On the eve of the first day of classes for Prince George’s County Schools, parents, administrators, and the larger community remain optimistic that the body can rebound from accusations of grade tampering, a hurried attempt to hire necessary personnel and the conviction of a former student aide for sexual misconduct.
For his part, public school system CEO Kevin Maxwell remains in office and steadfast about moving the system forward, beginning with an effort over the summer to recruit educators through national searches. With a large amount of vacancies – more than 100 positions are still left to fill – Maxwell told WTOP that he believed the district had to appeal to top candidates.
On the eve of the first day of classes, parents, administrators, and the larger community remain optimistic that the school district can rebound from recent adversity.
“When our folks go places, people listen to the things that we’re doing here,” Maxwell said. “The immersion programs that we have, the two international high schools that we have, the academy of health sciences that we have, the three science and tech magnets that we have” are all a draw for teacher talent, he said.
But with an increase in need for special education teachers, foreign language instructors, and English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) instructors, the most needed, prove the most difficult to fill. Maxwell believes that the remainder will be filled by the Sept. 6 opening bell.
The call for investigations into grade tampering and fraud by the school system may also be a potential hindrance to luring in new teachers. In June 2017 school board members Edward Burroughs, David Murray, Raaheela Ahmed, and student member Juwan Blocker petitioned Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to investigate improprieties and grade fixing throughout the system.
Writing in a letter to Hogan that they had “clear and convincing evidence that the system has graduated hundreds of students who did not meet the Maryland State Department of Education graduation requirements,” the investigation remains open. Maxwell told the AFRO in July that the attacks against student progress and his record were untrue and “politically motivated.”
But probably most disturbing, as the new school year gets underway, is the recent sentencing of former Prince George’s County school aide Deonte Carraway to 75 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to more than a dozen federal sexual exploitation and child pornography charges. Carraway was also found guilty of sexual exploitation of minors in the production of child pornography which occurred both on school grounds and while children were in his care off grounds. Three months after Carraway’s conviction, another county school employee was also arrested on child pornography charges.
“We’ve been taking serious steps to put new safeguards in place to protect children, even from people who have no prior criminal history,” said John White, a spokesman for the County’s public schools told the Washington Post.
According to the school systems, students involved in the pornography and sexual exploitation acts with Carraway are receiving counseling.