3 Employees Fired, 3 Recommended for Firing After Prince George's County's Head Start Program Loses $6.5M Grant | NBC4 Washington

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3 Employees Fired, 3 Recommended for Firing After Prince George's County's Head Start Program Loses $6.5M Grant

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    NEWSLETTERS

    3 Employees Fired, 3 Recommended for Firing After Prince George's County's Head Start Program Loses $6.5M Grant
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    What to Know

    • A federal investigation allegedly revealed poor instructor training and alleged abuse of students.

    • The grant was terminated due to failure to "timely correct one or more deficiencies," a spokesperson said.

    • Three employees have been fired; three other employees have been recommended for firing.

    Three Prince George's County Schools employees have been have been fired due to their involvement in incidents that led to the county's Head Start program losing a $6.5 million federal grant, school officials say.

    Three other employees have been recommended for firing. These workers will go through due process, said sources close to the investigation.

    Prince George's County School CEO Kevin Maxwell said they "will no longer be in front of any child in the Prince George's County Schools."

    "We will not tolerate this type of behavior. Our schools will cultivate teaching and learning environments that prioritize students' well-being -- and we will act swiftly to remove individuals who do not uphold these ideals," Maxwell said. 

    The county's Head Start program was apparently under a federal investigation for months after a review by the Administration for Children and Families allegedly revealed poor instructor training and alleged abuse of students.

    According to the review, a teacher at the H. Winship Wheatley Early Childhood Center in Capitol Heights forced a 3-year-old boy to mop up his own urine after he had a bathroom accident during naptime on Dec. 17, 2015. 

    As the child mopped the floor in urine-stained clothes, the teacher sent a photo to the boy's parent with a caption explaining the punishment. The message included the abbreviation "LOL." Another text sent to the parent said, "he worked that mop tho."

    The Administration for Children and Families says the punishment and texts were meant to humiliate the child and are a form of emotional abuse.

    On June 15, a teacher and teacher's assistant at James Ryder Randall Elementary School Head Start Center forced two children to hold objects over their head for an extended period of time as a punishment for their behavior. 

    A witness said one of the children was crying and calling the teacher's name, but was instructed to continue to hold the object. The other child dropped the object and was told to pick it back up, the Administration for Children and Families says.

    The witness reported the incident and later asked the teacher how many minutes the children were given. The teacher replied, "Oh, probably like 5 minutes," the report from the Administration for Children and Families says.

    The review also found delays in the reporting of the incident that have since been corrected. 

    In yet another incident, a five-year-old was able to wander away from the program and returned to his home, crying. According to the report, the child was unsupervised for about 50 minutes, and Head Start did not know where she was for about 75 minutes.

    The child had to cross at least one street to get home, the report said.

    Despite the loss of the grant, the program began Aug. 29 as planned.