Attendance At Baltimore City Schools Crashes To 13 Year Low Just As Juvenile Crime Spikes
Project Baltimore, an investigative reporting series conducted by a local Fox affiliate in Baltimore City, has sifted through over a decade of high school records and discovered that attendance at city high schools in 2017 suddenly dropped to a 13-year low of just 76%. Just to state the obvious, the average high school in Maryland has around 1,200 students so that means that, on an average day, nearly 300 of them don’t bother to show up.
Adding insult to injury, Baltimore City Police Spokesman T.J. Smith told Fox 45 that it’s no coincidence that violent crime is spiking in the city just as more and more teenagers are opting to skip class.
From violent attacks on Halloween night, to a terrifying carjacking and a man pushed into the Inner Harbor. Baltimore City is under siege by criminals that, police say, are teenagers.
“Every single one of them involve juveniles, who are all walking the streets today because they are probably not in school, where they belong.”
Meanwhile, Project Baltimore found that 39% of Baltimore City high school students were technically considered “chronically absent,” a threshold that should result in fines or even jail time for parents…that is, if school administrators actually fulfilled their reporting requirements.
As we kept digging, we discovered this: In Baltimore City, 39 percent of high school students are considered chronically absent, or truant, by missing more than 20 days. That’s 8,400 teenagers who regularly are not going to school.
“Hearing that number, that’s a lot of young people who could have something to do during those hours that might be on the street doing something they shouldn’t be doing,” said Smith.
If a child between 5 and 18-years-old doesn’t go to school, state truancy laws hold parents accountable with up to $500 in fines or jail time.
Of course, as we noted previously, another Fox 45 investigation found that truant kids are being routinely passed through Baltimore City schools even if they don’t bother to show up for a single day of class during an entire school year (see: “It’s Very Common”: Baltimore Teacher Admits To Passing Students That Never Showed For A Single Day Of Class)
But this teacher says grade changing at Calverton goes much further than just taking a failing grade and making it a 60. Some students who pass, according to this educator, don’t even have grades because they’ve never showed up to class.
“There were students on my roster all year that I had never met, had never seen. On paper they passed my class and passed onto the next year.”
“I love my job and I love my students,” concluded the teacher. “I want to see the students at Calverton and other schools across the city, get a fresh start. And it’s going to be hard because the students are used to this now. But the students deserve better and our city deserve better.”
And, lest you think a 76% attendance rate is ‘normal’, surrounding counties were found to be over 90%.
Not surprisingly, when asked about the excessive absences, a local high school in Baltimore City responded with nothing more than a generic sentence, undoubtedly drafted by an expensive, taxpayer-funded attorney, regarding the importance of regular attendance.
With nearly 40 percent of all city high schoolers truant, Fox45 asked North Avenue if it’s enforcing state law by reporting parents to police. We didn’t get an answer. Instead, we got a statement:
“Strong attendance is essential for students’ success, and the district has a longstanding commitment to ensuring that barriers to attendance are removed.” – Baltimore City Public Schools
The statement lists steps the District has taken to get kids to school, which include fostering strong relationships, providing laundry services, on-site childcare and running a re-engagement center to recruit dropped outs.
Of course, despite their poor attendance records, we’re almost certain that Baltimore City students will have unlimited access to $1,000 of dollars worth of student loans to attend whatever institution of higher indoctrination their hearts desire upon graduation in just a few short years…