Montgomery County Public Schools states that no responsive records exist in response to public records request regarding protest against Israel; PDE receives emails showing records do exist


The Maryland Jewish Alliance explained to Parents Defending Education that the organization sent a public records request to Montgomery County Public Schools regarding a student protest against Israel at Northwood High School. A representative of the Maryland Jewish Alliance stated that she sent a public records request specifically asking for emails discussing Israel and the war from Northwood High School’s principal during the week of the protest. She said that the district responded that “no responsive records” exist. PDE sent a similar records request seeking emails for November 10-17, 2023, and received the same response.

However, the Maryland Jewish Alliance provided PDE with emails from the principal during that timeframe showing that such records do exist. In an email from the high school’s principal on November 17, he explained the protest situation to staff and how to handle it. The principal appears to explain that staff were involved to some capacity: “Northwood admin, security, and deans will support at the field as neutral safety observers.” PDE has redacted the principal’s name out of the email.

The school district said there were no responsive records to PDE’s request despite the records appearing to exist.

The Maryland Jewish Alliance provided PDE with another email from the principal to a district counselor dated November 14 discussing the protest. He asked the counselor to check in with a student who was “having mixed emotions about staying home on Friday as well as general anxiety.”

PDE received images from the social media account of Northwood High School’s Muslim Student Association (MSA). One post has an image promoting the “Palestine Northwood Student Walk Out” for November 17.

The school’s MSA club promoted the protest on social media.

PDE also received multiple images and videos from the protest that were on the MSA club’s social media.