BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Schools have released a statement on the shipments of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly’ children’s books.
In their statement, they say the documents shared at a press conference by Mayor Pugh on March 28 had never been seen by City Schools before.
“As we have said, the documents Mayor Pugh shared at the press conference on March 28 were the first we had seen related to shipments of Healthy Holly books. Like other school districts and public agencies, City Schools has a records-retention policy that guides how long we keep different kinds of documents. Email is retained for three years; correspondence and reports are typically retained for four years. This means that many records dated prior to 2015-16 have been destroyed,”
They added they have not been able to make any conclusive determinations on what happened with the three documented shipments, due to “incomplete or conflicting recollections among the few staff members who have any awareness of the books,”
They said the printer of the books confirmed that the first shipment only contained “Exercising Is Fun”, shipped via Con-Way Freight in June 2011.
Con-Way reportedly had no paperwork from that many years ago, they said. City Schools said, however, that staff members have a “high degree of confidence” that the shipment was received as indicated on the bill of lading.
“Nevertheless, staff members have a high degree of confidence that this shipment was received as indicated on the bill of lading. Exercising Is Fun is the title mentioned in the January 2011 letter Mayor Pugh shared at her March 28 press conference, in which the University of Maryland Medical System offers 20,000 copies as a donation to the school district and which shows a confirming signature from a former City Schools staff member.
Several current and former staff members recall this title, and a small number confirm that it was reviewed and determined to be suitable for distribution to students in the lower elementary grades (but not for use as an instructional resource).
A few staff members also recall distribution of the books between late 2011 (following the mayoral election, in which then State Senator Pugh had been a candidate in the Democratic primary) and some time in 2012, within the 2011-13 timeframe we previously indicated for receipt and distribution of Healthy Holly books. We have found no documentation regarding the means of distribution or the quantities distributed, and we have found no copies of this book in our warehouse or elsewhere.
They also confirmed they did receive “A Healthy Start for Herbie” in March 2013 and “Fruits Come In Colors Like The Rainbow” in August 2015.
“Our previous inaccurate recollection of a single shipment of books appears to be the result of confusion among the different book titles, with some staff members recalling review of Exercising Is Fun and others being aware that copies of Fruits Come in Colors Like the Rainbow were in our warehouse,”
They said according to recollections from staff at the Operations Office, the entire shipment of Fruits Come in Colors Like the Rainbow was moved to the off-site warehouse shortly after its receipt in August 2015.
“We currently have approximately 8,700 copies in our warehouse. We have found no additional copies in any other location. Between August 2015 and today, staff members from Catherine Pugh’s office have retrieved books from the warehouse on several occasions, but we have no documentation regarding dates or quantities taken.”
The school district said in regards to “A Healthy Start for Herbie”, they can only confirm receipt of the books based on the signed delivery receipt from FedEx.
“We are continuing to investigate and to speak with current and former staff members about the circumstances of this shipment. As of today, we have not been able to locate any copies of this title in the warehouse or elsewhere, and we have no record or staff recollection of this book being distributed to schools.
We also have no record or recollection of any additional titles in the Healthy Holly series or of any contact from the University of Maryland Medical System or Mayor Pugh regarding a potential fourth shipment.
Some staff members have reported having a few copies of Healthy Holly books in schools or have said they recall books being distributed at school events. In some cases, these were donated directly by Mayor Pugh herself—for example, at ribbon-cutting events for new school buildings. In total, these reports appear to account for no more than 500 books,”
This week has brought to light multiple organizations disclosing new information about their involvement with Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” books, including the Associated Black Charities and Kaiser Permanente, a health care company that was looking for a lucrative contract with the City at the time of their deal.