Leaked School Official’s Emails Show Major Lack In Transparency With Parents

Baltimore City schools mistakenly sent parents an email that conveyed their wish to keep a teacher shortage concealed from parents.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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Baltimore City schools

Public school transparency is a major issue for parents. Families sending their children to these institutions wish to know that districts are properly staffing locations and teaching age-appropriate materials. Unfortunately, the Baltimore City Schools recently emailed parents the wrong draft of a school notification, and the message inside tells parents that school officials are not being honest.

Class is supposed to begin next week for the Baltimore City Schools. Despite this hundreds of teaching positions remain vacant and district officials sent out an email to update parents. The final version of this letter was also posted to the district website and details that “teacher shortfalls” are being dealt with.

The only problem is that parents received the rough draft via email, instead of the official final copy. In this drafted version, the Baltimore City Schools Chief, John Davis had written about avoiding phrasing that would directly alert parents to the severity of the situation. He highlighted this notice and directed school officials to not include phrasing which notifies families that their children “may not have a teacher.” 

He also admitted that he was hesitant about being direct, and that keeping this information confidential was causing him “tension.” But Andre Riley, the director of communications agreed with this route. In addition, the communications manager, Abby Lane, suggested heavily editing the information for the Baltimore City Schools staff. 

Parents who received the chain of internal emails are outraged. A mother with two children in the Baltimore City Schools, Marissa Jackson Sow, spoke out about how disappointing this series of communications is. A conversation on the subject took off on social media displaying parents’ obvious concerns regarding how public school officials communicate with parents. 

Angry parents demanded that Baltimore City Schools, “Just tell the truth.” Instead of providing more detailed information, or calling an emergency school meeting and inviting parents and other community members, this district issued a generic apology. This has done nothing to rebuild trust with families. 

Baltimore City schools

Sow spoke about how it seems as if the Baltimore City Schools don’t respect parents and just want to pretend that the situation is resolved. She said it is not. Her hopes were “that this would have been like a sort of a wake-up moment.” Their response, instead, instilled further discontent as the school year is set to begin without enough teachers to properly serve families. 

The Baltimore City Schools are not the only district struggling to hire teachers. Schools across the nation are suffering from the ongoing teacher shortage. Many have been scrambling to fill vacant positions or rework classrooms to accommodate the lack of proper staffing. As enrollment rates have been unstable and difficult to predict throughout the course of the past 2 years, many districts cannot easily determine how attendance patterns and staffing issues will affect this new school year.   

Parents are well aware of the challenges which face the public education system. Many are willing to work with officials to find solutions and do what is necessary to ensure that children are properly educated. Yet when the Baltimore City Schools refuse to be transparent and prepare parents for current struggles, families lose faith in their districts and these institutions lose support.