Excerpted from a Washington Post story by Donna St. George
When a substitute teacher was accused last month of sexual misconduct, Jim Bartley and other parents at Cloverly Elementary School were stunned. It was not just that they found the allegation horrifying. It was also how often the same Maryland school had been rocked by an arrest.
“Three in 21 months,” said Bartley, a father of four. “We have had enough.”
Bartley spoke as he and a small group of other parents rallied near the Silver Spring school one recent morning in a near-freezing rain to highlight concerns the school has faced in the suburb just outside Washington. They gathered with posters and young children, hoping to get the attention and help of top school officials in Montgomery County.
Their efforts did not go unnoticed.
They have been promised a meeting with Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Jack R. Smith, who is expected to visit Cloverly on Tuesday night for a closed session with parents and staff members.
“It’s a solutions-focused event, to address the concerns they raised,” spokesman Derek Turner said.
Several parents said they hope Smith will consider measures to boost security, increase employee training, improve the screening of substitute teachers, expand adult presence in classrooms and add counseling at the school of about 500 students.
“They need to have a better system,” said Genevla Zani, who has two daughters at the school. “Whatever they have isn’t working.”
School district officials said Monday that they are concerned about the three arrests, two of which involved students at the school and one involving alleged possession of child pornography. But they also said that the cases may partly reflect the vigilance of the Cloverly community.
“They are very thoughtful about recognizing and reporting this,” Turner said.
The concern about Cloverly goes back to 2016, when one of the school’s most beloved teachers, John Vigna, was charged with sexual abuse. His case went to trial last year, and he was sentenced in August to 48 years in prison for sexually abusing four female students over the course of 15 years.
School officials have pointed to improvements dating to 2015, when they launched an effort to increase abuse-related staff training, create an employee conduct code, expand background checks, clarify reporting procedures and emphasize the need to report suspicious conduct.
You can read the full story here.