UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - The Prince George's County school board received a progress report from the Student Safety Task Force that was formed earlier this year after a school volunteer was charged for child pornography and sexual abuse of elementary school students.
Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell attended the meeting, but did not address the recent calls for him to step down.
You could feel the frustration during the public comment section of Thursday night’s meeting when one man spoke about the county’s struggling Head Start program.
“It’s like my mushrooms – you keep us in the dark and you feed us little bits of manure from time to time,” he said. “Protecting the politicians, including the chair, vice chair and CEO, seems more important than our children.”
Dr. Maxwell listened along with the school board and they were then presented with a progress report on staff and volunteer training as well as background checks.
There is now a new fingerprinting screening process. As of Oct. 7, more than 90 percent of staff has received new training.
Employees and volunteers were reminded that they need to notify Child Protective Services immediately on any suspicion of abuse and they can go straight to CPS and bypass supervisors if they fear retaliation.
They also plan to have a database to track incident reports in place by January.
The school system has been under fire as they faced problems such as the Deonte Carraway sex abuse scandal earlier this year, other isolated abuse cases involving school employees and the termination of a $6.5 million federal grant that funded the county’s Head Start program, which came after a report found complaints of abuse and poor teacher training.
On Wednesday, the Prince George’s County NAACP pushed for the removal of Dr. Maxwell, who was appointed by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. However, Baker has maintained that Maxwell is the best person for the job and has no plans to remove him from his position.
But Maryland State Sen. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s) was also at the school board meeting Thursday night and he said he is among those calling for Dr. Maxwell to resign.
“Our children are at risk here and we don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘Let’s wait another five years to see how it turns out,’” Muse said. “Because by then, someone has gone from the 7th grade to the 12th grade and then they are out. We don’t have that luxury. We need fast and effective answers."
Sen. Muse has also introduced two bills in effort to make all school board members elected and not appointed. There will be a hearing on those bills later this month.