School Locks Bathrooms To Address Persistence of Student Misbehavior

by Bryan Kim ‘23

Throughout the school year, Sherwood, like many other schools in MCPS, has been experiencing issues regarding inappropriate student behavior in school restrooms. Bathrooms are the only places in the school without regular adult supervision, making them a hot spot for such misbehavior as loitering, vandalism and property destruction, vaping, smoking marijuana, and other drug use. In response, many restrooms in the school building have been locked during certain times of the school day. The boys restroom in the upper C-hall has been blocked by a wooden plank for more than a year after students caused damage to it.

“We occasionally have caught students using Juuls or vape pens,” said Principal Tim Britton. “Our security finds large groups of students in restrooms, rough housing or just hanging out. We clear the area and sometimes lock it up if it becomes a huge problem.”
In the past year, a number of troubling incidents at high schools in Montgomery County have been reported by school newspapers as well as the Washington Post, MoCo 360, and local TV news affiliates. Students have been found drunk and unconscious in bathrooms at B-CC, three Richard Montgomery students were caught robbing students in Gaithersburg High School bathrooms, and in the most well known incident, a student was shot by another student in front of others in a bathroom at Magruder High School last winter.

Last month, MCPS released a county-wide safety plan and directly acknowledged ongoing issues in school bathrooms. The safety plan asks schools to increase monitoring of bathrooms, reduce the frequency of how often students can go to the bathroom, and install latches on bathroom doors. Many of these policies have been adopted by Sherwood administration in an attempt to prevent dangerous behavior from occurring in the bathrooms.

“Our security staff are scanning restrooms based on how many times they have checked those areas in the AM and PM. We would like to eventually get doors on all our restrooms,” said Britton. Sherwood has already locked many bathrooms throughout the school building, especially at certain times of the school day.

However, Sherwood’s attempts to help mitigate inappropriate behavior in bathrooms presents another issue for students who actually need to use restrooms. One day earlier this month, only four of the ten boys bathrooms in the school building were unlocked. Students are frustrated that they have to wander hallways to find restrooms that are open to use. “I hate searching for bathrooms that are unlocked,” said senior Abrha Kesetebrhan. “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”