Fallout Continues; BOE Wants McKnight Out

by Evelyn San Miguel ‘26

On November 29, Montgomery County Inspector General Megan Davey Limarzi released the results of her first of three investigative reports into former Farquhar Principal Joel Beidleman, which presented a more full accounting of his sexual misconduct during his tenures at multiple schools across the county. The second, released January 8, addressed the issue of MCPS leadership, and whether or not they had any involvement in covering up Beidleman’s years of harassment, or participated in inappropriate conduct themselves. A final report, expected in the coming weeks, will reveal more details about “what went wrong in MCPS’ initial investigation of Beidleman.”

Details corroborated by high-ranking MCPS officials gave insight to information as to Superintendent Monifa McKnight’s involvement in allowing Beidleman’s promotion, Moco360 and The Washington Post revealed. As of January 22, the Board of Education has indicated a desire for her resignation, which she vehemently opposed. McKnight responded, saying that the only way she would accept the calls were if the Board were to go through with a “fair, legitimate, and legal process” and that “anything less would be unacceptable.”

Reports by officials for Moco360 report that Beidleman and McKnight had been “longtime friends,” a friendship which spanned decades and into her tenure as Superintendent. Despite the many leadership changes which have come after the investigations, Beidleman still remains employed by the district. Though, according to MCPS spokesman Chris Cram, he stopped receiving his post-promotion salary of $191,000 on December 18, 2023.

New revelations in recent weeks regarding MCPS executive leadership, released by MoCo360 and the Inspector General in her second investigative report, have also revealed major transgressions committed by MCPS administrators. The alleged inappropriate conduct done by leadership includes excessive drinking, intimidation, and sexual harassment in workplace environments.

The calls for McKnight’s resignation have followed the release of investigations by Limarzi, which preceded those done by the Baltimore-based Jackson Lewis Law Firm, hired by the MCPS Board of Education to look into Beidleman and MCPS leadership shortly after the scathing Washington Post exposé about him was released in August. Concerns about a conflict of interest for the firm—because it had worked for the Board previously—sparked the Inspector General to launch investigations of her own, which revealed more eye-opening information about Beidleman and the county, as Limarzi has not worked for the Board before, and had no obligation to censor or redact information.

In anticipation of Limarzi’s investigations, McKnight had implemented corrective measures ahead of the Inspector General’s recommendations earlier this month, including staffing changes in the Department of Compliance and Investigations (DCI) and other major changes to MCPS policies, she wrote in an email to MCPS staff.

The investigation into Beidleman’s long history of sexual harassment revealed appaling details about the professional environment he created and the fear he instilled among his subordinates. “[He made] verbal comments of a sexual nature that … affected their work performance and created an offensive work environment,” the report concluded.