Project Baltimore Wins Major Public Records Victory In Suit Against Baltimore City Schools
Ruling Is Big Win for Transparency, Journalism, and Taxpayers
Baltimore, MD (March 12, 2019) – Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ: SBGI) today is pleased to report that its lawsuit against the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) ended with a triumphant victory for the people of Baltimore. A Baltimore City Judge ruled in Sinclair’s favor in the case regarding grade-fixing allegations exposed by the Project Baltimore team in 2017, an investigative unit of Sinclair’s Fox 45 News. Sinclair spent over two years investigating this issue to bring justice to students, parents, and teachers. The decision not only signals a major win for Baltimore schools, but also for Fox 45 News, Project Baltimore, and educators everywhere.
“This is a victory for transparency, journalism, and parents of the Baltimore City Public School System,” said Senior Vice President of News at Sinclair, Scott Livingston. “These alleged deceptions used to create an image of improved performance are a disservice to the children of Baltimore, who deserve an education system that provides them with the tools they need to succeed in life. This ruling reinforces Project Baltimore’s commitment to impactful reporting with a local focus.”
The case stems from a 2017 investigation, during which Sinclair’s Project Baltimore produced a series of reports exposing allegations of grade fixing. The reports featured report cards, classroom tests and teacher testimony to demonstrate how some students may have graduated without passing mandatory classes. In response, Baltimore City Schools launched an internal investigation which found the allegations “unsubstantiated.” Sinclair filed an open records request to see the report. City Schools denied the request and produced zero documents forcing Sinclair to file a lawsuit. Over the next 15 months, City Schools slowly released 11,000 pages of documents, but much of it was heavily redacted and provided no relevant information to the public.
After investing more than $150,000 toward legal fees fighting for access to public information, Sinclair’s case against the BCPSS went before a Baltimore City Circuit Court in February 2019. Judge Jeannie Hong ruled in Sinclair’s favor on March 4, saying City Schools “knowingly and willfully” violated their obligation. Judge Hong ordered BCPSS to, among other things, provide Sinclair with all the documents it originally requested (unredacted), and pay $1,000 in statutory damages and more than $122,000 for legal fee reimbursement.
About Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
Sinclair is one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country. The Company owns, operates and/or provides services to 191 television stations in 89 markets. Sinclair is a leading local news provider in the country and is dedicated to impactful journalism with a local focus. The Company has multiple national networks, live local sports production, as well as stations affiliated with all the major networks. Sinclair’s content is delivered via multiple-platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital platforms. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.
About Project Baltimore
Project Baltimore is a special news unit of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Fox 45 News which investigates the Baltimore-Area Public Education system. The Project Baltimore investigative team examines the unique challenges that confront the area’s public school systems. To date, it has produced nearly 200 stories, multiple town halls and nearly a dozen half-hour specials focused on the local public education system. You can view Project Baltimore’s investigative reporting at https://foxbaltimore.com/news/project-baltimore/more.