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Prince George’s Co. school officials discuss next steps after funding cutoff

File - In this 2016 photo, the CEO of the Prince George's County Schools Dr. Kevin Maxwell (left) and the chair of the Board of Education Segun Eubanks discuss the impact of the cutoff of federal funding for the Head Start program. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Despite losing a hefty federal grant for the county’s Head Start early childhood education program this week, Prince George’s County school officials insist that the program will start on time on Aug. 29.

The federal government has notified the county that it is ending the $6.3 million grant to Head Start because of incidents of abuse by Head Start instructors and poor teacher training.

“We are committed to providing services to these children,” said Dr. Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George’s County Schools. “We expect all of these 932 children to be at school on August 29th; services will continue.”

“In Prince George’s County,” added Dr. Segun Eubanks, chair of the Board of Education, who wanted to make clear that the children would not be transferred to neighboring jurisdictions.

Neither Maxwell nor Eubanks explained where they would get that funding.

“The Board of Education will evaluate all options over the coming weeks and months to ensure Head Start’s continued and more effective operation,” Eubanks said.

A thorough report from the director of Head Start at the Department of Health and Human Services criticized the county for incidents such as an instructor forcing a 3-year-old to mop the floor after he wet his pants. Other children were disciplined by being required to hold heavy objects over their heads.

“These incidents are completely unacceptable,” Maxwell said. “A handful of people used unacceptably poor judgment that compromised children’s learning environments, personal well-being and a program that has positively impacted countless lives in Prince George’s County over many years.”

Maxwell added that an internal review is underway of the instructors cited in the federal report.

“There’s a process we have to follow,” Maxwell said, but he promised that the individuals cited in the report will not be in Head Start classrooms on Aug. 29.

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