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State legal document review

Learn more about the process and your options

Many families have received a letter between early February and early March 2021 about a subpoena that the Maryland’s Office of Inspector General for Education (OIGE) served on Baltimore City Public Schools to investigate City Schools’ grading practices.  To complete its investigation, the OIGE requires City Schools to provide records including information about students. The OIGE will use these unedited and unredacted (not marked-out) documents to conduct its investigation to determine if laws or policies were violated.  

This topic involves some technical legal matters and requirements. We have established this webpage to help you better understand what is required of City Schools by OIGE and your options when it comes to your student’s data.

Note: This webpage does not offer legal advice, only information about this process.

Why did I receive the letter?

You received the letter because the Maryland Office of the Inspector General for Education (OIGE) issued a subpoena for information about the effectiveness of City Schools’ student grading procedures from 2015 to the present.  Initially, City Schools redacted, or blacked out, the records that it provided to the OIGE, so that student names were not visible. However, the OIGE has required City Schools to provide unredacted records so student information is visible (no longer marked-out). Because records about specific students are confidential, federal and state law require City Schools to tell you about the OIGE’s information request. You do not need to do anything or submit anything to City Schools or the OIGE.

What is the OIGE?

The OIGE was created by Maryland law in 2019, and the law is in Education Article Title 9.10.  The OIGE  investigates complaints that school systems and their staff have violated laws, as well as potential fraud, waste, and abuse of public funds. For more information, see OIGE. You may also contact the OIGE at (410) 697-9692.

Did my student or I do anything wrong?

The letter you received and City Schools’ response to the subpoena emphasizes that your student and you did nothing wrong. The OIGE is investigating the grading practices of City Schools. We are only notifying you that we are required to share your student’s information with the OIGE. The OIGE will not take anyone’s diploma away from them or take academic credits away from students. The OIGE’s review is focused on City Schools’ procedures.

What type of information did City Schools share?

OIGE issued a subpoena to City Schools and asked for many different types of documents. City Schools provided many documents, including more than 280,000 pages of email and attachments to the OIGE in response to the subpoena. Your student’s information could be included in one of many types of documents. For example, it may simply be an email about grading that included your student’s name, a list related to grading with your student’s name, or a large spreadsheet prepared by City Schools staff containing tens of thousands of student names and basic student data.

Why is information about my student being included in this request?

Your student’s name could appear in one or more of the 280,000 pages of email and attachments (see immediately above). OIGE did not make requests for any specific students’ records.

Does this mean my student is under investigation?

No, your student is not under or the subject of an investigation. The OIGE is reviewing City Schools’ grading processes overall. The OIGE is not focusing on specialized services students receive or received (such as an Individualized Education Program or 504 Plans), or a student’s special status (such as English language learners, homeless students, or students receiving special education services).  Students cannot be disciplined because of the OIGE’s investigation of City Schools.

How can the outcome of OIGE’s review impact my student or their grades?

The results of OIGE’s review will not have any impact on your student or their grades.   OIGE’s review is about City Schools and its grading processes, not about your student.  Students cannot be disciplined because of the OIGE’s investigation of City Schools. 

Is City Schools cooperating with the OIGE?

Yes. City Schools is collaborating with the OIGE’s review.  We are also following all laws about the privacy and security of student information. The legal authority of the OIGE requires City Schools and the Board of School Commissioners to cooperate with the investigation. 

Does City Schools have to turn over the records?

Yes. City Schools is committed to your student’s privacy. However, this is one of a few instances where City Schools is legally required to share your student’s information. A subpoena is an official legal document that requires documents to be produced. City Schools has to turn over the information as directed in the OIGE’s subpoena, after informing students’ parents or guardians. Due to the complexity of the investigation, the OIGE has requested this information be provided in an unredacted format. 

May I review what has been shared with OIGE?

Absolutely. You have the right to review any information that belongs to your students. Below on this webpage is a form you may complete to request to review those documents. This is the best way to understand what records will be shared and what it means to your student. We will provide them to you as quickly as we can. However, due to the volume of requests, you may have to wait several days in some cases.

May OIGE or City Schools share this information with anyone else?

By law, the information is protected and will not be made available to the general public. However, if the OIGE refers any matter to criminal prosecutors, OIGE will take appropriate steps to protect confidential student information to the extent possible. If the OIGE found evidence of a criminal nature, the criminal proceedings would be only against City Schools and/or its employees, not you or your student.  Students cannot be disciplined because of the OIGE’s investigation of City Schools. 

What if I do not want OIGE to have my student’s information?

If you do not want the OIGE to see your child’s information, you can take what is called “protective action” in court.  This means you would have to file a legal motion in the Baltimore City Circuit Court. You may need the help of an attorney to accomplish this. City Schools cannot do this for you. There is no existing case number, so you would have to start a new case independently. If you file for protective action, you and your student will not suffer consequences; it will not be held against you.