By Kevin O’Rourke
A substitute teacher at Robert Clemente Middle School was arrested last month after making “inappropriate contact” with one of the students in September.
Parents of Roberto Clemente Middle School student received a letter stating that on Sept. 30, a substitute teacher named Jose Pineda was accused of making the inappropriate contact. Pineda was arrested by Montgomery County Police on Oct. 14 on charges related to this incident.
The letter to parents Roberto Clement Middle School Principal Khadija Barkley apologized for not informing parents sooner, but assured them that the school took swift action in collaboration with police and Montgomery County Schools Department of School Safety and Security. “As soon as the allegation was raised, the teacher was subsequently removed from the classroom and has not worked in any other MCPS school since,” the letter said.
This is the second sexual misconduct incident at an up-county Montgomery County Middle school in as many months. According to court documents, 44-year-old John Epps was working on the security cameras at Baker Middle School in Damascus Oct. 6 when he reached out with his left hand and made an unsolicited and unwanted touch" to a 12-year-old girl.
Parents in Damacus were upset because they didn’t learn of the sexual assault until weeks after the incident.
It seems Montgomery County Public Schools have again waited too long to inform parents of sexual misconduct by an MCPS employee at one of their middle schools.
Robert Clemente Principal, Barkley said in the letter, “At the time of the incident, in consultation with the police, security personnel, and the MCPS Office of School Support and Improvement, I made the decision to not send a letter to the community while the investigation was ongoing. As the principal, the safety and security of all students and staff is my responsibility and I am confident we acted swiftly to ensure this incident was investigated and our students supported. However, it also important that I communicate with you in a timely manner about such incidents. Once we were informed that an arrest had been made, I should have notified you and I apologize again for not sharing this information with you sooner.”
Roberto Clemente parents are upset.
“I am extremely disturbed by this on many fronts,” said Kimmi Photinakis, a parent of a student at Roberto Clemente. “I am glad that the man had been immediately removed from the classroom and not allowed at any MCPS school since but what about other local school districts? Will he be able to get work elsewhere?”
After speaking with a number Roberto Clemente parents, it turns out that this is the second time a substitute at Roberto Clemente has been removed for inappropriate behavior. Three years ago, parents say, a teacher was removed for discussing Internet pornography in the classroom.
“I do not agree with waiting so long to communicate to parents,” said Photinakis, who is a member of the Roberto Clement Parent Teacher Association. “We have a right to know when something as serious as this happens immediately. Three-and-a-half-weeks after an arrest has been made is unacceptable. What was the delay?”