Prince George's County Head Start Had Previous Problems, Letter Says - NBC4 Washington

Prince George's County Head Start Had Previous Problems, Letter Says

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    Prince George's Co. Head Start Program Had Previous Issues

    Reports of students abused and humiliated in Prince George's County led to a federal investigation, and the defunding of its Head Start program. Now, a day after a call for changes in school board leadership, there's new evidence of a pattern of deficiencies within the program. Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016)

    Days after an investigation revealed that teachers allegedly abused and humiliated preschool children in Prince George's County's Head Start program, News4 has learned of past federal investigations that found issues with the program.

    In 2013, a letter from Head Start to the Prince George's County Board of Education listed several "non-compliances" within the program.

    According to the letter, criminal background check files for 103 of 129 of the county's Head Start staff were inaccurately kept and seven employees had no completed background check.

    Half of the staff at the time also lacked required health exams or tuberculosis screenings, the letter said.

    In addition, several classrooms had undesirable or hazardous materials such as cleaning chemicals, un-insulated hot radiators and broken toilet seats. The letter also states Prince George's County Head Start was not properly reporting meals and snacks provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.

    The program managed to keep its funding after all of the issues were corrected by January 2014.

    The county's Head Start program lost a $6.5 million federal grant on Aug. 17 after a federal investigation allegedly found poor instructor training and abuse of students.

    On Tuesday, the county's school board defended Head Start and vowed to find funding for the program.

    Five school board members are calling for Board Chair Segun Eubanks and Vice Chair Carolyn Boston to step down and say the chair and vice chair did not inform the board about the investigation until just before federal funding was terminated.

    Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker said he has faith in Eubanks and Boston.