Out of hundreds of sexual misconduct allegations that surfaced on social media last month, mostly from unnamed female students, the majority happened outside school and involved high schoolers, Montgomery County Public School officials said Monday.
The incidents that happened in school have already been “reported, investigated and addressed as necessary,” MCPS officials told members of the Montgomery County Council’s Education and Culture Committee. The school district and Montgomery County police are continuing to look into the allegations.
Bethesda Beat reported last month on the wave of allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment coming from students and alumni from at least 12 schools. The allegations ranged from boys’ persistence in asking for nude photos or dates to rape.
MCPS officials shared the information during a presentation to the Education and Culture Committee Monday afternoon, in which they gave an update on the progress of the investigation.
Greg Edmundson, the director of the school system’s Student Welfare and Compliance Unit, told the committee that most of the social media allegations don’t include names of alleged victims or offenders.
“The ones we do have we’re looking into and contacting our school directors and our school principals and trying to assess each situation individually and figure out as much information as we can,” he said.
In cases when a name of an alleged victim is reported, Edmundson said school personnel are trying to determine what type of mental health and other services they might need.
MCPS Chief of Staff Henry Johnson said on Monday that the school system has been investigating the cases in which someone is named. The first line of communication, he said, is typically with a school principal.
“If it is a female student, more than likely the conversation will be held by a female administrator,” he said. Male students who are named in an investigation will likely communicate with male administrators, Johnson said.
Council Member Will Jawando referred to a letter Superintendent Jack Smith wrote to the community in the days following the announcement. It said MCPS was aware of the allegations and urged victims to come forward to the police or school officials.
Edmundson said about a half dozen new allegations came in after Smith’s letter went out.
“It’s continuing to come in,” Edmundson said.
He said about 30 people from MCPS are investigating the sexual misconduct allegations. They are divided into four teams:
- An investigations team made up of representatives from different entities within MCPS: the Department of School Safety and Emergency Management, the Office of Employee and Labor Relations, the Office of School Support and Improvement, and the Office of Student Welfare and Compliance.
- A communications team, with representatives from the Office of Communications and the Office of School Support and Improvement
- A student support team, with representatives from the Office of Student and Family Support and Engagement, as well as student leadership and MCPS’s Equity Initiatives Unit.
- A legal team with representatives from the Office of General Counsel
“We were able to reshift how we’re handling things, because we want to make sure every one of these posts — they’re not all allegations. They’re just kind of people complaining about what they’ve been through in the past. We wanted to make sure every one of those was addressed appropriately,” he said.
MCPS’ communications office could not immediately be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday.
Capt. Tom Jordan, a Montgomery County police spokesman, wrote to Bethesda Beat on Tuesday that there were no updates in their investigation.
Both police and the State’s Attorney’s office are involved in the investigation, but have given few details.
Dan Schere can be reached at email@example.com