- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The principal of a Southeast high school where a student was fatally shot last month has been placed on administrative leave, D.C. school officials said yesterday.

Art Bridges, principal of Ballou High School, was placed on paid administrative leave on March 5 pending the completion of an investigation of a personnel issue, D.C. schools spokeswoman Lucy Young said. Mr. Bridges was placed on administrative leave just two weeks after having taken emergency sick leave.

Miss Young declined to provide any details about the nature of the investigation and could not say when it would be completed.

Mr. Bridges, who has been Ballou’s principal since 1997, came under scrutiny after the Feb. 2 fatal shooting inside the high school of football star James Richardson, 17.

Fellow student Thomas Boykin, 18, was charged with second-degree murder.

School system officials have been reviewing whether Mr. Bridges and Ballou administrators should have processed a transfer request for James last year more promptly.

The review stems from complaints from James’ father, William Patterson.

Mr. Patterson said he sought a transfer for his son because James feared for his life as a result of a dispute with other students. He said his son stayed out of school for six weeks because of the concerns.

Mr. Patterson said Ballou officials never contacted him to offer any explanation about the inaction on his son’s transfer request.

D.C. Board of Education member Tommy Wells said in February that school officials planned to look into whether the transfer request was handled properly.

Mr. Wells also was reviewing the system’s multimillion-dollar contract with a company that posts unarmed security guards in city schools.

“The board will review whether the contract is working,” Mr. Wells said last month. “I do want to look at what could have been prevented, and I want to look into the whole contract.”

Mr. Wells also said the school board would review whether Ballou’s metal detectors were working properly the day James was shot and how someone got a gun into the building.

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