Pr. George's Schools Security Chief Quits

By Nelson Hernandez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The chief of security for Prince George's County public schools, whose management and reporting of disciplinary incidents and crime are under investigation, has resigned, citing personal and family reasons, the superintendent said yesterday.

Russell P. Tedesco stepped down Friday, Superintendent John E. Deasy said. Members of the Board of Education said last month that they are investigating whether the security department has been accurately reporting security data and that they are examining a situation in which Tedesco worked in the same department as his wife.

Deasy said the audit of the security department is ongoing, but he declined to detail the reasons for Tedesco's departure.

"I do have his resignation," Deasy said. He said Tedesco is no longer working for the system. "He requested it due to personal and family reasons," Deasy said.

Deasy said Tedesco has been replaced in an acting capacity by Emory Waters, a school system employee.

Tedesco did not return calls to a home phone number in his name yesterday, and several school board members did not return calls. A man who answered the phone at the security department said Tedesco was not at work and referred questions to the school system's spokesman.

Deasy said that no memo announcing Tedesco's resignation had been circulated.

Tedesco, 59, had been security director since 1995. He was previously a Prince George's police officer. As the head of the school system security department, Tedesco supervised about 65 security officers responsible for policing a 131,000-student school system.

According to a report by the Maryland State Department of Education, Prince George's led Maryland's 24 jurisdictions in suspensions during the 2005-06 school year, having issued more than 22,000.

But a comparison of suspensions with incidents reported by the security office shows discrepancies in the reporting of school crime. The school system suspended 158 students for arson, fire and explosives violations in the 2005-06 school year, and the security office filed 13 such reports. The system suspended 148 students for sex offenses; the security office filed 20 such reports. The system suspended 492 students for having guns, knives and other weapons at school; the security office filed 311 such reports.

School board members said last month that they had called for the audit to make data on disciplinary and criminal incidents more available to the public and to reassure parents that the county's schools are safe. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, school systems must provide data on suspensions, expulsions and other disciplinary actions to the state. Any school deemed to be persistently dangerous under the federal law must give its students the option to transfer.

School board members said they are examining the employment of Tedesco's wife, Eileen, in the same department as her husband. She began working for the department before Tedesco came aboard. Deasy said yesterday that he thinks she is still employed by the school system.

Staff writer Candace Rondeaux contributed to this report.

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