RCMS Principal Apologizes for Mishandling of Sex Abuse Incident
At a meeting with parents Tuesday night, Robert Clemente Middle School Principal Khadija Barkley apologized again for not informing parents about allegations of sexual abuse of a student by a substitute teacher until nearly a month after the incident.
On Friday, Nov. 7, parents of Roberto Clemente students received a letter and an MCPS Connect-Ed phone call stating that on Sept. 30, a substitute teacher, Jose Pineda, 50, of Gaithersburg, was accused of making the inappropriate contact with a 12-year-old female student. Pineda was arrested by Montgomery County Police on Oct. 14 on charges related to this incident.
Parents were informed 38 days after the incident occurred and 25 days after Pineda was arrested by MCPD.
Barkly told parents that her intention was to never to cover-up the incident, but rather to protect the privacy of the victim. She said it wasn’t until a similar incident at John T. Baker Middle School in Damascus where a school contractor was arrested for inappropriately touching a student, did she consider that there could other victims.
Barkley also confirmed what had been reported from the beginning that the victim, after reporting the abuse to the school administration, had been sent back to the classroom where Pineda was teaching. She told parents that a staff member at Roberto Clemente attempted to investigate and questioned the victim and other witnesses and later sent both the victim and the witnesses back to the classroom.
MCPS is reviewing the procedures for informing parents of serious incidents at schools, according a schools system spokesperson. “We should have informed the community earlier about this arrest but we made a mistake and did not,” said Gboyinde Onijala, senior communications specialist with MCPS.” We will review our procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not happen again.”
The alleged abuser in this case, Jose Pineda, has been charged with two counts of sex offense; Sex Abuse of a Minor and Sexual Offense in the Third Degree. According to reports, court documents allege Pineda first reached around the 12-year-old girl and touched her behind, then walked by four to five times and squeezed her legs and bottom.