Upper Marlboro, MD – After federal probes encountered multiple allegations of abuse within the Prince George’s County Schools, funding for the Head Start Program was cut.
Head Start, a school program to provide education, nutrition and involvement for low income families, may have been entirely removed from Prince George’s County, causing them to lose out on over $6 million in federal funding. The decision was made following reports of teachers abusing children as young as 3 years old through humiliation and corporal punishment. The report, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, will be the primary reason for suspending the Head Start Program.
One incident at H. Winship Wheatley Early Childhood Center alleged that a 3-year-old was forced to mop up urine with their own clothes after a bathroom accident. In another case, a teacher at James Ryder Randall Elementary forced two boys to stand up and hold heavy boxes over their heads as punishment, with one report stating that the punishment lasted as long as five minutes. A third incident came in the form of outright neglect, as children went unsupervised for nearly an hour, leading one 5-year-old to cross a street and walk all the way home.
A statement was eventually provided through the schools in Prince George’s County:
“Prince George’s County Public Schools and the Prince George’s County Board of Education received official notice Monday, August 15 that our Head Start program grant was terminated due to failure to ‘timely correct one or more deficiencies. We are reviewing options with the Administration for Children and Families regarding Head Start. The program will begin as planned on Monday, Aug. 29. Our goal is for children and families to have uninterrupted access to the Head Start program and services.”
“I have asked Dr. Maxwell to address this matter immediately and I have confidence that he and the Board of Education will ensure that the families of the 932 children in the program do not lose this valuable and important educational service,” said Prince George’s County’s Rushern Baker.
The loss of the program would affect low-income families the most, as Head Start is a program designed to give economically disadvantaged students equal access to daycare and pre-schooling. The goal is to maintain access to some form of program that could help give access to low-income families. Private Head Start providers may be considered in order to keep the opportunity open despite the problems in Prince George’s County’s program.