Prince George's County

Community Forum to Demand Changes in Prince George’s School System

Maryland state Sen. C. Anthony Muse, at least four Prince George’s County School board members and other community leaders will hold a forum Thursday so residents can voice their concerns about the county school system.

The “stakeholder” discussion at Southern Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Temple Hills will include incorporating Parent Teacher Associations in every school, analyze procedures for graduation ceremonies and not allow the county executive to appoint members on the school board.

“We want to listen to what the community has to say about what is going on in the school system,” said Bob Ross, president of the county’s NAACP branch. “Collectively, we are going to make it happen. When you start doing it individually, the wrong message gets out. Those days are over.”

There has been friction between some board members and those appointed by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III since last year’s school abuse allegations. Tensions sparked unexpectedly last week that involved school board member Edward Burroughs III (District 8) at a place most wouldn’t expect: high school graduations.

According to a letter dated Monday to schools CEO Kevin Maxwell signed by four of Burroughs’ colleagues — Juwan Blocker (student member), David Murray (District 1) Raaheela Ahmed (District 5) and Beverly Anderson (at-large) — he was restricted from performing his duties.

In the first case, the letter states Burroughs wanted to allow two Oxon Hill seniors to address their classmates during the commencement ceremony Wednesday at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, but was denied by Deputy Superintendent Monique Davis.

In addition, “she also traumatized two graduating senior student leaders on stage by scolding them publicly to the point of tears,” the school board members said in the letter.

The next day, according to the letter, Burroughs was denied entry at a back door to the stage designated for platform guests at the Show Place Arena for Potomac’s graduation.

Burroughs recorded a video posted on YouTube (http://bit.ly/2r33Fi2) that shows him being told by police he can enter through the main entrance with the public, but not through the back on stage or he’ll be arrested for trespassing.

When Burroughs asked a police officer who told him he couldn’t enter, the officer replied “school security.”

Although the school board chairman has the authority to assign a board member to attend commencement ceremonies, the letter claims that “board practice allows for other members to be platform guests at any graduations of their choosing.”

Although Anderson represented the board at Potomac High’s ceremony, Potomac and Oxon Hill high schools reside in Burroughs’ district.

The letter claims the two senior school officials acted under Maxwell’s direction and the board members demand a public apology to Burroughs and the two Oxon Hill students.

“What happened should not have happened,” Blocker, 19, whose term expires July 1, said in a phone interview Tuesday and who will attend the 6:30 p.m. forum in Temple Hills. “We need to be better. What’s going on in the school system right now needs to improve.”

Although the school system released a statement to other media outlets, none was provided to The Washington Informer by Tuesday afternoon.

Baker expressed confidence in Maxwell and board chairman Segun Eubanks to handle the graduation faux pas.

“The superintendent and the board set up protocol on how graduations are conducted. Every board member knows that,” he said. “There is a reason why they don’t let every politician speak because we ran into long graduations years ago [and] that’s why they’re structured. The main thing about our graduations is our students. That’s where the focus has to be [and] not the politics of what goes on.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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