Officials from Montgomery County Public Schools said they were unaware police had been conducting an investigation of a local high school guidance counselor for sexual assault allegations until the man was arrested this week. The investigation began nearly seven months ago, according to Montgomery County Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti.
“We just learned of the investigation and arrest yesterday,” Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala said.
Colin S. Black, 33, a guidance counselor at Albert Einstein High School, was arrested Thursday morning on charges of second-degree sexual offense and second-degree assault, according to an Oct. 19 MCPD press release.
According to police charging documents, two separate complaints were filed six months apart. In both cases, Black allegedly forcefully sodomized two women after consensual intercourse during dates in December 2016 and March 2017 at his Rockville residence. Black met the women via the social media dating app Tinder.
“If there is an investigation and a pending arrest, the police do notify MCPS, but there’s no specific date by when they do that,” Onijala said. “It could be the morning of. It could be a few weeks before.”
In general, if the school is aware of an investigation and there hasn’t been an arrest, schools may not release information broadly to the community as part of an agreement between the school system and the police, Onijala said. “I really cannot speculate as to why the police did not share the information ahead of time.”
MCPD spokesperson Captain Paul Starks confirmed the Montgomery County Board of Education wasn’t notified until the night before the arrest.
“Due to the nature and circumstances of the case, there was nothing to indicate during the investigation his activity was related to school or related to minors,” Starks said. “All of the allegations involved adults and took place at his residence.”
Black was hired as a high school substitute teacher by MCPS in September of 2009, Onijala said.
Black also has a previous arrest record and would have been on probation at the time of his hiring.
In September of 2008, Black pleaded guilty to charges of driving or attempting to drive under the influence, according to a Rockville District Court clerk. He accepted a “Probation Before Judgment” ruling by a judge, which lessened the conviction, and was placed on probation for 13 months. The court clerk said his probation would have ended on Oct. 25, 2009.
In February of 2009, police arrested Black again, this time for urinating in a public or private setting. Black went to trial, but he was not prosecuted. The judge “disposed” the charges, the court clerk said, which means the case is neither closed nor resolved; it just stays open for a period of time.
The clerk said this verdict allows police to revisit the charge if it proved to be useful to them in the future. However, that case is now closed.
John Patrick Kudell, Black’s attorney at the time of the drunk driving offense, did not respond to a request to confirm Black’s probation status.
When asked for comment on specifics of MCPS’ hiring policies for applicants with prior misdemeanor offenses or probation, Onijala said, “As far as I know, Mr. Black passed his background check. Let me check with our HR folks, and I will get back to you.”
Prior to deadline, Onijala had not yet responded.
In a statement to parents, Einstein High School Principal James G. Fernandez said the alleged offenses by Black did not occur on MCPS property and are not related to any MCPS students. The two female victims were 18 years of age or older, Innocenti said.
According to Fernandez’s letter to parents, Black was also a coach at Einstein and had served as a substitute teacher for MCPS.
Onijala was unable to confirm when Black became a guidance counselor for Einstein, but according to a 2010 MCPS newsletter, Black was also a part-time counseling intern at Garrett Park Elementary School from February to April of 2010. Fernandez did not mention this information in his letter.
Black has been placed on administrative leave.