New principal at beleaguered Md. school now on leave

WASHINGTON — The new principal of a Prince George’s County elementary school that was rocked by horrifying allegations of child sex abuse by a teacher’s aide earlier this year has been placed on administrative leave as police and the school investigate an anonymous allegation against him.

Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference, the principal of Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School was placed on leave late last week and a letter was sent home to parents Monday.

Maxwell did not provide specifics about the allegation, which he said school officials received via email. He said to his knowledge it did not involve students, “but that’s what the investigations are about.”

The police are investigating the allegation through the school system’s department of security services, Maxwell said.

A former teacher’s aide at the Glenarden, Maryland, school, was arrested in February and faces numerous counts of sexual abuse and child pornography charges. Police said 22-year-old Deonte Carraway coerced nearly two dozen children, some as young as 9 years old, into performing sex acts on him and each other and filmed them on his cellphone.

There’s no indication the new allegations against the principal are related to the Carraway case.

Also, Maxwell confirmed police and Child Protective Services are conducting a separate investigation into a school bus aide for James Ryder Randall Elementary School in Clinton, Maryland, who is accused of molesting preschool children with special needs. NBC Washington first reported the investigation.

The alleged abuse occurred last year and was reported to Child Protective Services May 24, according to NBC Washington. Police began investigating the incident June 20.

Maxwell said the bus assistant and a person in a supervisory role were immediately placed on administrative leave after he learned of the allegations at the beginning of the school year in late August.

The new accusations detailed by Maxwell for the first time Tuesday are the latest in a string of  alleged misconduct in the county’s school system.

Last month, the federal government stripped the county’s Head Start program of a $6.3 million grant after a review found educators used humiliation and corporal punishment on preschoolers.

Maxwell told reporters the past few months have been “very difficult” for the school system. He said an increase in reported misconduct could stem from increased training and other reforms put in place as part of a student safety task force established after the allegations against Carraway came to light.

“When people do not conduct themselves to our high expectations … if they do not love our children and care for our children and aren’t here to protect our children and teach our children, they are not going to continue to work with us,” Maxwell said.

But Maxwell is facing criticms from parents and school board officials for the delay in publicly disclosing some allegations of misconduct.

Prince George’s County school board member Edward Burroughs told WTOP he was caught by surprise by Maxwell’s announcement Tuesday about the principal at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary.

“He … announced to the media before even talking with members of the board that we have another incident of potential inappropriate behavior at a school, and it’s sickening,” Burroughs said.

He added, “He’s not addressed us about any of these issues prior to this moment. And I think it’s ridiculous.”

Burroughs suggested it may be time for Maxwell, who became the county’s schools chief three years ago, to step down.

“We wanted him to be successful,” Burroughs said. “And we gave him every opportunity to be open, honest and transparent. And he did not do it.”

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed reporting from Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

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