Just how safe are Germantown/Clarksburg area public schools compared to Montgomery County Public Schools in other areas of the County? The answer is relatively safe, but not the safest.
The Germantown Pulse used data from Montgomery County’s DataMontgomery.gov website, which allows residents to look at a vast and myriad amount of data produced by Montgomery County. The website hosts information on everything from crime reports, to park usage, and tax collection.
For this article, Germantown Pulse used Montgomery County Police reports in which the location of the event was identified as taking place at a school. Only incidents which occurred during the 2015-2016 school year — from Aug. 20, 2015 to June 21, 2016 were included. Germantown Pulse limited the reports to violent offenses, such as assaults; sexual offenses; drug offenses; weapons related offenses; or vandalism (ASDWV) reports. Thefts, burglaries, and larcenies were not included.
The data is broken up by the six police districts in Montgomery County. However, local police such as Rockville City and Gaithersburg City Police reports were included within the MCPD districts where the school was located.
When reading this report, it is important to note that the DataMontgomery.gov does not include if arrests were made, or specifics about the crime. It only records that the police were called to a school location because of an alleged criminal act. It is also important to remember that some of the reported offenses may have occurred when school was not in session, either on the weekend or overnight. However, for the Germantown/Clarksburg area schools the data presented does not include incidents which occurred between 5:00 am and 7:00 pm when students or staff would not have been at school.
Again, the data on which this report is based does not include information on whether the parties involved were students, teachers, staff, parents, or just individuals who happened to be on school property while doing something which required the police to be called. It only says that the police were called and the general class description of the crime.
According to data culled from DataMontgomery.gov, police were called to Montgomery County schools for ASDWV reports 550 times during the 2015-2016 school year.
Police were called to schools with a Germantown or Clarksburg address 92 times during the 2015-2016 school year, accounting for 17 percent of the total ASDWV calls at schools in the County. Comparatively, only 50 such calls, or just 9 percent of the total ASDWV police calls came from the Bethesda area. Police responded to 135 calls in the Wheaton district, which accounted for 24 percent of ASDWV calls countywide. Silver Spring area schools accounted for 114 ASDWV calls, or 20 percent, while Rockville area schools had 93 ASDWV calls, or 17 percent. Montgomery Village area schools had just 66 ASDWV calls, accounting for 12 percent of calls countywide.
The 2015-2016 school year’s 92 incidents are a 12 percent increase in ASDWV calls at local area schools compared to the previous year. During the 2014-2015 school year — and the 2013-2014 school year — 5th District - Germantown police responded to 81 ASDWV calls at schools.
As one might expect the three high schools in the Germantown area were responsible for the largest share of ASDWV calls during the 2015-2016 school year, with 44 reports. While the five middle schools were home to 26 calls this past school year. The 18 elementary schools shared the remaining 28 ASDWV, with none having more than three police calls during the school year.
Germantown and Clarksburg elementary schools were the site of three assault and battery calls, two instances of fourth-degree sex offenses, one simple assault, 11 instances of vandalism either to the school or a motor vehicle, and one weapon possession report during the school year.
Both fourth-degree sexual offenses took place at Clopper Mill Elementary School on Cinnamon Drive. The first event took place on Nov. 11, 2015 and the second on Dec. 21, 2015, according to DataMontgomery.gov. A fourth-degree sexual offense involves a “person in a position of authority” who is at least 21 years old and is employed as a full-time permanent employee by a public or private preschool, elementary school, or secondary school.
Among middle schools, Neelsville Middle School in Germantown, with a total enrollment of 911 students, was the site of the most ASDWV calls among middle schools, with eight police calls during the school year. Three calls for assault and battery, three calls for simple assault, one call for a marijuana related offense, and one weapons possession offense.
Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg, with a total enrollment of 1,279 was second with seven ASDWV calls among middle schools. Police were called Rocky Hill MS five times for assault and battery, once for simple assault, and one call for a marijuana related offense during the 2015-2016 school year.
Roberto Clemente Middle School, with a 2015-2016 enrollment of 1,277 students, in Germantown was the location of five ASDWV calls, including one rape, two simple assaults, one marijuana related offense, and one weapons possession offense.
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Germantown, with an enrollment of 623 students, saw four ASDWV events during the school year, including two simple assaults and two vandalism offenses.
Kingsview Middle School, with an enrollment of 1,034 students, was the location of just two ASDWV events, including one assault and battery and one vandalism offense.
At the high school level, the offenses are more frequent, in part because of the larger student bodies, and in part because of the presence of School Resource Officers who are members of the Montgomery County Police Department assigned to schools.
“The SRO’s provide security for the students and staff,” said Captain David Gillespie, Commander of the MCPD 5th District – Germantown. He said there are SROs in each of the high schools in the 5th District, indeed in every high school in the County.
At the high school level Clarksburg High School, with an enrollment of 1,970 students, had 21 incidents during the 2015-2016 school year, including two instances of strong arm robbery, nine assault and battery calls, three simple assault, four drug related offenses, two vandalism calls, and one weapons related offense.
Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, with an enrollment of 1,278 students, had 12 ASDWV calls during the 2015-2016 school year. The 12 calls included one strong arm robbery, six incidents of assault and battery, one fourth-degree sexual offense, three drug related incidents, and one weapons related offense.
Northwest High School in Germantown, with an enrollment of 2,105 students, had 11 ASDWV calls during the 2015-2015 school year, including one rape, two instances of assault and battery, three simple assaults, one fourth-degree sexual offense, one drug related offense, one instance of vandalism, and two weapons related offenses.
Captain Gillespie said that SRO officers “also mentor, run leadership programs and handle a number of issues at the school to include reducing tensions between groups, assist with conflict resolution, run interventions with students and family members, and other students.”
“The role of the SRO has evolved over the years and they are typically actively involved in handling some criminal incidents at the schools but not all and they do not intervene with administrative matters,” said Gillespie.
It is also important to remember that school administrations will sometimes handle minor criminal infraction within the MCPS security department. It is often up to the principals or administrators to determine if the severity of the infraction warrants police involvement.
According to Gillespie, “Two years ago, the schools implemented a new discipline policy and school administrators have much more latitude in handling disciplinary matters. SRO’s are not as actively involved with matters as they have been in the past.”
Top: Clarksburg High School
Next: Seneca Valley High School
Next: Kingsview Middle School
Next: Northwest High School
File photos by Germantown Pulse
EDITORS NOTE: An earlier version of this article contained a mistake in the Northwest High School chart. The mistake has be corrected and the chart is now accurate. Germantown Pulse apologizes for any inconvenience.