Bathrooms are now some of the most dangerous places in Montgomery schools

Bathrooms are now some of the most dangerous places in Montgomery schools


Because Montgomery County’s school year began, learners have discovered shooting threats published on lavatory partitions, Percocet residue beside bathrooms and swastikas drawn in stalls. Students have been caught vaping, combating, vandalizing gear and using medicine in loos.

The bathroom has turn into one particular of the minimum safe places on campus, pupils in the county say. Some mom and dad say their youngsters now stay away from the toilet entirely, deciding on alternatively to wait around till they’re house.

“The young ones have figured out that the loos are sort of a location exactly where they can do factors exactly where they if not wouldn’t do, mainly because that is the place the least adult supervision is,” claimed Ricky Ribeiro, whose two children and a nephew underneath his care are enrolled in the Maryland college district.

In January, two Bethesda-Chevy Chase Large University learners have been observed drunk and unconscious in a toilet for the duration of to start with period, according to the school’s college student newspaper, The Tattler. 3 Richard Montgomery Superior University college students ended up billed with robbery in January after they robbed numerous Gaithersburg Higher Faculty pupils in a lavatory. Very last faculty yr, a scholar was shot in a rest room at Magruder High Faculty in Rockville.

Faculty bathrooms have normally been incredibly hot spots for college student misbehavior, stated Kenneth S. Trump, president of Nationwide School Safety and Protection Companies. Learners have normally employed corridor passes to continue to be out of class or smoke in the rest room. But colleges are much more nervous now as restrooms have turn into widespread web-sites for bullying and violence.

University districts across the nation combating identical issues have started off restricting bathroom use. In Virginia, administrators shut some restrooms all through the faculty day at North Stafford Superior University because of a vaping difficulty. Texas districts have set up vape sensors to observe air quality and capture vaping students. Past college yr, a number of educational institutions shut loos for the reason that of a TikTok pattern that encouraged college students to vandalize and steal paper towel dispensers and fireplace alarms. Past week, a Texas superintendent resigned right after a third-grader found his gun in a college bathroom.

Ribeiro stated he was displeased final year when his son at John F. Kennedy Higher Faculty in Silver Spring would usually tell him that the bathrooms smelled like vape and marijuana. His problem deepened this yr soon after stories of college students who overdosed in the college loos. He’s spoken about the issues at a faculty board conference, advocating for a systemic solution to the dilemma comparable to the athletic basic safety system that was introduced immediately after a brawl at a superior college football activity previously in the college 12 months.

“I do not blame them for this occurring naturally, since of course, MCPS is not in regulate of the personal habits of students,” Ribeiro, 39, said of the county’s school program. “But I am disappointed that there does not seem to be a systemwide reaction to the behaviors, specifically as they’ve multiplied in scope and severity.”

The university program — which is Maryland’s biggest with around 160,600 pupils — declared a more in-depth protection approach Friday, divided into instant, quick-expression and lengthy-time period actions. In its immediate strategies, the process will include extra protection workers, sort a “Safety and Stability and Pupil Properly-currently being Advisory Team,” and host neighborhood sessions about ongoing security problems.

“While this is not the 1st time there have been worries close to inappropriate behavior, the maximize in incidents in our neighborhood has escalated the urgency of these issues,” educational institutions spokeswoman Jessica Baxter explained ahead of the announcement.

Presently, some county educational facilities now lock specified bathrooms during the day. Aanika Arjumand, a 16-yr-old junior at Gaithersburg Higher Faculty, said she typically travels from the very first ground of her large college to the 3rd ground to come across an unlocked restroom. The girls’ bathrooms that usually are locked, she stated, are the kinds that have menstrual product dispensers.

“It’s actually unfair to a lot of the girls who normally just want to use a place for how it is supposed to be applied,” Arjumand claimed.

Learners generally wrestle to uncover and use an open up restroom for the duration of the 5-moment passing time period, Arjumand reported. In its place, they’ll check with for a bathroom move in course, but which is prompted a new difficulty — some learners have been taking and keeping course-designated passes so they can use the rest room anytime they want.

At Julius West Middle College in Rockville, directors have taken a distinctive tactic. Students have close to a paper that teachers have to indication when the university student goes to the restroom, stated Marc Eckstein, who has two little ones enrolled at the middle faculty. Pupils get a new sort each individual quarter that screens how typically they go to the restroom, he stated, and there is a cap on how several moments they can use it to depart course for the rest room each quarter.

Eckstein thinks an open up restroom layout in Montgomery colleges would resolve some of the difficulties. In that setup, toilet stalls are non-public with ground-to-ceiling doors and partitions, but the hand-washing region is open up and fully within just check out of the hallways. There are no urinals and the space is open up to all genders. The style and design is identical to the restrooms adopted at Saint Paul Community Faculties in Minnesota.

“It’s frequently monitored and extra of a deterrent mainly because it is not going to be the congregating place anymore,” Eckstein reported.

Administrators say they often examine bogs all through the college properties, Baxter claimed. The university system is also placing basic safety latches that would continue to keep external lavatory doors open up in the course of the day in all secondary educational facilities and using much more personnel users to watch restrooms. Some educational facilities have started out putting QR codes in loos for pupils to anonymously report difficulties that arise there.