“Ghost Students” In Baltimore City Schools. It’s Not Halloween.

Baltimore City Public Schools are in the news again, and not for the right reasons.

Following on the heels of two explosive reports where students were passed on to graduate with failing grades, and reports of inflating grades comes a new allegation: “ghost students.”

BALTIMORE (WBFF) — A former Baltimore City Schools principal says she believes there’s an organized effort in City Schools to push kids through the system at any cost, even if it means enrolling them in classes that don’t exist. The allegations come as the school district is under fire over so-called ghost students, and now, ghost classes.

Angel Lewis tells Fox45 News she was recruited by Baltimore City Schools in 2016 and brought in to help a troubled school east Baltimore. She says North Avenue knew about ghost student and ghost classes, years ago, because she told them.

Lewis has watched over the past few months as Project Baltimore exposed the massive scandal at Augusta Fells Savage in west Baltimore. For her, it seemed all too familiar.

“I believe that it is happening at many schools,” Lewis told Project Baltimore.

North Avenue, earlier this month, released the explosive findings of its internal investigation into Augusta Fells. Those findings confirmed six months of Project Baltimore’s reporting, finding grades were improperly changed while upwards of 100 students had questionable enrollment status. The report also found Augusta Fells students were enrolled in classes that did not exist, which Lewis says was happening at her school, Claremont Middle/High School in east Baltimore.

“I had already reported this information. And so that’s why I can emphatically say City Schools was absolutely aware of it,” Lewis told Project Baltimore.

Lewis is currently suing Baltimore City Schools for wrongful termination. She claims North Avenue violated state whistleblower protection laws because when she got to Claremont in 2016, she began reporting what she found at the school under the previous principal, Kamala Carnes. She says, at the time she inherited the school, she had five deceased students enrolled on paper.

“Several staff members, they actually went through the roster with me and let me know who had attended, who never attended, who was deceased,” Lewis told Project Baltimore.

By keeping students enrolled, a school can increase the funding it receives from taxpayers. At Claremont, that included students who were dead.

“One of the teachers even mentioned to me that she attended the funeral,” said Lewis.

When Lewis took over, she says 130 students were enrolled at Claremont, but only about 30 were attending the school. Ghost students, as they’re called by educators, are only enrolled on paper.

The State of Maryland pays the Baltimore City School system $18,000 per student. If those students don’t exist, that’s a hefty increase in funding.

An ongoing investigation by the State Inspector General for Education has come up with three major findings as to the shenanigans going on in the Baltimore City Schools:

— Over the three-year period, about 100 students remained on the rolls but didn’t attend the school. School staff corrected the enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year, but about 70 instances remain when “suspicious actions” by staff resulted in the school getting funding for 52 students that “could not be documented or validated.”

Funding for schools is based on a per-pupil model, so when the enrollment is inflated more money is dispersed to the school than should be. The report notes that the Maryland State Department of Education audited city enrollment in 2017 and 2019, including records at Augusta Fells Savage, and found no problems.

— Administrators pressured staff and teachers to change student grades. In some instances, teachers were ordered to grade exams on a curve to ensure students passed, or recalculate grades based on makeup work that students turned in late.

— The school operated evening and summer courses designed to allow students to make up credits, but the courses didn’t meet standards. In some cases, unqualified teachers were assigned to teach the classes, and in other cases staff were named as teacher of record for a class they never taught. Some students were given work packets to complete to earn credit rather than attend class. Central office staff caught the problems in some instances and declined to give the student a course credit.

What is sad about this is that 63% of the students in the City Schools are black. (27% are white, 4.2% Hispanic, 2.5% Asian.)

So with cratering grades, fraud and deception throughout the system, what does the School District do?

They create an “Office of Equity” under an “Equity Policy” that was created in 2019 when of the illegal activities in the school system were ongoing.

The stated goal of the policy is to, in part:

1. Establishes a common definition for the following terms: educational equity, equity lens, and racial equity

2. Publicly acknowledges the role of school districts in perpetuating institutional racism 
3. Commits the district to “disrupting and dismantling” institutional racism 
4. Sets specific directives related to 4 themes:  
1. Disrupting and Eliminating Systemic Inequities 
2. Honoring Culture, Experiences, & Humanity of Students, Families & Community 
3. Ensuring Access & Representation in Academic Programming 
4. Building Staff Capacity for Equity-based Teaching and Leading

We had to say this because we don’t like looking at people through a racial lens, but the majority of students are black. The majority of teachers are black. The majority of Administrators at the school and district level are black.

If there is “institutional racism” in the City Schools it is because the black leaders have perpetuated it upon other black students and families.

We have always heard that minorities cannot be racists, but in this case, clearly they can be.

And are.

We laughed when we read this from the “Office of Equity:”

The overarching goal of Baltimore City Public Schools’ equity work is to change outcomes for young people so that race is no longer a predictor of academic success.

So does that mean that the “Office of Equity” and the Baltimore City Public Schools are committed to raising the number of failing grades of all students, as raising failing grades grades seems to be the outcome of “academic success.” Does it mean that “ghost students” will be listed as the same demographic ratios?

Or does it mean that the Baltimore City Public Schools are committed to pulling every student down to a lower academic achievement level so all the students don’t learn and aren’t proficient in anything?

Don’t tell us that “equity” and “critical race theory” is unimportant in schools and that it increases proficiency and better prepares students for success in life.

As for the people who lied on forms and sought to register students that don’t exist, there is a question as to whether the School System should have to pay the State of Maryland back. It is our opinion that the School system should do just that. However, the money should not come from taxpayers as they have already paid the bills.

It should come out of the pockets of the teachers and administrators that perpetrated the fraud on the people and students.

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