Unsafe in the classroom, teachers describe culture of fear in city school

Unsafe in the classroom, teachers describe culture of fear in city schoolUntitled.png

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - A Baltimore city school is coming under fire from its own employees. They described to Project Baltimore a culture of fear that has taken hold inside the school, which makes it nearly impossible for them to teach and for the students to learn - because most report not feeling safe in the classroom.

“It’s not an environment conducive to learning,” one teacher told Fox45.

“The school climate to me is not indicative of a true school,” added another educator.

These two educators are talking about their own school. Northwood Appold Community Academy II, or NACA II.

“I think the enrollment rate of the mice is higher than the students.”

“The truth needed to be told about what was going on with the children.”

They asked us to disguise their identities because they are worried speaking out may come with consequences and retaliation.

“Fear. Basically,” one of the teachers explained. “Fear of tarnishing my reputation. They are known for causing trouble.”

That is a fear only matched by the threat these educators say they faced every day inside the building.

“It’s violent in there,” the teacher stated.

“Every day there’s three or four fights in the school. Fires are being set,” recalled the other. “One student threw a book at a teacher and hit her in the eye.”

Project Baltimore analyzed school surveys for NACA II, which are filled out by students. Based on a scale of 1-100, 100 being the best, students are asked a series of questions, including if they feel safe in the classroom. At NACA II, 40 percent said yes. The district average nearly twice that, at 70 percent.

When asked if the “school is clean” just 19 percent felt it was. It’s 50 percent, throughout the District.

We also found only 24 percent of students surveyed they would stay at NACA II if given the option to leave.

“It’s a very bad atmosphere,” said the educator. “It’s unhealthy for the students to be there.”

One of NACA II’s goals, according to its mission statement online, is to provide a secure, safe, orderly and clean learning environment. But these teachers say that’s not the focus, finding any way to graduate seniors is.

One of the teachers told us of a student who was found with a pound of marijuana in his locker a few weeks before graduation. Project Baltimore isn’t identifying the student because disciple records are sealed. But we did find a lengthy criminal record for him outside of school. He is currently awaiting trial on 32 felony and misdemeanor charges related to armed carjacking last November. He’s out on $250,000 bail. Yet, he was allowed back in the school and walked at graduation.

“The kids are incapable of learning, because they are not held accountable to learning,” explained one teacher.

“I’m quite embarrassed,” concluded the other “I feel sorry for the kids because they really do not realize what they are up against.”

For weeks, Project Baltimore has been reaching out to NACA II’s operator Cecil Gray and his attorney. We have not received any response to this story, but in a previous statement his lawyer told us Gray vehemently denies the grade changing allegations that initially lead us to his school.

Due of the internal investigation launched by North Avenue, the Baltimore City school district is no longer commenting on NACA II. The principal, also through her attorney, denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

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