gang rape a 14-year-old girl in a bathroom at Rockville High School last week, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith spoke at a PTA meeting at the school closed to reporters last night. Attendees I spoke to left disappointed in Smith's performance and the meeting. "He sounded like an idiot," one said. Reportedly, only a few people were even allowed to ask questions. But, along with Smith's 5-day silence and bizarre press conference prior to the meeting, expectations should have been low.
Sounding like an even-more-mellow cross between Stuart Smalley and the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Smith half-heartedly lamented the "terrible, horrible thing" that happened last Thursday at his press conference. His responses echoed the almost-sociopathic, emotionless comments of Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, whose tone-deaf performance at a Monday press conference generated outrage and disbelief on social media after I reported on it yesterday (hard to believe I was the only media outlet that did, with empathy-free gems like "Bad things happen").
Smith said the alleged rapists "chose to do something very, very bad, from all of the allegations. People choose to do very bad things." I mean, the guy sounded like a 5-year-old tattling on a classmate. "We're talking about, 'Why was this student in this school?' And he was there to get to the services that were best suited to his needs. He chose to go outside of that purpose, and do a really bad thing." Give me a break! He's talking about a vicious gang rape, a brutal physical assault, a 14-year-old girl being raped and sodomized by two men in a restroom as if it was a prankster setting off a stink bomb at school.
"A really bad thing?" After the performances of Berliner and Smith, I think parents and the community would at least like to see somebody actually express real anger and outrage. Maybe pound a fist on a desk, flip over a tray of deli sandwiches, or otherwise display some other emotion than smug, defensive superiority and condescension toward the public. We're talking about one of the most horrifying things that has happened in the history of Montgomery County Public Schools here. For God's sake, show some humanity, remorse for your failure to protect your most vulnerable constituents - children, and an urgent resolve to change your ways and policies.
What's really scary and concerning for students and parents? Smith only got even slightly animated when he was on the attack against critics and enemies real and imagined, not when talking about the gang rape and the victim. He literally sounded more empathetic toward the illegal man-children trying to play freshmen at MCPS high schools than toward the victim. It's disgusting.
Smith admonished those who "want to make a political comment," and then proceeded to repeatedly make political comments. One of the most hysterical moments of the press conference was when Smith pointedly stated how closely Montgomery County supposedly follows "the law of the land." "We do our business by the rule of law," Smith said righteously, apparently unaware of the extreme hypocrisy of stating that in a sanctuary county that defies federal immigration law on a daily basis. Do you follow "the rule of law," or not? Smith apparently doesn't know. He also placed air quotes around the term, "illegal," clearly a political statement, whether you agree or disagree. Again, it's outrageous that during his political comments, he raised the volume of his voice and became more animated than when speaking about the rape and the victim.
Smith emphasized repeatedly that MCPS schools are "safe," when the reality is that some other parent's daughter is one mad decision away from being victimized by similar criminals lurking in our school system. No criminal background checks are run on any student, Smith revealed. For those parents trying to figure out why adults recently arriving in America are enrolled as 9th graders alongside their 14-year-old daughters, Smith had sobering news: "We have a great number of 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds enrolled across all 25 of our high schools."
The superintendent spoke of there being 5 security guards and one school resource officer on campus at Rockville High School, but couldn't explain where all six were during Thursday's bathroom assault. There is no evidence whatsoever that MCPS students are "safe" from similar sexual assaults in the future.
Officials appear to have completely misread the public's concerns about this particular incident, and what it means for student safety across MCPS. They instead seem to be reverting to the way they respond to immigration issues in general, which is to cast themselves as morally-superior, chastising the evil "racists" daring to question their policies. The problem is, we're not talking about the general immigration debate here, such as the future fate of the 13 million undocumented immigrants in America, and "deporting Grandma." That is, of course, the debate county officials wish they were having, and would like to divert attention to Donald Trump - who is highly unpopular in liberal MoCo - rather than the rape of a child that is "on them."
People are instead demanding answers about the specific policies and decisions of Montgomery County that allowed a 14-year-old girl to be gang-raped in a bathroom inside a Montgomery County public school by two college-age "freshmen" - one of whom MCPS does not even have a home address on file for, much less a criminal history.
Those policies and decision-making priorities need to change, and until they do, no student is truly "safe."