UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WUSA9) -- A scathing federal investigation of Prince George’s County’s Head Start Program found a three-year old was forced to mop his own urine, preschoolers were forced to hold boxes of heavy books overhead as punishment, and a five-year-old wandered home alone.
Federal Funding of the county’s Head Start Program will be suspended as a result of the shocking findings and a failure to take immediate corrective action, according to a letter sent to the school system by the federal Administration for Children and Families, which conducted the investigation after complaints were filed by parents.
The Prince George’s County School system can appeal, according to the letter. The incidents occurred at the Winship Wheatley Early Childhood Center, the James Ryder Randal Elementary School Head Start Center and the Langley Part McCormick Elementary School Head Start Center between December 2015 and June 2016.
In the Winship Wheatley incident a three-year old child was punished and humiliated after having a bathroom accident during nap time. The child was forced to mop up urine in front of classmates while still wearing wet clothes. A teacher took photos on a cell phone and texted them to the child’s parent. “LOL” one message said. “He worked that mop tho”, said another.“
The review found that a teacher humiliated a child and used a method of discipline denying him basic needs”, according to the federal report.
In another incident at James Ryder, “The review found that a teacher and an assistant teacher humiliated and used corporal punishment on two children as a method of discipline”, according to the report.
Preschool children at James Ryder were forced to hold boxes of heavy books overhead in front of classmates as punishment. If they failed, they were forced to start over. Cell phone photos were also taken and sent to parents, the report said.
In June of 2016, a five-year old walked home alone from the Langley Park McCormick Elementary School. After leaving the nurses office, the child wandered to an empty classroom. Finding no-one there, the child left the building unnoticed and went home.
School officials at one point “refused” to share documents on policies and procedures when federal investigators asked, the report said.