CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. - There are new details emerging about the Head Start Program in Prince George's County after the federal government terminated a $6.5 million grant to the program after mounting problems were not fixed. A school board member said they were left out of the loop about the investigation into the Head Start Program.
“I did not know that there was ever a possibility that our grant could be pulled,” said Prince George's County School Board member Edward Burroughs III. “That was never communicated to me and several members of the board.”
FOX 5 first reported about the alarming findings in a federal report that details complaints of abuse and poor teacher training. The investigation indicates that teachers punished and humiliated children in the program that is designed for children from low-income families. The consensus is that the county did not properly fix these problems.
In one case, a young girl was reportedly forced to hold heavy boxes and books in the air as punishment for not listening to teachers.
In another incident, the report described that faculty at H. Winship Wheatley Early Childhood Center in Capitol Heights reportedly forced a 3-year-old boy in wet clothing to mop up his own urine in front of the class while a teacher texted a photo to the child’s parent.
At James Ryder Randall Elementary School’s Head Start Center in Clinton, staff reportedly made two children who played during naptime hold heavy objects over their heads for an extended period.
And most recently, a 5-year-old child left Langley Park-McCormick Elementary School’s Head Start Center in Hyattsville unnoticed and walked home without supervision.
“At this point, we need a full investigation to see what exactly the federal government communicated to us and when, how long did they give us to correct these deficiencies and why they were not corrected,” said Burroughs. “At the end of that investigation, anyone who failed to act in the best interest of kids, anyone who covered it up should be terminated or should resign.”
Federal officials said the county did not timely correct one or more deficiencies for which it had been put on notice. The decision means that the Prince George’s County school system is not eligible to apply for federal funds for Head Start for preschoolers.