Prince George's Co. parents demand change at school board meeting for handling of Head Start program

- The Prince George’s County school board met Thursday night and the controversial handling of the Head Start program was on the agenda.

The school system has disciplined six employees following a report of misconduct and abuse that led the federal government to pull $6.5 million grant to fund the program.

Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell has pledged to fix the problems that led to these incidents and abuses and an interim grant is being used to keep the Head Start program operating.

But several frustrated and passionate residents called on members of the school board to resign in the wake of this scandal.

“You all are shameful because you are hurting my children and you all – CEO, county executive chair and vice chair – need to go,” one parent spoke out at the meeting.

Speakers took to the microphone for public comments voicing their anger about the complaints of abuse and poor teacher training that were outlined in the federal report.

“I don’t doubt that you care about kids, but it has to be followed up with action,” said another parent.

“The time has come, Prince George's County residents, we will take back our school system,” urged another resident.

Those in attendance were upset the county did not fix the problems that were raised in the investigation and that several board members along with the public were not told earlier that the federal grant was at risk of being terminated.

The board chair is promising change, but many residents are not buying it.

“They sit up there like they are doing somebody a favor because now we are going to tell you what is going on with the Head Start,” said resident Tony Wingfield. “No, it's time for them to go and that is my message. You broke the law. You should be treated like anybody else that breaks the law and you need to resign. They really need to be arrested. That is what they really need to be. I'm at the point where I just can’t take seeing one more scandal of a child being abused or a child being molested.”

Five members of the school board have called for the resignation of the board's leaders, but the county executive has full confidence in the board's leadership and will not ask them to step down.

A number of people said their next step is going to the state legislature and try to repeal a bill that allowed a number of board members to be appointed. They want it to return to an all-elected board as it was back in 2013.

With the meeting wrapping up, the student member of the school board called for an external investigation into the entire Head Start program scandal. His request was voted down with some members saying it would cost too much and with the chair arguing there was already an internal investigation underway.

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