Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell on Tuesday addressed allegations of abuse of a special-needs child and a new principal being placed on administrative leave, less than a month into the school year.
Maxwell, speaking in the CEO conference room at the administration building in Upper Marlboro, confirmed an investigation was underway involving a bus supervisor and a bus aide, both of whom were placed on administrative leave after allegations that a child from James Ryder Randall Elementary in Clinton was molested by the aide on a school bus.
WRC-TV (Channel 4), which first broke the news of the allegations, reported that Child Protective Services was informed of the incident on May 24.
County police confirmed Tuesday school officials asked the department on June 20 to conduct an investigation, which is ongoing. No criminal charges have yet been filed, said Lt. David Coleman.
Maxwell said he learned of the allegations in August.
The father of the 4-year-old boy in question said Child Protective Services contacted him last month to help identify whether his son is in a video with the aide possibly from November.
The father, who isn’t being identified to protect his son, said CPS officials received a complaint in May about another allegation of abuse of a child, and the video surfaced soon after.
“I’m a little disappointed in the school system. I feel like they let me down,” the father, holding back tears, said Tuesday while standing beside school board members Edward Burroughs III and Verjeana Jacobs outside the administration building. “It makes me think my child was molested the whole school year. It breaks my heart.”
A federal agency investigated James Ryder Randall and determined a child in the Head Start program there was forced to mop up his own urine in December. After two more investigations determined teachers and staff humiliated and used corporal punishment against children in Head Start programs at other schools, the federal government stripped the county of more than $6 million in funding.
The school system released a statement Sept. 1 that six employees involved in the incidents were removed from Head Start and are no longer allowed to work in Prince George’s schools.
“If you don’t love children, you shouldn’t work with them,” Maxwell said Tuesday. “When people do not conduct themselves to our high expectations [and] if they do not love our children and care for our children and aren’t here to protect our children and teach our children, they are not going to continue to work with us.”
Maxwell also addressed a separate investigation of the principal at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary in Glenarden, who was placed on administrative leave last week.
Maxwell didn’t offer specifics about the principal, but said officials received an email about the situation and doesn’t believe it involves children.
That investigation between police and the school system’s department of security is also ongoing.
Parents with children at Judge Sylvania Woods received a letter Monday about the situation and a parent meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to address any concerns regarding school leadership.
The school was the site of another recent child molestation scandal. Former teacher’s aide and school volunteer Deonte Carraway was charged in February with 270 counts of producing child pornography and other charges at the school and other locations.
The school board will hold an emergency closed-door meeting Thursday that will likely address how quickly members are being informed of dire incidents. Five school board members signed a letter urging school board Chairman Segun Eubanks and Vice Chairwoman Carolyn Boston resign for not providing proper notice of the Head Start situation.
Burroughs of Fort Washington, one of the board members to sign the letter, attended the news conference and said he didn’t know about the Judge Sylvania Woods principal being placed on leave until Tuesday.
Burroughs said his faith in Maxwell has also decreased.
“He announced to the media before even talking to members of the board of potential inappropriate behavior at a school. It’s sickening,” he said. “He said we’re going to hold high expectations for our employees and deal with them swiftly. At what point are we going to deal with [Maxwell] swiftly? This is happening way too often.”
Maxwell, who said the school year has already been the most challenging of his career, also addressed the death of Tanya Washington, the principal of Parkdale High School in Riverdale who died unexpectedly last weekend.
“It has been a very difficult few months for our school system,” he said. “As the huge family that we are in Prince George’s County … we all need to be as caring and concerned … for the caring of children in our schools.”