Head Start: Eight Things We’ve Learned from the Latest Documents

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

report from WUSA 9 has uncovered new details about the Head Start situation. The news outlet has gained access to two new documents:

  • an email dated January 19, 2016 from the mother of the three-year-old who was allegedly forced to mop his own urine, addressed to seven PGCPS employees, including CEO Kevin Maxwell, Head Start Supervisor Sandra Kee, and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Gladys Whitehead
  • an email dated April 7, 2016 from Chief of Staff George Margolies, addressed to Gladys Whitehead, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Shawn Joseph, who was then serving as Deputy Superintendent

Here’s what we learn from the email written by the mother of the alleged victim:

  • CEO Maxwell was informed of the alleged abuse as early as January 19. He received an email that detailed the Head Start teacher’s treatment of the alleged victim and the aftermath.
  • This was not an isolated incident. The mother of the alleged victim writes that she had previously spoken to the Head Start teacher when she learned that the teacher had swatted her son on the bottom. She writes, “After getting on her she swore to never do it again, we were cool so I gave her a chance but she kept crossing the line!”
  • Another child in the same class was also humiliated by the teacher under similar circumstances. According to the mother who wrote the email, another student was also required to mop up her own urine. The teacher “kept calling her a baby” and did not let her eat her breakfast with the other children.
  • After the abuse was reported, the Head Start teacher was not immediately removed from the classroom. As of January 19, according to the mother of the victim, the teacher was “allowed to come right back to work like nothing ever happened.” The mother first reported the incident on December 22, 2015.
  • The mother was told by several PGCPS employees not to “alert the media and seek legal action.”

Here’s what we learn from the email from George Margolies:

  • Carolyn Boston, who is the Board of Education Vice Chair and also the Head Start liaison for the Board requested that Head Start be a specific discussion item at the April Board work session. George Margolies also writes that she inquired  “whatever happened to our discussion from a year ago about placing on the agenda of Board meetings a discussion of Head Start Advisory Council Meetings,” and that she “continued to push for a discussion item.”
  • Chief of Staff George Margolies successfully worked to keep a discussion of Head Start off of the agenda for the April Board of Education work session. Mr.Margolies and Ms. Boston reached an agreement that the Head Start Advisory Council Meetings would not be a discussion item at Board meetings, but that the minutes from the Head Start meetings would be posted in BoardDocs. Mr. Margolies writes that he has “scars on his back” from his efforts to reach this compromise.
  • Board Chair Segun Eubanks was at the agenda setting meeting where the compromise was reached. Christian Rhodes, Chief of Strategic and External Affairs, and Erica Berry, Board Executive Director, were also in attendance. Chair Eubanks helped to mediate the discussion between George Margolies and Carolyn Boston.

Documents below, via WUSA 9.

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