Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Hate graffiti incidents expose another MCPS security weakness
Where are the security cameras in MCPS buildings?
The lengthy investigations into these incidents have, with the exception of one at Quince Orchard High School's athletic field, had no surveillance camera images to assist in identifying the perpetrators. This clearly reveals that major portions of the school buildings where the incidents occurred are not under video surveillance.
Increasingly ubiquitous in America, modern surveillance tools like cameras and license plate readers have allowed law enforcement to solve cases more quickly, identifying suspects who might otherwise have escaped undetected.
After raising our taxes to a historic new high last May, the County Council now finds itself redfaced once again, as we learn they've failed to deliver yet another basic piece of infrastructure - security cameras. Remember the failure of the 911 system that caused the deaths of two of their constituents? Remember the explosion at an apartment complex where the Council ignored warnings of people like myself that the Long Branch sector plan would result in landlords letting buildings decline, due to redevelopment incentives in the plan the Council passed? That killed seven of their constituents.
Now we learn that school administrators can't see who is in the common areas and corridors of their school property, during or after school hours, from a central location. This is quite troubling, considering that we are now nearly twenty years past the Columbine school shooting, and the post-9/11 age of terror. And we still don't have our school buildings under 24 hour video surveillance?
This simply adds to the concerns of parents, after MCPS was found to have multiple cybersecurity weaknesses in a State audit this year. These weaknesses put private student identity information, as well as the entire MCPS computer network, at risk, according to the audit report. Infamously, the County Council ignored calls by education advocates like the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County to wait for the report's release before finalizing MCPS funding in the FY-2017 budget.
In fact, other than the Parents' Coalition, only this website reported on the audit results. All other local media was engaged in "fake news" reporting on the so-called "Education First" budget, which was complete bunk. Hiring extraneous support staff (not actual teachers) at some schools was falsely cast by the Council - and many in the media - as somehow hiring real teachers, and reducing class sizes at every school. That's a lie. Taxing residents, to give MCPS $90 million more funding for a strategy that has been proven an utter failure, was simply flushing that money down the toilet. Falling test scores and a widening achievement gap since 2010 confirm this.
As the hate graffiti incident investigations run their course, we should be asking why the efforts of detectives weren't made easier by video surveillance footage - and holding the County Council and Board of Education responsible for failing to provide this basic security infrastructure in our schools.