SUITLAND, Md. (DC News Now) — Concerned parents and residents showed up at Suitland Elementary School to discuss solutions to a safer space for students — and how to improve the school system.
The “State of the Schools” was hosted by District 7 County Council Member Krystal Oriadha. Organizers said that the goal was to hear from the community and try to develop policies that align with what residents want.
Many topics were discussed including school safety, truancy, the selection process for the new CEO search and more. Leaders like Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy, Police Chief Malik Aziz and more listened and chimed in the conversation.
“I just have overall concerns about safety and how that’s truly being addressed,” said parent Janna Parker.
Parker is a mother of two teens in Prince George’s County Schools. Just like many other parents and residents, she has concerns after hearing about three teens attacking and attempting to shoot another student on a school bus.
“I have concerns from the perspective of not just the children, but also our bus drivers, our workers, our teachers, a lot of times we have to think about this as a community issue holistically and we have to think about the safety of our residents as a whole,” she said.
Parents say they want to see more resources and support for students to prevent something like this from happening again.
“If we could have done something to change the course of those individuals’ lives to even think that that was appropriate and make sure that they did something other than that. That trauma could have been away from him as well,” said Parker.
The police department said that its SROs are very active in middle and high schools to prevent issues in the school system.
As for crime outside the school building, Police Chief Malik Aziz said the solution to the uptick requires everyone’s efforts.
“We are a team, we are 50/50. The police are not a single solution, the community is a greater solution,” he said.
Board of Education member Branndon Jackson shared that the school system is investing into safer security in schools.
“I think that definitely there’s room for improvement and PGCPS but I think that every segment of the community needs to be involved in the clergy to the business industry. Everybody has to be an all-hands approach village approach in order to tackle these problems in our community,” said Jackson.
The county is putting money towards after-school programs, violence prevention programs and support for parents.
“I think there’s more we can do. It’s all of us together coming together to fix the situation and to look at our children as a village that we’re all responsible for raising,” said Oriadha.
Parents were also concerned about the search for the new CEO for Prince George’s County Schools, Janna says she doesn’t believe the process was transparent enough.
“I really felt as though someone from the community or advocates or activists or even parents should have been on the search committee directly to ensure that they had a voice in regards to the new CEO search,” said Parker.
As for the school bus attack, police arrested the third suspect known as “Baby K.” He’s accused of attempting to shoot the teen on the bus. He is being charged as an adult and his bond hearing is set for Thursday.