News Brief: January 2023 Current Events

Harris Retiring Mid-Year

by Alex Braun ‘23

After seven years at Sherwood, Assistant Principal and 12th grade administrator Maychel Harris will be retiring. Harris has been in MCPS for the past 39 years, and has had almost every job imaginable in the school system, from building service worker, to security team leader, to teacher, and finally to Assistant Principal. While retiring at the end of the semester rather than at the end of the school year may seem unusual to some, it makes sense why he made this decision. Due to the fact that Maryland state law requires a 45-day period between retiring and seeking other governmental employment, retiring at the end of the school year in July wasn’t the best option for Harris, who may want to explore second-career opportunities.

Throughout his time at Sherwood, Harris has made great memories and loved the various state championship runs from Sherwood’s many sport teams, planning and experiencing Unity Week, and of course, working with the talented students and dedicated staff at Sherwood. One of his favorite memories is the first time he saw homecoming halls. “The talent, energy and enthusiasm was unlike anything I had ever since before in my school career,” said Harris.\

Harris has plans in “retirement” to stay busy. He is a Maryland Department of Transportation certified motorcycle safety instructor and plans to continue his love of teaching and motorcycles to instruct new motorcyclists on how to safely and responsibly ride motorcycles, while also caring for his aging parents and possibly working part time in MCPS. Deborah Higdom, a retired principal most recently at Lakelands Park MS, will take over Harris’ duties for the remainder of the school year.

Mother of Magruder Shooting Victim Sues MCPS

by Katie Gough ‘23

Last November, the mother of the victim of the shooting at Magruder filed a lawsuit against MCPS, accusing the school system of neglecting to take action to prevent violence in school buildings. The shooting, which took place last January, left Karen Thomas’ fifteen year-old son DeAndre in critical condition and in need of 10 separate surgeries. The 17 year old Magruder student who shot him pleaded guilty to attempted first degree murder in December in a deal that may allow for his release from prison in 15-25 years.

Thomas’ complaint addresses the removal of police officers from school buildings beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. In 2020, principals of all 25 high schools in MCPS supported keeping officers in schools and the decision to remove them was made before research about the issue had been fully conducted, according to the lawsuit. Called “school resource officers” (SROs), police officers have been in MCPS schools since 2002 and have prevented and diffused numerous dangerous situations in MCPS, which are outlined in the lawsuit. The complaint continues to argue that since the removal of SROs, there have been more reports of violence in schools that school administrators and security are not equipped to handle on their own. The complaint alleges that the county failed to provide alternative adult support for students struggling with bullying and mental health issues, noting that while Superintendent Monifa McKnight announced that the removed SROs would be replaced with 50 new school social workers, only 20 had been hired by the time of the shooting.

MCPS Warns of Fentanyl Risk

by Cheikh Lo ‘24

MCPS is increasingly concerned for students regarding opioids, specifically fentanyl and fentanyl-laced drugs. In December, Dr. Patrica Kapunan, the MCPS Medical Officer, released a message warning the community about the dangers of illicit fentanyl and what community members can do to protect themselves and others as a drug epidemic rages across the United States. The Office of the School System Medical Officer is working with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and community partners within the Montgomery Goes Purple initiative to help create community-wide efforts of prevention and treatment.

According to NBC Washington, three MCPS students overdosed while at school in recent months and were revived with Narcan. On December 13, MCPS held a publicly open demonstration on how to use Narcan at an event at Wootton to raise awareness about fentanyl-related overdoses. Parents are being pushed to educate themselves about the dangers of drug use, specifically fentanyl since it was responsible for over 70 percent of overdoses in Montgomery County in 2021. Other drug products like marijuana, cocaine, heroin or illegally sold pills thought to be prescription medicine may be laced with illicit fentanyl, without the knowledge of the buyer.