Friday, April 18, 2014 4:05 AM
Published on: Thursday, May 30, 2013
By Holden Wilen
SILVER SPRING – Parents of students at Kemp Mill elementary school say they aren’t happy with the recent settlement of a lawsuit leveled against the school’s principal.
The embattled principal was accused in a lawsuit by six former teachers of targeting them by fabricating false personnel records because they reported to superiors that principal Floyd Starnes was taking children into closets for 30 minutes at a time, assaulting and inappropriately touching male teachers and violating federal and state laws by failing to provide adequate services to special education students.
One parent, who asked that her name not be used in order to maintain the privacy of her family, said she believes her son was a victim of bullying from other students at Kemp Mill and was abused at the school.
During the spring 2008 semester, when her son was in second grade, the parent said the school called to have her pick up her son. When she arrived at the school, staff told her that her son was taken into a closet because of behavioral issues. She said her son did not have a history of throwing temper tantrums, and when shown the damage to the walls caused by her son’s black boots, she told the staff she would have her son clean up the mess. She said Assistant Principal Cheryl Smith told her that her son was not allowed in the closet.
“Already I thought something was up,” she said. “You put him in there and now he is not allowed in there?”
The mother said her son would not talk about what happened in the closet, and he never wore his black boots again. She said her son went into a deep depression, and she decided to apply to have her son transferred to another school. When the transfer was denied, her son “went insane.” He began telling his mother he wanted to hurt himself. At that point, the child began seeing a psychologist regularly.
In Starnes’ deposition taken in November 2012 for the case with the former Kemp Mill teachers, Starnes admitted to taking students into closets four to six times and that each trip lasted between five to 10 minutes. Starnes said oftentimes when a student is throwing a temper tantrum, they throw objects, so it is appropriate to take the child into an isolated room so they cannot hurt anyone and just calm down.
“When you get to a certain level of discipline where the student is a danger to other children or to themselves, I'm the leader of the building,” Starnes said. “I don't want to put another person in that, in that danger. If there's going to be somebody in danger, that's me, and you're at a level of discipline where it's expected that the leader of the building is going to take care of it. If there's a kid who is a little unruly in the class, certainly the teacher is going to take care of that, but when it rises to that occasion, which as I said, you know, was only a handful of times over a couple of years, that's the principal's job.”
The child eventually told his mother he remembered being in the closet, but he could not remember Starnes being in the closet with him. According to the mother, it was not until three years later, in 2011, that information about what happened in the closet began to come out.
When the Kemp Mill teachers filed their lawsuit, Carole Osburn, secretary for the school in 2008, wrote a letter to Assistant State Attorney Stephen Chaikin saying she witnessed the student being taken into the closet for about 30 minutes. The letter was posted on a website, SaveKMES.org, which another former parent, Todd Ross, created to keep the public aware about the environment at Kemp Mill.
Dana Tofig, spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools, said there are times principals need to take actions to protect students, and sometimes that may mean isolating students who are a danger to themselves or others.
“There are some specific procedures and policies that must be followed in that, but there are times where a staff member has to use their best judgment very quickly to protect a student,” Tofig said.
Tofig said there were two investigations into allegations against Starnes, and the allegations were found to have little or no merit. MCPS investigated the allegations raised in the teachers’ lawsuit, Tofig said, and he does not know what exactly was investigated.
But the mother believes further investigation should be done.
“There was the child-on-child bullying, which was horrendous,” she said.
Posted By: Scorpio65 On: 6/25/2013
Title: Not Just Absurd
but slanderous. The Kemp Mill community deserves better than a one-sided article feeding into Picca's desire for revenge and a news organization that allows to stand comments making unfounded and unprovable allegations.
Posted By: do some research On: 6/24/2013
So many of these comments are beyond absurd...
Starnes is not a registered sex offender because he WAS NOT FOUND GUILTY OF ANYTHING nor did he do anything wrong! Sadly, his name will continue to be dragged through the mud by people who disagreed with the dismissal of Dan Picca - period. Amazing how people like to leave that fact out of this. The people trashing Starnes are the same ones who are defended a man let go for inappropriate contact with children that continued for YEARS !
