WASHINGTON — The Prince George’s County public school system has seen more than 500 employees, mostly teachers, put on administrative leave at some point during the 2016 -2017 school year for alleged child abuse or neglect.
That is a 600 percent-plus increase in cases of administrative leave from the 2014-2015 school year, which was before the student abuse scandals came to light, The Washington Post reported.
A push by the schools to report suspicious behavior and their efforts to retain employees come after the school system was rocked by a series of student abuse scandals in 2016.
Incidents include an elementary school aide accused of directing young students to perform sex acts while he videotaped them; a school bus aide who allegedly abused two special needs students; and alleged abuses in the school system’s Head Start early education program, which led to the loss of millions of dollars in federal grant money.
The Post reports that most of the 500 employees put on administrative leave this school year were cleared. But 30 percent were disciplined, and 5 to 10 percent were recommended to be fired.
School Board Chair Segun Eubanks told The Post he thinks things now are heading in the right direction.
“The culture of nonreporting is what got us here,” Eubanks said.
He hopes next year’s numbers are significantly lower.
Others are not happy with the number of employees being put on leave. Some see the high number as an overcorrection, and that is taking its toll on students in the classroom while leaving teachers demoralized.
“It’s been absolutely detrimental to student learning,” school board member David Murray told the Post.
Murray is involved with a petition seeking to review and rework the schools’ policies — the ones that were created in response to the crisis and to stop student abuse.
He said the new rules and administrative procedures could be doing more harm than good.
Prince George’s County is the second largest school district in the state, with about 132,000 students and 20,000 employees.
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