GERMANTOWN, Md. - Seneca Valley High School Principal Marc Cohen is calling on SVHS dads to help squelch the violence at their Germantown school. Principal Cohen issued his call to action across social media on Tuesday asking all Eagle dads available to help monitor students during certain "key" times of the day.
There has been a noted increase in violence across all Montgomery County Public Schools. Montgomery County Police told FOX 5 so far this year, they’ve responded to at least 48 assaults across the county’s public high schools compared to 51 assaults or attacks reported in all of the 2018-2019 school year (the last full school year before COVID-19 disruptions).
The violence seen at Seneca Valley forced a Friday night football game to end early and increase security at the school. Parents also say there have been multiple lockdowns and fights.
The principal’s call to action is looking for dads to help out during lunch -- or after school. According to his post on twitter, "a group of involved parents has identified a shared interest in increasing the presence of dads in the building at key times of the day to help us maintain a positive energy, to provide support in supervision, and to mentor students who could benefit from some extra TLC."
The MCPS spokesperson says the idea came from both parent meetings involving a "Communities Coming Together" effort and a recent Washington Post article that highlighted one Louisiana High School’s "Dad’s on Duty" initiative.
The article, posted about two weeks ago, said five dads started the effort on Sept. 20 and hadn’t seen a violent incident since.
County Executive Marc Elrich was asked about the increase in school violence this year – a school year that for the first time, also removed School Resource Officers from all MCPS buildings. Elrich rebuffed a question on whether removing SROs has had an impact on the violence seen thus far. He said people are conflating the two.
When asked his response to those who would view the Seneca Valley Principal’s efforts as an example that MPCS is not able to keep students safe, Elrich responded, "It sounds like you're describing a situation, if they're asking all dads to do that, as something that's bigger than one SRO would do to keep the student safe, either. And when you look at some of these incidents, there's no way an SRO would've been where they were needed to be at the point that an incident occurred. So it may not be a bad idea to try to get parents to engage more in the schools when they're available. But I don't know why the principal would call for all the dads. I think it would be just as appropriate to ask more parents, regardless of gender, if they have the opportunity to help out and be more present in schools."
Interested fathers can’t just sign-up and go.
MCPS Spokesperson Chris Cram said any parent volunteers interested will need to undergo Child Abuse and Neglect training and attest to being fully vaccinated. They’d have to also go through a background check if the volunteers are to be alone with students.
Principal Cohen is planning a 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11 meeting on this effort for any parents interested at the Seneca Valley High School cafeteria.