Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Monday, July 16, 2018 1:08 am
Dec. 14, 2009

Upstairs bathrooms reopened during lunches

by Lauren Kestner, Online News and Copy Editor and Mandy Xu, News and Entertainment editor
The Blair administration and security team reopened bathrooms on the second and third floors during 5A and 5B lunches last week, according to Principal Darryl Williams. Security team leader Cedric Boatman instructed custodians to stop closing the bathrooms after building service workers completed maintenance projects to restore damaged property and the administration identified students responsible for vandalism in the restrooms.

Boatman implemented the lunchtime bathroom closures at the beginning of the second quarter to prevent students from skipping classes and hiding out in the upstairs bathrooms. The administration approved these temporary closures after Boatman received reports that these students had defaced bathroom property and made disruptive noises in the bathrooms and adjacent hallways. "When I get complaints from staff about kids running around on the second and third floor, we take action," Boatman said. "There has to be a classroom environment during lunchtime. Security has worked to help decrease the problem."

Boatman insisted that he did not close the upstairs bathrooms to resolve security shortages as security guard Adrian Kelly said in a Dec. 1 Silver Chips Online article. "That has no bearing on the situation here," he said. "There are some people out for personal reasons on any given day. Some days there only four people, but that doesn't stop us from doing our job."

Boatman added that the security team has never maintained a presence near the second or third floor bathrooms during lunchtime because his priority is to patrol the first-floor lunchroom and school grounds to prevent students from leaving campus. "During lunchtime, we're out and about...There are only 200 staff and only eight to nine on security," he said. "We have this whole school to cover."

Boatman was receptive to hiring more security guards at Blair, but he said that he will not change lunchtime security procedures, which currently call for one guard to monitor each floor above the lunchroom. "We can always use more help, not for the bathrooms, but to monitor the school better," he said. Williams recently submitted a request for a waiver on the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) hiring freeze to replace a security guard who retired this fall and another who will retire at the end of this month. "As soon as I receive approval from central office, I will hire security assistants in those positions," Williams said. "I plan to backfill those positions for the remainder of this school year."

Second and third floor bathrooms were closed at lunch during most of second quarter. Wylie Conlon
Second and third floor bathrooms were closed at lunch during most of second quarter.
Poor conditions in many bathrooms at Blair also prompted the administration to lock bathrooms for repair work. Vandalized walls and broken fixtures were found in many upstairs bathrooms, according to Williams. "We had many toilets and sinks not working," he said. "Building services worked jointly with security to solve this issue." Under normal circumstances, the administration would have submitted a work order to the county's central office requesting employees for bathroom maintenance. Williams said that the deteriorating conditions and damaged property in Blair's bathrooms warranted more extensive measures. "It became a bigger issue," he said.

Since the upstairs restrooms reopened, security and building service workers have confirmed that students are still skipping class. Custodian Marianne Christopher reported finding between three and four students in the upstairs bathrooms last week during first, second, 5A and 5B periods. Despite these recurring problems, locking the upstairs bathrooms will no longer be considered as a possible solution, according to Boatman. "We're not going to close the bathrooms again," he said. "I guess we're gonna have to suffer." Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) co-president Peter Lafen suggested that parent volunteers patrol the hallways near the upstairs bathrooms to prevent students from missing classes.

Williams maintained that the temporary bathroom closures did not constitute a broad policy shift, citing past security decisions to close bathrooms when necessary. "We have closed restrooms a couple times since I've been here," he said. Boatman also denied student allegations that bathrooms were kept locked past lunchtime. "They were locked during the beginning of 5A and opened after 5B," he said, acknowledging that, "There were occasions when we might not have gotten there on time."

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  • someone on December 14, 2009 at 10:16 PM
    wow, contradiction:
    Boatman also denied student allegations that bathrooms were kept locked past lunchtime. "They were locked during the beginning of 5A and opened after 5B," he said, acknowledging that, "There were occasions when we might not have gotten there on time."

    no duh - there were definitely MANY times the bathrooms were closed after 5B
  • the hidden truth (View Email) on December 14, 2009 at 10:45 PM
    ok everything except the ending of this was pretty true, but they are bsing when they say that they dont keep the B.r. close after 5b lunch.
    there have been many times when i tried using the bathroom during 6th or 7th period and they have been locked, and not just me, many of my classmates have said that also.
    by saying they have forgotten to reopen the bathrooms sometimes and forgotten on "occassions" is a lie cause it has happen many times already.
    I normally use the bathroom around 1:30 and thats more than enough time for them to have all the bathrooms open again.
    for the people such as parents that dont go to Blair, most of the security guards just chill all day and do nothing unless there is a fight or something bad happens, they are lazy period.
  • anon on December 15, 2009 at 2:05 PM
    okay. stop bashing on the security guards. it may seem like they sit around, but that's just cuz you dont notice them until a fight or something serious happens. you have no authority to say that they're lazy - they have a job and they do it. they have an entire school to monitor and that means they end up walking around hallways to make sure no ones skipping class, etc. id say thats doing something.
    • hrmm on January 1, 2010 at 10:57 PM
      hrm, are they actually doing their job? if they're saying they open it after 5b and do not open it after 5b, then they're not doing their job. tyvm

      they can also identify a face during a fight, but when a backpack is taken right in front of a camera they just never seem to find out who did it... hrm amazing.
  • Mr. Chill (View Email) on December 15, 2009 at 4:14 PM
    How do you know that security "just chill (sic) all day and do nothing" unless you are skipping every period and watching them. I think that you would be surprised about how much they do in one school day.
    • anon (View Email) on December 16, 2009 at 3:40 PM
      How the heck is "chill" spelled incorrectly? Unless you think it's witty to throw in a random "spelling incorrect" in someone's comment?
      To pass time idly; loiter.
  • Student at blair on December 16, 2009 at 8:00 AM
    Are you kidding me the bathrooms were never open after 5B lunch which is why some of this became a bigger issue in its own.

    This wouldnt be a problem if they said "We made a mistake and we are going to try and improve" but its these lies and they want to go around it like were in elementary school.
  • Concerned parent on December 17, 2009 at 9:50 AM
    Similar issues are confronting Somerset Elementary School!!! No lockouts, but restrictions on being allowed to leave the classroom. The 4th grade boys are not allowed to go to the bathroom unless they all go together as a group with the teacher!! What a way to teach responsibility and respect to all the students who are not involved with the vandalism! This has been going on since before Thanksgiving with no resolution in sight!
  • junior (View Email) on December 17, 2009 at 9:59 PM
    I love how the bathrooms on the second floor were locked today during 6th period. Wonderful.
  • anon on December 28, 2009 at 12:43 PM
    4get the security officers...what about the 34 other administration officials in this school? If maintenance people are finding students hiding in the bathroom why can't 1 of these 34 including a principal and 3 assistant principals get the heck out of their chairs and go get the students out? Unbelievable incompetence!
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