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John Huber


Prince George’s County Public Schools Calls for Transformation in an Open Letter to Yet-to-Be Named Superintendent

In a collaborative effort, the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association (PGCEA), the Association of Supervisory and Administrative School Personnel (ASASP), the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 2250 (ACE-AFSCME Local 2250), and the Service Employees International Union 400 (SEIU 400) have come together to address key issues within the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). They did so in an open letter to the yet to be named superintendent. With a new superintendent at the helm, they believe this moment presents an opportunity for the district to undergo a significant transformation into a world-class education system.

According to Dr. Donna Christy, Benjamin Pryor, Martin Diggs, and William Sellman of the previously mentioned organizations, three pressing issues demand the attention of the new superintendent: recruitment and retention, student behavior, and unsafe working conditions. Firstly, the district is grappling with over 2,000 vacancies in critical positions, leading to larger class sizes and inadequate support for students with special needs. To rectify this situation, the negotiated agreements with PGCPS must be fully implemented to compensate staff members who have taken on additional responsibilities due to the vacancies.

Addressing student behavior is another crucial concern. Instances of drug use, violence, and harassment have escalated, leaving educators feeling disrespected and powerless. To combat this issue, the coalition proposes a comprehensive evaluation of the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. This evaluation, carried out by a coalition of staff, students, and parents, will identify discrepancies and deficiencies in the handbook and pave the way for the creation of a clear and enforceable document that prioritizes student well-being and equips educators with the necessary tools to handle crises effectively.

Furthermore, the coalition recommends the establishment of dedicated staff at each school solely responsible for addressing student behavior and comprehensive training on restorative approaches for all staff members. The current implementation of restorative approaches is commendable but falls short of effectively addressing the scale of the crisis. A dedicated focus on student behavior is needed to create a supportive and restorative environment for both staff and students.

PGCPS staff members deserve a safe and healthy workplace that is free from violence, abuse, and exposure to hazardous materials, according to the writers. These conditions directly impact productivity, job satisfaction, and the overall quality of education provided. To ensure their well-being, the coalition emphasizes the importance of clear safety protocols, adequate supplies, workplace regulation training, regular maintenance, and whistleblower protections.

The coalition also highlights the need for a fully staffed Human Resources department to address the increasing interpersonal conflicts between staff and expedite the resolution of bullying, harassment, and Title IX complaints. Additionally, the ADA, Equity Assurance, and payroll offices must operate effectively, efficiently, and in a timely manner to support the well-being of the district’s 20,000 employees.

Recognizing that the challenges faced by the school system extend beyond the classroom, the coalition stresses the importance of embracing a community school shared governance model. Engaging parents and community organizations is essential for addressing the root causes of issues affecting the district. The coalition proposes enhancing efforts to educate the community about the after-school programs, food banks, and health clinics offered at the 109 community schools. This includes staffing the Office of Community Schools adequately, ensuring every community school has a coordinator and a liaison, and completing and publishing each school’s Community Needs and Assets Survey.

In a call to action, the coalition invites the new superintendent to engage in a dialogue to address these pressing issues collaboratively. By leveraging available resources, implementing effective strategies, and fostering a strong commitment, the coalition believes that investing in the workforce, prioritizing students’ social and emotional well-being, and improving the operation and climate of the schools will lead to significant improvements in the quality of education within PGCPS.

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The MEN was founded by John Huber in the fall of 2020. It was founded to provide a platform for expert opinion and commentary on current issues that directly or indirectly affect education. All opinions are valued and accepted providing they are expressed in a professional manner. The Maryland Education Network consists of Blogs, Videos, and other interaction among the K-12 community.