Prince George’s County residents frustrated with recent child abuse scandals in county schools sent a message Monday to local and school leadership: It’s time to go.
About two dozen parents and child advocates rallied outside the county administration building in Upper Marlboro, calling for the resignation of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, schools system CEO Kevin Maxwell and school board Chairman Segun Eubanks and Vice Chairman Carolyn Boston in the wake of a string of accusations of neglect and abuse of vulnerable students.
“We are not going to take this anymore,” said former school board member and rally organizer Rosalind Johnson of Greenbelt. “The dysfunction and the failures of this school system have got to end. Our children are too important to be relegated to a sidebar.”
Ralliers also want state legislators to repeal House Bill 1170, which was passed in 2013 and allows the county executive to appoint the chair, vice chair and one other school board member and the school system’s chief executive officer.
The rally was spurred by the recent allegations of child abuse in the county’s Head Start program that led to the county losing more than $6 million in federal funding, as well several other high-profile incidents.
Charles Nichols of Capitol Heights, who spoke for the first time spoke on camera after alleging his 4-year-old son, a special-needs student, was abused on a school bus last year, also attended the rally.
“I went from anger to hurt,” he said. “I just can’t believe no one is doing anything to protect our kids in this school system. No one has really taken responsibility for anything and it seems like nobody cares about the kids. We have to change this school system and the only way this gets changed is you have to come out here and speak about it.”
Police continue to investigate the case and another involving a nurse, not employed by the school system, accused of beating an adult special-needs student on a school bus in the parking lot at C. Elizabeth Rieg Regional School in Mitchellville. The state’s attorney’s office has yet to file charges in that case.
Baker spokesman Scott Peterson released a statement Monday that listed school system accomplishments since 2013 that include the expansion of full-day pre-K, nearly 80 percent of students graduating and top 10 statewide rankings in English and language arts.
“The recent cases of deplorable behavior by some school employees are extremely disturbing, but we should not confuse these incidents with the governance changes that have paved the way for our success over the last few year,” he said. “This is a defining moment for our school system and just as we focused like a laser on reforming our academic programs and offerings, we must approach the safety of our children with the same unwavering focus and vigor.”