SILVER SPRING, Md. – Parents of Montgomery County elementary school students are demanding answers after police say a substitute teacher was arrested for inappropriately touching of a student at Cloverly Elementary in Silver Spring.
Montgomery County police say 59-year-old Steven Katz from Columbia, who worked at Cloverly as a science teacher, has been charged with Sexual Abuse of a Minor, as well as a fourth-degree sex offense.
Montgomery County school officials say Katz, who has worked for MCPS since May 2017, also taught at 14 other schools including Burtonsville, Olney, Sherwood, Burnt Mills, Burning Tree, Wayside, Brooke Grove, and Seven Locks Elementary schools; Pyle, Farquhar and Frost Middle School, and Kennedy, Paint Branch, and Sherwood High School.
Howard County Schools said that Katz was a substitute teacher in their district as well.
Parents gathered at Cloverly Elementary Monday, demanding answers from schools Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith.
“We can only protect them at home. When we send them to school, we expect them in a safe environment that the students feel comfortable in. That hasn’t happened for us,” said one parent.
“We try our best to talk to our kids about everything. We want them, within reason to be aware of what is appropriate and what’s not and we want them to trust their instincts and take care of each other and look out for each other,” said another parent.
This the second teacher in two years facing child sex abuse charges, as John Vigna, who taught third, fourth, and fifth grade over a 20-year span at Cloverly Elementary was convicted on four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex in June, 2017.
Vigna was sentenced to 48 years in prison for sexually abusing students.
On March 8, police say a Cloverly Elementary School student told a parent that his substitute teacher had touched him in a way that made him feel uncomfortable at school that day. The parent told school administrators, who then notified police.
Derek Turner, spokesman for Montgomery County Schools, met with parents at Cloverly to address their concerns.
“We have a comprehensive background check for our employees and all the employees go through this background check. It includes criminal screening and training and child abuse and neglect,” he said.
Parents however, were hoping to hear from Dr. Smith himself.
“He’s the one that has the capability of making effective changes,” said one parent.
“We hold our staff to the highest standards and it hurts us when our staff doesn’t behave in that manner,” said Turner.
Turner met with parents inside the school for a private meeting and spoke with Dr. Smith by speakerphone. Parents are hoping to get a face-to-face meeting with the Superintendent in the coming days.
In a statement Monday night Dr. Smith said: “The allegations in this case are upsetting and unacceptable. They represent a violation of MCPS policies and do not reflect the values of our school system. The safety of every student in our district is our top priority and a responsibility that we do not take lightly. We have and will continue to work every day to ensure our schools are safe places to learn.”