MCPS Acknowledges Concerns about Safety

by Cliff Vacin ’25

MCPS sent a letter on April 2 to students, parents/guardians, and teachers regarding the string of in-school fights happening throughout middle and high schools. In the letter, Interim Superintendent Monique Felder pledged that MCPS and its schools will uphold the Student Code of Conduct and will hold students accountable for violating rules. In bold print in the letter to the community, Felder declared, “Let’s be clear: a safe schoolhouse in which students have a sense of security and belonging is essential so that all students and staff can teach and learn at high levels.”

Felder begins the letter by noting that student behavior has been a topic of concern for students and staff at some schools. One notable case that received news coverage centered around Clarksburg High School–in early March, news stations such as ABC7 and WUSA9 reported about the string of fights happening in the school. A whistleblower revealed that one staff member was hospitalized during these fights, with other teachers dealing with less serious injuries such as bruises.

Right around the same time, local media reported that an 18-year-old student brought a loaded gun to Gaithersburg High School and was apprehended and charged with Possession of a Firearm on school property. Throughout the school year, there have been a number of student fights throughout the county, as well as incidents of students making threats toward other students or the school. Some parents have complained about what they see as the slow response and lack of communication by MCPS and school administrators in response to these incidents.

In February, two girls at Benjamin Banneker Middle School were hospitalized in a fight that involved a box cutter. After a student was hospitalized in January at Lakelands Park Middle School, parents criticized MCPS and Lakelands Park officials for sending out a letter two days after the incident and explaining that “grade-level town halls” would occur later that week to address expectations for students.

Felder’s April 2 letter outlined a number of measures the school district will take to foster a safer school experience for students and staff, including greater physical safety measures, greater security measures, police partnerships, comprehensive bullying training, reporting mechanisms, partnerships with organizations, parents, and guardians, and supportive communication. MCPS has also considered adding vape detectors and weapons detection systems to schools, as well as potentially adding mandatory IDs.