Montgomery Co. school board votes to spend $1.5M for security improvements at high schools

- On the heels of a reported rape and brawl in recent months at Rockville High School, the Board of Education for Montgomery County has voted to spend $1.5 million to upgrade security at several high schools across the school district.

The increased security plan includes enhancements in the schools, hiring additional personnel, new security cameras and bathroom doors.

The planned security improvements come after a female student reported she was raped after two male students followed her into a bathroom in March. Even though rape charges were later dropped in this case, cellphone video that captured another Rockville High School student being beaten in the lobby of the school nine days prior also prompted questions from parents if county schools were safe.

Both incidents garnered national attention and highlighted some of the weaknesses that existed across the district – weaknesses they are willing to pay to fix.

“I think we informed the board about a month ago that we are in the process of conducting assessment of all of our high schools and that was completed sometime in May,” James Song, director of the Department of Facilities for Montgomery County Public Schools, told the school board at a meeting Monday night.

Twenty-two high schools in Montgomery County, including Rockville High School, will undergo massive security upgrades after the school board unanimously approved $1.5 million in security enhancements Monday night. The Montgomery County Council made the recommendation to the board earlier this month.

In March, Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent Dr. Jack Smith sent a letter to parents that said they would review school safety and security protocols.

“It is certainly something that unfortunately, it takes incidents like this that sometimes highlight where some of our weaknesses are,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice, who chairs the education committee. “The key is we want to respond adequately. Certainly we are doing a lot, but there is a lot more that can be done. I think that we need to increase the school resource officers that we have in our schools. We also need to increase the school security complement of school security that are in our schools as well and enhance some of our other school security measures.”

Rice said the county council allocated the money as part of this year's budget.

The security changes will take place this summer. Additional security personnel will be in place this fall.

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