Parents hold protest on school safety concerns; Rockville HS beating victim's family speaks out

- The stepfather of a Rockville High School student attacked inside the school earlier this month is disputing Montgomery County Public Schools’ account that her family did not want police involved initially after the violent beating happened.

The attack happened inside the school’s lobby on March 7. The 17-year-old female victim was beaten by another student she did not know just before classes started, her attorney said. Video of the incident was captured by other students in the area and showed the victim being thrown to the ground by her hair as well as being struck and kicked on the floor. The attack lasted under a minute before a teacher broke up the fight.

Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Derek Turner told FOX 5 on Wednesday that the 17-year-old girl’s family initially requested for police not to be involved, but they later changed their minds. Rockville police are investigating the incident and have filed misdemeanor charges in this case.

However, Charles Longcor, the girl's stepfather, said that it is not true. He said he went to the school that morning and claims the school refused to contact police. He is also upset that an ambulance was not immediately called.

"I think they need to be forthcoming and be honest and complete in the statements they make, and to date, they have not been," he said.

Longcor said his stepdaughter will not be returning to Rockville High School because she is terrified after receiving threats on social media. People have also driven by their house shouting threats and taunts as well. The teenager is continuing to recover from physically from the attack. The family has retained a lawyer to make sure that she can still graduate on time in June.

“It really is heartbreaking and I can't imagine missing my senior prom or missing my beach week or missing the last few months that I have to spend with people that I have gone to school with since I was in elementary school,” Longcor said. “And she has been deprived of that because of this incident, this assault."

Longcor said Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent Dr. Jack Smith has not responded so far to his requests to talk with him.

"For not providing a safe environment for my stepdaughter and I cannot in good conscience send her back there," he said.

This incident and an alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl that reportedly happened inside a school bathroom nine days later have sparked safety concerns at Rockville High School. Two male students, a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old, have been charged in this case.

A small group of protesters were outside a Montgomery County school board meeting held Thursday night seeking the resignation of Dr. Smith.

Inside at the meeting, there were many questions from concerned community members. One person brought up that the board's agenda for the meeting had no mention of discussing the alleged rape. Another resident said the school board has been too silent on the incidents at Rockville High School and Dr. Smith's responses have been inadequate.

But others at the meeting thanked Dr. Smith for the safety of students and the MCPS' values of equality and inclusion.

Smith said at the meeting that his thoughts are with the victim in the Rockville High School rape case and he highlighted his new efforts to examine security.

"I cannot express to our community how serious we are about this and how we are going to continue to work always for continuous improvement in our school system in all areas," he said.

Smith put out an email announcement Thursday to parents saying a review will take place regarding the safety and security protocols at their schools:

Dear MCPS Community,

The recent tragic incident at Rockville High School has caused all of us to stop and reflect on our work to ensure the safety and security of our students. While MCPS has a robust security system that includes thousands of cameras in schools, school- and central office-based security personnel, engaged teachers and administrators, and a partnership with the Montgomery County Police Department, we must always consider opportunities to improve school safety.

With this in mind, I want to share with you the steps we are taking to review our school safety and security protocols. In collaboration with school administrators and other departments, the Department of School Safety and Security will be conducting security reviews at all schools, beginning with high schools in early April.

As part of the review, we will examine security procedures already in place to determine the appropriate next steps for individual schools. The assessments will focus on the following areas:

• Utilization of school security personnel and other staff
• Resource allocation and management
• Facilities enhancements to restrict or limit access to more isolated areas of school buildings and grounds
• Technology infrastructure, including security cameras, and their use
• Procedures for managing students outside the classroom
• Protocols for responding to allegations of student-to-student sexual harassment or assault

Following the review, we will work closely with each school on next steps, including strengthening security procedures where needed. As a part of this process, we will be benchmarking best practices with other school districts and youth-serving organizations.

Even as we begin our systemwide security review, my thoughts continue to be with the victim and Rockville High School community as they heal in the wake of this tragic incident. I am so proud of the students and staff at that school who have come together to support the victim and one another. They are truly “Rockville Strong.” I thank all of the community members who have supported our schools in this difficult time.

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