Hogan refers Baltimore grade-changing report to prosecutors
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — An inspector general’s report on grade-changing practices in Baltimore’s public high schools has “confirmed the existence of a massive grade-fixing scheme,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday as he announced referral of the findings to state and federal prosecutors.
The report was released this week by the Office of the Inspector General of Education, which initiated an investigation in September 2020. It was based on information provided in part by the former Office of Education Accountability alleging the school system had incorrectly documented and promoted students by changing failing grades.
The report found 12,542 examples where high school grades were changed from failing to passing between 2016 and the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
Richard Henry, the inspector general, wrote in the 28-page report that his office’s investigation “revealed a differing interpretation, application, and adherence to appropriate grade change procedures” among school staff at the teacher, principal and school system executive levels.
Still, Henry noted in the report that his office identified “issues of concern that would not constitute a criminal violation of state law.”
But the Republican governor said 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,” Hogan said. “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.”
The governor, who has often been at loggerheads with local Baltimore officials during his tenure, said that after a thorough review of the report, he was directing the Maryland state prosecutor to “investigate and prosecute any alleged criminal malfeasance that may have occurred.” Hogan also wrote that he was referring the matter to Maryland’s U.S. attorney because of federal funding the system receives.
Henry wrote in the report that the “misunderstanding, misapplication, and non-compliance of grade change procedures increased the risk of inappropriate grade changes, which could significantly impact graduation rates.”
He recommended the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners request the Maryland State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Schools issue an emergency procurement for an independent performance audit of the school system to evaluate the effectiveness of grading policies and procedures.
In response to the governor’s announcement Thursday, Baltimore City Public Schools said the system “was fully cooperative with the Maryland Office of the Inspector General ... during its nearly three-year exhaustive review into grading practices in City Schools.”
“We’ve also committed to a fresh audit of current grading outcomes during the 2022-23 school year,” the school system said in an email. “If they are interested, City Schools is open to sharing information and insight with other governmental entities, pursuant to their statutory authority, to ensure a clear understanding of student grading.”