Public Barred From Prince George's County Schools' Meetings on Sex Abuse | NBC4 Washington

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Public Barred From Prince George's County Schools' Meetings on Sex Abuse

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    Prince George's County Public Schools officials are holding meetings to review policies on how to keep students safe from sexual abuse and other threats in schools, but members of the public are not allowed to attend. News4's Tracee Wilkins reports. (Published Wednesday, April 6, 2016)

    The school district in Prince George's County formed a task force to assess how to keep students safe from sexual abuse and other threats -- but members of the public are not allowed to attend the meetings.

    Prince George's County Public Schools created the Student Safety Task Force after school aide Deonte Carraway, 22, was accused in February of victimizing 19 elementary school students inside a school in Glenarden, Maryland.

    Concerned citizen Colin Byrd said members of the public should be able to participate in the meetings.

    "This whole thing is because [Carraway] broke the law, so we might as well follow the law in our review of this process," he said, referring to the charges against the former aide.

    PGCPS said in a statement that members of the public can help review the district's work to keep students safe by completing a survey, but not by attending the meetings.

    “It is important to note that the task force has a lot of work to complete in a short amount of time," the district said in a statement. "The community’s input is critical to the work of the task force, which is why the task force is seeking confidential input via a survey."

    Byrd, a University of Maryland student and native of the county, argued in a letter to the Maryland Attorney General's Office that closing the meetings to the public violates the Open Meetings Act, which requires public access to most meetings by government bodies.

    "Transparency is important. It allows people to be held accountable," Byrd said.

    The attorney general's office has one month to review his complaint.

    The task force is set to report its findings on the Carraway case in May. How much information will be shared with the public then was not immediately clear.

    To weigh in on student safety in Prince George's County public schools, take the survey here