On Tuesday, October 4, CEO Kevin Maxwell hosted a Telephone Town Hall Meeting on student safety. Parents were invited to ask questions about plans to improve student safety in Prince George’s County Public Schools.
by Laura Rammelsberg
Speakers: Dr. Kevin Maxwell, CEO
Dr. Segun Eubanks, PGCPS Board of Education Chair
Rex Barrett, Director of Security
12,000 callers on the Telephone Town Hall
One of the largest school districts in the country
This is Dr. Maxwell’s 4th year as CEO of the district, and there was a lot of work that needed to be done since he became CEO. He wants safe classrooms and high quality education for all children. He was angered by all of these situations and his heart goes out to the children and families that have been mistreated.
Employees are being trained to know what to do, when to do it, and how to report. Some employees didn’t understand their responsibility in regards to reporting.
They are in the process of implementing goals set forth by the Student Safety Task Force.
Every one of the 131,000 students in the district deserved love, respect, a high quality education, and safety that they are entitled to and the School Board will take the steps to make sure that happens.
The district will move beyond this time stronger, safer more loving than it has ever been. But this will take work.
The School Board knows that they need to regain parents’ trust and they want and will work to gain it back.
Significant improvements have been made to school district security since Dr. Maxwell became CEO. Cameras at every school.
Security staff are in uniforms, so people know who they are. They train with the police department on active shooter response twice a year, do other training including conflict-resolution training. They do lockdown drills at different times of the day four times a year.
Recent events — social media threats. The police department has a system that intercepts threats to schools. “Say something, see something” campaign. Students and staff report suspicious activity. Many students told school about the current threat. Five arrests so far, and more arrests are coming. Additional police presence has been at all of the schools, so parents and children felt safe.
Questions and Answers
(answers provided by Dr. Maxwell unless indicated otherwise)
Q: Safety Communication — how is info given re: bomb scare or inappropriate action of staff towards students?
A: Dr. Maxwell agrees communication has not been great or timely. Administration has been reviewing timelines. In re: to bomb scares, they work with law enforcement, but they can’t release some information as investigations are sometimes ongoing.
Q: How is risk assessed at each school — people walking in & out?
A: They are assessing this at the moment.
Q: How are teachers protected against allegations?
A: The PGCPS has a responsibility to make sure children are safe first and foremost. Teachers will be removed if it is deemed that children are unsafe. They are working to make sure assessment and disciplinary action are taken in a timely manner.