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Grade changing allegations at city school, educators say "Shut It Down"

Grade changing allegations at city school, educators say "Shut It Down"

BALTIMORE, Md. (WBFF) -- A Project Baltimore investigation has uncovered serious allegations of grade changing at a Baltimore City school.

Fox45 sat down with educators from Northwood Appold Community Academy II or NACA II.

We’re disguising their identities because of the nature of the allegations and because they fear retaliation.

These educators say seniors who failed courses required for graduation were still given diplomas.

Project Baltimore attended the graduation ceremony in June, where 44 men and women from NACA II walked across the stage. But it’s a diploma that many of the graduates, according to their own teachers, may not have earned.

“Some earn the grades, some don’t,” says one educator at NACA II who claims a number of students failed a required course and were still able to graduate. “What I did, was I put the grades in. If someone changed the grades, that was on them.”

“You’re doing a disservice to the kids,” says another NACA II educator. “When they get out there in real world, they cannot compete, because they are not prepared.”

NACA II is a transformation school, which means it funded with taxpayer dollars like a traditional school but it’s run by an independent operator. It has 17 teachers, according to school district data. Fox45 spoke to three of them, who said grades are being changed so students can graduate.

“It’s not fair to the parent of the student. It’s not fair to us as a community,” says one of the teachers.

Project Baltimore obtained final grades, as submitted by a teacher, and report cards from NACA II. We found one student who failed physics and a foreign language senior year, both required courses, yet still walked across the stage. Another student graduated after being absent or late to school more than 100 days during the year, and had a first quarter GPA of 0.000. We found six seniors who failed Spanish II, another required class, yet every one graduated.

“If you graduate a certain number, from my understanding, the doors of the school stay open,” says our source. “If you keep the enrollment numbers up, it keeps money coming in.”

Baltimore City Schools are mostly funded based on student enrollment, and Project Baltimore learned enrollment at NACA II is down 12 percent in four years.

NACA II Student Enrollment (6-12)

2014: 346

2015: 327

2016: 328

2017: 303

Source: Baltimore City Schools Profile

When presented with a program from NACA II’s graduation ceremony, one educator replied, “A lot of these students never came to school. I don’t know how they got away with walking across the stage.”

To find out, Project Baltimore spent weeks tracking down NACA II’s operator Dr. Cecil Gray, who is also the pastor of Northwood-Appold United Methodist Church in North Baltimore. After more than a dozen phone calls and emails requesting an interview, we received a three sentence statement from Gray’s attorney. It reads:

"Vehemently, the allegations are denied as patently false! However, the great news is that 100% of the 44 graduating seniors, from NACA's 2017 graduating class, matriculated, receiving their high school diplomas meeting all of the state mandated requirements. NACA and its Board of Directors look forward to the upcoming school year and its continued success." - Scherron Joseph Lee: Law Office of Russell A. Neverdon, Sr., LLC

As for the school’s Principal, Dr. Angela Seaton, who retired from the District in June, Fox45 never received an official response to our questions about alleged grade changing at her school. After a half-dozen phone calls and emails, Project Baltimore went to her house.

We knocked and waited. Her attorney, Roland Brown, eventually showed up. Despite Dr. Seaton being in the house, Brown said she was not available to speak with us. He told us his client has been an educator in Baltimore City for four decades and has done nothing wrong. We showed him the report cards that we wanted to show the principal.

“She will not be a scapegoat for a system that is alleged to be dilapidated,” said Brown. “She has done nothing wrong. She’s broken no policies. No procedures. She has followed them to a T.”

“The system has failed our children and we are allowing it to continue,” says one of the educators who spoke to Project Baltimore.” When asked if NACA II should remain open, the educator replied, “Absolutely not.”

“I really think it should be closed,” adds the other educator. “Yes. [The students deserve] much better. Much better.”

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