Double Dipping in Maryland

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Four years ago, suffering through the depths of a teacher shortage, the state of Maryland passed a law that allowed school districts to rehire formerly retired teachers and pay them a teacher's salary while they still received their pensions. Now Maryland's law--the first of its type in the nation--is up for renewal. But investigative reports from this week's Baltimore Sun have found that the program is being used in ways that run counter to the spirit of law and are sometimes outright illegal. Problems uncovered by the Sun's report include: distribution of teachers to the high-ranking, high-spending schools; use of teachers outside of high-need subject areas; "teachers" who have been rehired to do tasks other than teaching; and teachers whose combined compensation salary plus pension are higher than permitted by district guidelines. The demise of the program is a case study in good intentions gone awry. As soon as the lucrative benefit became apparent, the program was extended to every county in the state and included subject areas such as agriculture and Japanese.

After the investigation came to the surface in the press, State Superintendent Grasmick, Baltimore County school superintendent Joe Hairston, along with other officials concerned about bad publicity, demanded an audit of the program. In all likelihood, the law will simply not be renewed when it expires June 30.