Readers of TheBlaze no doubt recall the story earlier this month about a Baltimore high school student who made it to his senior year passing only three courses with a 0.13 grade point average — and yet was ranked near the top half of his class at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts.
Then he got sent back to the 9th grade — and more than that, his mother said she never knew.
Well, the plot has been thickening.
Turns out Baltimore City Schools launched an investigation into "irregularities" at Augusta Fells in the summer 2019 and placed the principal and assistant principal on administrative leave, WBFF-TV reported, citing a statement from the district.
But the station said the statement doesn't say that the principal and assistant principal remained on the payroll, to the tune of $365,000 so far.
More from WBFF:
According to online records, former principal Tracy Hicks retired in January 2021. That's 17 months after North Avenue launched the investigation into her school, which still is not complete. Based off her 2018 salary, in those 17 months, Hicks earned nearly $190,000. The assistant principal, Joy Kwesiga, still works for City Schools and is on administrative leave. Since the investigation began, she's earned $175,000. Combined, taxpayers have paid about $365,000 to the administrators of Augusta Fells, as their school has been under investigation.
What did the school district have to say?
The station said Baltimore City Schools issued the following statement:
As part of City Schools' proactive steps upon discovering the issues at Augusta Fells, the principal and one assistant principal were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation and a new principal was brought in. As required by both U.S. Constitutional Law and Maryland Law, when individuals are placed on administrative leave, they are still active employees who are entitled to their pay. This is a step that supports an employee's due process. The former principal has since left the district and is no longer on payroll. The assistant principal remains on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation and disciplinary process, which is expected to be concluded in the coming weeks.
WBFF's Project Baltimore investigative unit said it attempted to contact former Principal Hicks through multiple emails and phone numbers but didn't hear back. Same deal after it mailed her a letter. So a station reporter went to her last known address in Hanover, Pennsylvania, and knocked on the door — and no one answered, WBFF said.
A neighbor told the reporter Hicks moved but offered her cell phone number — and again, the station said it hadn't heard back.
WBFF also said it didn't heard back from assistant principal Kwesiga.
'They do what they're told to do'
Back in September 2019 after Hicks was placed on leave, Jimmy Gittings — president of the principals' union — talked about Hicks, who was also a union officer, WBFF reported.
"Let me be very careful about this. That's why our principals might be doing things that upper management, the public might question," Gittings told the station at the time. "They have no other choice. Either they do what they're told to do, and either be punished for it, or don't do it and get punished."
Gittings also told WBFF that principals are under pressure to improve school data, such as graduation rates and attendance, but aren't always provided the resources to do it — so they have to find other ways.
"You will not get me to publicly or privately say that our principals are doing something that is not right, let's put it that way. Our principals are doing everything possible to ensure that our students are receiving the best education possible. And if they go about it in their way to make sure that a student receives the best education possible, it shouldn't be questioned," he added to the station. "They should not be chastised or punished for it."
Gittings declined to speak to WBFF this time around due to family issues, the station said.
(H/T: Hot Air)