A new database in Montgomery County Public Schools to track reported allegations of inappropriate staff behavior with students is up and running — and being put to use.
About 25 incidents have been entered into the database this school year, according to Robert Grundy, director of the Performance Evaluation and Compliance Unit in the school system’s Human Resources and Development Office.
One staff member involved in an incident that was reported in the database this year was terminated after he had previously been told not to touch students, Grundy said. Other incidents listed included a teacher who tapped a student on the butt and another who lifted students in the air.
Superintendent Joshua P. Starr said in a June memorandum that the school system would use a confidential database as part of its new tracking system for staff members who engage in inappropriate behavior with students.
Grundy said the database serves as a central location for reported incidents, making it easier to track and “establish a pattern” of behavior from an employee who changes schools.
Grundy said the employee’s name and identification number go into the database — essentially a complex Excel spreadsheet — when a report is made.
“If the same number goes in, it turns red,” he said. “You know there’s a prior incident.”
A report of alleged inappropriate behavior has to be made by a principal for it to be entered in the system, Grundy said.
The school system enters all such reports from principals, he said.
“We’re trying to get those things that just don’t feel right so early on we’re picking these things up as opposed to after the fact,” he said.
Grundy said the school system does not want the database to supplant a call to Child Protective Services.
In addition to entering current incidents, the school system is also going back in its records to add older incidents to the database as well, Grundy said.
Those older incidents include cases that are “more egregious” than what is typically seen and that either the school system’s human resources office or an individual school investigated, he said.
As he has gone back through the records, Grundy said, he said he found that the person involved in each incident has resigned or been terminated in almost every case.
Of the 25 incidents reported this year, Grundy said, one involved a staff member who “tapped a student on the butt.”
Another incident involved a second-grade teacher who lifted students up and down simulating a rollercoaster as a reward in the classroom.
One employee, who had previously been told not to touch students, was terminated this school year after he was seen holding hands with two female students, Grundy said. Grundy said he thinks that, in that case, the principal would have picked up on the repeated behavior without the help of the database.
The database, however, is aimed more at careful reporting that catches behavior from staff members who don’t stay under one principal or at one school.
“We told the principals we want everything reported,” Grundy said.