Montgomery County community conversation falls flat for MCPS parents, students

Concerns over COVID continue to riddle Montgomery County Public Schools and its return to the classroom. The school district held a "conversation" with parents, students and staff on Wednesday night, but for parents – it was anything but a conversation. 

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There were nearly 2,000 people on the Zoom call but the only people that spoke were county leaders and school officials. 

This comes as Montgomery County Public Schools looks at ways to move forward and educate students in the safest and most practical way. 

The community conversation also comes as the interim superintendent and county executive tested positive for the virus and cases across the county surge. County leaders say they’re not ignoring the issues they’re facing. 

"We are making constant adjustments and doing everything we can to mitigate operational challenges – it’s all hands on deck effort, to be honest," said Dr. Monifa McKnight, the interim superintendent for Montgomery County Public Schools. 

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They’re defending their stance to keep children inside the classroom. 

"There really is no replacement for that live teacher instruction. We also know that as a result of the continuing human health crisis that many of our students, especially our youngest learned suffered as a result of being out of school for more than 18 months," said Ruschelle Reuben, Chief of Teaching Learning and Schools.

The district also discussed what measures and materials are in place to keep students safe, vaccinations and staff shortages. However, parents say this was more so a pat on the back for MCPS and none of their questions were answered. 

"They did not feel heard, they did not feel heard this evening," said Janis Sartucci, a member of Parents Coalition of Montgomery County. 

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On social media, some parents were not happy with the meeting’s outcome, posting on Twitter saying their real concerns were not addressed and some claiming the chat had been turned off. 

"They didn’t address the crisis, the crisis that the school system is in this week," said Sartucci. "Kids are reporting that they’re going to school when they don’t have teachers, they don’t have their bus show up, there’s nobody in the lunchroom. We’re hearing about the situation that’s happening this week but the presentation this evening was speaking to a very broad pandemic that we are beyond."

Nonetheless, the school district wrapped up the hour and a half meeting without hearing from students or parents. 

"It takes everyone in order for a school district to operate and function, to address all the needs of the students that we provide for them," said Dr. McKnight.  


The leaders did take to a live Instagram virtual session after the meeting wrapped up to try to speak with people on that platform. They did answer questions from the live chat there. 

A closed virtual board of education meeting on the MCPS schedule will be held Thursday, however there was no indication as to what would be discussed at that.