Amid abuse scandal, Prince George’s Co. schools hosts summit on safety, accountability

BOWIE, Md. — Plagued by student abuse and student sex abuse scandals, Prince George’s County public schools held a community summit Saturday to address safety and accountability.

“It is critical we discuss the issues openly and honestly,” said Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools system.

The summit was held at Ernest Everett Just Middle School in Bowie. Maxwell said the purpose of the summit is to hear from parents, staff and community members and together come up with solutions. He said school leaders were not shrinking away from tackling the problems but were working with parents and the community to fix the problems.

“These last several months have been very challenging and very sobering as our safety lapses have been identified,” he said.

Maxwell said the school system wants to keep students safe while providing them with a great education. He said not just school staff but everyone — parents, neighbors, church leaders and others — needs to know the warning signs and speak up about possible abuse.

Maxwell said once the school system is on the other side of these scandals and another school district finds itself dealing with the same problems, they would “look at Prince George’s County public schools and say, ‘Here’s a model of how you handle this kind of crisis.’”

Berniece Reese, president of the Prince George’s County PTA Council, said parents were angry with the school system, but she said progress is being made.

“It’s changed from finger-pointing to what are the next steps, what’s the plan,” she said.

She said parents’ voices are being heard and parents have a seat at the table. But progress did not mean school leaders have found all the answers — it just shows that they are all moving together to get there, she said.

“We see what we’re dealing with,” she said. “We’re ready to tackle it because we want our children to be safe.”

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