Joel Beidleman, then principal of Farquhar Middle School, gives a campus tour to reporters in February 2021. Credit: Caitlynn Peetz

An independent investigation into the promotion of Montgomery County Public School principal Joel Beidleman despite sexual harassment allegations against him has revealed “significant and troubling failures” by senior central office staff, according to the Board of Education. The board published a summary of the investigative report in a letter to top county officials late Thursday afternoon.

The board declined to publish the full report from law firm Jackson Lewis, citing confidential personnel information contained within it. Instead, the board published a five-bullet-point summary of its findings written by attorney and lead investigator Donald English Jr.

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.

Allegations include numerous sexually suggestive verbal and written comments to teachers and students, workplace threats and retaliation against educators, bullying and other inappropriate conduct. Beidleman denied the allegations to the Post. MoCo360 has made continued unsuccessful attempts to reach Beidleman for comment.

The allegations were made public in a Washington Post report published Aug. 11. Beidleman, who most recently served as principal of William H. 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 was promoted despite being actively investigated for sexual harassment because “key decision-makers” knew and failed to inquire about the nature of the investigation, according to the report. These “key MCPS leaders” also failed to notify the school board or initiate any remedial action after Beidleman’s promotion when they became aware of the specific allegations against him, the report said.


Jackson Lewis investigators reviewed more than 30,000 documents and emails as well as text message threads collected from ten MCPS cellphones during their investigation, according to the report summary. Investigators conducted interviews with at least 59 school personnel, including the board itself. The firm presented its factual findings to the board on Sept. 8 but declined to offer any recommendations for next steps.

The decision to tap Jackson Lewis has been met with severe community backlash given the firm’s existing relationship with the district—a relationship made clearer in the contract between Jackson Lewis and the board, received by MoCo360 via a Maryland Public Information Act.

The contract school board president Karla Silvestre (At-large) sent Jackson Lewis on Aug. 10 “serves as an addendum” to an “existing letter of agreement” between the parties, her letter reads. The investigators’ billing rates are redacted in accordance with MCPS policy on “trade secrets; confidential information,” MCPS spokesperson Chris Cram wrote to MoCo360.


The firm’s investigation found no evidence that the school board was aware of the pending investigation or any other allegations against Beidleman prior to approving his promotion. The school district’s promotion process “does not have a mechanism to automatically identify whether a candidate for a promotion […] is under investigation,” the summary reads.

Responding to the report summary in a statement, the Montgomery County Education Association—which represents more than 14,000 MCPS educators—wrote that the school system  “brazenly ignored” teachers’ pleas for help regarding Beidleman and created a culture of victim-silencing.

The investigative findings “confirm that senior management at MCPS failed in their duty to protect students and staff from an alleged predator,” the MCEA statement reads. “MCPS created a culture where victims were silenced by fear of reprisal. A vicious cycle went unchecked, allowing this rampant abuse to continue.”


While the union wrote that it did not question the overall accuracy of the law firm’s findings, it questioned how the school board could have been ignorant to the allegations against Beidleman when MCEA members and staff had sent emails to the board, MCPS and Superintendent Monifa McKnight “outlining the harassment claims.”

In its letter to county officials, the school board wrote that it will conduct “a full and clear-eyed review” of the MCPS promotion process and has tasked McKnight with developing “a comprehensive corrective action plan to ensure accountability.” Silvestre has previously stated that the board is consulting with the county and state 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 Sept. 28 public workgroup meeting to discuss the Beidleman investigation, according to committee member Kristin Mink (D-Dist. 5).