Open Letter to Montgomery County Board of Education on Draft Child Abuse and Neglect Policy
Abuse thrives in secrecy – in 2012 the Maryland State Board of Ed directed you to take concrete steps to protect children in schools. Your response was silence.
In September of 2014, MCPS, under the direction of Dr. Joshua Starr, began to respond to media attention to “isolated” incidents of child sexual abuse at Baker and Clemente. Since then, dozens of cases have been publicized that had previously been mishandled. We all know now that these incidents are not isolated. There is a systemic problem in MCPS and there should be accountability for the travesties committed against children in our schools.
As a parent volunteer on this workgroup/advisory group, there has been selective transparency – we are still awaiting documents that we have requested on numerous occasions, and the website has been slow to be updated, if at all. And while we were participating in workgroup/advisory group meetings with multidisciplinary team members, children continued to be abused in our schools.
Please do not vote to implement this draft policy yet. I have grave concerns that doing something without having this policy vetted by child abuse experts with knowledge of laws and Attorney General opinions at the state level will be a huge mistake. I believe there are major flaws in this policy, major loopholes, conflicts with Attorney General Opinions, and inconsistencies with Maryland law.
– Where is the accountability for abuses that have occurred and may continue to occur?
– While in theory this could be a good plan, it is contingent on the infrastructure that is promised – where is the detailed plan for that?
– Where are the other documents that are referenced: Where is the Memorandum Of Understanding? Where is the Employee Code of Conduct? Where is the plan for educating the public?
– Who is in charge of the implementation? Who will manage the ongoing process? Does MCPS have the resources to support this?
And while I would like to agree with simply moving forward without looking back, MCPS has to look back to see what went wrong to prevent it from happening again. Furthermore, just as the Board hired an outside auditor to come in to review your credit card use, we respectfully request that the same level of accountability be held for the safety of our children.
I urge you to do the right thing, not just something. This is not the appropriate time for a knee-jerk reaction and approval vote without all of the information.
It is time to stop hiding the skeletons in the closets – I challenge you to find them all, give them a proper burial, and hold those who put them there accountable.
Thank you for your consideration,
MCPS Parent and Child Safety Advocate
Editor’s Note: Individuals who wish to provide comments should respond in writing by June 8, 2015. All responses should be sent to the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850 or to the Board of Education at email@example.com. All responses will be shared with the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools.