus operator. He has primarily driven for students receiving Special Education services at multiple schools across the county during the school year and the summer. A partial list of these schools can be found here.
He was immediately placed on leave when we were made aware of the allegations. Mr. Kabongo will not be returning to our buses or schools.
Our thoughts are with the students and families impacted by this. MCPS has coordinated with Tree House Child Advocacy Center to ensure counseling support and resources are available. Tree House staff can be reached by phone at 240-777-4699.
If you or your child have any information that may be helpful to the investigation, I ask that you call the Special Victims Investigations Division of the Montgomery County Police Department at 240-773-5400.
MCPS is committed to the safety of all students on our buses and in our schools. Many buses in our fleet are equipped with internal video cameras, including the bus related to this arrest. We have already taken steps to accelerate our process for acquiring cameras for all buses. Additionally, in 2015, MCPS enhanced its policies and protocols for preventing, recognizing and reporting child abuse in our community. More information is available at http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/childabuseandneglect/.
Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
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