- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2010

On Nov.14, Jamal Wilson was shot and killed on P Street Northwest, just two blocks from Dunbar High School. Before Thanksgiving, a student was gang-raped in a Dunbar stairwell during school hours. These incidents must call our attention to the violence and crime perpetrated inside and outside one of our city’s most historic high schools and the alma mater of Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray (“Youths lost to violence often in city’s supervision,” Page 1, Nov. 16).

We should be ashamed and outraged by the lack of safety and the pervasiveness of violence in one of our city’s schools. Safety is a prerequisite for teaching and learning. How can we feel a sense of accomplishment about improved standardized test metrics if students are harassed, raped or even murdered in and around their schools? It seems that Dunbar High School has not just been left behind - it has been forgotten.

Dunbar has failed its students by allowing its security to deteriorate and social services to erode, creating an environment unsuited for education. As The Washington Times’ series on the city’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) tells us, DYRS has failed by allowing repeat offenders to go on to terrorize neighborhood school communities. It is important to remember that we, too, have failed by not demanding secure environments for our students.

We must demand changes not only from the administration at Dunbar (now controlled by education consultants Friends of Bedford) but all area school systems to make sure these types of crimes are stopped in and around our schools. Dunbar High School is not just a symbol of the District’s history. We must grapple with the current realities to improve the future for Dunbar’s students, teachers and community.

ALLISON LILLY

Berwyn Heights, Md.