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School board baffled by discrepancies in MCPS student arrest data | #schoolsaftey

Montgomery County Police conducted at least 13 arrests on school property this year, according to data recently presented to the Montgomery County Board of Education—up from a total of three arrests in the 2021-2022 school year. Eight of the arrested students were Black and five were white, according to the data.

The statistics were shared during a student well-being and safety update presented to the school board Tuesday evening. Local law enforcement personnel were also invited to discuss their partnership with the school district in enforcing safety measures.

Because of federal law enforcement reporting protocols, Hispanic students were not included in the statistics. The police department doesn’t include Hispanics as a race category when they break down the data, officials said.

“Yes, we have had some arrests of Hispanic students this year. However, it is not notated in this chart and so we will provide that information to the school board,” MCPS Chief of District Operations Dana Edwards told the board, adding, “We’ll be able to provide that data by week’s end.”

Hispanic arrest numbers have not been made public as of press time Friday. Several school board members expressed concern about the arrest data on Tuesday. Board member Grace Rivera-Oven (Dist. 1) said she was baffled by the lack of representation for Hispanic and Latino students.

“We’re not capturing the data of the largest population in our school system when it comes to this kind of data?” she asked officials.

Rivera-Oven added, “This reminds me of [Health and Human Services] data where Latinos never died—we live on forever, because that data was not captured.” According to a 2022 government report, reporting discrepancies in Medicare’s race and ethnicity data has inhibited the office’s efforts to improve health disparities.

Board member Brenda Wolff (Dist. 5) asked whether the data encompasses arrests made both on and off school property, adding that “that number looks very low to me, just from what I read in the newspaper.”

Associate Superintendent Damon Monteleone clarified that the data only represents arrests of students made on school grounds.

Jordan Satinsky, who oversees Montgomery Police’s Community Engagement Division, addressed the board’s concerns about the arrest data.

“This year, what we could arrest for changed via legislation,” Satinsky said. Police officers are now prohibited from arresting juveniles under age 13—who represent more than 72,000 of the school district’s 160,000 students—with exceptions for serious crimes like murder or sexual assault.

“This population of folks is no longer anything that the judicial system is allowed to handle,” he said. “Things you would have seen in 2019, where let’s say we had 100 arrests for assault over the entire county—you’re no longer seeing that.”

Addressing the absence of arrest data for Hispanic and Latino students, Satinsky said his department relies on federal guidelines that lack specificity when it comes to reporting subjects’ race or ethnicity.

“The data is subjective, and it’s not good,” he said. Turning to Rivera-Oven, he added, “I agree with you—there’s a hole there.”

In total, Montgomery County Public Schools responded to more than 1,700 serious incidents over the course of the 2022-23 school year, according to school data—the majority characterized as calls for medical assistance.

Of those, the district responded to 840 school-based calls for medical assistance and 237 calls for drugs, alcohol and other controlled substances, according to data included in the security presentation. Additionally, security rovers and cluster coordinators visited elementary schools 7,500 times over the course of the school year. That number includes both incident responses and proactive engagement with staff and students.

“This year we were faced with a number of emergency and crisis incidents—things we didn’t anticipate,” Superintendent Monifa McKnight told the school board. “Responding to a crisis situation means we have to have all hands on deck. […] I feel absolutely confident that the more outreach and collaboration that we do, we are sure to find the right answer for us.”

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