Representative Donna Edwards called for new victims of Prince George's County Head Start to come forward, and for an independent investigation of the school system.
She made the announcement following the county board of education vote Thursday not to appeal a decision by federal auditors to withhold $6.4 million in grant money used by the county to run Head Start.
The funds were cut off following a scathing report that revealed two cases of child abuse at Head Start centers around Prince George's County in 2015 and 2016, and the failure of school system officials to correct the problems.
“Incidents such as these do not exist in a vacuum. They are indicative of a systemic breakdown within the entire leadership chain that has placed children in danger,” Edwards said in a statement.
“I urge any other families who have experienced such mistreatment to come forward and report their children's experiences so that a thorough, independent investigation can root out the bad actors, at every level of leadership,” Edwards said. “Anyone who ignored a problem, minimized abuse, or in any way interfered with the investigation of allegations of abuse and neglect of our children must go.”
Edwards’ call for action was echoed by dissident board of education member Edward Burroughs, who said the board Chairman Segun Eubanks and Vice Chairman Carolyn Boston should resign.
Burroughs and five other board members accused leaders of covering up the situation by burying reports in the minutes of another board’s meeting, and failing to put the matter on the public agenda.
Denver-based contractor Community Development Institute is being brought by federal grant administrators to run the Prince George’s Head Start program, which starts school Monday.
The out-of-state contractor is now in charge of management, hiring and oversight. The 150 Head Start teachers and staff will remain employed by the county school system for now, but that situation could change, officials close to the situation said.