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June 1, 2012

Northwood employee taken into custody

by Michelle Chavez, Print News Editor
Northwood High School media services technician Aaron Lamere was arrested on May 7 and charged with over a dozen counts of sex-related crimes, according to police reports. A letter signed by Northwood Principal Henry Johnson was sent home informing students about the situation on the day of the arrest.

In the letter, Johnson said Lamere was put on administrative leave shortly after a parent contacted Montgomery County Child Protective Services and reported "inappropriate behavior," but did not further specify the situation. Recent news reports revealed the sex-related crimes Lamere was charged with included possession of child pornography, indecent exposure, sexual abuse of minors and third and fourth degree sex offenses.

Lamere's administrative leave began in early March, according to Johnson's newsletter, and, according to news reports, he resigned from his position on March 7 while under investigation. At the time of his arrest, Lamere was charged with sex offenses that occurred with current and former Northwood students between early October 2011 and late February 2012.

Northwood PTSA President Yolanda Mazyck said the arrest was alarming for the Northwood community. "We are obviously concerned whenever allegations are made that our students may have been placed in an inappropriate situation. At this time, there is an ongoing legal investigation into the allegations," she said.

Former Blair student and current Northwood junior Luis Ruiz confirmed that students suspected unusual activity prior to Lamere's administrative leave. "I never really made any contact with him, but he always gave a weird vibe to all students," he said.

Despite daily contact with Lamere, Northwood sophomore Amanda Frew, who anchored the morning announcements show that the technician ran, never suspected Lamere of anything unusual. "He was very good friends with other teachers at school," she said. "I had no idea it would happen."

Former Northwood student and current Blair junior Jonathan Thompson was surprised by the Lamere incident, but Ruiz said the Lamere case did not come as a shock to him. "Northwood had a similar case last year with a soccer coach, so this has happened before," he said. In October 2010, a Northwood volunteer soccer coach, Roger Fernandez, was arrested for sexual abuse of a minor and a fourth degree sex offense.

Ruiz believes this incident is yet another indicator of a flawed administration. "[Administrators] should be more aware...when they see a teacher is maybe too close to a student," he said. Thompson said he does not feel threatened by the incident. "There are always bad apples and as long as you look after yourself, you should be fine," he said.

Mazyck says strong student-parent-administration relationships are important to keeping a secure environment. "Regardless of the outcome of this specific situation, maintaining open and honest communication between students and parents, students and the administration and parents and the administration is an absolutely key component of maintaining student safety," she said.

In his newsletter, Johnson reminded the Northwood community that student safety is a priority and that anyone who has a question should contact him. He declined to make any statements regarding the Lamere case because it remains a sensitive topic, he said.



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