interim report, made public Thursday, offered 30 recommendations on everything from security cameras to staff training.
Superintendent Jack Smith announced the security review in March after two Rockville High students were accused of attacking a teen girl in a school bathroom. Prosecutors later dropped the rape charges against the teens, citing insufficient evidence, but the case drew national attention and raised alarm about safety measures at local high schools.
The report notes that MCPS employs 222 school-based security staff and seven people who monitor motion detectors and alarm systems across the school system.
MCPS has installed more than 5,500 cameras in high schools and middle schools, and 800 buses are outfitted with cameras.
However, all of the security technology in the world is bound to fail without accountability and positive school cultures, according to the report.
“If you don’t have the right people with the right approach to kids, it will all be for naught,” Andrew Zuckerman, MCPS chief operating officer, told school board members Thursday night.
The document recommended surveying staff and students each year about the school climate and creating an online clearinghouse for school safety information, such as arrests, bullying and harassment, gang incidents, truancy and school discipline.
The school system also should establish more consistent safety practices throughout MCPS and pay more attention to recruiting high-quality security staff.
In recent months, two MCPS security guards have been arrested and charged with sexually abusing teens. Mark Christopher Yantsos, 58, was a security team leader at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, while Mike Anthony Lievano, 21, was a security assistant at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School in Silver Spring. Neither case has been resolved in court.
Security staffers should receive basic training before MCPS assigns them to a school and ongoing instruction on more specific subjects during the school year. Principals and administrators also should get enhanced security training, the report suggested.
MCPS officials in June set aside about $1.5 million for security upgrades at county high schools. The report stated that MCPS is adding more cameras to cover blind spots, stairwells and areas outside schools and portable classrooms. Officials should develop a strategy that can guide the placement of cameras and should restrict student access to isolated areas of school buildings, the report continued.
Strengthening partnerships with police and other agencies was another element considered for improving school safety. MCPS should create a work group to share information on gangs and prevent criminal activity in schools, the report stated.
The security review team will modify the report’s findings where needed for middle and elementary schools in coming months, the document stated.