Provides Over $2.5 Million in Funding for School Accountability and Oversight
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today introduced a second supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 2019), which provides a total of $2,556,191 for the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to enhance oversight capabilities. This funding will allow MSDE and the State Board of Education to evaluate and investigate allegations of misconduct and corruption in local school systems, including conducting independent audits where appropriate. The proposed budget allocation comes in the wake of multiple accountability and ethical problems reported in several public school systems across the state.
“Parents, teachers, and students across the state are demanding more accountability in their schools, and if we do not address these issues we are failing the taxpayers, and – most importantly – our kids,” said Governor Hogan. “We are pleased to provide this immediate funding to increase accountability and transparency in Maryland schools, and we are continuing to fight to pass my Accountability in Education Act to create an independent office to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing in our schools.”
The supplemental budget provides $1.5 million, available immediately upon passage of the budget, for the State Board of Education to facilitate an independent follow-up audit of Prince George’s County Public Schools. The State Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to conduct the additional review after an outside audit commissioned in 2017 yielded troubling revelations of grade changes and thousands of students graduating without having fulfilled graduation requirements. Any remaining balance can be utilized for additional audits of local jurisdictions as deemed necessary by the State Board.
The supplemental budget also provides approximately $1 million for the Office of the State Superintendent to create an Education Monitoring Unit and an Office of Compliance and Oversight within MSDE. The funding for the Office of Compliance and Oversight was requested in a letter to the governor from State Board President Andrew Smarick to ensure local school systems are compliant with state law and monitor school systems in need of corrective action.
“This funding will enable the Maryland State Department of Education to better perform the critically important role of ensuring that every school in our state is held to the highest possible standards,” said Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, “I thank Governor Hogan for his continued commitment to ensuring that every Maryland student receives a high-quality education.”
Following widespread accountability concerns from parents, students, and teachers involving school systems across the state, Governor Hogan introduced the Accountability in Education Act of 2018 to create an Office of the State Education Investigator General as an independent unit within MSDE. The Investigator General will be selected by a commission consisting of appointees by the Senate President, Speaker of the House, and the governor, and will be charged with investigating complaints of unethical, unprofessional, or illegal conduct relating to procurement, education assets, graduation requirements, grading, education facilities, and school budgets. The governor’s bill is currently pending before the Maryland General Assembly.
Governor Hogan submitted the administration’s first supplemental budget, which provided $5 million for school safety enhancements in Maryland schools, on March 2. The funding, which included $2.5 million in funding for the Maryland School Safety Center to expand operations and hire additional personnel, and $2.5 million in grant funding to assist schools in conducting safety assessments required by emergency legislation submitted as part of the governor’s comprehensive school safety plan.