County Council to Receive Briefings on Community Engagement Officers and Restorative Justice Practices in Montgomery County Public Schools

Per Montgomery County: The joint Public Safety (PS) and Education and Culture (EC) Committee will meet on Monday, March 20 at 9:30 a.m. to receive a briefing on the Community Engagement Officer (CEO) Program and restorative justice practices within Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The joint committee will also receive a briefing and discuss school bus safety. The members of the PS Committee include Chair Sidney Katz and Councilmembers Dawn Luedtke and Kristin Mink. The members of the EC Committee include Chair Will Jawando and Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz and Mink.

The Transportation and Environment (TE) Committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. to review a $250,000 FY23 Supplemental Appropriation and FY23-28 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) Amendment for streetlighting. The committee will also review CIP amendments for transportation projects and receive a briefing on the Purple Line. The members of the TE Committee include Chair Evan Glass and Councilmembers Marilyn Balcombe and Kate Stewart. The Planning, Housing and Parks (PHP) Committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. to receiving a briefing from representatives of the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) on Housing Choice vouchers. The members of the PHP Committee include Chair Andrew Friedson and Councilmembers Natali Fani-González and Jawando.

More detail on each agenda item is provided below.
Community Engagement Officers and Restorative Justice
Briefing: The joint PS and EC Committee will receive an update on the CEO Program as well as restorative justice practices within MCPS. In 2018, Maryland enacted the Safe to Learn Act, which established statewide standards for school safety, which require each public school to have a School Resource Officer (SRO) or ensure adequate local law enforcement coverage. The Act also requires certain SRO training and mandates the establishment of behavioral threat assessment teams that help identify students who may pose a safety threat to schools.

In 2020, after student and community advocates in Montgomery County requested the modification or end of the SRO program, the Board of Education launched a workgroup to explore and benchmark alternative discipline program processes used to handle school-based incidents. Before the Board issued a final report, the County Executive announced his intention to remove SROs from schools. In response, stakeholders created multiple workgroups that studied the issue and made recommendations to improve school climate. These groups included the Student Wellbeing Action Group and Reimagining School Safety and Student Well Being. Beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, police and MCPS implemented the new CEO program.

In addition, MCPS worked to establish a restorative justice disciplinary framework that seeks to ensure school safety by fostering physical, social, psychological, and academic wellbeing through building community, self-care, and resolving conflict. This approach recognizes that infractions will take place but works to repair harm and reintegrate students back into the schools. Teachers, administrators, school-based restorative justice coaches and student well-being teams work together to provide a tailored approach to each event.

School Bus Safety
Briefing: The joint PS and EC Committee will receive a briefing about safety on and around school buses. The committees will receive updates on the implementation of the school bus camera program, which is used to enhance student safety as children travel to and from school each day. State legislation permits local jurisdictions to implement school bus camera programs and the Council passed legislation in 2012 to implement its own program. School bus cameras are attached to buses and can photograph and videotape vehicles that pass the stopped bus when it has its red lights flashing and stop sign arms extended.

Maryland Transportation Article 21-706 provides that a driver must stop at least 20 feet from the rear of a stopped school vehicle that is operating flashing lights. If the driver is approaching the school vehicle from the front, it must stop at least 20 feet in front of the school vehicle. This requirement keeps other vehicles well outside of pedestrian danger zones surrounding a school bus.

FY23 Supplemental Appropriation $250,000 (State Aid) and FY 23-28 CIP Amendment: Streetlighting and Amendments to the FY23-24 Capital Improvements Program – Transportation Projects
Review: The TE Committee will review a $250,000 Supplemental Appropriation and Amendment to the FY23-28 CIP to acquire and install streetlighting along the Park Overlook walking trail near the Shady Grove Metro station. If approved, the lighting would be installed by the end of 2023. The committee will also review a total of $136 million in amendments to the FY23-24 CIP for transportation projects.

Purple Line Briefing
Briefing: The TE Committee will receive a briefing on the progress of the Purple Line led by officials from the Maryland Transit Administration and Maryland Transit Solutions. The last Purple Line progress meeting was held on Sept. 13, 2022. In addition, Purple Line tours were held for Councilmembers and their staff on Jan. 12 and 13, 2023.

Housing Choice Vouchers
Briefing: The PHP Committee will receive an update from HOC about Housing Choice vouchers. Previously known as Section 8 vouchers, these vouchers come from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsored program which provides assistance for residents with very low income, senior residents and individuals with disabilities to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. The maximum payment amount is determined by HUD and depends on an individual’s zip code and city. There are two types of vouchers: tenant-based and project-based.

With tenant-based vouchers, participants search for their own housing, which may include single-family homes, townhouses and apartments, or even the family’s present residence. The voucher can be used anywhere in the U.S. Once requirements are met, the housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by HOC on behalf of the family.

With project-based vouchers, tenants stay within an affiliated unit. HUD contracts with some builders to create properties which have Section 8 subsidies. Those project-based properties owned by HOC include Magruder’s Discovery, Paint Branch and Shady Grove Apartments.

The Committee meeting schedule may change from time to time. The current Council and Committee agendas, Council staff reports and additional information on items scheduled for Council review can be viewed at: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/ondemand/index.html.

The Council recommends that residents, who choose to attend in-person Council or committee meetings, get fully vaccinated to protect themselves and others against COVID-19. If this is not possible, virtual participation is encouraged.
Council and committee meetings are streamed live on the Council’s web page via YouTube and on Facebook Live and can be watched on County Cable Montgomery on Xfinity/RCN 6 HD 996/1056, Fios 30, and on the CCM live stream.

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