Corruption Watch

from the Baltimore Sun

A two-year Baltimore City school system investigation has found that administrators at one city high school schemed to inflate enrollment, pressured teachers to change grades and scheduled students into classes that didn’t exist.

The report is a devastating account of how the former principal of Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts, Tracy Hicks, and three other administrators fabricated courses and approved students for graduation when they had failed to legitimately pass classes. While the report does not determine a motive, principals are evaluated on graduation and attendance rates.

As a result of the scheme, at least 15 students improperly earned passing grades from the West Baltimore school — including some who may have earned enough credits for graduation based on those improper grades. The city school system is now discussing with the Maryland State Department of Education whether it will have to reimburse the state for money it received to educate students enrolled in the school on paper, but who didn’t actually attend classes.

“It is crushing. It is disgusting ... It is the antithesis of what we stand for,” said city school system CEO Sonja Santelises. “The fact that people think so little of our children and our educators that they take shortcuts that ultimately undermine not only the public’s confidence in our schools, but mostly that shortcuts the confidence” students have in themselves. 

Santelises said when students are told to sign up for classes that aren’t held or their grades are changed it signals to them that the school doesn’t believe they are capable of completing the work, and that, she said, is particularly harmful to students.

Efforts to reach Hicks by phone, email and social media were unsuccessful. Complete Story at Baltimore Sun