Baltimore-area student passed only 3 classes in 4 years, ranked near top half of class

A Project Baltimore investigation into the Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts revealed hundreds of students are failing.

Project Baltimore, an investigative franchise operated by WBFF, spoke to Tiffany France, whose son was one of those students. She withdrew him after learning last month after finding out her 17-year-old senior was being sent back to the ninth grade.

France said the school neglected to inform her that her child was failing most of his classes over the last four years, but advanced him to the next grade anyway.

"He's stressed and I am too. I told him I'm probably going to start crying. I don't know what to do for him," France WBFF. "Why would he do three more years in school? He didn't fail. The school failed him. The school failed at their job. They failed. They failed, that's the problem here. They failed. They failed. He didn't deserve that."

Tiffany France said the school neglected to inform her that her child was failing most of his classes over the last four years, but advanced him to the next grade anyway. (Source: WBFF)

In the last four years, France’s son passed three classes, failed 22 and was late or absent 272 days, the teen’s transcript shows. And even though records reflect failures in Spanish I, Algebra I and English II, it also shows promotions to Spanish II, Algebra II and English III, WBFF reported.

"I'm just assuming that if you are passing, that you have the proper things to go to the next grade and the right grades, you have the right credits," France said.

Her son’s records show only one teacher requested a conference with a parent in his 4 years at the school. But France denies that ever happened.

"I feel like they never gave my son an opportunity, like if there was an issue with him, not advancing or not progressing, that they should have contacted me first, three years ago," said France.

France’s son has a 0.13 GPA, which traditionally places a student near the bottom of their class. But in his case, it put him 62nd out of 120, which would indicate a wider-spread academic performance issue going on at the school.

In a statement, Baltimore City Public Schools claims the district took the following steps regarding the child’s academic performance:

  • In summer 2020, students at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts received a letter explaining their academic status.
  • Per Board Policy, teachers will provide students and parents with information about student achievement by regularly updating grades using Campus Portal. All families have access to this tool. In many cases, the school or teacher will notify the student of a potential course failure and allow work to be made up to support the student. Schools also provide parents the option for a conference following each report card.
  • Anytime a student is absent from a class, the student's family receives an automated phone call at their listed number advising the missed time. If necessary, families may respond to the call by noting if the absence meets the criteria to be excused.
  • School staff also attempted to contact the student's family. The school later mailed a letter and conducted a home visit. Ultimately, the student's parent visited the school and met with its leadership.
  • The student's family has met with or talked recently with school and district level staff regarding the student's progress.

Read the school board's statement in its entirety below.

This story was reported from Atlanta.