As Carroll County Public Schools continues to have conversations over the temporary halt of Baltimore City field trips, parents have spoken out both in opposition and support, Baltimore organizations have reached out to the school system and Carroll’s sheriff has met with Baltimore City leaders to discuss forward steps.

This past week, Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said the school system has been looking at and listening to all of the different feedback they’ve gotten, including a mixture of emails from parents.


In addition to parents, Guthrie said the Maryland Science Center reached out to him and said while they understood his concerns, that students would be safe at their center.

“I am taking this very seriously,” he said in regard to all of the feedback, adding that he’s appreciated hearing from so many people.

The hope is to continue to have conversations, he said. This halt is a chance to reevaluate, and Guthrie said he hopes to have a decision by early January about what to do moving foward.

Last Wednesday, Nov. 22, CCPS suspended all student travel to Baltimore on the recommendation of Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees. The policy restricts travel to venues within the Baltimore City limits.

“In light of recent violence in the traditional tourist areas of the City, the Sheriff agrees that the best course of action is to temporarily suspend travel to Baltimore City venues,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

CCPS spokeswoman Carey Gaddis previously said some trips may be allowed on a case-by-case basis, but school administration would weigh the importance of the trip with student safety when making the decisions.

Even still, some are wondering how the next decision will be made, and what needs to change in order for CCPS to return to Baltimore City. CCPS school board President Devon Rothschild sent an email to the sheriff expressing concern over the ban, and asking what needs to happen before he was comfortable with students returning to the city on field trips.

“It is my understanding, based on the below email, that you have made an official recommendation to the Superintendent as the Sheriff that CCPS suspend field trips to Baltimore City. Is that correct? If so, could you please provide your official recommendation in writing to the Board of Education,” the email, dated Nov. 28 and obtained by the Times, reads. “As no other counties and no other agencies that oversee the school system have suspended or recommended suspension to the City, I would like to understand your reasons, how long you believe the ban should last, and what would need to happen for you to advice lifting the ban. ”

“Of course, student safety is our utmost concern. However, without the above listed information, I am unclear as to why you have initiated this ban,” Rothschild continued in the email.

Guthrie told the Times last week that something doesn't have to necessarily happen, but rather this time during the temporary halt will be used to continue to talk to the sheriff and other stakeholders before a decision next semester.

Not to be flippant, but these aren’t field trips to West Baltimore to observe heroin deals. These are trips to what are, for the most part, controlled and tightly secured learning environments.

In his response to Rothschild dated Nov. 29 and obtained by the Times, DeWees said in an email the decision to ban trips was not made lightly, and listed news articles in regard to recent violence in the city.

“I believe the superintendent made the right decision. With the information at hand and the current events cited above, the administration at CCPS were right in putting the safety of our children ahead of all else, especially a field trip to Baltimore City,” DeWees wrote. “I believe Mr. Guthrie and his security director should communicate with the Center for School Safety, the Baltimore Police Department and representatives from the mayor’s office to find out what is being done in the tourists[sic] areas to protect children on field trips, and all others that frequent those areas. If the city can explain their plan, and there’s an obvious presence from law enforcement, than[sic] I would feel better about trips by students to the city.”

Ed Clarke, executive director with the Maryland Center for School Safety, said on a weekly basis, the organization has a school safety call where representatives from the 24 school systems as well as private schools discuss a variety of safety issues. Topics can range from basic issues, to larger terror concerns or threats in surrounding areas.

Over the last several weeks, there have been ongoing discussions about school field trips — not limited to Baltimore City but also in regard to many cities.


It is the organization’s job to get accurate info to schools, Clarke said. In addition to the information, the Maryland Center for School Safety also urges schools to talk with their local law enforcement to make the best decision for their community.

“It’s really a great opportunity to exchange information,” he said.

But, the center itself would never make a recommendation, he added.

In Carroll’s case, it’s important to listen to key stakeholders, and local law enforcement, in making the decision, Clarke said.

In a phone interview with the Times, DeWees said that it’s not debatable that Baltimore City has a significant crime issue right now. What would make him more comfortable, he said, would be if there were obvious law enforcement in the areas students are going, and if there is a proactive approach going on to make sure those areas are safe and secure.

“I know that no area is without crime,” he said, and knows there are good things in Baltimore City, he added, but the city’s current level and recent crime are “disturbing.”

But in a step in a forward direction, DeWees said he met with Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen last week, to discuss the city’s issues and Carroll’s concerns. Cohen could not be reached for comment.

Moving forward, DeWees said the only thing he can do is provide CCPS with information, because the school system and Guthrie are the ones that will ultimately make the decision. He said he’s more than willing to work with Baltimore City to make sure Carroll countians feel like the environment is safe for students to return to.

And at the end of the day, he said, this has all been a lot of good conversations between the jurisdictions.

“Regardless what comes out of this, there’s a lot of communication,” he added.