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Students claim Montgomery Co. school bathrooms are unsafe

Some students claim drug use, bullying and overdoses have made bathrooms a no-go zone.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery County Public Schools has a plan to immediately beef up security around school bathrooms, among other changes to security protocol. Some activists, parents and students say they are not comforted by what the school system has announced so far. They are looking for more.

At John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, some students claim drug use, bullying and overdoses have made bathrooms a no-go zone.

Parents say a student survived an overdose in a bathroom there in January. The mother of another student who died of a fentanyl overdose that happened off campus believes her child got involved with drugs at the school. Edith Montalvan says her daughter was a student at Kennedy when she died of a fentanyl overdose on Jan. 14 off campus. She begged the Board of Education to do something.

"I want to ask for security for our schools," Montalvan said with the help of a translator.

On Friday, MCPS revealed what it called a roadmap to school safety. 


The immediate focus is school bathrooms, where there have been scenes of drug use and overdoses, and in the case of a shooting at Magruder High School in 2022, violence.

The plan calls for immediately increasing staff "visual monitoring and checks" inside bathrooms, and latches are being installed on exterior restroom doors in secondary schools to ensure doors remain open, while balancing privacy and safe use. 

So far, there are no specifics on how many security officers or additional staff will be deployed to do it. That leaves Kennedy Parent Teacher Student Association member Ricky Ribeiro looking for more answers.

"They mentioned latches on doors and I continue to be confused by that because our school, among other MCPS schools, has removed doors. They've locked doors. It hasn't seemed to really make a big difference," Ribeiro said. 

As far as what the kids want, Ribeiro said it's simple.

"They want safety. I will tell you the kids want to feel safe," he said. "They would come home and they would say 'Ugh, the hallways smelled like Percocets again' or 'The bathrooms were all locked because somebody was using.' That's not how schools should be."

MCPS spokesperson Chris Cram also weighed in on the question of bathroom safety.

"No two schools are really the same. They all have different number of bathrooms, different numbers of floors. So exactly what works for them is a conversation too. We don't want to have to lock bathrooms, we don't want to have to close them. People need to use bathrooms for what they're intended for. So how do we get more people to monitor them in a timely way, such that we preserve privacy, but also ensure that poor behavior doesn't occur in them," Cram said.

Cram said each high school in the county has between six and eight staffers who are designated to security, that number may be increased one or two security members depending on the high school. However, specifics have not been laid out. 

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