PARKVILLE—In response to indications that a convicted sex offender had been enrolled at Parkville High School, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) has released a statement in hopes of easing parents’ and community members’ concerns about school safety.
Santino Sudano, a 21-year old Parkville High School student, is the man charged with various accounts of rape. Sudano had been taking classes at the school despite the fact that he was arrested with second-degree rape in an incident involving a 13-year-old girl in 2017 and was forced to register as a sex offender.
Sudano was still attending Parkville when Baltimore County Detectives responded to the school for a reported rape in November of 2018. The alleged victim was a 17-year-old Parkville student and Sudano was the suspect.
Sudano was arrested and jailed after a 15-year-old Baltimore County student filed a rape report on November 21, 2019.
Superintendent of BCPS, Dr. Darryl L. Williams released the following statement following Sudano’s arrest:
”In light of recent concerns that have arisen over the enrollment of a student at Parkville High School who was convicted of a serious criminal offense, as the Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), I want to assure you that we are committed to the safety and security of all students.
Since my appointment as superintendent on July 1, 2019, school safety has been one of our top priorities. I have been working with central office and school-based staff to examine safety protocols in our school buildings. We have worked to improve communication regarding serious incidents that impact safety in schools, carefully examined school wellness concerns and tasked various offices with developing protocols to improve our response to safety concerns and problem-solving.
In an effort to continually improve safety procedures, we have been in contact with Juvenile Services, the Baltimore County Chief of Police and members of her team, and the State’s Attorney’s office to make sure we have timely and regular communications. We are all in agreement regarding the need to be steadfast in strengthening our collaboration and partnership regarding serious juvenile offenses.
Although, as a public institution, we are charged with making certain that all students receive a quality education through the efficient and effective use of resources, including the use of alternative means of education when necessary, each individual case must be thoroughly examined.
With that being said, when students are involved in serious offenses in our schools or communities, we are committed to conducting safety meetings involving school-based and central office leadership, school counseling, BCPS safety team members, Baltimore County Police and other pertinent staff and community agencies.
In my 100 Day Entry Plan and the subsequent development of a draft strategic plan, which I shared with various stakeholders including parents and school communities, I recently communicated the school system’s focus and alignment of efforts around school climate and student services.
This message was shared with elected officials, board members, and principals. As we finalize our strategic plan, it is my goal to have these efforts, standard operating procedures and our new strategic plan available for stakeholders. As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we will continue to examine and refine current practices.”
Several elected officials have drafted legislation that would prohibit convicted sex offenders from being in school with the student population.
Republican Delegate, Nino Mangione, who represents Parkville’s area, addressed Williams in Annapolis last month about this issue and said, on his Facebook page, that what has happened at Parkville High School is “heartbreaking and infuriating.”
”I have put in legislation as have others including Senator Kathy Klausmeier to make certain this never happens again,” Mangione wrote.
”That said, I am very disappointed in the way the Baltimore County Public Schools and the Baltimore County School Board has handled this situation. No transparency. No public interaction with the Parkville community through a town hall meeting type of setting. No explanation as to how the BCSS attorney and the principal involved authorized the presence of a sex offender in the school system. Parents have a right to information and to have their questions answered and this has been a very poor performance by Dr. Williams and other BCPS system leadership. Very poor.”
County Executive Johnny Olszewski and Senator Kathy Klausmeier proposed state legislation Monday to address safety in schools with other district 8 legislators.
”As County Executive, I take my responsibility to keep every member of our community safety very seriously and nowhere is that more important than in our schools and in our classrooms,” Olszewski said.
”As a parent, I understand that every time we send our kids to school every day we expect that that school will be a safe place where they will be protected from any harm.
So, when I first learned of the recent situation at Parkville High School, in which a 21-year old convicted sex offender was re-enrolled in Baltimore County Public Schools, I like you, was shocked, dismayed, furious, and frustrated.
Upon learning of the incident we immediately contacted BCPS urging a comprehensive review of their policies and procedures. Superintendent Williams has taken this matter seriously, as have I and other elected officials. I commend [ Williams] for helping us lead a much-needed change.
In order to make the changes necessary, we would need the support of state lawmakers. When we identify gaps in our laws, it is our responsibility to close them. Sex offenders have no place in our schools, period. Every child deserves to feel and be safe in their school and every parent needs to know that we are doing everything we can to keep them safe.”
Klausmeier said she was appalled when she heard about what happened at Parkville.
”I regret that this ever happened. I, along with other state delegates will stop this from ever happening again.”