A Maryland principal engaged in sexual misconduct and bullying and violated sexual harassment policies, according to a months-long investigation from the Montgomery County Office of the Inspector General.
The investigation determined that Montgomery County Public Schools’ Joel Beidleman committed misconduct during his tenure as principal of Farquhar Middle School in Olney.
Officials launched the investigation after dozens of teachers accused Beidleman of sexual harassment earlier this year. He was allegedly reported to the school district 18 times over the course of seven years with little to no repercussions. Beidleman was even promoted in June to principal of Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville.
Beidleman “made repeated comments about the appearance of female subordinates, directed offensive comments and jokes of a sexual nature at subordinates, bullied subordinates, and had a sexual relationship with a subordinate over whom he had supervisory responsibility,” according to the investigation, Fox 5 DC reported.
The probe also determined that staff were afraid to disagree with Beidleman, were worried about their job security and felt intimidated and disrespected because of the principal’s behavior.
The investigation’s findings were given to superintendent Monifa B. McKnight, who will take action in response to the case. Beidleman was placed on extended leave after allegations of sexual assault.
This is one of two investigations into Montgomery County Public Schools, with the other probing the district’s process for responding to allegations of misconduct by school employees.
A civil discrimination lawsuit was filed against Montgomery County’s Board of Education and Beidleman last month, and additional lawsuits could come in the future.
“The investigation by the Montgomery County Maryland Office of the Inspector General regarding allegations of misconduct by Dr. Joel Beidleman confirms some of the most troubling aspects of this matter,” McKnight wrote in a statement. “The Board of Education is committed to using the work of the Inspector General, both this investigation and the second pending report reviewing the processes and procedures for handling complaints of misconduct, as a catalyst for thorough systemic reform and enhanced accountability.”
“The Board of Education will put policies and systems in place that nurture and support a culture of respect where employees feel safe and confident that complaints or concerns will be addressed,” the statement continued. “The Board thanks the Inspector General for the work of her and her team.”