Staff at Wilde Lake High School is continuing to review procedures after a junior student was accused of raping a 14-year-old freshman earlier this week inside the Columbia school.
In a letter sent to parents on Thursday, Principal James LeMon said, "addressing the issue of school safety here ... will require planning and collaboration with all aspects of central office support, PTSA and students. This process has already begun and will continue."
He added: "We will maintain a safe a orderly environment for all students at Wilde Lake High School with our continued vigilance and alertless," and noted that school staff "will continue to monitor the 31 cameras placed strategically throughout the building."
DeShawn Rasheed Jones, 17, of the 6000 block of Laurel Wreath Way in Columbia, faces second-degree rape, second-degree assault and false imprisonment charges in connection with the incident, which occurred during fourth period Monday, Feb. 4, in the school's third-floor choir room, according to the charging documents.
Jones told Howard County Police he had sexual contact with the girl, according to the statement of probable cause filed in Howard County District Court.
Jones, who is being charged as an adult, is currently being held on $500,000 bond, police said.
According to the documents, Jones texted the victim and asked her to skip class. The documents state the two walked to the third floor of the building, where the victim declined Jones’ offer to go on to the roof.
As the two were walking in the dance hall, the defendant entered a dark, empty choir practice room and pulled the victim inside, the documents state.
The victim said the two were kissing when Jones closed the door and forcibly had sex with her, according to the documents.
She said she tried to refuse, but Jones was stronger than her, the documents state.
After the incident, the victim told two friends that Jones had raped her, according to the documents.
When the victim arrived home, she told a family member, who told her to tell her mother, according to the documents.
At 6:08 p.m., police were contacted about the incident, the documents state. The Safe exam tests performed on the victim revealed evidence of sexual activity, the documents state.
According to the documents, the school confirmed that the victim had skipped her fourth-period class and that the victim and Jones entered the choir room together.
Jones told police that he texted the victim during fourth period, and "the defendant confirmed that there was sexual contact between himself and the victim in the practice room at WLHS," according to the documents.
Schools spokeswoman Rebecca Amani-Dove said the school system has procedures to ensure that students are where they are supposed to be, which include keeping rooms locked when they are not in use.
Keeping doors locked while not in use, she said, is common practice, though not mandated by policy.
"Our principals encourage their teachers to lock their doors when not in use, and while it's certainly a best practice, it's not mandatory," she said.
She said school personnel is investigating the incident.
Bill Ryan, executive director of school improvement and administration, and a member of the Joint Task Force on School Safety convened in December, said locking doors was something being looked at by the task force.