Paint Branch High School photographed in November 2022. Credit: Em Espey

This article, originally published at 5:20 p.m. Aug. 11, was updated at 6:02 p.m. Aug. 11 to include comment from Councilmember Gabe Albornoz (D-At-large) and at 645 p.m. Aug. 12 to include portions of a statement from the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Montgomery County Public Schools received at least 18 reports of workplace abuse or harassment against principal Joel Beidleman over the past seven years, a Washington Post investigation revealed Friday morning. Beidleman has been placed on “extended leave” pending an external investigation, according to the district.

“He was doing very bad things to people,” teachers union representative Ben Israel told the Post. “He was a tyrant who tried to force himself on people, whether emotionally, sexually or professionally.”

MoCo360 made unsuccessful attempts to reach Beidleman for comment Friday.

The reports filed against Beidleman illustrate a “pattern of harassment, threats, retaliation, workplace bullying and other inappropriate conduct spanning at least 12 years across three campuses,” according to the Post. Before his term as principal at Olney’s Farquhar Middle, Beidleman served as assistant principal at Germantown’s Roberto Clemente Middle and at Gaithersburg’s Lakelands Park Middle. These reports against him include allegations that he:

  • Consistently made crude, sexual remarks about female staff in the workplace
  • Directly harassed and bullied current and former staff members
  • Made inappropriate and sexual remarks to female children under his oversight
  • Encouraged a culture of heavy drinking among staff after school hours

In a lengthy response to questions from The Post, Beidleman largely denied the allegations made against him, saying that he has “always been rated as meeting standard or a highly effective principal.”


The 18 verbal and written sexual harassment reports against Beidleman—including six reports made in 2023—are corroborated by the testimony of more than 45 MCPS staff members as well as documents, phone records and screenshots of text messages exchanged with Beidleman, detailed in The Post’s investigation.

In a statement sent to MoCo360 on Friday, MCPS spokesperson Chris Cram said the school district has identified an “external and independent investigation team with expertise in education and employment law” to investigate the allegations published by the Post. He clarified that Beidleman has been placed on “administrative leave” in the interim.

“The external team will also assess the district processes concerning documenting, reporting and investigating allegations of bullying, sexual harassment, and/or discrimination of any kind,” he wrote. “Privacy protocols will be adhered to throughout our response to this matter. The safety of our students, staff and community is a top priority for MCPS.”


The Post’s investigation also shows members of the Farquhar community begging MCPS central office to step in and address Beidleman’s conduct—but to no avail. Instead, he was promoted over the summer.

In June, MCPS announced Beidleman would serve as principal of Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, which would have meant a $32,000 salary hike, according to The Post.

On Aug. 4, Donna Jones, the associate superintendent of school support and well-being, sent an email to the Paint Branch High community informing them that Beidleman had been placed on “extended leave” without any further explanation.


“His absence from Paint Branch High School requires us to identify an acting principal. To ensure that we identify someone who will provide strong and effective leadership, we will share details about an acting principal next week,” Jones wrote in the email.

Four days later, the Paint Branch community received a second email from Jones announcing that veteran MCPS educator Pam Krawczel will be stepping in to serve as acting principal at Paint Branch beginning Aug. 16. Krawczel’s career spans at least 20 years in MCPS, according to Jones’ letter. Mostly recently, Krawczel spent five years serving as assistant principal at Wheaton High School before beginning a one-year principal internship at Damascus High, which she recently completed.

County Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At-large), chair of the council’s Education and Culture Committee, released a statement Friday calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into the allegations detailed by The Post and said he was “deeply disturbed” by the article.


“The allegations are serious and concerning, and must be thoroughly, impartially and comprehensively investigated,” he wrote. “MCPS should be clear with the County Council and the public about how this matter will be investigated and ensure that community members are aware of how they can report experiences that may be relevant to the investigation.”

Via social media, fellow Councilmember and Education Committee member Gabe Albornoz (D-At-large) echoed Jawando’s concerns, writing that he is “also deeply troubled by this story on many levels.”

Councilmember Dawn Luedkte (D-Dist. 7)—whose district covers Farquar Middle—told MoCo360 she is deeply interested in the results of the independent investigation, not only as it relates to the specific complaints against Beidleman but also with respect to the school district’s alleged failure to address concerns about Beidleman over the years.


“Our MCPS employees need to know they have an outlet for addressing workplace climate and culture concerns that supports these professionals and ensures that those who raise concerns will not face retaliation,” she said.

Particularly given the documented teacher shortage the district is experience, she added, “We don’t want to drive teachers away by failing to protect them and take care of our employees.”

The Board of Education on Saturday afternoon released its own statement, saying it was “appalled” by the allegations: “We are taking immediate action, directing an independent investigation into these allegations and the implementation of Board policy. We, the Board, are resolute in our commitment to a safe and equitable workplace where sexual harassment and bullying is not tolerated. We will work with the findings of the independent investigation to move forward, strengthening our process and procedures so that our culture reflects our values.”