NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Summer break has arrived for Prince George's County Public Schools and new data released on Friday shows over 800 school employees have been placed on leave this school year for alleged misconduct and abuse. On Friday, school district staff detailed changes in policies and procedures at a school board retreat held at National Harbor.
FOX 5 was first to expose that hundreds of school employees have been placed on leave this school year after they have come under investigation. The final total, revealed Friday, is 848. About half of those placed on leave are teachers. Currently, 233 employees remain on leave as we head into the summer months. In total, 67 employees accused have been fired, resigned or retired, according to information provided by district staff.
New student safety policies were put in place one year ago to address cases of child abuse by school staff. These policies were meant to better protect students, but some school employees say the changes have resulted in innocent staff members and teachers being pulled from schools unnecessarily.
According to a presentation by Robin Welsh, the district's executive director of accountability and compliance, the vast majority of the more than 800 cases reported to Child Protective Services have been "screened out," which means they have not risen to the level of an investigation. She said many cases involved more minor inappropriate behavior that was not child abuse.
Welsh says the plan for this summer is ensure school employees are fully aware of expectations and disciplinary consequences. The district will be working with employee unions to put that information in writing. Principals will receive training to do their own investigations and be more selective about involving Child Protective Services.
Prince George's County Board of Education chair Segun Eubanks said he hopes to see allegations dealt with more appropriately and quickly.
"I'm confident that if these new strategies are applied, that we are going to see a significantly better result, and certainly, people on administrative leave for less amount of time," he said. "And hopefully, not necessarily less reporting. Because again, we talked about the fact that we want folks to report, but more with that being dealt at the school level and at the administrative level, and less being escalated into long-term administrative leave issues."
Prince George's County Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell was also at Friday's gathering, but declined comment.
The school district will continue to work on these policies and they are expected to be finalized by July 1.
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