For the last several years, we have been covering the grade-changing scandal in Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS). Administrators, teachers, and parents continue to come forward about the widespread fraud that allows children to graduate, even though they've missed school or failed classes.
Project Baltimore, who has spearheaded the investigation into BCPS fraud, has uncovered another school where students missed more than 100 days of class or failed ten courses in three years, still graduated during the 2019 school year.
City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises accuses Project Baltimore of “sensationalism” and has “violated even the lowest standard of decency.” Fox45 requested an interview with Dr. Santelises concerning the allegations; we haven’t heard back. https://t.co/ARaC73uyxt— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) September 17, 2019
The school in focus is called Joseph C. Briscoe, and it's a special needs school with just 79 students. The budget for the school is $4.3 million, which means on any given school year, the city spends $54,524 per pupil. By comparison, the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, a top BCPS high school, spends about $7,000 per student.
"That should be the number one goal that they get the right education," a Briscoe teacher told Project Baltimore.
Project Baltimore said the teacher who has come forward about the fraud doesn't want to be identified because she fears BCPS will retaliate.
She said, Joseph C. Briscoe is a troubled school with at least 89% of its students were "chronically absent." The four-year graduation rate is at 5%, the teacher said students need help, but BCPS is making sure they are just pushed through.
"If they can't read and you're not giving them a type of trade or skill, and you're pushing them through the system, where will that leave them at once they graduate or get the certificate from the school, in life? Like how will they survive?"
The teacher said six students graduated this year, one student was late 110 days his senior year and failed science. But his transcript shows he passed with a D-.
"The diploma is getting devalued," said the teacher who claims to have witnessed grades being changed. "So, the diploma value is not worth a lot."
Project Baltimore received a secret recording of a conversation from inside the school shortly before graduation this year. The transcript below shows how administrators altered the grades of one student so he could pass.
"He couldn't have any work because he wasn't here," says someone in the recording.
When it was explained the student never did extra work, the question is asked, "What can we do?"
The response was, "So, we have to do a grade change? Is the final grade in there right now?
"Yes," someone replies.
The teacher told Project Baltimore that the student who had their grade change didn't deserve the grade. His report card showed he failed ten classes in the last three years and missed an abnormal amount of days but still received a certificate of program completion. "Certificates are listed in Maryland law as an alternative to the traditional diploma. They don't count toward a school's graduation rates, but students can take part in the ceremony," said Project Baltimore.
The student in focus said he missed 110 days of school his senior year out of 180 total days. When asked if he felt like he deserved to graduate, the student answered, "Not really."
He went on to state, "I understand what you're saying, but I'm actually happy. To be honest, I didn't think I was going to make it."
Project Baltimore requested an interview with BCPS administrators; instead, they received this statement:
"We received your request for an interview about Joseph C. Briscoe Academy. Since then, we learned that a reporter from the station went to the homes of Joseph C. Briscoe alumni, intruding on their privacy. We understand the reporter has confidential student records and directly questioned the students. We are investigating how these records may have been received. We also disagree with the reporter's approach to this story. Given this context, we are denying your request for an interview at this time."
Project Baltimore is associated with WBFF 45, a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Baltimore and serves as the flagship station of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a pro-Trump, conservative company. Project Baltimore has been used by WBFF 45/Sinclair to expose fraud in the democrat controlled city.