Statement from Councilmembers Rice and Jawando on Student Wellbeing and Action Group

by Patrick Herron
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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 17, 2021

ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 17, 2021 – Councilmember Craig Rice and Councilmember Will Jawando made the following statement about the safety and wellbeing of students attending Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS):

“As MCPS students continue to acclimate to a return to full time, in-person classes, we know the number of incidents of inappropriate student behavior has increased. While this is a national trend, the safety of our students remains our top priority. We have been engaged with the leadership of MCPS and are working in coordination with the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as these incidents have increased.

“To that end, residents and families should know that our police officers are responding to serious incidents quickly and responsibly. While recent policy changes include no longer positioning police officers inside school buildings, community engagement officers still work with our schools and are present at large school events such as football games as an increased security measure. Further, serious incidents still require school administrators to call 911 and request police response. We commend MCPD for their rapid response time to these incidents and support MCPS in holding anyone who brings a weapon to school accountable for their actions while working to understand and address the underlying issues at play.

“Together, we convened the Student Wellbeing and Action Group (SWAG) this past summer to be proactive in addressing our students’ wellbeing and safety. As we examine the root causes of these incidents, we know that our students need increased availability of mental health supports in our schools to help them through these difficult times. This will be achieved through very specific resources devoted to their wellbeing. MCPS is planning for an additional 50 social workers in our schools and implementation of trauma-informed care supports. They are also providing professional development to staff for the continued expansion and implementation of the restorative justice process when working with our students. Restorative justice places an emphasis on repairing the harm inflicted and building community and accountability rather than administering a punitive response.

“We truly appreciate the work of SWAG in identifying the resources needed for our students. As always, our students know what they need and are the best advocates for changing the culture in schools to create a supportive educational environment. Working our way back to normalcy after this period of intense trauma will be achieved through the collaboration and ongoing communication between students, the dedicated MCPS staff, and our committed DHHS staff and MCPD officers who are working together to ensure our students and staff feel safe and respected.”

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