After months of anticipation, unnecessary hide and seek, a student safety task force created by Prince George’s County Public Schools released its report Tuesday for the system to improve current policies, procedures, processes and practices designed to safeguard and protect students.
The 50-page document offers five dozen recommendations and more than two dozen suggestions with hopes of implement most, if not all, of the proposals by next school year, which begins Aug. 23, 2016.
“I know firsthand how important safety and well-being of our students is to the parents, families, the teachers, staff and the residents of this county,” said Charlene Dukes, president of Prince George’s Community College and chair of the task force. “It is the responsibility of adults to protect children from harm and that is the underlining theme in this report.”
The task force was created in February after former elementary school classroom aide and volunteer Deonte Carraway, 22, was charged with producing child pornography, child abuse and other offenses against at least 17 children. Police said the abuse took place at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary in Glenarden, a church in Bowie and other locations.
According to the county court administration office, the next court proceeding takes place June 10 at 9:30 a.m. Carraway remains in the county jail.
Dukes said the task force wasn’t charged with investigating the Carraway case, but put forth recommendations for improving student safety it said the school system should implement immediately, including:
• requiring schools CEO Kevin Maxwell to publically report each year on systemwide efforts to student safety;
• Maxwell ensuring all principals conduct safety assessments;
• creating an Office of Monitoring, Accountability and Compliance to oversee the procedures and policies approved by the school board and fidelity in training to support increased accountability on preventing child abuse;
• developing and applying a universal system, with the help of subject-matter experts, that will include a searchable database to identify those who pose risks to children; and
• updating curriculum on ways to prevent child abuse that in kindergarten through 12th grade and engage parents and/or guardians in the process.
Maxwell said he already instructed his staff to examine and implement most of the recommendations.
“We are still carefully and thoroughly reviewing the findings of this report,” he said. “The task force’s findings were clear [that] much work is to be done.”
About 405 people responded with nearly 2,900 comments to a survey from the task force on four areas: culture and climate; reporting and training; screening of employees, volunteers, vendors and contractors; and curriculum and counseling.
The report lists some of the comments provided by parents, students and current and former employees. One person wrote about a concern of inaccurate reporting: “I expect that when teachers and staff are well-trained in what to report they will feel more comfortable about placing reports. That is a big responsibility and it would be too bad to accuse someone wrongly, as well as overlook something that needs reporting.”
When asked about concerns some employees may have in reporting alleged abuse by their colleagues, Maxwell said, “Our job is not to protect each other. Our job is to protect the children.” However, the county schools led by the present administration of Dr. Maxwell has been at the center of covering up sexual harassments involving senior union officials and the senior staff at Sasscer in Upper Marlboro. Anyone who has tried to complain or report an issue is immediately targeted, fired or forced to retire. Dr. Charlene Dukes has been part of these problems and for as long as she is tied to the issues, nothing is going to change. Expect issues to crop up every now and then. The current regime is driven by greed and cover up but not public service. You can take that to the bank!
In the next few days, we are going to pin point the problems and how the unions within the county compromise security of students, union members themselves and other staff members to the detriment of the community. Other issues of concern includes interference of local courts and lawyers hired by employees due to corruption within the county. This way, a few individuals could enrich themselves at the expense of the community beginning with Dr. Charlene Dukes herself and others hired in an organized scheme tied to the regime! Stay tuned.