PGCPS to lose federal funding for Head Start program

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. — A $6.3-million federal grant for Prince George’s County Public School (PGCPS) system’s Head Start program has been terminated after the agency responsible, the Administration for Children and Families, said the system failed to address deficiencies identified in a review earlier this year.

“We are working with the Administration for Children and Families regarding options,” said PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell. “Nonetheless, we are deeply troubled by the circumstances that led to this decision. A handful of people used unacceptably poor judgment that compromised children’s learning environments, personal well-being, and a program that has positively impacted countless lives in Prince George's County over many years."

The initial review was in February 2016 and was prompted by an incident at H. Winship Wheatley Early Childhood Center that happened in December 2015. The report states a 3-year-old boy wet himself during nap time and the teacher made him clean up the urine. The teacher also took photos of the boy and sent them to one of his parents, including “LOL” in the texts.

The ACF report stated “that a teacher humiliated a child and used a method of discipline denying him basic needs”.

In a follow-up review, the ACF found other incidents. In June 2016, it states two children in the program at James Ryder Randall Elementary School Head Start Center, who had been acting up during nap time, were made to hold boxes and books over their heads for several minutes.

"We still have work to do, clearly. I mean this incidences, they underline that with all the work that we’ve done, that we still have some people that we haven’t, apparently, gotten through to,” said Dr. Maxwell.

PGCPS has 30 days to appeal the decision, but Dr. Maxwell said they hadn’t made a decision if they will and wouldn’t say how the lost funding would be covered if they didn’t appeal or appealed and lost.

However, Dr. Maxwell said that PGCPS’ Head Start program will begin as scheduled on August 29 for the 932 children enrolled. He added that all the teachers and assistants listed in the ACF report would not be working in the program and are undergoing disciplinary reviews.