Video of trespasser with knife at Kennedy High raises alarm on school safety | #schoolsaftey

Videos posted on social media of a trespasser brandishing a knife while walking in the hallways of John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring on April 19 are putting the issue of safety in Montgomery County Public Schools squarely in the spotlight yet again.

The school’s PTSA scheduled a May 8 meeting to discuss safety and security, according to Co-Vice President Ricky Ribeiro. The goal of the meeting is to “force the school leadership and the school system to acknowledge the problem” of school safety issues and to reassure parents and students that the organization is taking action, he said Friday.

The incident on April 19 began when a trespasser came onto the school grounds during lunch, according to a letter sent to the school community from Principal Vickie Adamson. The trespasser had an altercation with a student at the school and when other students approached the scene, the trespasser wielded a knife, the letter stated.

Adamson wrote that the school called for a shelter-in-place at approximately 11:30 a.m. to “remove all students from the situation and to convey everyone to safe locations.” She added that school security responded immediately, disarmed the trespasser and secured the person in a room at 11:35 a.m. away from onlookers.

According to the letter, a police officer assigned to the school through Montgomery County Public Schools’ Community Engagement Officer (CEO) program was already on school grounds when the incident occurred, and additional officers were also dispatched to the school. By 12:02 p.m. the shelter-in-place was lifted.

Montgomery County police did not respond to MoCo360’s request for comment Friday.

The incident involving the trespasser comes on the heels of other safety-related incidents this school year including students arrested with ghost guns or unloaded gun at Clarksburg High School, multiple bomb threats and the arrest of a MCPS student who allegedly wrote a manifesto fixated on planning a mass shooting at Thomas S.  Wootton High School in April.

School safety has been at the forefront of community discussions in recent weeks and Sami Saeed, the student member of the Board of Education, also has been vocal about what he described as the district’s slow approach to the issue at a school board meeting April 11.

Ribeiro said he has “yet to hear from the school itself, or the school system, anything that reassures me as a parent, that they’re doing something serious to prevent another incident like this from happening.”

Ribeiro, whose son is a junior at Kennedy, said MCPS is acting too slowly on school safety issues in county schools and that the district has “their own version of reality versus what we have to deal with in the schools.”

MCPS spokesperson Chris Cram said the district believes the trespasser was able to enter the school because a student let the person in. He said MCPS Chief Operating Officer Brian Hull spoke about the incident at Thursday’s school board meeting and acknowledged that the issue of students opening doors for other people “is a matter requiring attention” and would “require more security to monitor doors.”

Hull also said that beginning with the next school year, all students at secondary schools would be required to wear or have their school ID on them to enter buildings. He added that in the future the district will look into installing ID scanners at schools as well.

Ribeiro said he heard about the knife incident at Kennedy when his son texted to notify him that the school was sheltering in place due to someone with a knife in the building. By the time he heard from the school about the incident, Ribeiro said he had already seen videos of the student with the knife on social media.

“While this knife incident is going on literally as [MCPS] Chief Operating Officer Brian Hull is standing up in a press conference telling the press our schools are safe, I’m getting text messages from my son that there’s somebody in the building with a knife and they’re in a shelter in place,” he said.

Riberio was referring to a county police news conference concerning the arrest of student Alex Ye, 18, on charges of making threats of mass violence. Ye is being held without bond at the county’s correctional facility in Boyds.

“The disconnect, the contrast is so stark, and I don’t know who in MCPS is waking up or going to wake up,” Ribiero said.

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