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Hogan calls for criminal investigation into "grade-fixing scheme" within Baltimore City Public Schools

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Posted at 12:09 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 09:18:10-04

BALTIMORE — Fallout continues from an investigative report that revealed a massive "grade-fixing scheme" within Baltimore City Public Schools.

The report released June 7 found that 12,552 grades were changed from failing to passing, potentially hiking the system's graduation rate

On Thursday, Governor Larry Hogan asked the Maryland State Prosecutor to investigate any alleged criminal conduct that may have taken place during the scandal.

"The report reveals a staggering level of disregard for the integrity of the educational system and a clear lack of accountability at the highest levels. For years, the school system has denied and dismissed allegations of grade fixing, and tried to sweep it all under the rug," said Hogan. "None of this should be allowed to happen in any school system, let alone in one of the most highly funded large school systems in America. All involved in this culture of corruption must be held accountable."

Hogan also cited federal funding that Baltimore City Schools receive annually.

He now wants the United States Attorney's Office in Maryland to investigate whether there was any fraud involved.

The report's findings came from a review of nearly 130 Baltimore City Schools, between grades 6 through 12.

RELATED: Baltimore City Public Schools changed more than 12,000 grades from failing to passing

It alleges that principals and assistant principals were pressured from higher-ups at City School headquarters on North Avenue, and they in turn passed that pressure onto teachers in the classroom.

MORE: 'No criminal wrongdoing': Baltimore City Public Schools responds to IG's report on 12,000+ grade changes

The report lists Patterson High School as having the highest number of failing grades changed, with 1,390 over five years.

Merganthaler (780), Digital Harbor (480), and Vivian T. Thomas (419) rounded out the top four.

“Beyond the legal implications, there has been a clear moral failing by school administrators who appear more concerned with their own image than with the well-being of their students," said Hogan. "Too many Baltimore City children have been denied the education they deserve and robbed of opportunities to thrive and succeed. This scandal has broken the bonds of trust between city officials and parents, students and taxpayers.”

The report is hardly the first time City Schools have come under fire for their grading.

Less than a year ago, the system issued its own investigative report detailing how former leaders at one school schemed to alter student attendance, grade average, and graduation rates.

That came after school administrators announced a new policy that would no longer make failing students repeat their grade levels.

Following this latest report Maryland House Republicans went a step further than Hogan, by not only calling for City Schools Superintendent Sonja Santelises to resign, but also for the State Board of Education to takeover Baltimore City's Public Schools System.

“Baltimore City Public Schools have been plagued with scandal and have been failing students for decades. This grading scheme is only one episode in a series of problems," House leaders wrote in a letter to the State Superintendent of Schools and Board of Education. "Ghost students, students not receiving adequate medical care, drops in student performance, instances of PTSD among City school teachers; an ever-growing and disturbing list of failure and outright danger exist in the Baltimore City Public School system."

Meanwhile city school leaders are still defending their grading decisions, denying any criminal wrongdoing.

“There was no criminal wrongdoing that was found in that report there were no financial impropriety,” said Andre Riley, Baltimore City Public Schools Director of Communications. “If anything, it reflects the growing pains of you change the policy to do what was right for kids.”