The following message regarding the new agreement guiding the Community Engagement Officer Program between the Montgomery County Police Department and MCPS was emailed to the community on April 26. It is reproduced below.
Dear MCPS Community,
To ensure a safe, inclusive, and positive learning environment for students and staff, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), and Montgomery County Government have signed a new agreement, known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), that enhances the program guiding law enforcement support in county public schools.
After more than two years of pandemic restrictions and virtual and hybrid learning, as well as daily life challenges, students need social-emotional and mental health support and adult-led positive relationship building of trust, including our law enforcement partners. The Community Engagement Officer (CEO) program is a necessary part of an informed, thoughtful and comprehensive response to ensure the safety of all students and staff. A safe and supportive environment is fundamental to MCPS’ mission of an excellent teaching and learning environment.
This plan was informed by collaborative work between MCPD and MCPS and includes community feedback gathered through focus groups with students, staff, parents, and several key community stakeholder groups.
Engagement activities included:
- Ten age-appropriate student focus groups across all three grades in February and March.
- A series of youth-police dialogues with MCPS and police representatives in each of Montgomery County’s 10 police districts.
- A live virtual community conversation on student safety and wellbeing in December 2021 with nearly 1,000 attendees.
- County-wide student forums on February 3 in all 70 high schools.
- Ongoing discussion groups with parents in all secondary schools.
“The extensive social-emotional and mental health supports we are putting in place with this new agreement with our law enforcement partners are the right solution at this time,” said Acting Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight. “We believe these officers will be trusted and valued members of our school communities.”
Chief of Police Marcus Jones said, “This MOU enables our department and our law enforcement partners to further our community policing goals within and beyond the MCPS community. The Montgomery County Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all of our staff, students, and MCPS partners. It has been a real collaboration between all parties involved to listen to the needs of our community.
Ruschelle Reuben, chief of teaching, learning and schools for MCPS, said the safety and security of students and staff is the district’s top priority. “We will regularly monitor this program to ensure it is effective and to identify areas for improvement,” she said. “We have had discussions with students, staff and families to ensure this plan represents a range of interests and opinions.”
The MOU also calls for ongoing review of the program by a cross-functional team of students, staff, administrators, representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services and the police department.
- Work with all schools in their assigned group.
- Participate in required professional development of MCPS, including nonviolent crisis intervention, and equity and culturally appropriate engagement.
- Have a direct line of communication and contact with the school and coordinate attendance at major school events, such as sporting events, big dances, or other activities.
- CEOs will not respond to routine incidents related to school discipline. These incidents are governed by the discipline outlined in the MCPS Student Code of Conduct.
“As principals, these new guidelines strike the right balance for us. Having a more direct and collaborative relationship with our law enforcement partners will be beneficial,” said Col. Zadok Magruder. “That connection in our schools will be something that students and staff will see and we will derive a greater sense of security from it.”
The Memorandum of Understanding comes into effect immediately. Community Engagement Officers will be assigned to each MCPS group.
View the signed Memorandum of Understanding here.