Months of racially charged incidents prompts address from Montgomery County Public Schools

Montgomery County Public Schools is hosting an event Thursday night to address recent incidents of hate, bias, racism, antisemitism and LGBTQ+ prejudice over recent months.

Montgomery County had 31 reported incidents across the district for the 2021 school year. That number nearly doubled to 65 incidents in 2022.

This year has seen that number increase two and a half times with a few weeks left in the school year. Thus far, 79 of the incidents have targeted a racial group, 75 of them were against a religious group and 24 of the reported incidents were centered around sexual orientation.

"We can stand up and act by doing what we do best: educating," said Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Monifa McKnight at a speech Thursday at Rockville High School. "We can and must educate one another about the value of our diversity, the importance of inclusivity, and what it takes to bring to our students the sense of belonging that I’ve personally searched for and fought for my whole life."

In her remarks, McKnight said a lot has been done to work and make Montgomery County schools inclusive, but these incidents are a stark reminder that more work needs to be done.

McKnight made specific policy proposals: Additional training for staff, more coordinated responses to incidents, and additional community input on how best to deal with hate-related incidents to name a few.

She said she’ll present proposals to the school board next month.


Antisemitic graffiti found outside Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD

Police in Montgomery County are investigating an act of antisemitic vandalism at a Bethesda high school, as officials from around the county condemn the act.

FOX 5 has reported on a number of these incidents. In December 2022, antisemitic graffiti was found outside Walt Whiteman High School in Bethesda.

A picture from the scene showed the words "Jews Not Welcome" scribbled across the sign board in front of the school. In a letter sent to families, Walt Whitman High School's Principal Robert Dodd, called the action "abhorrent" and "extremely hurtful."

Swastikas were then found drawn on desks at three Montgomery County schools in January. MCPS did not specify which schools experienced this, but a letter sent home to families of Silver Creek Middle School in Kensington revealed that one of the instances happened at that school.

MCPS said that in each case "students and the staff addressed the vile impact of the hateful images, worked to immediately remove the drawings, and in each case, appropriate discipline in alignment with the MCPS Student Code of Conduct was assigned."

They did not indicate what the discipline was.


Swastikas found drawn on desks at 3 Montgomery County schools: officials

Swastikas were found drawn on desks at three separate Montgomery County schools this week, according to county school officials.

Days later, it was announced that antisemitic graffiti was found on a student's desk at Magruder High School.

"Given the seriousness of this incident and heightened concerns around racial insensitivity and anti-Semitism, we seek parent support and involvement in speaking with your children in our efforts to eliminate this hateful and harmful behavior," read a letter sent home to families from Magruder's principal Dr. Leroy Evans.


Antisemitic graffiti found on student's desk at Magruder High School

The principal of Magruder High School in Montgomery County says antisemitic graffiti was found on a student's desk last week.

In the same week, hate-based graffiti was found in the boy's locker room at Gaithersburg High School. The school's principal, Cary Dimmick, said a student made the "unacceptable decision" to scratch the N-word into the paint on a locker. 

The school encouraged parents to have a conversation with their kids about respecting differences and understanding the weight that intolerable symbols, words and actions carry with them. School officials said they were investigating the incident.


N-word written on locker at Gaithersburg High School; MCPS launches investigation

Hate-based graffiti was found Wednesday in the boy's locker room at Gaithersburg High School.

In February, Montgomery County Police announced that the Jewish Rockville Outreach Center had received multiple calls from a person using anti-Semitic language back in December 2022.

Officers began investigating the incident and later determined that the calls came from a 17-year-old who lives in the community. Officials recommended the teen face a charge of telephone misuse.


Montgomery County teenager accused of making anti-Semitic calls to Jewish center: police

A Montgomery County teenager is accused of making harassing and anti-Semitic phone calls to a Jewish center, according to police.

Later that month, Westbrook Elementary School officials said two sets of ‘KKK' letters were spotted near the front entrance of the school as students arrived. The letters were quickly were scrubbed off the concrete.

School officials said if students committed these acts, they face serious discipline.


Racist graffiti found at Bethesda elementary school

Another disturbing and upsetting act of hate in Montgomery County where racist graffiti was found at a Bethesda elementary school.

Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight spoke two months ago about the rise in incidents over winter break. She will once again speak to these issues and their impact on the county’s children and school system. The address starts at 4 p.m. and will be livestreamed.