MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery County Police are investigating dozens of sexual assault allegations recently posted on social media.
After learning of the allegations, one high school senior came up with an idea to help protect alleged victims while in school, and thousands of community members are backing her up.
Winston Churchill High School senior Phoebe Chambers says she saw dozens of posts detailing assault and harassment on Instagram. After seeing stories of students having to sit in the same class with those who allegedly abused them, she came up with an idea.
“I read all of these horrible things of people saying things like, ‘Every single time I’ve reported this to counseling. They say, ‘Okay, we’re not going to put you in a class with this person, and then it’s the first day of the next semester and this person is in three of my classes,'” said Chambers.
She started a petition four days ago, calling for MCPS to implement a scheduling tool that would keep alleged victims and alleged abusers out of the same classes. She says a tool like this could also be used for those who’ve experienced bullying or racism.
Many of the recent allegations first circulated on Instagram accounts dedicated to sharing submissions from alleged victims of sexual abuse and harassment. Several accounts include the names of MCPS high schools, like @survivorsateinstein, @survivorsatwootton and @survivorsatqo and others.
As for community support for the scheduling tool idea, Chambers said she was blown away. In the first four days the petition was up, it garnered over 11,000 signatures.
“Seeing the person who did that to you is so traumatizing. I can’t imagine what it’s like on the day you get your schedule, every time you enter a classroom looking around the see if that person is there and breathing a sigh of relief when they’re not there,” Chambers said.
MCPS leaders acknowledged the ongoing investigation into the sexual assault allegations posted on Instagram at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
“For people who are survivors of sexual harassment or misconduct in any way, the feelings and the impact of that goes far beyond the moment of the act. With that said, we are committed to continuing to focus on everything that needs to be done to address the needs of our students,” said Monifa McKnight, Deputy Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools.
Chambers said she intends to write and submit formal proposals on the scheduling tool to MCPS and the Board of Education.
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