OXON HILLS, Md. — Prince George’s County leaders say there will be no interruption in the county’s Head Start program, even as federal officials have selected a temporary manager from out of state to run the scandal-plagued program.
“Until the transition is complete, everything will stay as it is today,” said Prince George’s County Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell. “We have people at every one of our Head Start sites this morning, and the reports that I’ve had is that everything is running smoothly.”
The Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded an interim grant to a Denver, Colorado-based agency to temporarily manage the county’s program.
Allegations of teacher neglect and abuse caused the feds to pull Prince George’s County’s Head Start grant.
“The money is not lost out of the system,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said at a news briefing with Maxwell Monday morning. “We want to make sure people understand that. That money is still here.”
He added, “That’s why we’re sitting down with HHS now — to talk about the continuation of the program.”
The early-education program for low-income children between the ages of 3 and 5 serves more than 900 children in Prince George’s County.
The allegations of misconduct involved a teacher reportedly forcing a 3-year-old boy to mop up his own urine after he had an accident during nap time. The teacher is accused of texting the pictures of the student in wet clothes, to the boy’s parents with “LOL” in one of the text messages. Another case involved a 5-year-old leaving the program to walk home alone.
A Prince George’s County councilman who said that he’s disappointed and outraged by the allegations wants an independent investigation.
“It is not yet fully known where all of the problems in oversight and management of this program occurred, but I strongly believe an independent review is needed to restore public trust,” Democratic councilman Mel Franklin said in a Monday news release.
During a school board meeting last Thursday an investigation was promised.
“We will continue to investigate the events that occurred and hold accountable the systems and or individuals who failed to protect our children,” said board chair Segun Eubanks.
Teachers in the Head Start program may eventually need to reapply for their jobs, but its unclear when that request would come from the interim managers.
“In their experience with this large a district it often takes a little bit of time,” Maxwell said.
WTOP’S Mike Murillo contributed to this report.
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