The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide


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RM Administration hosts meeting addressing safety concerns after gun confiscation

Mayah Nachman
RM students walk towards one of two entrances open in the morning. Students are required to show their school issued ID in order to enter the building.

RM Administration hosted a meeting for students, staff and families regarding an incident at school where a gun was confiscated from a student on Nov. 17. Held on Nov. 29, the meeting was meant to address safety concerns that arose after the incident occurred. 

In addition to RM administration, there were members of multiple other organizations present during the meeting including the MCPS Central Office Leadership, the Rockville City Police Department, the MCPS Department of Systemwide Safety and Emergency Management and City of Rockville Leadership. 

There was a slideshow presented at the meeting followed by a Q&A session where parents could raise their hand to ask questions. Panelists also answered pre submitted questions as part of the presentation. 

Prior to the meeting, Director of the Office of School Support and Wellbeing Dr. Tamitha E. Campbell said, “I expect for the community to be informed about the recent incident, and to have an opportunity to dialog with our community partners like our police officers, our elected officials, our students and our parents.”

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After a brief introduction and a quick outline of community discussion guidelines by RM Principal Alicia Deeny, Magnet Coordinator Joseph Jelen provided an overview of the security measures already in place. As of now, there are measures such as ID checks at entrances, bathroom sweeps and monitoring doors. The security team members also reposition their posts based as needed, check cameras and investigate student situations. 

“The big message I hope folks see is that we have a multi-layered system by which we want to ensure safety and security in our building,” Mr. Jelen said. 

RM also has proactive collaboration with Community Engagement Officer Corporal Derrick Tibbs and the Rockville City Police Department.

During the meeting, Ms. Deeny and the police officers present discussed some details about the incident. According to Ms. Deeny, MCPD notified the school administration that a student attending RM may have been a suspect of an incident outside of Rockville that occurred overnight. The suspect was not directly a threat to RM, but out of an abundance of caution, the student was observed through the school cameras and monitored by the security team.

According to Ms. Deeny, Security and Rockville City Police decided that the student would be pulled from class at the start of second period and left campus soon after. There was never a gun observed on the student, but security noticed that they had an interaction with another student. The other student was immediately located and was pulled from class. 

The police then initiated a discussion with the student, which is when the firearm was located and recovered. The second student was legally held in police custody. 

The big message I hope folks see is that we have a multi-layered system by which we want to ensure safety and security in our building. 

— Mr. Jelen

“I think it is important to, again, remember that this was a police directed response, in terms of there was very close collaboration to ensure that this was something that was done safely [and] quickly,” Ms. Deeny said. 

Afterwards, Ms. Deeny has sent a letter to students and staff in order to address the incident. Additionally, a staff meeting was held after school where they discussed what had occurred. 

Ms. Deeny and police officers from Rockville City Police Department said that this incident was part of an ongoing investigation, and that for the integrity of the evidence in the case, certain details must remain undisclosed.

“It’s very important that when we do our job, we’re doing it ethically and morally, and most importantly legally. What I can’t say enough about, is the due diligence of Montgomery County Public Schools Security and Central Office, especially being notified so early in the morning and working on this,” Lt. Bill Nieberding from the Rockville City Police Department said. 

Before the meeting, there was an opportunity for those with questions to submit them so they could be answered by the panelists. Many parents attending the meeting had questions regarding the incident and how it was handled.

In response to a question about why the school was not put into lockdown, Lt. Neiderman said that the event unfolded very quickly and that it was unnecessary to do so. Moreover, the student in possession of the gun chose to be cooperative, and as they were in a secure location when the gun was recovered, it was decided that there was no need to have a lockdown or shelter-in-place.

Moreover, Lt. Neiderman discussed his beliefs regarding how the situation was handled. 

“In my personal opinion, this actually went down exactly as it was supposed to be designed. Through great communication, good decision making and just doing, pardon the expression, but the least amount we can do without intruding on the schools regular day to day activities of students going to class or having to stop or detain people if we don’t need to, because we should never have to do that if we can avoid it,” Lt. Neiderman said. 

According to Ms. Deeny, the most frequently asked pre-submitted question by parents was about metal detectors. According to Chief of Police at RCPD Victor Brito, because metal detectors would require more funding and personnel, there would need to be more discussions surrounding gun detection systems by MCPS. 

“That takes a lot of labor, it takes a lot of training. It is a very utilitarian piece to use. I would advocate for them, but it is not [a decision] to take lightly,” Brito said. 

I expect for the community to be informed about the recent incident, and to have an opportunity to dialog with our community partners like our police officers, our elected officials, our students and our parents.

— Dr. Tamitha E. Campbell

There were also questions raised about possible gang involvement, to which the police officers from the Rockville City Police Department responded that they have no intelligence about gang activity in RMHS at this time.

The school is not permitted to share the consequences of this incident with the public as to maintain the juvenile’s confidentiality, but they did share what possible consequences there are for such behaviors in general.

 Students who carry out similar actions could be subject to expulsion from the school system, as per the MCPS Code of Conduct. There is no authority at school level to expel a student, so a case would go to a higher level to review if students will or will not return to a school in MCPS. There are potential school level consequences though, such as a 10-day suspension.

When asked what suggestions she had for school leadership to maintain security, Dr. Campbell said. “To continue with the protocols and best practices that they have in place, continuing to stress that safety is everyone’s responsibility and that we all have an obligation to do whatever we can to keep each other safe.”

When asked by parents if police members would consider RM in need of extended security systems in light of the recent incident, those interviewed seemed to have a similar response.

“I don’t think so. I think that there are other schools throughout the county that have more and more serious incidents. I think the security here is adequate and quite frankly it’s things like this that will make us better at keeping the school safe,” Lt. Nieberding said. 

“I think that it would be important for us to collaborate together to provide the best security for students,” Corporal Derek Tibbs from RCPD said.

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About the Contributors
Petra Pacher
Petra Pacher, News Writer
Petra is a seasoned writer/contributor in her sophomore year at Richard Montgomery HS who is delighted to support The Tide. She had been a regular contributing writer to Julius West MS’s newspaper back in middle school, and also supported her middle school morning news show in several different roles. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing tennis, painting or spending time volunteering for non-profit organizations. She also enjoys her job as a chess coach-in-training where she teaches elementary-aged children how to play chess.
Mayah Nachman
Mayah Nachman, News Editor
Mayah Nachman is excited to begin her senior year as a News Editor for The Tide. This is her fourth year writing for the paper, having previously contributed to the News and Features sections and working as an Assistant Editor for the Centerspread section. When she isn't at school, she enjoys baking, spending time with friends and family, and playing the guitar.