MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) said that it launched an investigation after a Washington Post article claimed a principal sexually harassed staff members for years.

According to the Washington Post article, Joel Beidleman had at least 18 verbal or written complaints filed against him from MCPS staff members, parents and union stewards. These complaints were filed as early as 2016, according to the article.

One teacher filed a complaint on Feb. 3 that alleged “20 instances of misconduct by Beidleman,” the Washington Post said.

Despite the reports, Beidleman had just been named as the principal of Paint Branch High School in June, the Washington Post reported.

In a statement to DC News Now, MCPS said that an “external and independent investigation team” was investigating these allegations.

MCPS maintains its commitment to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment for our students. MCPS also maintains its commitment to provide an appropriate work environment for its staff. We have identified an external and independent investigation team with expertise in education and employment law to promptly investigate allegations that were raised in the Washington Post’s investigation. The external team will also assess the district processes concerning documenting, reporting and investigating allegations of bullying, sexual harassment, and/or discrimination of any kind. Privacy protocols will be adhered to throughout our response to this matter.

The safety of our students, staff and community is a top priority for MCPS.

MCPS statement

MCPS did not comment further on the complaints or investigation.