What to Know
- A rape allegation by a 14-year-old girl at Rockville High prompted a security review of all public schools.
- 22 of 25 county high schools will get more than $1.5 million in security upgrades.
- Administrators will begin security reviews of middle and elementary schools later this year.
Montgomery County Public Schools ordered $1.5 million in security upgrades to 22 of its 25 high schools, including the installation of new security gates, door locks and vestibules near entrance doors.
The changes follow a two-month investigation of school building security, which the school district announced days after a rape allegation at Rockville High School.
Prosecutors dropped charges in the case and said evidence did not support a rape prosecution, but not before the rape allegation garnered nationwide attention, including a mention by the White House press secretary.
School district officials proceeded with a review of all 25 Montgomery County high schools after the criminal case dissipated, citing a need to ensure student safety. The security review was first publicly revealed in a report by the News4 I-Team.
School district administrators formally recommended a new set of security reinforcements to members of the school board Monday.
“Our priority objective is to enhance the security measures that are already in place,” Montgomery County Public Schools facilities director James Song told board members.
“They will provide better control of interior spaces and exterior spaces, both during and after school hours,” Song said.
Work crews will outfit 22 of the county high schools with additional safety equipment during the summer break and fall semester. Only Gaithersburg High, Paint Branch High and Wheaton High will be left unchanged, district officials said. Each of those schools was recently renovated or constructed.
The changes include measures to reduce blind spots in which students can engage in misconduct without detection. According to school district officials, security teams will add security gates and door locks inside several of the schools. Doors will be adjusted or added to prevent people from entering empty spaces or spaces that aren't monitored.
In a briefing to school board members, school officials said all 25 high schools are already equipped with buzzer systems to reduce the risk of trespassers or security threats.
“They’re going to do a lot of work this summer," Montgomery County Public Schools chief operating officer Andrew Zuckerman said. "We’ll do some more work next year.”
Administrators will begin security reviews of middle and elementary schools later this year, district officials told the I-Team
“We have to do this to keep our kids safe,” board member Patricia O’Neill said.
School district records reviewed by the I-Team said construction contractors from Frederick and Montgomery counties have been chosen to complete the upgrades. The work is projected to cost $1,582,500, according to those records.