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Baltimore City School District Misses Deadline
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January 18, 2013
Baltimore city school officials did not meet an administrative hearing judge’s noon deadline today to turn over documents related to the district’s investigation of alleged test cheating at schools. The documents were requested by the attorneys for two administrators at Abbottson Elementary, who were accused of cheating on state standardized exams two years ago and fired. WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn reports.
The Public School Administrator’s union has spent nearly two years fighting to have Abbottson Elementary’s principal and assistant principal reinstated immediately and with back pay. There is an appeal hearing scheduled for February 18th. James Gittings is the union’s president.
We’re probably right now a half million dollars in debt behind this case.
Gittings has accused district officials of hampering their efforts by being slow to produce documents and pointed to today’s missed deadline. Among other documents, the union had asked for the report of a data forensics firm, hired in September to reviews thousands of test booklets from schools suspected of cheating, including Abbottson.
There’s evidence that our attorneys have requested and it has not been given to us from the Baltimore City Public School system. They’re withholding very vital evidence that would have a very key outcome on the decision that this judge would make.
The case centers on the firings of Abbottson’s principal of twelve years Dr. Angela Faltz, and her assistant principal and test coordinator, Marcy Isaac, even though two independent attorneys hired by the district found no evidence of cheating.
The lawyers recommended that both administrators be rehired with back pay. The school board voted not to rehire Isaac, and to rehire Faltz, but only in September 2013 and with no back pay. Gittings lambasted the board for bending to the will of schools CEO Dr. Andreas Alonso.
What they did was they were literally soothing the ego of Dr. Alonso. They didn’t want him to look as though he was wrong.
When Faltz became principal in 1998, the school’s test scores were low. She says they improved sharply from about 2003 to 2007. But in the 2008-2009 school year, they dropped by more than 30 points and Alonso alleged cheating. Faltz, who was selected by the district and a Johns Hopkins leadership program to mentor other school principals, denies that any cheating took place.
To this day we’re still taking a look at that to pinpoint exactly what was going on because it was a combination of things. Yes, we did have a new influx of students, we had new teachers, we had many factors that would possibly be the reason for the test scores dropping.
In the meantime, Faltz says she’s relying on her husband’s income to help pay her attorney’s fees.
It’s costing thousands of dollars that I don’t have. And we are right now just trying to just keep our lights on and not lose our home and everything that we worked so hard for.
Faltz grew up in Baltimore, attended city public schools and has grandchildren enrolled in the district. She’s spent more than thirty years working in the district and says she wants to go back.
It has just been a wear and tear on me emotionally and physically I mean, just to be accused of something that you didn’t do and to be taken out so abruptly is devastating. And I just want all of this to be over.
In an email message a school spokesperson said the report the administrative judge ordered them to turn over today was not available and that they do not comment on pending litigation. An administrative judge said the district could be sanctioned for missing the deadline.
I’m Gwendolyn Glenn reporting in Baltimore for 88 1, WYPR.
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