Meet The Superintendent Meeting: Yarbrough Addresses Online Security And Multilingual Support


Dr. Miriam Yarbrough shares her plans for the upcoming school year with board members and local officials. (Credit: BCPS-TV/ Youtube)

BALTIMORE COUNTY - At a recent community meeting on July 6 at Perry Hall High School, newly appointed Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Myriam Yarbrough addressed some of BCPS's most challenging problems.

One of the key concerns raised during the meeting was bypassing security measures on Baltimore County Public Schools devices. WBALTV previously reported that BCPS students are using the Kurzweil application, a text-to-speech tool meant to assist in learning, to circumvent school system computer safeguards accessing various online sites, including games and YouTube.

At the meeting, a parent asked Yarbrough how she plans to address this issue, stating her concerns that students are "online chatting with you know God knows who during instruction."

"That's going to be a problem that we have to solve together; it's not going to be a problem that only the Department of Information Technology can solve," Yarbrough replied.

The newly appointed superintendent emphasized the need for mutual accountability, with both schools and parents taking responsibility for ensuring students use school devices appropriately.

"Especially as we move forward with artificial intelligence, Chat GPT, and things of that nature that it's going to become more complex," Yarbrough said. "It's going to take all of us being very specific and very open and honest with our students about what our expectations are for them to behave responsibly when they're online."

Another parent noted the need for additional support for multilingual families. According to BCPS data, "English learner" students comprised 13.3% of all elementary students in Baltimore County during the 2020-2021 school year. English learner students did not meet the math or English language arts benchmark target during the same period, although performance in the latter did improve from the prior school year.

Yarbrough said that the school system is "going to be doing our best to recruit more multilingual staff members" and that BCPS will be more creative in how existing staff are leveraged to support ESOL families.

"Current staff members that maybe work in other departments can be certified to serve as interpreters," Yarbrough suggested.

The new superintendent also addressed concerns over a potentially bloated 39-member transition team.

"Why do we need them? We need them to make sure that these priorities that we've identified and we've heard throughout meet and greets throughout meeting with Council of PTAs throughout reading and having exchanges with parents and staff members are the correct priorities," Yarbrough said.

The next “Meet the Superintendent” community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 18. 6-7 p.m. at the Randallstown High School Cafeteria (4000 Offutt Rd. 21133)

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