Hogan Refers Baltimore High School ‘Grade Fixing Program’ Audit to State’s Attorney, US Attorney’s Office – CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday referred an audit of what he called “a massive grade-fixing scheme in Baltimore City public schools” to the Maryland State Attorney and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Maryland for a criminal investigation and potential prosecution.

The Maryland Office of Inspector General of Education’s audit, released Tuesday, found more than 12,500 failing grades were replaced with passing grades at Baltimore high schools in the 2016-2020 school years. .

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“The report reveals a staggering level of disregard for the integrity of the education system and a clear lack of accountability at the highest levels. For years, the school system denied and dismissed grade-rigging allegations and tried to sweep it all under the rug,” Hogan said. “None of this should be happening in any school system, let alone one of the most funded large school systems in America. Everyone involved in this culture of corruption must be held accountable.

Investigators’ findings were based on a combination of documents, including emails exchanged by district and school staff, and interviews with educators and administrators, some of whom listeners said were reluctant to talk about afraid it will cost them their jobs.

“A culture of fear and a shroud of secrecy plagued the BCPS system and prevented many people from speaking freely about misconduct,” the report said. “Unfortunately, these actions have delayed the completion of this investigation and impeded the process of finding the truth.”

Patterson High School had the most grade changes (1,390), followed by Mergenthaler Technical Vocational High School (780) and Digital Harbor High School (592) during the period under review, according to the audit.

In a statement on Wednesday, the school system called the report “puzzling” and said the class change incidents “occurred more than 3 years ago,” before many current seniors were in high school. .

“Across 20 pages of the report, IOGE notes challenges in implementing changes to our policy, but it did not find any violations of law or financial irregularities,” the district said. “The cited incidents occurred largely before the policy change in 2019 and did not illustrate the system-wide pressure to change ratings.”

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Inspector General Richard P. Henry recommended that the Baltimore City Board of Schools Commissioners ask the Maryland State Board of Education and State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury to conduct an audit of ” effectiveness and efficiency” of the school system in the processing of grades.

But he went on to say that the audit identifies “areas of concern that would not constitute a criminal violation of state law.”

In the case of Patterson High, staff told auditors that district administrators had advised them “that no student should have a final numerical grade of 58 or 59,” and were instructed to change those grades. in 60%, or a D-. As one BCPS official put it, a student “shouldn’t be that close” to passing, saying it was “common sense” to change the grades of deserving students.

During the audit, the Office of Inspector General reviewed emails, including one dated February 18, 2018, which was sent to administrators. It reads: “Attached is a spreadsheet of students who received a final grade of 58 and 59 per cohort. Infinite Campus does not automatically round these grades to 60. To do so, please complete and sign the grade change form.

Auditors determined that 34 of the 57 students listed in the spreadsheet received grade changes that raised their grades from failing to passing, the report said.

In interviews with investigators, school administrators, including CEO Dr Sonja Santelises, denied knowledge of any pressure on principals to change classes. She said changing grades from failing to passing wouldn’t help principals as much as people think because North Avenue uses multiple data points to measure a school’s success.

After returning to the school system in 2016, Santelises, who served as director of studies from 2010 to 2013, said she initiated a “complete reset” of the system’s grading policy. In its statement, Baltimore City Public Schools said the changes, enacted in 2019, “ensure that our grading is fair, equitable, and accurately reflects the achievements of our students.”

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The school district said it welcomes an external review of grade changes made during the 2022-23 school year, “offering current data in a near-normal school environment.”

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