Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Three arrests at one elementary school alarm parents and raise safety questions

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...
...Parents such as Bartley, whose youngest child still attends Cloverly, said the 2017-2018 school year began with little communication about the Vigna case and no visible changes in school procedures. That frustrated some families, and their concerns grew when a lunch aide, Sean Kelley, 30, was arrested on child pornography charges in January...
...Principal Melissa Brunson declined to comment through a district spokesman...
...Jennifer Alvaro, a longtime clinician and advocate on sex abuse issues who served on a school system advisory panel, said that best practices should be used at all schools immediately and that it would be unethical to add safety measures at just one school in a 205-school system.
She called for an outside investigation of all cases of sexual abuse in Montgomery County schools and urged the school system to do more to step up background checks, body safety classes and sexual harassment reporting. School culture needs to change, she said.
“I understand Cloverly’s pain and frustration,” she said. “But this is about more than one school.”

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