He will continue with his job, which staff and families are very happy with. I don't know what parents or staff you spoke to for this article but the picture you paint of Kemp Mill is only what the savekmes people want you to see.
Posted By: Mom On: 6/7/2013
Title: So is he gone now?
So is he leaving Kemp Mill or staying? Will he be kept away from children or allowed to do as he pleases? Is he a reqistered sex offender now? Inquiring minds want to know.
Posted By: Curious Minds Want to Know On: 6/6/2013
Title: Taking a Settlement = Abandonment
By settling the lawsuit Mansour and the other plaintiffs acknowledged that the truth, whatever it may be, wasn't all that important.
Posted By: mcps teacher On: 6/6/2013
Title: The Blame Game
Mansour abandoned her students? Mansour and the other employees in the lawsuit told the truth to protect their students. In doing so, staff that reported illegal or unethical behaviors were severely punished by the principal through false accusations and false evaluations. MCPS abandoned the students in Kemp Mill!!! MCPS knew exactly what was going on at Kemp Mill. The teachers who looked the other way abandoned the students. Lots of fear at Kemp Mill.
Posted By: not great but not the absolute worst either On: 6/4/2013
Title: KMES 2012 MSA Compared to some nearby ESs
Kemp Mill compared to county/state:
Posted By: Curious Minds Want to Know On: 6/4/2013
Title: And you know the terms of the settlement because?
Didn't the settlement have a NON-DISCLOSURE agreement?
Those mouthing off about the terms are the claimants violating the non-disclosure clause and/or someone saying whatever they want knowing there's no way to verify their claims.
I'd really like to know what the teachers got for selling out. Mansour's students were really hurt when she abandoned them.
Posted By: VoiceOfReason On: 6/3/2013
Title: Deviant + Incompetent = School Failure
The article in The Post after the settlement discusses the dismal satisfaction surveys at Kemp Mill ES.
Even if Starnes wasn't a certified nutcase and a documented deviant, he should have been fired for academic performance long ago. KMES has the worst standardized test scores in the county. Disgraceful considering when Nancy Evans left in '07, KMES was the top Title I school in MCPS.
Have to agree with Andrea Abrams here. How did Starnes keep his job for so long? Why isn't he incarcerated?
Posted By: PWH On: 6/3/2013
Title: Allegations found to have little or no merit?
When multiple adult male staff complained about being touched sexually by the Principal who also used suggestive speech when talking with them is found to have 'little or no merit', it begs the question as to what MCPS investigated. Also at a time where the telling of lies by administrators and falsely changing reports is acceptable by MCPS, one wonders what kind of administration that teachers, parents and students are dealing with. MCPS has allowed this individual plunder the pristine school system MCPS once was.
Posted By: olneypara1968 On: 6/3/2013
Title: Pervert Principal Leaving MCPS
On Friday, Starnes announced he is leaving MCPS. Part of the settlement with the six former KMES last month.
Carole Osburn wrote her letter to the asst state's attorney long before the teachers filed their law suit.
This abuse of young male students took place during the school and on the weekends alone. The closet version of Jerry Sandusky. Criminal charges should have been filed. Sounds like a comparable cover up to the recent case involving swim coach Curl. There to, hush money was paid to protect a predator.
Posted By: Scorpio65 On: 6/2/2013
Title: Article Title Misleading
The title and first line of this article imply that there are a significant number of parents who believe the allegations made about Mr Starnes by a handful of disgruntled staff.
With whom have you spoken other than the one parent who _alleges_ that her son was kept in a closet for 30 minutes, and what "documentation" have you reviewed other than that posted on the savekmes website (which interestingly enough failed to post the outcome of Daniel Picca's appeal of his termination from MCPS)?
What are the results of the parent surveys conducted over the past several years, which address bullying among other topics?
What are the results of the staff surveys conducted over the past several years? How many current and former KMES staff members have you interviewed?
Posted By: Andrea Abrams On: 6/2/2013
From what I heard about this principal when I attended the preliminary hearing, he should not only lose his job but have criminal charges filed against him.
Posted By: Mom On: 5/30/2013
Title: psychiatric issues
multiple kemp mill children went into psychiatric institutions in those first years when starnes beccame principal