BALTIMORE — School officials are responding to an alleged grading scandal in Baltimore City Public Schools.
An Inspector General report revealed that more than 12,500 grades were changed from failing to passing from 2016 to 2019.
School leaders provided some clarity on the findings with WMAR-2 News Brittney Verner.
“People see the big headline,” said Andre Riley, Baltimore City Public Schools Director of Communications. “They see 12,000 they think that’s today. No, that was in a period before we adjusted our grading policy.”
Riley said there has been a misunderstanding regarding the reason for the amount of grade changes they’ve seen between the 2016 to 2019 school years.
He said those grades were changed in alignment with their policy which was also in the process of changing.
“Students should have no questions that the grades that they received in Baltimore City Public Schools is rock solid,” Riley said.
In March of 2019, school leaders drove the city school policy change concerning grades and who was allowed to make the final decisions regarding them.
“Many times, it came down to students who were on the bubble and they were struggling and the teacher looked at that students performance and their effort and said you’re right there, let me issue make up work which our policy allows,” Riley said.
Riley said each of the 12,000-plus grade changes were on a case by case basis.
The Office of Inspector General report looked at nearly 130 Baltimore City Schools between grades 6 through 12, investigations from the findings showed some people alleged they were being pressured by the upper administration to change grades.
WMAR-2 News asked school leaders about it.
“When you’re instituting a policy, you go through different stages,” Riley said. “You have the rules and you have how the staff adapt to the rules and what you saw in that report is how we were adapting to the rules.”
Governor Hogan commented on the OIGE’s findings stating that he has referred the report on wide-spread grade changing practices in Baltimore city schools to the Maryland state prosecutor and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland for a criminal investigation and potential prosecution.
“I think there’s been an ongoing awareness of the problem and different people with the responsibility looking into it,” Hogan said.
Meanwhile, Maryland House Republicans took it a step further 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 said 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."
However, city school leaders said all of the grading decisions were in alignment with their policy.
“There was no criminal wrongdoing that was found in that report there were no financial impropriety,” Riley said. “If anything, it reflects the growing pains of you change the policy to do what was right for kids.”
Moving forward, city school leaders said they are collecting information from the 2022 to 2023 school years to conduct and audit on their grading procedures in an effort to remain transparent for their students, staff and the community.