UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WUSA9) — Last month the federal government decided to pull funding for the Head Start program in Prince George’s County, after investigators found multiple instances of abuse in Head Start classrooms.
Two emails, obtained by WUSA9’s Scott Broom, seem to suggest the school superintendent and his staff knew about the allegations of abuse well before they became public and possibly tried to cover them up.
School CEO Kevin Maxwell responded directly to our report, Tuesday night, and denied any type of cover up.
One email obtained by WUSA9, through sources, is from Maxwell’s chief of staff, George Margolies. The email seemed to suggest Margolies pressured Carolyn Boston, the Vice Chair of the Board of Education, to keep the federal investigation into Head Start off of the public agenda.
According to Maxwell, the email is being taken out of context.
“I believe they’re being misinterpreted as relating to the investigation when in fact they are a conversation about how to release information about what the requirements of the Head Start grant are about informing the board about the activities of the parent council,” Maxwell said.
At the time of the email, the federal investigation into the Head Start program was already underway, and investigators had found one allegation of abuse at Winship Wheatley Elementary School.
When asked why that didn’t increase the need to place it on the public agenda, indefinitely, Maxwell said, “We have hundreds of programs in this district…. You can’t possibly have a standing agenda item for every program in the district, on every board agenda that there is.”
“There was a conversation,” he continued, “either do we send them regular updates in the mail, do we post them on board docs, do we have a standing [item] – that was what that [email] conversation was about.”
Maxwell admits the email didn’t sound good. “I certainly think my Chief of Staff could’ve been a little more judicious in his use of words,” he said.
The second email obtained by WUSA9, also through sources, was originally written by the mother of a head start student who was reportedly forced to mop up his own urine. The email was sent to seven people within the school system, including Maxwell.
In it the mother says she dropped her three-year old off at Winship Wheatley and noticed the car of the teacher that abused her son. The incident had taken place one month before.
“I cannot put in words,” she wrote, “the utter helplessness, disappointment and fear I felt when I saw that she was allowed to come right back to work like nothing ever happened.” Maxwell said, even though the email was sent to his address, he did not see it.
However, he said, staffers did.
“The email was referred from my office, that’s the usual practice, it was referred to the person that needs to handle it,” he said.
When asked when the teacher was removed from the school system Maxwell didn’t have an answer.
“What you’re asking about with an exact day, I can’t tell you the exact day that teacher was placed on leave. I can tell you that teacher was removed from the school. Placed on administrative leave. An investigation took place,” he said.
“When I saw the report in August, regarding the entire report, and the additional allegations that came in – I was livid, and I’ve said that on a number of occasions. I have requested the termination of three people and terminated three others. The ones that are in that report. So your question I think is answered in these actions.”
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Maxwell’s chief of staff, George Margolies (Seen here). The email seemed to suggest Margolies pressured Carolyn Boston, the Vice Chair of the Board of Education, to keep the federal investigation into Head Start off of the public agenda.