Agreement Guiding Community Engagement Officer Program Signed
The following message about 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 reprinted below.
Dear MCPS Community,
To ensure a safe, inclusive and positive learning environment for students and staff, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the 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 support from law enforcement in county public schools.
After more than two years of pandemic restrictions, and virtual and hybrid learning, as well as everyday life challenges, students need social-emotional and mental health supports and positive relationship-building led by trusted adults, including our police partners. The Community Engagement Officer (CEO) Program is a necessary part of an informed, thoughtful and comprehensive response to address the safety of all students and staff. A safe and supportive environment is foundational to MCPS’ mission of an excellent teaching and learning environment.
This plan was informed by collaborative work between MCPD and MCPS and includes community input gathered through focus groups with students, staff, parents and multiple key community stakeholder groups.
Engagement activities included:
- Ten age-appropriate student focus groups at all three levels in February and March.
- A series of youth-police dialogues with MCPS and police representatives in each of the 10 police districts in Montgomery County.
- A live virtual Community Conversation on Student Safety and Well-Beingin December 2021 with nearly 1,000 participants.
- Countywide student forums on Feb. 3 at all 70 secondary schools.
- Ongoing parent focus groups at all high schools.
“The important social-emotional and mental health supports that we are putting in place along with this new agreement with our police partners is the right solution at this time,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight. “We believe that these officers will be dependable and valuable members of our school communities.”
Police Chief Marcus Jones said, “This MOU allows for our department and our law enforcement partners to further our community policing objectives within and beyond the MCPS community. The Montgomery County Police Department is committed to the safety and security of all our MCPS staff, students and partners. This has been a genuine collaboration between all involved parties to listen to the needs of our community.”
Ruschelle Reuben, MCPS Chief of Teaching, Learning and Schools, said that 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 any areas of improvement,” she said. “We have held discussions with students, staff and families to make sure this plan represents a range of interests and opinions.”
The MOU also provides for an 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 cluster.
- Participate in required MCPS professional development, including non-violent crisis intervention, and equity and culturally responsive engagement.
- Have a direct line of communication and contact with the school and coordinate assistance at major school events, such as athletic events, large dances or other activities.
- CEOs will not respond to routine school discipline incidents. These incidents are governed by discipline outlined in the MCPS Student Code of Conduct.
“As a school principal, these new guidelines are the right balance for us. Having a more direct and collaborative relationship with our police partners will be beneficial,” said Dr. Leroy C. Evans, principal of Col. Zadok Magruder High School. “This connection in our schools will be something students and staff will see and we will derive a greater sense of security because of it.”
The MOU is effective immediately. Community Engagement Officers will be assigned to each cluster in MCPS.