The Montgomery County inspector general has agreed to conduct its own independent investigations into at least 18 allegations of sexual misconduct by Montgomery County Public School principal Joel Beidleman and the school district’s handling of those allegations, officials announced Thursday. Superintendent Monifa McKnight said she will be communicating openly and transparently with the community throughout the investigative process.
The county’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will be conducting two separate probes in the Beidleman allegations, according to a letter sent by Inspector General Megan Limarzi to the Board of Education on Sept. 20 and published to social media by County Council President Evan Glass (D-At-large) on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, Maryland Inspector General for Education Richard Henry announced that his office would be deferring the investigations to the purview of the county OIG and would not be launching its own probes as requested by the school board. Henry’s letter to the board cited jurisdiction and potential bias as reasons for his decision not to get involved.
The announcements come less than one week after law firm Jackson Lewis—directed by the school board—conducted its independent probe into the promotion of Beidleman despite the allegations against him. The board published a five-bullet-point summary of the firm’s findings on Sept. 145, which revealed “significant and troubling failures” by senior central office staff. Despite public pressure from residents and officials, the board has declined to publish the full Jackson Lewis report, citing confidential personnel information.
The allegations were first reported in The Washington Post on Aug. 11, and Beidleman—who most recently served as principal of Olney’s William H. Farquhar Middle School—has denied the allegations against him to the newspaper. MoCo360 has made continued unsuccessful attempts to reach him by email for comment over the past five weeks. Beidleman was slated for a promotion to become principal of Paint Branch High School but was placed on “extended administrative leave” by MCPS when The Post reached out for comment the first week of August.
According to Limarzi’s letter, the first OIG probe will focus on reviewing the school district’s process for “receiving and responding to allegations of misconduct” against employees. It will include an assessment of whether MCPS uses effective procedures for the “receipt, assignment, investigation, referral, resolution, documentation and retention” of such allegations made by its employees.
The second probe will consist of an investigation into the specific allegations against Beidleman received by MCPS, as well as any previous allegations not yet investigated.
Limarzi wrote that her office will inspect records, interview staff and review laws, policies and procedures over the course of both investigations. The OIG will work directly with McKnight and her staff, Limarzi stated.
Posting the letter on Sept. 21 to X, formerly Twitter, Glass called the independent review “an important step toward increased oversight, transparency and accountability.”
When asked for comment on whether and when more detailed information will be released regarding the Jackson Lewis investigative report, MCPS spokesperson Chris Cram sent MoCo360 the following email on Sept. 19: “More later this week as Dr. McKnight develops a corrective action plan as directed by the Board of Education.” Cram did not respond to requests for comment Thursday about the status of the corrective action plan.
On Thursday night, McKnight issued a statement promising to cooperate fully with the OIG investigators, communicate openly throughout the process and take “decisive action” based on the findings.
“We value the input and support of our parents, teachers, students, and the wider community, which is why throughout this process we will engage in open dialogues to gather feedback and suggestions on how we can collectively work towards preventing such incidents in the future,” McKnight wrote. “Involving the community in this process I believe is the best way to do our work when making improvements in these important processes.”
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).