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Updated: Former leaders of cheating schools have high-profile connections

Updated on 6/25: On Thursday, Jimmy Gittings, president of the city's administrator's union, gave remarks after the district's announcement about the cheating found at Abbottston and Ft. Worthington elementary schools.

Gittings defended Abbottston's former principal, Angela Faltz. He said he had proof that she did not engage in the cheating, but couldn't provide it because it is part of litigation. Attempts to reach Faltz were unsuccessful.

"I will not sit back and have her name dragged through the mud the way it was today in The Sun paper" Gittings said Thursday, referencing the article breaking the cheating story. 

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District and state officials would not comment specifically on the principals or personnel actions, but the Sun independently verified who was leading the two schools at the time the cheating was found to have taken place. The Sun also reported last July that the school was being investigated and that Faltz had been removed pending the outcome. Gittings defended Faltz in that article as well.

Gittings said that during the past year, "Angie held her head high because she knew she had done nothing wrong."

The precedent of holding principals responsible for cheating at a school concerned him "immensely," he said, adding that there are "certain things that principals cannot control." He called Faltz a "strong lady,"who is innocent of any wrongdoing, though district officials did not indicate that the principals were involved in the cheating.


He said the ultimate goal of the administrators' union and its legal team is to place Faltz back in a school. Gittings said last year that Faltz had "devoted her life to the school" for about 11 years.

Gittings said he could not speak for Shaylin Todd, who led Ft. Worthington during the time of the found cheating, because she was no longer an administrator in the system.  He also said he could not speak for Susan Burgess, who was immediately stripped of her license, when cheating was found at George Washington Elementary in 2008.

Original post: The fallout from the news we broke today that two city elementary schools cheated on the MSAs in recent years, will undoubtedly include talk of the leadership at the school during that time.

District and state officials will not specifically discuss possible sanctions facing Angela Faltz, who led Abbottston in 2009 when investigators found thousands of erasure marks contributed to the school's 100 percent pass rates; or Shaylin Todd, who lead Fort Worthington, where investigators found that staff not only cheated on tests, but fudged attendance numbers.

Education leaders also have not directly attributed the cheating to the principals and it is still unclear whether they, like principals in the past, will have their teaching licenses revoked.  Several attempts to reach Faltz and Todd were unsuccessful on Wednesday. 

Many of our readers and sources have raised the fact that the two have pretty high-profile connections, and represent crucial school system partners. Faltz sits on the board of the city's principals' union. And Todd is connected two organizations--New Leaders for New Schools and Teach For America--the city contracts with to funnel educators and principals into the system.

Faltz is a board member on the Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association, the union of city administrators. According to the union's website, she is an at-large representative for grades K-8. Jimmy Gittings, president of the union would not speak specifically to the connection when contacted Wednesday.

Todd is currently working for New Leaders for New Schools, of which she is an alum, according to a voice mailbox set up in her name at the organization's Maryland office. And she is the wife of Omari Todd, former executive director for Teach for America Baltimore. A media contact at NLNS did not comment when contacted Wednesday.

Todd is featured a lot in publications representing New Leaders for New Schools, and was even celebrated in a report published by the Abell Foundation in 2007.

I'm not saying that any of these organizations were involved, nor am I attempting to connect any dots. Just thought it was worth noting.

(An earlier version of this post indicated that Omari Todd was currently the executive director of Teach for America in Baltimore. While some pages on the organization's website still identify him as such, he is no longer in that position. The Sun regrets this error.)

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