GLENARDEN, Md. - It has been three months since the Prince George’s County community was shaken by the arrest of an elementary school volunteer on child abuse and pornography charges. Deonte Carraway is in jail awaiting trial on federal charges.
On Tuesday, the Prince George’s County Public Schools Task Force that was formed in the wake of that scandal issued its final report.
During the meeting on Tuesday, Prince George’s County Public Schools said that over the course of three months, the task force met a minimum of 30 times and more than 500 hours.
The report shows that major flaws exist in the school system when it comes to training of its own staff on detecting and reporting sexual abuse of students. There are 61 areas the task force wants schools to consider and five recommendations on reporting, accountability, oversight, precautions and curriculum.
Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell is promising to immediately accept the recommendations.
"It was heinous, it was awful, it was terrible, it shouldn't have happened,” Maxwell said. “But I have 200 some other schools where it did not happen, and so again, when we are talking about the difference between systemic and non-systemic, we had a problem and we know that we need to do better going forward.”
The report says Prince George’s County Public Schools’ training on sexual abuse never gave employees specific information on what to look for in a child that has been abused or how to detect behaviors that an abuser would use to gain access to victims.
The report also says that training was not only vague and unclear, but badly outdated given current day understanding of predatory sexual abuse of children.
Carraway is facing several child pornography and child sex abuse charges in connection with his work at the Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School.
Charlene Dukes, the chair of the task force, defended the decision not to interview any relatives of Carraway’s alleged victims or the principal, teachers or staff at Judge Sylvania Woods.
Dukes said the task force's job was to make policy recommendations.
"The first thing you have to understand is what the charge of the task force was and it was not to investigate the Carraway situation,” Dukes said. “So that's the first thing – it’s to understand the charge that we were given. We were given a charge to look forward in terms of what this school system might do, could do and would do."
There were no public hearings for this task force, but they accepted all public comments online.
We spoke with the mother of one of the alleged victims in the Carraway case. She said she was not satisfied with this report and that the task force did not speak with victims’ families.
"I got a real problem with this,” she said. “If they don't talk to us, it just looks like they are hiding something.”