The Fight Continues in Baltimore

Jimmy Gittings, president of the Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association (PSASA), AFSA Local 25, is working tirelessly to uphold the reputation of all AFSA members and to ensure principals in the Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) are treated fairly. However, the relationship between principals and BCPS remains tense, as additional allegations of cheating on standardized test scores has led to 16 more principals currently being investigated.

In June 2011, Dr. Andrés Alonso, BCPS CEO, publicly accused two AFSA members, Marcy Isaac and Dr. Angela Faltz, of cheating to improve their students’ scores in the Baltimore City Public Schools’ testing program during the 2008–2009 school year. Gittings and AFSA stood beside their members throughout the allegations, charging the investigations were flawed and only revealed the deep underlying problems inherent in emphasizing test scores.

This hard work paid off when two hearing examiners recommended that all of Dr. Alonso’s charges be dismissed, stating that “several details emerged that point to the system’s ignoring critical information that could have contributed to the score declines and indicated that there was no proof of tampering.” Despite this brief victory, the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners has chosen to ignore the hearing officers’ recommendation to reinstate Isaac and Faltz with full back pay and benefits.

Isaac and Faltz are not the only administrators under attack as a result of cheating allegations. On Aug. 14, 2012, Dr. Alonso placed two of the 16 principals under investigation back into teaching positions. Then, after President Gittings expressed his concern for this action, two additional principals under investigation over test scores were demoted to teacher positions, even though the investigations are not yet completed and the principals have not had an opportunity to defend themselves.

PSASA also is protesting Dr. Alonso’s demotion of a number of principals despite the principals’ satisfactory evaluations.

President Gittings has received more than 100 e-mails and phone calls from active and retired administrators expressing their unwavering support and offering to do anything necessary to right these unjust actions against their colleagues.

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, a demonstration was held in front of Baltimore City Public Schools headquarters to show strong disappointment in the board of commissioners’ decision not to accept the recommendations of the two hearing officers. In addition, the demonstration sought to make Dr. Alonso aware the demotion of principals with satisfactory ratings is unacceptable.

“I feel sad that something like this can happen and that people can get away with these kinds of things,” said Faltz. “When you give your heart and soul and you genuinely care about what you do and then no one respects that and they just throw you out, so to speak, it’s a horrible feeling, devastating.”

AFSA stands behind Local 25 and continues to support the local’s efforts in any way possible. When school leaders unite, there is no end to what we can accomplish for our profession and the children we serve.