From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:
What Does It Take to Declare a School ‘Unsafe’?
Something has gone terribly wrong in the public school system of Montgomery County, Maryland.
Only one of the two Rockville High School students charged with rape last week knew the freshman girl whom he’s accused of brutally attacking inside a bathroom stall, authorities said.
The 17- and 18-year-old students arrested Thursday did not share classes with the girl and had no prior contact with Montgomery County police, Capt. James Humphries and Montgomery County Public School officials said during a Tuesday evening press conference.
During the briefing at the district’s Rockville headquarters, MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith sought to address the shock, criticism and concern coming from the governor’s office, White House and the community in the wake of the alleged attack.
The two accused students—Henry Sanchez-Milian, 18, and Jose Montano, 17,—had arrived from Central America within the past year, and their arrest has set off a firestorm of debate about immigration and county education policy. In an address to the media, Smith pleaded passionately against using sweeping generalizations and denounced the surge of racism that he’s seen since the arrests.
County citizens have since learned that an illegal immigrant can be 18 years old, enroll in the public schools, undergo no background check, and because they have no verifiable high school credits, automatically be enrolled as a freshman, putting them in the same classes as 14 and 15-year-olds. Under the law, the school cannot ask about the student’s immigration status; the school system chooses to not perform background checks on incoming students.
In this light, the shock is not that this happened, the shock is that this hasn’t happened until now.
Here’s the assessment from the district superintendent, Jack Smith: “This horrible incident shouldn’t change anyone’s mind that those schools are safe for our students and we work very hard and our families and our community works very hard to keep all children safe in Montgomery County.”
Just stop. After you’ve had a brutal rape in your school during the school day, you can’t say that your schools are safe anymore. You don’t get to brag about what a terrific job everyone is doing at keeping them safe.
Montgomery County officials are quick to emphasize that they aren’t a “true” sanctuary city:
The county and City of Rockville for many years have had a policy in place that directs their police officers not to ask about an individual’s immigration status during interactions. However, the county and city both share information about individuals who are arrested with federal agencies such as the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in case those agencies have pending issues with the individuals. This policy, according to county officials, is different from true sanctuary jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration agencies.
I’m reminded of Chris Rock’s routine about wanting special credit for meeting standard obligations. “We share information about individuals arrested with the FBI and immigration”? That’s what you’re supposed to do! What do you want, a cookie?