School safety tops parents’ concerns ahead of Montgomery County School Board

Last month’s shooting at a Maryland high school prompted a number of comments from parents and a young student, who testified before the Montgomery County School Board on Tuesday.

Last month’s shooting at a Maryland high school prompted a number of comments from parents and a young student, who testified before the Montgomery County School Board on Tuesday.

Mary Anne Boyd, the mother of a student at Magruder High School, told the council that her son “recently spent a very traumatic Friday afternoon in confinement with his classmates”. She was referring to the shooting which left one student seriously injured and another charged as an adult.

“School safety and gun violence prevention are very important to me these days,” Boyd said, his voice shaking slightly.

Boyd is a volunteer with the group Moms Demand Action, and she urged the council to spread the ‘Be Smart’ message from the organization Everytown for Gun Safety, which states on its website that the aim of the program is to raise awareness. with secure firearms. storage and “preventing children from accessing firearms”.

Eric Reynolds, another Moms Demand Action volunteer, told board members that in 2015, when his son was 3, “he walked into the kitchen of the house we were visiting with a gun in his left hand. “. Reynolds said he took the loaded gun away from the toddler.

“We were lucky,” Reynolds said. Like Boyd, he urged the school system to spread information from the “Be Smart” campaign throughout the school district.

Joey Sophir, a sixth-grade student at Julius West Middle School, also testified on the issue of gun safety. Sophir also called for the adoption of the “Be Smart” program.

Sophir said the past two years have been difficult for students, but added: “Although COVID and virtual school have been stressful, we have at least had a break to worry about shelter in place and the locking exercises.”

There were other concerns as well, including the debate over the role of Montgomery County police as community engagement officers or CEOs. The role is being discussed by the Board of Education.

Monifa McKnight, who was just appointed to a full term as Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent, appears before the Education, Culture and Public Safety Committees on Wednesday to discuss the Memorandum of Understanding. Montgomery County Schools with Montgomery County Police. The two commissions meet for this briefing. Police Chief Marcus Jones will also brief the council on the plan.

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, a Silver Spring resident and mother of two MCPS students, said she was concerned about the reinstatement of police in schools.

“I want MCPS to make sure we stand by the things we write on our websites” when it comes to fairness, Sankara-Jabar said. Although she said there were “constant fights” in the schools, she did not believe that the police in the schools were the answer. Instead, she urged the council to continue its efforts to provide mental health supports “to support the social and emotional health of children.”

Mother Tiffany Kelly told the council the past two years had taken a toll on her seventh year son and left him suffering from depression and anxiety.

When school started this year, he entered “defiant and not trusting any of his educators”, she said. But during that year, she said the team of teachers and counselors had worked hard to help her son.

“It made him an engaged and accomplished student,” Kelly said.

However, Kelly said, her son cannot walk past a police cruiser without being scared. For this reason, she told the council, she does not want to see the police back inside school buildings.

Using the term ORS, for school resource manager, Kelly said: “We have to say that ORS is not safe for all students. They just aren’t. She asked the board to keep them out of school business.

The meeting before the Committee on Education and Culture and the Committee on Public Safety on Wednesday will include a discussion of the future of the role of community engagement officers in schools.

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