Starr Releases Statement on Outside Contractors at SchoolsA large crowd of parents met with the administration of John T. Baker Middle School Tuesday night to find out why that school did not alert them for nearly a month about a contractor who allegedly inappropriately touched a student there. Earlier in the day, MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr released the following statement concerning outside contractors used by the school system:
Statement on Background Checks for Contractors Working in Schools
November 11, 2014
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent issued a statement during the Montgomery County Board of Education meeting on November 11, 2014. The superintendent made the statement following concerns about the presence of outside contractors in MCPS buildings while students are present. Those concerns arose after an incident at John T. Baker Middle School in which the employee of an outside contractor was accused of making inappropriate contact with a student. The incident was quickly investigated and the employee of the contractor was arrested.
“Currently, contractors who hire employees and subcontractors that work in our buildings around our students are not required to conduct background checks.
“The recent incident at John T. Baker Middle School involving the employee of a contractor has convinced me that we need to require background checks for all employees and others in our contractors’ workforce if they have unsupervised or uncontrolled access to MCPS facilities when children are present.
“Currently, Section 11-772 of the Criminal Procedures Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland requires that contractors ensure that none of their employees or subcontractors are on the sex offenders’ registry. I do not believe this is sufficient or goes far enough. A background check should be completed to ensure that the employees of contractors meet the same standards required of school system employees. In the Baker incident, the contractor’s employee was not on the sex offenders’ registry and therefore met the current standard of state law. However, since he had been arrested, he might have been screened out.
“As a result of the Baker incident, all contractors are being requested to provide a letter of assurance by November 21, 2014, that their workforce is in compliance with Section 11-772 of the Criminal Procedures Article. They also are being reminded that it is their responsibility to provide updated information as their workforce changes.
“I also have asked staff to draft regulations that will require our contractors to do background checks and provide the results to MCPS requiring their workforce to meet the same standards that are required of our employees.
“Finally, as a result of this incident we are reviewing our internal procedures to make sure any allegations like that involving Baker are appropriately reported, investigated and communicated with the school community. In general, our schools do an excellent job when such issues arise so we will learn from this incident and work to improve.”
A second student in Damascus is alleging she had inappropriate contact with a contractor while at John T. Baker Middle School earlier this month. According to Montgomery County Public Schools Spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala, “A student from Damascus High School that was at Baker Middle School on or about the same day as the other incident has […]
About 50 parents attended an early morning meeting at John T. Baker Middle School after a student was allegedly sexually assaulted at the school by a contractor working there. Principal Louise Worthington held the meeting for parents who wanted more information about the incident, according to a letter recently sent home to parents. No additional details […]
Over the years as a child safety advocate I have worked very closely with the Montgomery County Public Schools in my cluster to make sure that when there is a serious incident at the school where one of my children attends that the information is shared proactively to allay panic in the community. I can […]