UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - A Prince George’s County mother is furious with how Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is handling at least two different incidents involving her 13-year-old daughter.
The student's mother, Carmen Hayes, reported the incidents of alleged physical assault with a knife and sexual online bullying to both James Madison Middle School officials and Prince George’s County Police back on Feb. 25th.
More than a month later, the mother told FOX 5 she still has not received any answers from the school. Her daughter, whom Hayes said was diagnosed with PTSD and is experiencing anxiety due to the alleged incidents, has not been in school since late February.
"I just don’t feel like these children are being properly protected," Hayes said. "It’s almost like the school is a breeding ground for predators and victims because no one’s being held accountable."
The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed police handed them the cyberbullying investigation for review on Tuesday. The family has requested a school transfer, which a PGCPS spokesperson confirmed was received on March 3rd. FOX 5 was told these matters usually take around 10-14 days.
Hayes told FOX 5 she was informed her daughter’s school transfer would be fast-tracked after FOX 5's reporting.
Hayes said she learned on Feb. 24th that students were apparently sharing an explicit photo of a female’s genitalia, claiming it was her 13-year-old daughter. Hayes said her daughter had also revealed the same student behind the explicit photo, also allegedly put the 13-year-old in a chokehold and pulled out a knife while the two were in a school bathroom together earlier that month.
Hayes believes the explicit photo was payback for her teenage daughter not accepting the other student’s advances. The Prince George’s County mother said when she reported the incidents to James Madison Middle School leaders, she was told to go file a police report instead of the school immediately summoning an officer.
A month later, Hayes also told FOX 5 the school’s principal would not say what disciplinary action was taken against the students involved.
In a virtual interview, James Madison Middle School Principal Courtney King told FOX 5 no knife was found – and the alleged assault was unfounded. However, the school system did take action against two students in regards to the cyberbullying incident.
"Two students who were involved were disciplined as outlined in the PGCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook in line with PGCPS policies," a PGCPS spokesperson confirmed.
"I cannot share the information because of the students being minors, but we let the parents know, and we also let the parents know who are intimately involved in the situation," Principal King told FOX 5. "We make sure here at Madison we are adhering the policies. We make sure that we are working hard – that we have a safe and orderly environment."
Since Hayes also went to police, two police investigations were immediately started.
A Prince George’s County Police spokesperson stated: "When contacted on February 25, 2022, the Prince George’s County Police Department opened two separate investigations – one into the reported physical assault and a second into the allegation of sexual harassment and bullying. The Child and Vulnerable Adult Unit investigated the allegation of sexual harassment and bullying and although the case has not yet been formally screened, the PGPD has been in consultation with the State’s Attorney’s Office to discuss potential prosecution. The investigation into the reported assault in the school bathroom remains ongoing."
Hayes told FOX 5 her daughter has been submitting assignments virtually since late February. She is too distraught to face her peers in person.