Pr. George’s bars 6 Head Start staffers from working with kids

WASHINGTON — The Prince George’s County Head Start educators accused of using humiliation and corporal punishment with its young attendees will no longer be in front of any child in the school system, the county school system’s leader announced Thursday.

Last month, a report from the director of Head Start at the Department of Health and Human Services detailed what it called “deficiencies” by the school system to correct teacher behavior involving Head Start instructors who improperly disciplined children as young as 3. The report resulted in federal officials cutting a $6.4 million grant for Head Start.

Six educators directly involved in the incidents will no longer be in front of any child in the school system, said Kevin Maxwell, Prince George’s County Schools chief executive officer, on Thursday.

“Our message is clear: We will not tolerate this type of behavior. Our schools will cultivate teaching and learning environments that prioritize students’ well-being — and we will act swiftly to remove individuals who do not uphold these ideals,” Maxwell said in a statement.

Maxwell said he doled out disciplinary actions against certified teachers, classroom aides and an administrative supervisor. He did not specify which disciplinary measures were taken.

The review found in December 2015, a Head Start teacher ordered a 3-year-old to clean up his own urine and another incident in June where teachers ordered children to hold boxes with heavy objects over their heads when they misbehaved.

The behavior “violated our students’ rights and dignity and betrayed parents’ trust,” Maxwell said.

The county school system is working to prevent future cases like this through a Student Safety Task Force, he said.

Denver-based Community Development Institute has been tasked with running the Head Start program until a permanent agency is chosen.

An early childhood learning program, Head Start is largely funded with federal dollars. More than 930 Prince George’s County students between the ages of 3 and 5 participate in the Head Start program.

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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