The school board overseeing Montgomery County Public Schools has received—but not yet released—an “extensive report” from the law firm conducting an independent investigation into the numerous sexual harassment allegations made against principal Joel Beidleman and the school district’s promotion of him despite those claims.
“The report raises significant concerns about the vetting and promotion of personnel within MCPS, and the Board is committed to addressing those concerns,” Board of Education president Karla Silvestre (At-large) wrote in a brief statement published online at 5:30 p.m. Friday evening. The report itself has not yet been publicized, and Silvestre’s letter did not describe when or how the board intends to share the findings.
Both Silvestre and Superintendent Monifa McKnight have continuously reiterated the board’s commitment to a “transparent, thorough, fair and expeditious” process regarding the investigation, which is being conducted by the law firm of Jackson Lewis as of Aug. 14.
The decision to tap Jackson Lewis has been met with severe community backlash given the firm’s existing relationship with the district—a relationship that’s earned them over $110,000 from MCPS over the past two years alone.
When asked to address concerns about the potential conflict of interest, Silvestre said the board “acknowledges the concerns” and are taking them seriously, adding, “We’re confident [Jackson Lewis] can undertake a fair and impartial process.”
The investigation stems from at least 18 sexual harassment reports filed by school staff against Beidleman during his 12-year tenure with the district—including six in 2023 alone. The allegations were first made public in a bombshell Washington Post report published Aug. 11. Beidleman, who most recently served as principal of Farquhar Middle School, was slated for a promotion to oversee Paint Branch High School before inquiries from the Post triggered the school district to place him on extended administrative leave.
Beidleman denied the allegations to the Post. MoCo360 has made continued unsuccessful attempts to reach Beidleman for comment.
Amid mounting community pressure for a “truly independent investigation” into the allegations—including a controversial letter penned by County Councilmember Dawn Luedtke (D-Dist. 7) and co-signed by Council President Evan Glass (D-At-large)—the school board announced on Aug. 29 that it asked the Montgomery County Inspector General and the Maryland Inspector General for Education to investigate the allegations after the fact-finding phase of the Jackson Lewis probe concluded. This fact-finding phase was limited to scrutiny of Beidleman’s Paint Branch promotion and was expected to conclude by Sept. 8, according to the board.
In her Aug. 29 letter, Silvestre promised the initial fact-finding results of the Jackson Lewis investigation would be shared publicly between Sept. 8 and 15. Her Friday evening update did not include any mention of how or when the board plans to release the “extensive” report it received from the law firm.
“We are committed to a transparent, thorough and expeditious process and to building a strong, better school system,” Silvestre’s letter reads.
Now that the first phase has concluded, Silvestre wrote that the board intends to consult with the inspectors general to determine whether and to what extent they will consider undertaking their own investigations.
The County Council’s Education & Culture Committee has scheduled a public workgroup meeting for Sept. 28 to discuss the Beidleman investigation, according to committee member Kristin Mink (D-Dist. 5).