April 11, 2019

Expelling Corruption From Government Schools

A Sinclair investigation in Baltimore provides a template for the rest of the nation.

If a socially responsible media outlet wants to expose urban government corruption across the nation, start in a city that is imploding under the weight of institutional corruption: Baltimore, Maryland. And if you want to expose the most consequential corruption in that city, start with how its education bureaucracy is failing students. And if that city stonewalls your inquiry, hire a good legal team to tear down that wall.

When Baltimore’s FOX45 affiliate of Sinclair Broadcast Group opened its “Project Baltimore” investigation of a suspected grade-inflation scheme in Baltimore City Schools, a charade to create the appearance that the school system’s performance is much better than it actually is, the city refused to release relevant records. (I know, you’re shocked.) FOX45 filed suit, and a Baltimore judge ruled that school bureaucrats “knowingly and willfully” violated the law when refusing to release those records.

Apparently, school-system officials did not want to release information that might incriminate those involved with fraudulently advancing students through the system who don’t merit advancement.

Of course, Baltimore bureaucrats have more pressing issues than educating children, like providing cover for their corrupt mayor, or taking cover to dodge bullets and robbers, or defending the city’s LGBTQ agenda.

Responding to the judge’s ruling, FOX45’s counsel, Thomas and Libowitz attorney Scott Marder, declared, “It’s a victory for teachers, parents, taxpayers, but most of all, students. I hope that this is the first step towards some accountability.” Marder added, “The judge heard all of the evidence and found … that they intentionally violated the law. … Decisions like this are critical to accountability in government. Oftentimes, government will think that it’s above the law, and in this case, the judge said in fact that the school system thought they were above the law.”

Sinclair executive Scott Livingston added, “These alleged deceptions used to create an image of improved performance are a disservice to the children of Baltimore, who deserve an education system that provides them with the tools they need to succeed in life.”

Baltimore city-school spokesperson Anne Fullerton rebutted, “We believe the Court’s ruling … will have a chilling effect on investigations. … We are currently reviewing the ruling to determine possible next steps.”

“Next steps” is legal speak for how to further obfuscate evidence of corruption and fraud. But indeed, this ruling will have a “chilling effect” — there are school administrators in other corrupt urban centers who are feeling that chill. Perhaps Baltimore will now become a model for something good — how Sinclair’s investigative journalists can expel corruption from other government-school bureaucracies across the country. I nominate Detroit as their next target.

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