How can schools protect children from sexual predators?
After an elementary school choir director was accused earlier this month of filming child pornography inside a school, Prince George's County Public Schools leaders are reviewing the district's protocols on reporting abuse.
School board members told News4 on Thursday they want to figure out how Deonte Carraway, 22, was able to videotape and molest as many as 17 students during school hours, according to Prince George's County police.
"These are our students. We have a duty to keep them safe, and we need to do whatever it takes to make that happen," Board Member Ed Burroughs said. "That might mean adding teeth and penalties to certain aspects of our policies. I hope there are a coalition of people willing to do that."
Carraway, of Glenarden, is accused of filming "vile sexual acts" between children ages 9 to 13 while working as a volunteer school aide and youth choir director at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary.
According to court documents, the FBI discovered dozens of videos depicting child pornography, some of which appeared to have been recorded in a school restroom. Carraway can be seen in one video molesting a child, according to the documents. In other videos, he can be heard directing the victims.
Police said Carraway victimized children at school, the Zion Praise Tabernacle Lutheran Church, Glenarden Municipal Center, Theresa Banks Memorial Aquatic Center and inside homes.
"Clearly, based on what happened, something failed," board chairman Segun Eubanks said.
The school district allows volunteers, like Carraway, to be alone with students on school grounds.
"There is not an explicit administrative procedure that I know of that says explicitly that no volunteer can ever be alone with a student," Eubanks said.
The school board will review that policy, along with its volunteer-hiring procedures, background check policies and protocol for reporting abuse within schools.
In a lawsuit filed against the school district, Principal Michelle Williams was accused of taking no action after the guardian of a 9-year-old boy discovered a sexually explicit photo Carraway allegedly sent the child using the app Kik.
Asked what is the district's procedure for responding to the report, Eubanks said, "The principal is legally obligated first to report to Child Protective Services and to report to his or her immediate supervisor."
Nothing criminal was found in Carraway's background check before he started working for the school in November 2014, officials have said.
However, he did have a juvenile sex offense record, sources told News4.
The background checks are conducted by a private company, officials said.
Parents outside Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary said a review of school policies is a step in the right direction, but only a step.
"A background check is not going to bring out what type of person you are at heart," one mother said. "That is nothing but paper."
The board member said he's hoping administrators will act fast to prevent other students from being victimized.