Parents unhappy following meeting at Sylvania Woods Elementary, 2nd acting principal introduced

- Parents are unhappy and frustrated after a meeting held on Wednesday night by Prince George's County school officials at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden.

FOX 5 spoke to several outraged parents as they left Wednesday night’s meeting - who say they now have more questions than answers about why their brand new principal was put on leave.

“I left the meeting, tons of parents left the meeting, and we still don’t know what happened. They're introducing a NEW principle already – where did they come from? We don’t know anything about them. What happened to the last one? They won’t even tell us.”

Dozens of Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School parents showed up to Wednesday night’s meeting to discuss their concerns - after school officials say Principal Brian Jones was placed on administrative leave after an accusation was made in an anonymous email. Parents say they were hoping to find out more about that, but instead were outraged at the lack of information. They did learn however, that there is already a new principal hired. 

The assistant superintendent of Prince George’s County Schools wants to reassure parents of Judge Sylvania Woods that this new interim principal they have hired is different than the last two.

In a letter sent home to parents on September 12, Area 3 Instructional Director Kathleen Brady explained that principal Brian Jones, who is in his first year at the school, was on leave and Assistant Principal Donna Smith would be handling his duties.

“All faculty and staff remain committed to your child’s success this school year in a safe learning environment,” Brady wrote. The letter also informed parents of Wednesday night’s meeting.

PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell first announced Jones’ leave on Tuesday in a news conference where he addressed several recent incidents concerning student safety. Maxwell would only say the principal was placed on leave after an accusation was made via email.

Prince Georges County police tell FOX 5 they just received the anonymous email Tuesday. At this point, they say there is no formal investigation, and they are still in the initial stages of checking into the validity of the email.

It’s the first year at Judge Sylvania W. Woods Elementary for Jones, who replaced Michelle Williams. Williams was the school’s principal when former school aide Deonte Carraway, 22, was indicted on 270 charges of child sex abuse and pornography involving children.

Prince George’s County Public Schools also recently lost a $6.5 million federal grant that funded the county's Head Start program because of repeated allegations of Head Start teachers using harsh and unusual punishment on their students. In a federal report, teachers at James Ryder Randall Elementary School were cited for forcing children to hold heavy objects over their heads after they misbehaved during naptime.

On Tuesday afternoon at an event honoring Montgomery County Officer Noah Liotta, FOX 5 asked Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to comment on the recent issues that have taken place in Prince George's County schools. At that time, Gov. Hogan said, "I hope that Prince George's County is able to police itself, but we'll take a look. I don't have all the facts at this point."

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Hogan's office released the following statement about the situation:

"The recent allegations involving multiple officials in the Prince George’s County Public School System are horrendous and deeply troubling. Governor Hogan's office has reached out to officials with the State Board of Education and Prince George's County to ascertain what steps are being taken to address this issue. With investigations still underway, Governor Hogan urges local leadership and school officials to do everything in their power to protect the students in their care and ensure that parents are always kept informed about the well-being of their children."
 

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