MCPS Checking for Gaps in Employee Screening After Arrest of Richard Montgomery Staffer

Security leader passed background check despite misdemeanor charge from 1994


Published:

Richard Montgomery High School

Via MCPS

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) officials are looking at how background checks missed a 1994 criminal case against the Rockville school security officer who was charged last week with sexually abusing a student.

MCPS hired Mark Christopher Yantsos in 2007 as a security assistant, and he was later promoted to lead the six-person security team at Richard Montgomery High School, according to school spokesman Derek Turner. As part of getting the job, Yantsos, 57, of Rockville passed a screening process that involves fingerprinting and a criminal background search.

However, Yantsos faced a misdemeanor charge more than two decades ago after allegedly pulling out a revolver to “menace” a woman while he was working for the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Because the charge didn’t show up in in the screening process, Turner said MCPS is checking for gaps in the federal and state databases used in the search.

“We’re looking for whether there’s a problem with the databases,” he said. “We’re always looking at this, and this is another opportunity to reflect on it and see if we catch anything.”

Turner said in 2013, MCPS began checking prospective employees through a child protective services database. MCPS is in the process of running  new checks on employees hired before that date but hadn’t yet done a second background screening on Yantsos, Turner said.

Yantsos, who is now on administrative leave, was arrested on charges of forming an illicit sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl he’d met at Richard Montgomery. MCPS staff discovered the New York misdemeanor through a Google search, Turner said, and they passed the information on to police for the current investigation. The New York Times wrote in 1994 that Yantsos was accused of drawing his revolver on a waitress at a topless bar. Yantsos, who was off-duty at the time, had consumed 10 to 15 tequila shots and was trying to “pick up” the 30-year-old woman, the article reported. 

The paper didn’t cover the case’s resolution. However, Yantsos continued working for the NYPD until April 1997, about three years after the bar incident, according to the police agency. He told Richard Montgomery’s student newspaper, The Tide, that he retired from the NYPD as a detective. In the 2015 article, he said two of his children were graduates of the Rockville high school.

He was also the girls’ varsity basketball coach from 2012 to 2014, school principal, Damon Monteleone, told parents on Thursday.

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