Dear MCPS Community,
I am reaching out to provide you with an update on the Damascus High School community in the wake of the arrests of junior varsity football players on the serious criminal charges of second-degree rape and attempted second-degree rape.
As Damascus High School Principal Casey Crouse has shared, it has been a difficult time for many of the students, staff and parents in Damascus. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the community. We thank everyone who has reached out to them with support and kindness. A team of psychologists and counselors has been at the school each day this week and will continue to provide support as needed. Representatives from the Employee Assistance Program have also been available to support our staff members. Additionally, Principal Crouse has met with student leaders from the SGA, Student Ambassadors and the Cultural Student Union, giving them an opportunity to share ideas for student-led activities that can be developed in order to unite and heal as a school.
As we shared on the video message to students on Monday, coaches, athletic directors and student advisors from across the county are engaging with students about what they are seeing and experiencing to ensure behavior, like the kind alleged in Damascus, is not happening on their teams or in their clubs. We are committed to meeting with every team during every sports season. Important resources have also been posted on our website to help inform students and their families about this critical issue.
We have heard from some community members who have asked if the Damascus High School varsity football game will be played tomorrow/tonight in light of this situation. In an interview earlier this week, Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger shared, “there is certainly no indication so far that this incident extends beyond the junior varsity team.” Montgomery County police reaffirmed yesterday that, at this time, they do not have an investigatory basis for us to stop the varsity game. Given this information, we are allowing the game to proceed as scheduled so our student-athletes on the varsity team have the opportunity to continue with their season. If the police investigation, or our subsequent investigation into this matter, reveals evidence of a connection between this incident and the varsity football program, MCPS can and will take steps to address the situation, including, but not limited to, disciplinary action and retroactive penalties in accordance with the rules of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
I have had the privilege of visiting with many of the amazing students, staff and families from the Damascus community during my tenure with MCPS. Damascus is a strong, tight-knit community that truly cares for its students. I ask that you continue to show them care and compassion.
Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools