Prince George’s Co. Public Schools chief of staff steps down in Head Start aftermath

WASHINGTON — The Prince George’s County Public Schools superintendent asked his chief of staff to step down Wednesday after a series of scandals rocked the system, including the loss of a more than $6 million grant for Head Start earlier this year.

Superintendent Kevin Maxwell said Wednesday he asked Chief of Staff George Margolies to step down.

“I thank him for nearly 40 years of service in public education,” Maxwell said in a statement.

The school system did not disclose a specific reason for Margolies’ departure, but emails obtained by WTOP’s broadcast partners at NBC Washington detail Margolies’ argument with a school board member to keep Head Start issues off the board’s agenda.

In August, a report accused Prince George’s County Head Start educators of using humiliation and corporal punishment with its young attendees. The report resulted in federal officials cutting a $6.4 million grant for Head Start.

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

In the leaked emails, Margolies says Board of Education Vice Chair Carolyn Boston “put [him] on the defensive” about Head Start items appearing on a Board of Education agenda, and a “compromise” was reached where it would not directly appear on the document.

Of the compromise, Margolies said he has “scars on my back from yesterday to prove it.”

Boston gave the following statement to NBC Washington regarding Margolies’ resignation:

“I’m not shocked because we’ve gotten to that point on other occasions and I’ve stood my ground. We sometimes differ on what the board should and should not know.”

Margolies was appointed to the position in December 2013.

In addition to the Head Start grant loss, the school system has been fraught with scandal in 2016.

Most recently, police on Wednesday began investigating reports that a nurse not employed by the school system beat a special needs students on a school bus in the C. Elizabeth Rieg Regional School lot in Bowie, Maryland, on Sept. 1.

The incident comes weeks after allegations that a school bus aide for Prince George’s County Public Schools molested special needs students on a bus to and from James Ryder Randall Elementary School in Clinton, Maryland.

Also, a former teacher’s aide at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary 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.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said last week he doesn’t think Maxwell should lose his job.

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.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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