2021 | Schools

School board to hear work group recommendations about SROs

Plus: MCPS curriculum development leader resigning, finance director retiring; Montgomery Blair student chosen as Bezos Scholar

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School board to hear work group recommendations about SROs

The Montgomery County Board of Education will meet on Tuesday to hear recommendations from a work group tasked with reviewing its school resource officer program and discuss school reopenings.

Some board members will attend the meeting, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., in person while others will log on virtually.

Along with the school reopening discussion, now a standard part of each meeting, the board will consider the recommendations from the SRO work group it convened last summer.

The final report was due in January, but the school board delayed its release until May after some members raised concerns about its operation.

Board members at the time asked for more nuanced data and expressed concern about allegations that a committee established to guide the analysis was “flawed” and that it “clearly prioritized preserving the status quo.”

MCPS’ review of the SRO program began in June following the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, after a police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, cutting off his breathing.

Floyd’s death sparked widespread protests across the country, including in Montgomery County, where residents called for police reform and the removal of officers from schools.

The Montgomery County school board authorized a comprehensive evaluation of the district SROs’ jobs and student arrest data, to determine if the program should be discontinued or modified.

Recently, some school board members attended a press conference held by county government leaders, at which they expressed support for a plan that would remove officers from school buildings. Instead, officers would be assigned to patrol geographic areas around schools, and check in as necessary.

Curriculum development leader leaving for North Dakota; finance director retiring

MCPS’ director of pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade curriculum will leave the district this summer for a job in North Dakota.

Brenda Lewis was recently appointed as the assistant superintendent of elementary education for the Grand Forks School District, according to the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. An MCPS spokeswoman confirmed the report.

She will begin her new position, with a salary of $159,000, on July 1, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
MCPS’ associate superintendent of finance, Dan Marella, recently notified the district he will retire at the end of June.

Marella was hired in September 2019 as the director of fiscal and audit management for the school board. He was a school board employee and the role was intended to provide more objective oversight on budget issues.

He was appointed in May 2020 to the district’s top financial position after the former staff member retired.

Marella previously worked as a budget analyst, assistant inspector general and chief financial officer for the federal government.

Montgomery Blair student chosen as Bezos Scholar

Montgomery Blair High School student Isoiza Emah was recently chosen as a 2021 Bezos Scholar.

The Bezos Scholars Program “inspires and challenges young people to address issues they are passionate about in their local area,” according to a press release.

Emah is passionate about helping students with disabilities. Prior to the pandemic, he was a volunteer disability aide in a summer program.

The Bezos Scholars Program is a yearlong leadership development program for rising high school seniors. The students selected participate in virtual training seminars and launch a “sustainable community change project,” according to the press release.

Twelve students were selected for the program this year, based on “commitment to their education, demonstrated leadership abilities, willingness to embrace challenges, and the desire to create positive change in their communities,” the press release said.

Emah will be sponsored by Tony Mensah, a teacher at Blair.