The principal of Damascus High School has resigned, and the athletic director has been placed on leave in the wake of the scandal which has rocked the school since November.
Principal Casey Crouse sent a letter to the Damascus community on Tuesday announcing her resignation “effective immediately.” She will replace on an interim basis by Kevin Yates who is currently the principal intern at Julius West Middle School in Rockville.
Also, on Tuesday, it was learned that both Damascus High School athletic director Joe Doody and Coach Vincent Colbert have been placed on administrative leave, as part of an ongoing investigation into a Halloween 2018 hazing incident that led to criminal rape charges against five junior varsity football players. Colbert was put on leave last month, according to reports.
“Effective immediately, I am transitioning out of my role as principal to another position in MCPS,” wrote Crouse. “This decision has been extremely difficult for me and one that I did not take lightly. I am incredibly proud of the work we have accomplished together over the last two years. Together we have worked to improve student learning outcomes, celebrate our students and each other and to reinforce our commitment to success for all students.”
Police announced in November that three juvenile males had been charged with two counts of second-degree rape and two counts of attempted second-degree rape from an incident which occurred Damascus High School on October. 31. The suspects and victims have said it was part of a locker-room hazing ritual.
According to reports, Colbert was the first school official to know about the attack and that the school system waited hours to alert police. The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office has launched an investigation into allegations of a culture of hazing at Damascus High School.
A message from Montgomery County School Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith in April said the State’s Attorney’s Office had subpoenaed student records regarding any of these behaviors for all students who participated in athletics at Damascus High School from 2013 to present. It went on to say that MCPS intended to comply with this subpoena by providing records to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
MCPS began an internal investigation of the supervision of the boys’ locker room on the afternoon of October 31, 2018. “Additionally, we will expand our investigation to include reporting practices and supervision of athletics and other extracurricular activities more broadly at Damascus High School, in the context of such practices and structures across MCPS,” said the letter from Smith in April.
Smith said that MCPS would seek expert support from an external firm to investigate its procedures and reporting practices.
On Tuesday, the outgoing principal wrote, “I made this decision because I believe it is what is best for the Damascus High School community and me. The horrific incident of October 31 has demanded significant attention from school and system leadership and has drawn ongoing negative media attention. Despite this attention, the focus inside the school during the school day has never wavered. However, it has become clear that in order for Damascus High School to move forward, it will require new school leadership. I have had several discussions with MCPS leadership in recent weeks, and they support my decision.”
The new interim principal Kevin Yates, who has experience as both a high school and middle administrator, will serve as acting principal beginning May 13, and for the remainder of the school year.
File Photo by Germantown Pulse.