Superintendent promises more sexual abuse training for staff
Hill, interim principal to attend Benjamin Stoddert info night
Charles County Public Schools will train every employee regarding child sexual abuse through the Stewards of Children program, Superintendent Kimberly Hill said during her first school board address of the 2017-18 school year.
Hill addressed the impact of the charges against Carlos Bell, 30, of Waldorf, a former track coach and instructional assistant at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School who was recently charged with 119 counts related to the sexual abuse of children and possible HIV transmission. Authorities allege Bell victimized at least 24 children over the course of two years.
Bell came to the attention of authorities when a parent at La Plata High School, where he coached track, reported an inappropriate text message, but charges did not come until June when graphic images of Bell committing sexual abuse were allegedly found on his electronic devices which had been sent to the state crime lab.
Bell was reassigned to the central office pending investigation and told not to have contact with students. Bell was terminated after failing to show up to work at his new assignment.
“We are cooperating fully, as we have since December, with the officers investigating this heinous crime,” Hill said.
Hill also announced that she and Stoddert’s interim principal, Marvin Jones, will attend the second parent information night at the school on Aug. 16.
The first meeting was held on July 28 under then-principal Kenneth Schroek, and Hill did not attend. The first meeting was held in the format of small, facilitator-led focus groups, where parents were asked how they felt and how the school’s relationship with parents could be improved. The meeting became chaotic, with some parents storming out.
Schroek was removed from his position and transferred to the Office of Supporting Services three days later following the announcement of the 119-count indictment.
Hill said the format for the second meeting has been changed in response to parents’ comments.
Hill said the nonprofit Center for Children will be providing sexual abuse prevention training for administrators during the school system’s Leadership Institute next week.
Over the following month, every employee will be trained through the Stewards of Children program, a training system designed to teach adults how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse using real people and real stories, according to the website for Darkness to Light, a Charleston, S.C.based nonprofit aimed at ending child sexual abuse.
Similar trainings and presentations will be offered for parents during the fall and winter through parent-teacher organization meetings, Hill said.
Kenneth Savoid, a school crossing guard at Benjamin Stoddert, was the sole speaker during the public comments phase of Tuesday’s meeting and addressed the revelations of child sexual abuse at the school.
“I have to say, that I am appalled that this is going on here in Charles County,” said Savoid, a retired officer of the Prince George’s County Police Department and White Plains resident. “This is a problem that has resurfaced and gone on too long.”
Savoid addressed recent reports of child abuse in Prince George’s County Public Schools as well, saying, “I solemnly suggest that both you and Prince George’s County get it together and trade ideas.”