UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - The arrest of a former school volunteer accused of filming at least 17 children performing sex acts has Prince George’s County Public Schools taking a deeper look into making changes to its policies.
In a short portion of a closed door meeting Thursday night, school board members addressed the issue of volunteers working in the school district.
The school board has recommended a task force to look into screenings of volunteers that are more thorough than just a background check as well as looking into best practices performed in other school districts.
The board did not say how many members, who exactly would sit on this task force and when it would begin, but they did say there would be community member participation.
Deonte Carraway was a former teacher’s assistant and volunteer at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School. The 22-year-old was charged with child pornography, sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree sexual offense after police say an investigation found he recorded explicit videos of young children at the school and other locations across the county.
Police have identified at least 17 victims so far and it is believed there could be more.
But what exactly can school volunteers do or cannot do? What does the work of a volunteer truly entail? These are some of the general questions that are being asked of school officials.
Dr. Segun Eubanks, the chair of the Board of Education for Prince George’s County Public Schools, said volunteers are an important part of what schools do and they typically aid teachers and help to chaperone and mentor students.
In a jailhouse interview, Carraway told FOX 5 he was only scheduled to work twice a week at the elementary school, but instead came by nearly every day of the school week.
FOX 5 asked Dr. Eubanks if any superior was aware if that information was true and would that person have had to approve him coming to school for a full week. He said that remains under investigation.
We also asked Eubanks if volunteers are allowed to be alone with a student.
“There is not an explicit administrative procedure that I know of that says explicitly that no volunteer can ever be alone with a student,” Eubanks said.
He added, “I can tell you when we finish this investigation and if the system failed, I will stand up there and say explicitly whether we did and how we did and what we're going to do fix it. Clearly, based on what happened, something failed. What that failure was, we need to find out. But it is abundantly clear that something failed in a major way.”
The principal at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School remains on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
There is no date set to report the task force's findings.