WASHINGTON — After a year in which a former school volunteer faced hundreds of charges in a child sex abuse case, and the more recent bus aide accused of molesting a 4-year-old boy, the Prince George’s County public school system has faced more questions about what it does to protect children.
At recent meetings, parents have asked who is screening the teachers, volunteers and staffers who come in contact with children. Friday, after repeated requests for information on screening procedures, the Prince George’s County schools’ communications office put WTOP in touch with two people who vet prospective employees.
Ciccone said the screenings cover more than just teachers or aides. “We even do the volunteers at the schools, the parent volunteers, and contractors and so forth,” he said. “It encompasses just about anybody who sets foot in a school.” Contractors, for example, who may perform work in a school are also subject to screenings.
While Ciccone’s description of the screening process suggests that it must be hard for any one who wanted to harm children to slip through the screening, Ciccone points out that screenings have their limitations. “They’re not predictive of future behavior, is the best way I can say it.” But Ciccone adds, “We’re always looking to improve.”
Hudnell said the school system’s screening process is one that works hard to weed out anyone not suited to working with children. “I would say that there is definitely a high degree of reasonable assurance in terms of how we’re screening individuals. We are screening them with fidelity.”