by Sydney Henry ’20
“As you may be aware, Steven Katz, a substitute teacher with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), was arrested on Friday, March 16, on charges of sexual abuse of a minor and fourth degree sexual offense stemming from inappropriate contact with a Cloverly Elementary School Student.” This was the introduction of a letter sent out by Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith on March 19th, after numerous media outlets began reporting on the arrest of Katz. No court date has been set for Katz yet.
Katz was reported to have substituted for teachers in at least 13 public schools in Montgomery County, including Sherwood, and a number of other schools in Howard County. Only one allegation against Katz has been made, coming from a male student at Cloverly Elementary. On March 8th, the student went home and told his parents that his teacher had touched him in a way which made him feel uncomfortable. His parents then proceeded to contact the school administrators who reported it to the police. After a warrant was put out for his arrest, Katz made admissions to the crime and turned himself into the police.
A few days later, parents gathered at Cloverly to discuss the matter with the a spokesman for the county, Derek Turner. Some parents however, were hoping to hear from the Superintendent himself. Dr. Smith was adamant in the letter that MCPS will fully cooperate with the police department in hopes of finding out how exactly this incident was able to occur. Other schools have been asked by the Superintendent to report any other allegations that arise from their own students.
This is the second time within a span of two years that an MCPS teacher has been arrested for charges of sexual abuse, and both stemmed from Cloverly Elementary. John Vigna, who taught for over 20 years at Cloverly, was convicted in June of 2016 on four counts of sex abuse of a minor, and five counts of third degree sex offense. The accusations came from students, both current and former, who accused Vigna of inappropriately touching them, and forcing them to go through with actions that made them intensely uncomfortable. Vigna was convicted and sentenced to 48 years in prison.